Hugh Rossi – 1985 Speech on Acid Rain

Below is the text of the speech made by Hugh Rossi, the then Conservative MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, in the House of Commons on 11 January 1985.

I welcome this opportunity to debate the report on acid rain of the Select Committee on the Environment, and with it the Government’s reply to the report. I am particularly grateful to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House for having kept his promise to find time for the debate. Select Committee reports are not frequently discussed on the Floor of the House. Indeed, not a single Environment Committee report was debated in the House for the whole of the 1979–83 Parliament. This is the third debate accorded to the present Committee since it was appointed to the House a little over 12 months ago, so we are indeed fortunate. Having said that, I must add, without, I hope, appearing a little churlish, that I would have preferred a better time for the debate than a Friday immediately following the end of a curtailed recess. We are discussing a subject of growing importance, when public awareness is heightening, and I know that many colleagues would have wished to be present had they been able to alter their arrangements. However, I recognise the Government’s preference for a low-key parliamentary occasion on this subject, so I must be grateful for small mercies.

This is an all-party report of a Committee composed of seven Conservative Members, three Labour Members and one Liberal Member. It is a unanimous report. I wish to thank my colleagues on the Committee for all the hard work that they put in over three months to produce it in record time. Therefore, this is a House of Commons occasion, when the Back Benches seek to give some guidance to Ministers, having carried out in-depth research into matters that we know their administrative duties deny them the time to investigate in the same depth. I trust, therefore, that the debate will not be diminished by party-political posturing.

I say that directly to the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) because I heard him on the radio this morning welcoming the report because it was “straight Labour party policy”. Until the report was published, I do not recall any great concern about the matter by the Labour party, certainly not in the general election campaigns of 1979 and 1983. Moreover, when I raised the problem of sulphur emissions when I was on the Opposition Front Bench during the Second Reading of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, I did not receive a very forthcoming reply from the Labour Minister of the day. Therefore, I find it hard to see a Labour policy, but I recognise opportunism when I see it.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

The Labour party would reciprocate the spirit in which the hon. Gentleman started his speech, but he has now introduced the dimension that he sought to avoid. Does he not agree that we could close this point by saying that those who insist on and enthuse about the magic of the market must watch it carefully when we deal with national and international matters of environmental pollution?

Sir Hugh Rossi

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for showing that he agrees that this should be a House of Commons matter, and should not be diminished by party political posturing. I thought it only right, having heard the hon. Member for South Shields on the radio this morning, to respond to him, because it was the only opportunity for me so to do.

I now turn to the report. The term “acid rain” is a convenient and graphic description of the problems that we consider in it. The term is not used in its strictest sense. Not all that is covered by it is rain. We are equally concerned with dry depositions and so-called “occult” depositions, or mists, as we are with acidified rain water. Not all that is covered by the term is acid. We take into account the problems attributed to man-made ozone. However, there is a consistent common denominator. All with which the report is concerned are the products of the combustion of fossil fuels emitted into the atmosphere, which on return to ground level, either singly or in combination with one another or some other elements, cause damage to the physical environment. Therefore, acid rain is a result of burning coal or oil, whether in power stations, industrial plant, domestic boilers and grates or motor car engines, which corrodes buildings, destroys water life, damages forests, trees and plant life, and might be detrimental to human health.

The Committee commenced its inquiry with a completely open mind, and came to the unanimous conclusion that action needed to be put in hand without delay to combat the effects of acid rain. The reasoning that led to our conclusions is set out in detail in the report. Our conclusions were reached after taking and evaluating evidence both here and abroad, much of it of a technical and scientific nature, in which we were assisted by our specialist advisers, Professor Alan Williams of Leeds university and Dr. Nigel Bell of Imperial college, London, to whom we are indebted for all their help and advice.

The first matter that impressed us was the concern and anxiety over acid rain that we found on our visits to West Germany, where extensive tree and forest damage has been experienced, and to Scandinavia, where severe fish losses have been suffered through acidification of lakes and rivers. In those countries there is little doubt as to the cause, although some scientists have differed on how the effects have come about. In those countries, where damage is so extensive and obvious, there is a high level of public awareness and political pressure on Governments to act.

