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Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, the Media and Sport, on 18 January 2019.
Thank you very much for that introduction Martin.
I couldn’t agree more about the importance of the UK City of Culture and the huge impact it can have on the cities that hold the title.
As some of you will know, during its year as UK City of Culture, the city of Hull added 300 million pounds to the local economy and created 800 new jobs.
But perhaps more remarkably, and perhaps more importantly, over 95 per cent of its population attended a cultural event in the course of that year as City of Culture.
And in two years time, it’s Coventry’s turn. What Hull’s experience showed and what I am convinced Coventry’s experience will show, is that culture really matters.
It matters to the wellbeing of us as individuals, it matters to the health of our communities and it matters to the strength of our nation.
So first, let me say something about us as individuals.
Recent analysis of the Understanding Society survey painted a compelling picture of the impact that the arts can have on our development and wellbeing.
It showed how engagement with the arts is linked with higher happiness and self-esteem in young people, helping them to foster feelings of personal pride and achievement.
Adults who make more frequent visits to libraries, arts events or cultural sites tend to have better health and well-being than those who visit infrequently.
So culture plays a big part in making us healthier and happier people. But it also provides some of the answers to complex questions around the future of employment and productivity.
Creativity is increasingly recognised as a vital skill by employers and educators alike. In many ways, it is the most future proof skill we can have.
Automation is set to further transform the way we live and work. And this means the attributes that can’t be replicated by machines, like creativity, empathy and ingenuity, will be at a premium.
Nobody has yet developed an algorithm that can create an Oscar winning film, or create a TV show that drives profound social change, like BBC’s Planet Earth.
And the UK’s cultural and creative industries are a vital and growing part of our economy.
They made a record contribution in 2017, more than a 100 billion pounds for the first time.
And they will be providing good jobs for a long time to come.
The challenge is how to help our young people to see the range of careers that culture has to offer.
And wherever they come from and whatever they look like, to help them see themselves pursuing those careers.
But we don’t have to make a living through culture for culture to change the way we live.
How we engage with culture of all kinds can change the way we see the world and the way we see ourselves, and that is particularly true when we are young.
When I was 13, the same age as my daughter is now, I was persuaded to act in the school play. Now I don’t remember the reviews, most of them anyway, but I still feel the benefit to my self-confidence.
So much so that I can still make the connection between standing on that stage then and standing on this stage now, not to mention the stages, real and metaphorical, I have stood on in between, performing in the courtroom and in the Commons.
And it’s not just me of course.
Look at the alumni of our world renowned National Youth Theatre.
They are not only celebrated actors like Helen Mirren, Daniel Day-Lewis and Idris Elba, but also writers, musicians and journalists who have been able to transfer the skills they learned to thrive in their chosen career.
Skills of self-confidence, teamwork and dedication are eminently transferable, and they are learned through the opportunities arts and culture can offer.
And I want more young people to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.
And so in September I was delighted to announce a 5 million pound pilot to create youth performance partnerships across England.
This scheme will bring arts organisations and schools together to teach practical performance skills, both on and off stage, to those who wouldn’t have the chance otherwise.
It will also link primary and secondary schools with playwrights to give children the opportunity to perform new works by up and coming writers, from diverse backgrounds and from across the UK.
I’m pleased to have seen some really strong bids and I’m looking forward to making the final announcement of the successful bidders in the Spring.
I know my colleagues at the Department for Education share our ambition in these areas. And I will be working with them to bring the benefits of drama, dance, art, music and more to a greater number of young people.
But culture of course can make all of us healthier, happier and safer.
My department is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS England, to support greater use of social prescribing, in particular to address loneliness and help people with their mental health.
Evaluation of existing projects in England has shown that prescribed arts and reading programmes can reduce anxiety, depression and lead to an increase in feelings of social inclusion – strengthening communities and giving people a sense of belonging.
And I very much welcome the Secretary of State for Health’s recent speech on the value of arts and health.
And I look forward to social prescribing becoming a mainstream part of NHS delivery, with 60 per cent of Clinical Commissioning Groups currently supporting the delivery of social prescribing projects.
So culture can offer us opportunities, teach us about ourselves and even help to keep us healthy.
But it can also help to offer us second chances. I had the privilege of serving as Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation for two years.
In that time I came across offenders who painted, sculpted and even sang opera as part of their rehabilitation. And in many cases it worked.
It worked because those things provided an outlet, they offered a sometimes new experience of excelling at something, and for some, indicated a lawful way to make a living.
We can all benefit from access to the arts and we should all be able to.
And so I welcome the Arts Council England’s clear indication that they want to use the next 10 year strategy to further increase participation.
