Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the debate in Westminster Hall on 18 July due to other Parliamentary commitments but I have subsequently taken the opportunity to read the transcript of the debate that debate, I am reassured that the British Government is doing all it can for British detainees in Iran.
The British Ambassador raises the issue of our detainees with the Iranian authorities at every opportunity and seeks to secure consular access and to ensure their welfare. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have raised all our consular cases with their counterparts and stressed the importance of resolving them as quickly as possible.
However, there are limitations on what the UK can do, particularly in the light of Iran’s refusal to recognise dual citizenship (which these detainees all have). Iran considers them to be Iranian, and therefore does not recognise the British Government’s right to consular access.
Britain has re-opened our embassy in Iran and new relationships are being established. The Government will take the opportunity to explore what this chance of a new relationship will mean for the UK.
Whilst the Government continues to work hard on behalf of these detainees, it is unfortunately the case that this is not a matter in the hands of the UK Government to resolve; it must be resolved by the Iranian regime. I have sought reassurances however that the British Government is working hard to facilitate that.
Alistair Burt, Minister for the Middle East, has pledged to continue to act in the best interests of the detainees, as well as constantly listening to those with other ideas and to the families, so that the Government does as much for them as it possibly can.