By contrast, in the United Kingdom, there is no such awareness and, indeed, comparatively little scientific monitoring and investigation taking place. The reasons for that are several. First, because of our climatic conditions, prevailing winds and infrequent periods of summer anticyclones, we have so far escaped the obvious effects experienced in West Germany and Scandinavia. Secondly, the Clean Air Act 1956 and the tremendous benefits brought about by smoke-free zones have lulled us into a false sense of security. The London smog that killed some 4,000 people in December 1952 has been banished, and we enjoy 70 per cent. more winter sunshine in central London than in those years, and many species of birds and plants have returned to the area which, previously, could not survive there. That legislation was far in advance of that achieved by any other country. By getting rid of the visible atmospheric pollution, the grit and the soot, we believed as a nation that the problem had been solved.

Thirdly, to that was added the tall chimney policy, as a result of which industrial smoke is sent high into the atmosphere and its contents carried by the prevailing winds many miles from source. In consequence, public anxiety subsided and scientific investigation was reduced to a very low level.

There are large areas of the United Kingdom in which no monitoring of air quality has been taking place. The recording of acid deposition is patchy and primitive. Precious little has been done to study the corrosion of buildings for almost two decades. Inquiry into damage to trees and waterways has been uncoordinated and on a minute scale. Meanwhile, vast quantities of invisible sulphur dioxide and various oxides of nitrogen have continued to be poured out into the atmosphere from the burning of coal and oil.

Today, the United Kingdom is the largest single emitter of sulphur dioxide in Europe outside the Soviet Union with something in the order of 5 million tonnes per annum. A similar picture emerges for nitrogen oxide where only western Germany produces more than we do.

No one challenges the scientific fact that when sulphur dioxide is deposited on sandstone or limestone a chemical reaction takes place which reduces to powder the surface of the buildings with which they are made. The Committee had to talk to the architect for Cologne cathedral to discover that.

When the Committee returned to the United Kingdom, it found that the Building Research Establishment had done no work on that for two decades; the CEGB had started investigating the problem some two years ago only; and the PSA had kept no central records. However, inquiries of the curators of several historical buildings revealed extensive and widespread damage extremely costly to repair.

The Committee was also told in western Germany that the modern reinforced concrete structures suffer. The acid penetrates to the metal rods, causing them to corrode, rust and expand, fracturing the concrete fabric by internal pressure. No one, but no one, has been able to confirm that to the Committee in the United Kingdom because of a complete lack of study.

When the Committee came to consider the effects upon water life, it found the scientific picture to be more complex. The extent to which water life is affected by depositions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide depends upon the geology of the catchment area of the waters. There is no doubt that increased acidity of water kills vulnerable eggs and fry especially after snow melts when there can be a sudden surge of acidity. High levels of acidity leach toxic metals into the water which kill adult fish.

The acid effect can be buffered in areas where there is calcium in the subsoil, so fish there suffer less than in areas where a comparable degree of acid deposition falls upon granite.

In Sweden, 18,000 out of 20,000 lakes are acidified and some 4,000 have entirely lost their fish stocks. In Norway a survey of 2,840 lakes showed that 1,711 had lost their fish due to acidification. In the United Kingdom, the Committee found that fish loss is now being experienced in Scotland. A fish farmer in Dumfriesshire suffered serious unexplained losses until scientific research commissioned by him from Stirling university revealed that it was due to acidification of a burn from which he drew his water. Although the Committee does not have evidence, it understands that Wales is now expressing anxiety.

Liming is recommended by some British sources as an antidote. There is no doubt that artificial additions of calcium can neutralise acidity. However, the Swedes consider that to be a temporary measure at best, and the Norwegians say that it is useless in fast-running waters. It cannot combat the acid surges from snow melt at breeding time. They argue that the remedy is to stop the emission of the acid at source and not to attempt to combat it when it has been deposited.