The Creative People and Places programme has already been hugely important – reaching 2 million people who would not ordinarily participate in art and culture.
It gives local communities the chance to make decisions to shape the culture they want in their local area.
And I wholeheartedly support today’s announcement from the Arts Council that they will be investing an additional 27 million pounds in this programme.
Funding which will be targeted at places with the ‘least engaged’ population in arts and culture, and that will build on the success of other projects that have previously received funding.
I want every cultural organisation receiving public funding to have the objective of boosting participation.
Because culture is good for us all.
And it’s good for communities too, because our culture brings us together – through objects and experiences from which we can all take pleasure and pride.
And I am sure none of us can remember a time when Britain has needed that power to unite more.
So this week, of all weeks, I make the case for culture’s capacity to heal our wounds.
Whatever our views on the European Union, we are proud of…
Our film industry, which in the past five years has picked up 61 BAFTAs and 25 Oscars.
We are proud of the impact of our hit shows like Sherlock, which are being enjoyed in over 230 territories across the world.
And we are proud of our recording artists, who accounted for 8 of the top 10 artist albums in 2017.
We share our culture. It belongs to us all.
It can bring us together and we need it to do so now.
We are the same country that united to host the Olympics and Paralympics with such warmth, pride and passion only a few years ago.
A Games that not only showcased the world’s athletic talent but transformed attitudes to disability.
Its famous opening ceremony was a celebration not just of a great country but of a united one – proud of things we achieved together. We need to remind ourselves of that.
So this is a good time to make this case, and this is a good place to make it in.
The City of Coventry stands as an international symbol of reconciliation, of bridging divides.
It has achieved that not least through arts and culture.
From Philip Larkin to the Specials, this is a city that has helped to shape our nation’s cultural history.
And I am sure that record will be amplified in its year as City of Culture.
And of course it isn’t just in cities of culture where culture must thrive.
The year after Coventry’s year of culture we will hold a Festival that will celebrate the creativity that exists across the whole country.
More immediately, we announced in the Autumn Budget, we will be providing 55 million pounds as part of the Future High Streets fund, dedicated to support the regeneration of high street heritage assets.
Those much loved historic buildings that provide a sense of place, community identity and connectedness.
Another example is the Cultural Development Fund, which we launched as part of the Creative Industries Sector Deal.
This is an important part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, which has seen over 150 million pounds jointly invested by Government and industry through the Creative Industries Sector Deal.
Designed to help cultural and creative businesses across Britain thrive and consolidate the country’s position as a global creative and cultural powerhouse, and further support the view that culture is an integral part of our society and economy.
And so this 20 million pound fund aims to strengthen our advantage as a creative nation by investing in culture, heritage and creativity to unlock economic growth and offer opportunities for regeneration.
In the bids we’ve had we’ve seen cultural and creative leaders joining forces with local authorities and higher education to form partnerships and create distinctive bids.
The quality of the bids was exceptionally high, and we should celebrate the fact that so many towns and cities are developing ambitions for investment in culture to drive growth.
And today I am delighted to announce the places that were successful in receiving funding.
The winning places are: Grimsby, Plymouth, the Thames Estuary in Kent and Essex, Wakefield and Worcester.
Together, these successful projects are set to create over 1,300 new jobs, train and upskill over 2,000 people and leave a lasting legacy in their local communities.
Take the Wakefield bid. Bringing together major and respected cultural organisations including Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth, this project will help promote Wakefield to the world.
And this is just one of several transformative projects that will be created thanks to this funding.
Grimsby will focus on using public art to revive its historic town centre, alongside creating a new film, TV and music production facility.
Plymouth will be using cutting-edge digital and immersive technologies to help bring to life the celebrations to mark the 400 year anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage.
The Thames Estuary bid will develop a world leading creative production corridor.
And Worcester will regenerate the city’s iconic railway arches, providing affordable workspaces and business support connecting local businesses with local creative talent.
I’d like to thank the Arts Council for administering this fund, and to all the expert panellists who helped us review the bids.
I hope the CDF will suggest to Local Enterprise Partnerships and to local authorities how they might focus their attention on cultural and creative investment as part of developing their local industrial strategies.
We also know that our libraries, leisure centres, historic buildings, museums and galleries help contribute to some of the healthiest and most vibrant communities up and down our country.
Through initiatives like the CDF and the recently launched Northern Cultural Regeneration Social Investment Fund, we can give the financial boost needed to help local communities grow and prosper.
Earlier this week we announced that 4 million pounds from our partnership with the Wolfson Foundation will go towards improving 35 museums and galleries across England, with over 80 per cent of this funding going outside London.
All these investments and improvements matter because strong communities make for a strong country.
And we are a nation that is renowned for its cultural heft. We are a soft power superpower.
The UK recently reclaimed top position in the Global Soft Power Index, driven by our artists, our writers and our cultural institutions. Now we are back on top, we need to stay on top.
And thanks to the great work of our creators, our culture is in demand all across the world.
UK creative and cultural sectors export 27 billion pounds worth of services to the rest of the world.
The exciting growth of digital culture means that our traditional creative institutions have been able to reach new global audiences, for example through live streams of theatre productions.
But they bring huge benefits to our tourism and heritage sectors as well, when people decide that they want to come here and see it for themselves.
One in five visitors to London go to the British Museum.
One Ed Sheeran track is thought to be responsible for 100,000 extra visitors to Framlingham Castle.
And Downton Abbey has helped Highclere Castle, Sherlock Baker Street, and Emily Bronte the moors of West Yorkshire. Our culture and our heritage reinforce each other.
And these cultural exports allow us to break down barriers and reach those that we may not be able to reach with traditional diplomacy.
Our culture and civilisation are our calling card to the world, saying loud and clear that we are committed to equality, tolerance and freedom.
And so I am proud that we are working hard to ensure the protection of cultural assets across the world.
For instance the DCMS funded the 30 million pound Cultural Protection Fund to help preserve and protect heritage in 12 countries in the Middle East and Africa.
And we have been joining the international effort to make sure that buildings, monuments and works of art threatened by Daesh can be given a new lease of life and can be seen and enjoyed by the whole world.
We will maintain these values of openness and cooperation.
And our close cultural links with our friends and partners in the EU, as shown by the agreement for the Bayeux Tapestry to come to England for the first time in 1000 years.
And we can develop new and enduring partnerships.
Only last week we announced that some of the masterpieces in the National Gallery, including van Gogh’s famous sunflowers, will go to Japan for the first time as part of Japan’s Olympic year.
As we equip our country for the future, a strong arts, heritage and cultural strategy isn’t just an afterthought, but rather central to our plans.
In a modern and interconnected world, the places that will be successful are those which can attract and retain highly skilled and talented people.
And places will not attract those people without a strong cultural and heritage offer.
That means our culture isn’t just a cause of our soft power and a great export product, although it is both of those things, but also a factor in inward investment decisions, at a local and national level.
Culture is one of the greatest pull factors. Build it, or stage it, and they will come.
China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors at the World Museum in Liverpool drew 600,000 visitors, and in turn brought in a staggering 78 million pounds to the local economy in just eight months.
We all see so many examples of culture proving its worth. But we need to make sure that we keep shouting about it.
Some of you may know there is a Spending Review coming up and so it is more important than ever that we all give the most robust possible evidence about the impact of what we do.
And I don’t just mean evidence of economic impact. But demonstrating that the superb experiences that you provide are benefiting all parts of the United Kingdom.
In terms of geographical spread, but also race, gender and social backgrounds.
Proving the social and cultural impact of our work will be an important part of our argument and I know it is an argument that we can make with real force.
The UK is already leading the world in our work to understand and properly measure the impact that culture can have.
I have asked my department to build on this, and DCMS will bring together academia and policy makers at a forthcoming summit on the measurement of cultural value.
So that we will be better placed to make fully rounded arguments about culture’s true value to society.
Because culture shows humanity at its best and the United Kingdom’s culture shows our country at its best.
Our capacity to create new experiences that transcend boundaries and make life more fulfilling for all of us.
Our capacity to make and do things that make us all laugh, cry, sing, dream or ponder together.
And what better moment than now to remind ourselves of what our culture can do.
Thank you very much.
Below is the text of the speech made by Maggie Throup, the Conservative MP for Erewash, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.
Even though I respect the comments made by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Emma Hardy), I am concerned that she sees everything in a very different light from me. I am much more optimistic about our future.
The motion before us may seem simplistic, and yet it raises questions that go much further. We are in the midst of a battle for the heart and soul of our country and all the things we hold dear. The decisions we take in this place today and over the coming weeks will irreversibly change the course of our history. They will shape Britain’s standing in the world for a generation and, in the process, will perhaps determine the future of this Parliament—the mother of all Parliaments, which has served our nation through war and peace for the best part of 1,000 years.
On the central question of Europe, which has led us to this position, I make the following points. Like the long-time Brexiteers, I am fully committed to ensuring that the UK can end its membership of the European Union at 11 pm on 29 March, as set down in law. Nothing less than an agreement that ends the free movement of people and returns full control over our money and laws is acceptable to me and the majority of the people of Erewash who voted to leave in the referendum in June 2016. My message for the remainers is that I voted to remain in the European Union, but we lost that argument, and consequently the UK will be leaving the EU.