The Committee found the effects on acid rain on trees and forests more difficult to investigate. That was mainly due to the fact that original observations in western Germany had again blamed sulphur dioxide as being the main culprit. It was suggested by some of their scientists that that released toxic metals in the soils, damaging fibre roots.

More recent studies have shown that ozone produced as the result of a reaction between nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons in sunlight is a significant cause of needle burn and loss to pine trees. It now seems to be generally accepted in western Germany and Scandinavia and by some scientists in this country that ozone is the principal factor in tree damage in western Germany and Scandinavia. In western Germany, the Committee found that some 50 per cent. of the forests are affected.

However, it must be remembered that, whether sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons combining into ozone are the main culprits, all are the result of burning fossil fuels. The distinction lies in the source, as evidence shows that the motor car engine is equally culpable in the production of nitrogen and hydrocarbons whereas sulphur dioxide comes mainly from industry and power stations.

So far, the United Kingdom can rejoice in that it seems to have escaped the serious effects that acid rain has had on water life and forests in other countries. Whether we are simply some years behind other countries in feeling the cumulative effects of acid deposition because we have been protected by our climatic conditions is impossible to say. That requires monitoring and research, which has not been taking place.

Hence the several recommendations that the Committee makes for such programmes, which I am pleased to note that the Government have accepted, including those for the development of new combustion technology in industry, power stations and motor car engines for the reduction of emissions.

I must express the Committee’s gratitude for the fact that 19 of its 21 recommendations have been accepted by the Government and are to be acted upon. However, we are disappointed that the Government are not prepared to recognise the need for urgent action to reduce emissions. The experience of other countries suggests that, while damage may be slow in coming, it spreads rapidly when it does come, and the first signs have already appeared in this country.

The Committee feels also that we have a responsibility to our neighbours. Whilst our tall chimneys and prevailing winds enable us to export 70 per cent. of our sulphur dioxide production, saving ourselves from its worst effects, there is no doubt that we are causing severe damage in neighbouring countries.

Good international relations are important, as the Government recognise in many other aspects of their policy. It is therefore inexplicable that the Government should refuse to accept the Committee’s recommendation to join the “30 per cent. club” to which some 20 countries already belong. The commitment would be to reduce sulphur emissions by 30 per cent. by 1993, taking 1980 as the base year. This country has already achieved a 20 per cent. reduction in four years, leaving only the remaining 10 per cent. to be attained over the next nine years. Instead, the Government offer in their reply to attain that 10 per cent. over 16 years—by the end of the 1990s. The principle is accepted but the time scale is extended for what is, in the Committee’s view, a dangerously long time. This cannot begin to be an exercise in international co-operation. Surely it is not necessary to be so excessively timid. It shows a regrettable lack of good neighbourliness.

Curious about this aspect of the Government’s reply is the fact that, although they assert in paragraph 1.3 that they aim to achieve the 30 per cent. reduction by the 1990s, they do not say how they intend to achieve it. On the contrary. They go on to say that expenditure in curtailing flue gas desulphurisation in existing power stations cannot be justified.

If this solution is rejected and it is known that new combustion technologies will not be available for several years, let alone installed and operating, will the Minister please explain the precise Government programme for the 30 per cent. reduction and how it is intended to be achieved? The reply is totally silent on that.

The Committee also recommends that the Government embark, with our European partners, on a much more ambitious course than the 30 per cent. reduction; namely, the adoption of the EEC draft directive requiring a 60 per cent. reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions by 1995, again taking 1980 as the base year.

The power stations in Britain are by far the largest emitters both of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The targets could be reached by the adaptation of some of the larger power stations and by requiring industry to install new technology as and when new factories are built.

The cost to the electricity generating industry would be substantial — approximately £1.5 billion, or the equivalent of a rise of 5 per cent. in electricity charges. All this cost, however, would be spread over a 10-year period.

It is perhaps understandable that the Government should have baulked at undertaking such a large expenditure, especially when their main preoccupation at present is to find every possible means of reducing public expenditure. It is even more understandable that the Government should have been reluctant when they have been receiving advice from not disinterested sources to the effect that it is by no means sure that the expenditure proposed would solve the problem.