Europe may have brought us to this point, but that does not detract from the fact that the single biggest threat to the safety, security and prosperity of our country is sat on the Opposition Benches. The choice before us today is clear: do we want a socialist Government who, within hours of being returned to office, would cause a “run on the pound”, in the words of the shadow Chancellor; a socialist Government who would drive investment out of Britain through their ideological pursuit of nationalisation; a socialist Government whose own Back Benchers advocate the confiscation of council houses bought under the right-to-buy scheme; and a socialist Government who would make my constituents poorer in every sense of the word? I cannot let that happen to my constituents in Erewash or countenance such outcomes. The Government have my full support and confidence today and in the future.
Below is the text of the speech made by Emma Hardy, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Antoinette Sandbach).
The unsettled mood that we feel in the Chamber today and across the whole of Parliament, is reflected across the whole of our society. Out there in the communities, there is a feeling and a desire for change—for something else. This feeling and desire for change manifests itself in different ways, but we would be wrong to ignore it and to underestimate its significance. It manifests itself in the anger that is felt in our communities, including the increased hate that all of us across the House are receiving. It manifests itself in the despair at, and dissociation from, democracy and the lack of faith in anybody in Parliament.
This is a pivotal moment, and it is about more than whether we think we should have a Labour Government or a Conservative Government, although of course the answer is Labour. It is about how we give back trust and faith to ordinary people. This feeling and mood for change is not going to go away. People are exhausted—they are exhausted by austerity. I do not think anybody in this House appreciates quite how draining poverty is and how the daily grind can get you down.
Even if Members ignore every other word I say, I would like them to reflect on this statistic: across Yorkshire, there has been a 30% increase in the number of suicides. As I have mentioned before, my constituency covers the Humber bridge, which has become a hotspot for suicides. People are driving there from around the country to take their own lives. What greater damning indictment of this Government can there be that they have left people in such a state of despair, feeling that they have no future whatever?
What answers are people being offered? Nothing. We have more arguments and Members tearing into each other on the Government Benches, while the people in our communities continue to suffer. They suffer when they go to the NHS. In terms of the nonsense spouted at us about all the good and outstanding schools, I suggest, with respect, that the hon. Member for Dudley South (Mike Wood) checks the last time that those schools were inspected, which might give him a more accurate figure. Crime is increasing, and people feel unsafe in their homes. The antisocial behaviour that so many people here probably ignore because the gates to their properties allow them to cannot be ignored by the people in our communities.
This is a moment when we can really make a difference. It is in our gift to give people the change they need. We can channel that need for change into a positive vision for hope, but only if we vote down this Government and have a Labour Government, who will truly deliver for everybody in our country.
Below is the text of the speech made by Antoinette Sandbach, the Conservative MP for Eddisbury, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.
Well, it is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds), although I could not disagree more with his characterisation of the situation.
I remember a Labour Prime Minister who promised this country a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, and virtually his last act in government was to sign it and renege on that promise to the British people. I feel that the resentment, after years of broken Labour promises in relation to referendums, bears a large part of the blame in the outcome of the referendum vote. That is not to mention the absolutely miserable way in which the Leader of the Opposition failed to campaign or make a proper case for remaining in the EU during the referendum debate. I will therefore take no lectures from the Labour party.
The hon. Gentleman talked about reaching out, but there is no explanation as to how the Labour policy would get over the line in terms of state aid because the Opposition say that they want a customs union, but they do not want to accept rules on state aid. They also say that they can negotiate a better deal, but do not want to accept the rules on free movement. The reality of the Labour party’s position is that it would fail its own six tests.
I am a Member of this House who has shown a willingness to work across parties to get a decent and sensible Brexit result, despite the fact that I personally believe that the best deal that we have is remaining in the EU. I made a promise to try to implement the referendum result, but I do not see that there have been any constructive proposals from the Opposition Front Bench.
The reason that I have confidence in the Government—and I do—is that, although the press has been taken over with Brexit, we have been getting on with the job and delivering in so many other ways. Some 39,000 workers in my constituency have been taken out of tax because of the Government’s proposals. I remember Gordon Brown introducing a 10p tax rate on those earning just over £4,500; the lowest paid had to pay tax. Now, a low-paid worker in my constituency will not pay tax until they are earning at least £12,500. That is one of many achievements by the Government.
We have introduced a new benefit of two weeks’ paid parental leave, which is one of the first new benefits that we have introduced for many years and is a significant achievement. There are also very good environmental policies coming out of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. There is a good record of which to be proud.
Below is the text of the speech made by Jonathan Reynolds, the Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.
I rise to say that I have no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government. In doing so, I will not address the domestic record of the Government—I wish that I had time to do so as it has been one of hunger and homelessness, and that is a record that needs revealing, but in three minutes that is clearly not possible.
The Government genuinely deserve to lose this vote today because there is only one reason for their existence, and only one reason why the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister, and that is Brexit. The job of this Government was to deliver Brexit. After the referendum, the majority of MPs accepted the result and wanted to work pragmatically on a deal to secure the best terms of our new relationship. We did not do so lightly. Let us not forget that the referendum was called only to try to solve some internal problems in the Conservative party. David Cameron had expected that there would be another hung Parliament and that the Liberal Democrats would be in coalition with him again and that he could drop the idea entirely, and he got it wrong.
As a result, we all got the most divisive politics that this country has had in the modern era. The denigration of expertise and reason became the new normal. All of us saw our friend murdered in that campaign, and yet, despite that, there was no doubt that this House had, and still does have, a cross-party majority for a Brexit deal. But how did the Prime Minister respond to that? Did she reach out across party lines? No. Did she seek to unite leavers and remainers? No. Did she provide leadership on the big questions? Absolutely not. Instead, we had this played from the beginning for narrow party advantage. Reasonable concerns about how customs would work, how the banking system would function, the rights of EU citizens and even which queue at passport control EU citizens would use were first dismissed and then, cynically and falsely, presented as opposition to Brexit itself. When an election was called, despite the Prime Minister giving her word, Downing Street briefed it as a chance to “Crush the saboteurs”. Well, how ironic that the deal’s biggest saboteur has turned out to be the Prime Minister herself, and it is her deal that has been crushed.
We all appreciate that the Conservative party is irrevocably split on this issue, and its decision on the final destination risks losing one half of its Members entirely. But the answer to that is to reach out and have a conversation with all of the House of Commons. Instead of that, the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) was appointed Foreign Secretary and travelled around Europe insulting our friends. Then there was the nationalistic rhetoric of the “citizens of nowhere” speech and the idea at Conservative conference that we could list foreign workers, as if we were living in 1930s Germany. Then we had the Chancellor threatening our friends and allies with economic warfare as if the UK were some overgrown school bully. All of this has squandered centuries of good will and landed us where we are.
It is this Prime Minister, this Government, these red lines and this strategy that are to blame for bringing this country to the abyss. The Government have nothing left to offer; and, in the national interest, they should go.
Below is the text of the statement made by Therese Coffey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in the House of Commons on 17 January 2019.
I attended the EU Environment Council on 20 December in Brussels. Mairi Gougeon MSP, the Scottish Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment, also attended. I wish to update the House on the matters discussed.
C02 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles regulation—general approach
Council reached an agreed position (“general approach”) on the regulation on C02 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles. The European Commission had proposed an indicative 30% reduction in emissions by 2030, with a 15% reduction by 2025.
A full roundtable heard Ministers set out their respective positions. The UK intervened calling for greater ambition for 2030 and stressing the need to agree a strong overall package of measures. The presidency presented a revised proposal; the key element being a binding 2030 target, which was sufficient to achieve a general approach. One member state abstained.
Regulation on LIFE—partial general approach
The presidency introduced its compromise text for a partial general approach of the LIFE programme (the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU), to run from 2021-27. In this revised text, the presidency reintroduced the role of the LIFE committee and placed greater emphasis on geographical balance; member states welcomed the adoption of the partial general approach. While all could support the agreement, a number of member states intervened to restate their preference for higher co-financing rates.
“A Clean Planet for All”: a long-term strategy for EU greenhouse gas emissions reductions—exchange of views
The Commission introduced its long-term strategy on climate, which was published on 28 November 2018, which recommends that the EU aims for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, following which the Council held its first exchange of views. The Council agreed that the strategy should be discussed in multiple council formations in the coming months. Interventions focused on the aim for net zero-emissions, the importance of just transition, the recognition of specific national and regional circumstances, the contribution of technology to decarbonisation, and the role of national long-term strategies.
The UK intervened to highlight that the Inter- governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5 degrees underscored the urgency of tackling climate change, and welcomed the strategy as a serious response that also underlines the benefits of taking action, and stresses the need to ensure that no one is left behind in the transition. The UK highlighted the action being taken across the UK to tackle climate change, and the role of clean growth in the domestic industrial strategy. The UK welcomed the focus in the strategy on carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), given its vital importance in reducing the costs of decarbonisation and the need for collaboration to scale up CCUS, and also highlighted the need to consider nature-based solutions.