In our report, we have collated evidence from a variety of outside sources from which information has not been collated before; evidence which has not previously been considered by Government advisers and Ministers. We believe that all the evidence leads inexorably to the conclusions that we have reached and that sooner or later the Government will be obliged to recognise the validity of our conclusions.

I can only express the hope that a more careful study will be made by the Government of the evidence that we have found and that they will then be moved to take urgent action before irrevocable damage is suffered, damage which in the long term will cost far more to mitigate than the sums posited in our report.

Michael Jopling – 1985 Speech on EC Fisheries Arrangements

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Jopling, the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in the House of Commons on 10 January 1985.

I beg to move, That this House takes note of European Community Document No. 10171/84 and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food’s unnumbered explanatory memorandum on 1985 total allowable catches and quotas; of the unnumbered explanatory memorandum on 1985 catch quotas in Greenland waters, and of the unnumbered explanatory memoranda on the fisheries agreements for 1985 between the European Community and Norway, the European Community and the Faroe Islands and the European Community and Spain; of European Community Documents Nos. 10697/84 on technical conservation measures and 10264/84 on 1985 fish guide prices; and welcomes and approves the provisional agreement reached on these arrangements for 1985 with the improvements obtained for the United Kingdom fishing industry. The motion before the House makes it clear that tonight’s debate covers a number of documents on EC fisheries legislation, most of which are concerned with the fishing arrangements for 1985 under the common fisheries policy.

Those documents have been recommended for the further consideration of the House by the Select Committee on European Legislation. We are, as always, grateful to the Committee for its careful scrutiny of these matters, particularly on this occasion when, I understand, it held a meeting yesterday in addition to its planned programme in order to deal with some of the later documents which have come before us.

Before going into detail on the various documents, I should first explain that the complete proposals on total allowable catches and quotas and on the third country agreements were presented on 18 December for discussion at the Fisheries Council the very next day, and that, after lengthy negotiations, a compromise package emerged to which all the other member states were able to give their agreement.

I considered that that package was satisfactory for the United Kingdom, too, but, in view of the recommendation of the Select Committee, I entered a formal reservation on the adoption of the regulations for 1985, pending a debate in the House.

However, in order that fishing should not be interrupted, I agreed that the regulations should be adopted on an interim basis to 20 January only, pending clarification of the United Kingdom position following completion of the Parliamentary scrutiny procedures. Therefore, the position of the House is fully reserved.

I should also mention that the proposals on guide prices for 1985, which were considered by the Select Committee on 14 November, came before the Council for urgent adoption in a revised form on 4 December. Given the nature of the proposals, and the need for a number of detailed implementing measures to be taken before the new prices could take effect on 1 January, I judged that it would not be in our interest to hold up adoption.

Therefore, I subsequently wrote explaining this decision to the Chairman of the Select Committee, the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) who is so assiduous about such matters, and I am glad to say that with his customary understanding he was able fully to accept my explanation.

Having dealt with these procedural questions, let me now deal with the substance of the measures involved. I shall deal first with the TACs and quotas for 1985 covered by document 10171/84 and the unnumbered explanatory memorandum of 4 January.

The annual fixing of TACs and quotas is of course one of the principal cornerstones of the common fisheries policy, determining as it does the opportunities for fishermen, and it is of particular concern to the United Kingdom given our major interest in most of the stocks concerned.

In 1984, agreement was reached on the TACs and quotas for the year at the end of January, but we and the other member states were determined this time to make every effort to settle TACs and quotas for 1985 before the beginning of the year, so as to give the industry a clear basis on which to plan. That we have now achieved, subject only to my own parliamentary reservation, and I see that as an important step forward in the development of the common fisheries policy as an effective instrument of fisheries regulation and management. I should also add that that was no easy achievement, given in particular the need for prior negotiations with a number of third countries, notably Norway.

Therefore, I think it right to pay tribute both to the Commission and to the Irish President of the council, that an acceptable compromise package was reached in the course of a single day’s negotiations, particularly as a full set of proposals was not available until the day before the Council meeting.