The following items were also discussed under any other business.
1. Report on recent international meetings: United Nations framework convention on climate change 24th session of the conference of the parties
The presidency, Commission, and Poland, which held the presidency of the 24th session of the conference to the parties (COP) to the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), presented on COP24, which took place in Katowice, Poland, on 2 to 14 December 2018. The agreement of the rulebook underpinning the Paris agreement was welcomed as a significant achievement.
2. Report on the implementation of the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change
Council noted the information from the presidency.
3. The “Graz Declaration”—Starting a new era: Clean, safe and affordable mobility for Europe
Council noted the presidency presentation on the Graz declaration, which was agreed at October informal Environment Council (29 and 30 October).
4. Measures at EU level to create the conditions for discontinuing the use of the environmentally problematic substances contained in plant protection products
Council noted the information from the Belgian delegation on plant protection products.
5. Intermediary sessions of the meeting of the parties to the convention on environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context (Espoo convention) and the protocol on strategic environmental assessment (SEA)
Lithuania, supported by Luxembourg, presented information concerning the draft recommendations of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Espoo Convention Implementation Committee regarding the Ostrovets new nuclear project in Belarus. These recommendations will be tabled for possible endorsement by the intermediary session of the meeting of the parties to the convention in February 2019.
6. Current legislative proposals
The presidency and the Commission provided an update on current environmental legislative proposals: regulation on taxonomy; directive on single-use plastics; the regulation on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (recast); the regulation on environmental reporting; the directive on drinking water (recast); and the regulation on C02 from cars and vans.
Several member states welcomed the proposals, in particular the progress on the single-use plastics directive. On the recast of the drinking water directive the Commission urged all member states to show flexibility and work together to make swift progress. The UK intervened to welcome the progress on single-use plastics, and outlined the work being done across the UK to tackle plastic waste. On drinking water, the UK noted the recent progress towards a compromise on materials in contact with drinking water, but indicated that there were still outstanding concerns, and on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), the UK intervened to support the Council position on Decabromodiphenyl ether (a flame retardant) and the existing approach for updating the annexes.
7. Report on recent international meeting—convention on biological diversity (CBD) and update from the UK on the London illegal wildlife conference
The Commission and presidency reported back on the recent international meeting on the convention on biological diversity (CBD), in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on 17 to 29 November. The UK intervened to welcome progress so far and to highlight the commitment that needs to be shown from Governments, civil society and business in order to develop an ambitious post-2020 biodiversity framework.
Following this, the UK gave a short update on the outcomes of the London illegal wildlife trade (IWT) conference held on 11 and 12 October 2018, outlining the importance of member states continuing to work together to tackle this important issue, and the need to treat IWT as a serious organised crime.
8. The future of European environment policy—Towards an 8th EU environment action programme
Council noted the information from the presidency on plans to develop an eighth EU environment action programme.
9. Environmental and climate ambition of the future CAP
Council noted the information from the German delegation, supported by the Luxembourg delegation.
Below is the text of the speech made by Marcus Jones, the Conservative MP for Nuneaton, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.
I rise to support the Government and to speak against this motion. In doing that, I will talk about the record of this Government and the issue that has triggered today’s vote: yesterday’s Brexit vote.
To put our record in context, everything the Conservatives have done in government since 2010 has had to be framed in the context of the recession, the massive deficit and mess left behind by the Labour party. Despite the mess left behind—the 6% drop in GDP, the 800,000 more people unemployed—under this Conservative party, 3.4 million jobs have been created, we have record employment and record unemployment, we have provided 15 hours of free childcare for disadvantaged two-year-olds and 30 hours of free childcare for working parents, and the national living wage. We have cut income tax so that people can now earn double nearly what they could under the Labour party before paying income tax. We have not increased fuel duty for eight years and many more of our children are coming out of primary school with a far higher standard of reading and writing than previously. We have more doctors and nurses in our hospitals. We have fewer infections and people dying because of those in our hospitals, and we are putting £20 billion into the NHS and have a 10-year plan for the NHS, under which we are putting significantly more money into mental health provision. In my constituency, the Labour party tried to close A&E and maternity, so Labour does not have the record it states or thinks it has.
Have we got everything right? No, we have not got everything right in government. There is still a lot more to do. We need to make sure we build on the money and extra resources that we are now putting into the police force. We need to make sure we honour the commitment to halve and end rough sleeping. We need to make sure we keep refining universal credit in order to get it right, because having a system that gets people into work is the right thing to do. The alternative is more debt, more borrowing and a leadership team that does not believe in this country and thinks more about other countries than its own.
We are here because of the Brexit debate and Opposition Members have talked about nothing but red lines today. Whether we like what the Prime Minister put on the table yesterday or not, the red lines that she put down were based solely on the referendum in which the British public voted and on manifestos that about 85% of the public voted for. Despite problems across the House and people driving their own agendas, she has tried her best to get a deal that the House can agree with. Clearly it does not do so, but I say to Members opposite that this House voted to have a referendum and the public voted for Brexit. We must deliver on that.
People do not want a general election. They want us to get on with the job and come out of the European Union, and they want us to come together as a House to do that in a sensible way. They do not want a general election, as they do not believe that the Leader of the Opposition is a Prime Minister in waiting. They do not believe that he could be a Prime Minister. I am against this motion and I will be proud to go through the Lobby and vote to back this Government tonight.
Below is the text of the speech made by Steve Double, the Conservative MP for St. Austell and Newquay, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting).
It is well documented that I have had my differences with the Prime Minister in recent weeks and months, and it was with regret that I found I could not support her deal in the Lobby last night and had to vote against it, but I can assure the House that I will be voting against this motion of no confidence this evening, because I want this Conservative Government to remain in office.
The Prime Minister has many qualities, and those qualities have come to the fore in recent times. People across the country admire her resilience, fortitude and determination, and I join them in saying that those are indeed great qualities which she has demonstrated. Let me also say, with respect, that if she now directs those qualities towards the European Commission, her stock in this nation will rise dramatically. The people of this country want to see our Prime Minister stand up to those in the EU and tell them what it needs from the negotiations, and I encourage her to do that.
There is no doubt that the Prime Minister has been given an incredibly challenging job, but that job has been made all the harder by the behaviour of some Members who have sought to undermine her negotiating position time and again. Those who have called for a second referendum have completely undermined her position by making the EU believe that we could have a second vote to overturn the decision, thus making the deal unattractive in the hope that we would reject it, while those who have discounted no deal have undermined her position by taking it off the table. Anyone involved in negotiations will say that no deal must remain a position in any successful negotiation.
I find it very interesting that Labour Front Benchers have said that they would rule out no deal, on the basis that it would be damaging to the country. I do not think no deal would be that damaging to the country—it would be a challenge—and businesses in my community tell me time and again that what they really fear is not a no-deal Brexit but a Labour Government. They are far more afraid of that. Let me say this to those Labour Front Benchers: if you have discounted no deal on the basis that it would be damaging to businesses, will you now please discount a Labour Government on the same criterion? Businesses up and down the country want us to stay in government to prevent Labour from taking office.
It is fair to say that we are not where we want to be in these negotiations. However, I absolutely back the Prime Minister in her position, which is to say that we will continue to seek a consensus across the House in order to establish a basis on which we can renegotiate with the EU and come up with a deal that we can deliver for this country. So I will back the Government tonight. We need to deliver Brexit, we need to deliver the Brexit that we promised the country in our manifesto, and then we need to move on to a domestic agenda so that we can start to deliver the changes that the country needs and is crying out for.
Below is the text of the speech made by Laura Smith, the Labour MP for Crewe and Nantwich, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.
I think it is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), although I completely disagree with the lines she peddled about my party.
We all came to this place knowing that each of us has been given a mandate to represent the communities that elected us. No one party won the general election in 2017, but the Prime Minister was clearly able to command a functioning majority in the House of Commons, and we have all had to acknowledge that reality. I did not expect much from a Prime Minister who had promised a dementia tax, more grammar schools and an end to the ban on foxhunting, but I did have some hope that there were at least one or two policy areas where we might be able to park our party politics and begin to address the issues that matter most to the communities we represent.
For example, I know there are Conservative Members who share my concerns about funding for our schools. The Prime Minister included funding for our schools as a priority in her foreword to the Conservative party manifesto in 2017, which also committed to a real-terms increase in funding for our schools. Yet this Government have replaced one unfair schools funding formula with another, leaving schools in Crewe and Nantwich among the lowest-funded in the country. Cuts have meant that headteachers are using the pupil premium to keep their budgets afloat and parents are being asked by cash-strapped schools to pay for teaching resources.
I welcomed the commitment to tackle unfair executive pay and, to quote the Prime Minister, to build a
“Britain in which work pays”.
Yet while CEOs have managed to scoop themselves an average 11% hike in their pay this year, ordinary working people’s real wages remain lower than where they were in 2010, and millions of working families are set to be worse off under the Government’s deeply flawed universal credit system.
During the 2017 election, I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister promise to fix what she admitted was a broken care system and to bring forward a social care Green Paper. In July of that year, the Government said that
“we cannot wait any longer—we need to get on with this”.—[Official Report, House of Lords, 6 July 2017; Vol. 783, c. 987.]
By the time we got to November, they told us that it would be here by the following summer. By the time we got to the summer, they told us to expect it in the autumn, and then, before the end of the year. We are a long way from 2017, when it was first promised, and there is still no sign of a Green Paper. In the meantime, care providers in Crewe and Nantwich have been placed in special measures, care workers have been all but ignored and the elderly and most vulnerable in our communities have been neglected by this Government, while they have pulled themselves apart over Brexit.
This Government have not just failed people in the way they have handled the Brexit negotiations. They have failed on the economy; they have failed on our public services; and they have been riding roughshod over Parliament, repeatedly ignoring the expressed view of this House. I am sure there are Conservative Members who will be deeply disappointed with this Government’s record. They get the casework and they see what effect this Government’s policies have on their constituents, and they should not vote against this motion out of self-preservation.
This is not simply about the Government pursuing policies that I disagree with or failing to meet my expectations; this is about a Government who are not even coming close to delivering on their own promises. What is more, we have seen more than once that the Prime Minister cannot command a majority in the House, and we have got to break this Brexit deadlock. This Government have failed our communities and left a trail of broken promises in their wake. I think it is time we gave those we represent a chance to turn their back on these failed policies, just as this Government have turned their back on their future.
Below is the text of the speech made by Nigel Dodds, the DUP MP for Belfast North, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.
Since yesterday evening, I have been struck by how many hon. Members have been assiduous in their entreaties that my hon. Friends and I should be present to speak in this debate and to vote in the Lobby in support of the Government in order to prevent a general election. Indeed, some of those entreaties have even come from the Government side of the House. [Laughter.] Never mind the people in the country not wanting a general election; in terms of indicative votes, I think if people here had a real choice and a secret ballot, there would be an overwhelming majority against a general election.
Be that as it may, we have arrived at this debate in the aftermath of the proposition of the Prime Minister—and it really was her proposition—on the withdrawal agreement being defeated by a record majority. Last night’s verdict was emphatic, and it requires lessons to be learned if the Prime Minister is to secure meaningful changes to the withdrawal agreement. I trust that those lessons will be learned. Our view has been entirely consistent, in that we want a deal with the European Union in order to achieve an orderly exit from the European Union in March, but the backstop has been fatal to the proposed withdrawal agreement. That needs to be dealt with.
Following the general election, we entered into the confidence and supply agreement with the Conservative party, in the national interest, to pursue the agreed objectives as set out in that agreement. The support that we have secured for Northern Ireland in relation to the extra investment for the health service, education and infrastructure—regardless of constituency and regardless of political affiliation—has been widely welcomed by all fair-minded people in the Province.
On Brexit, we agreed to support the Government where they acted on the basis of our “shared priorities”—that is what the confidence and supply agreement states in terms. For us, one of our shared priorities, of course, is the preservation of the integrity of the United Kingdom and ensuring that we leave the European Union as one country, not leaving part of it behind under single market regulation while the rest is not subject to such rules made in Brussels. So we supported the Prime Minister when she said that she would secure a deal that would deliver on the verdict of the referendum—take back control of our money, our laws and our borders—and ensure that we left as one United Kingdom. We have delivered on our side of that agreement, ensuring that the Government have had the necessary supply, and ensuring a majority for the Government on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and other important legislation.
But on the issue of the Brexit backstop, as this House well knows, we do have a big difference with the Prime Minister, and so do the majority of Conservative Members who are not on the Government payroll, who oppose the Prime Minister’s deal as well. It is because the draft withdrawal agreement breaches the shared priorities for Brexit we signed up to that we have not been prepared to support it.
Now we have this no-confidence motion before us. We believe it is in the national interest to support the Government at this time so that the aims and objectives of the confidence and supply agreement we entered into can be achieved. Much work remains to be done on those matters.
As I said, I do not think that people in this country would rejoice tonight at the prospect of a general election were it to be called. I am not convinced that a general election would significantly change the composition of the House—and of course it would not change, whatever the outcome, the choices that lie before us all. The timing of this motion, as we well know, has got much more to do with the internal dynamics of the Labour party than a genuine presentation of an alternative programme for government.
We will support the Government on this motion this evening so that the Prime Minister has more time and has the space to focus now on acting in the national interest on Brexit. It is important that the Prime Minister now does listen and does deliver the Brexit that ensures that the whole of the United Kingdom leaves the European Union together.