I shall now outline the main elements of interest to the United Kingdom, starting with the North sea joint stocks. Here, there are increases in the availability of all white fish stocks, as agreed with Norway in the light of the latest scientific advice.

The higher United Kingdom quotas for cod, haddock and saithe in particular, representing increases of 15 per cent., 19.8 per cent. and 11.1 per cent. respectively, will be most welcome to our fishermen both north and south of the border.

In particular, it is gratifying that North sea cod, about which concern has been expressed in the House on a number of occasions, has shown enough signs of recovery to enable the TAC to be increased significantly for 1985.

It has not yet proved possible to reach agreement with Norway on the problem of the allocation of the North sea herring stock. But, without sacrificing our existing firm position on that issue, it has been agreed that negotiations will continue in the course of 1985.

In the meantime, both parties will regulate their herring fisheries independently on an interim basis in the light of the scientific advice. That involves a provisional TAC for the Community sector of 320,000 tonnes.

The United Kingdom quota in the northern and central zones—IV A and B—which is more important for us than the southern zone, IV C, is to be 58,490 tonnes, more than double our figures for 1984. For the southern zone, IV C, our quota has also increased to 9,700 tonnes, and the provision allowing the transfer of a part of this quantity in IV C to the central North sea, IV B has been increased from 20 to 25 per cent. So we could using that transfer mechanism, fish 60,915 tonnes in IV A and B and 7,275 in IV C.

That allocation between the three North sea areas therefore constitutes for the United Kingdom a considerable improvement over the Commission’s original 970 proposal and I know that the fishing industry attaches great importance to the changes which were achieved in the negotiation.

The quantities of North sea mackerel available to the Community under the agreement with Norway have also been also increased. In previous years, the United Kingdom had not been awarded a quota for this stock, but in this year’s package several member states, including the United Kingdom have been allocated a small quantity, of 330 tonnes, mainly intended to cover unavoidable by-catches of mackerel in the North sea herring fisheries.

I come to stocks which lie outside the North sea. The TACs for west of Scotland haddock and herring will be lower than in 1984 in the light of clear scientific advice on the state of these stocks. I was, however, able to ensure that the figures in the final package were significantly higher than those originally proposed by the Commission. This is particularly important for the west coast herring fishery.

The so-called Manx herring TAC is further increased for 1985 to 4,400 tonnes, which will be particularly welcome to the Northern Irish boats which mainly prosecute this fishery.

The TAC for western mackerel, a stock of great importance to the United Kingdom fishing industry, is to be reduced following firm scientific advice. However, as I believe our industry recognises, this reduction is clearly in the best interest of the long-term conservation of the stock, and it should not in practice restrict the activities of our fishermen, as the reduced United Kingdom quota for 1985, of 220,000 tonnes, is still higher than our expected catch, which was about 185,000 tonnes in 1984.

Before leaving the question of TACs, I should mention a group of small but locally important white fish stocks in area VII; that is, the Irish sea, Bristol channel, Western approaches and English channel. During 1984, the TACs for this group of stocks and the management of the United Kingdom quotas attracted a great deal of attention, and although we were able to get a number of the TACs increased and arrange quota swaps with other member states, it was unfortunately necessary to close certain of the sole and plaice fisheries at various stages in the year.

Despite this, the Commission’s original proposals for 1985 would have meant reductions in the United Kingdom quota for some of these stocks, and I thus pressed strongly for these proposals to be reconsidered.

I am glad to report that the compromise package retains the quotas for all the area VII white fish stocks at least the 1984 level, while in the case of certain stocks of particular interest to our fishermen—notably, sole in both sections of the English channel and plaice both in the Irish sea and in the English channel — we have secured modest increases.

We shall of course continue to have to manage these, and, indeed, many of the other, quotas carefully, since the fishing opportunities they provide are by no means unlimited. Nevertheless, I can confidently state that the outcome of the Council’s deliberations on the quotas for 1985 represents an exceedingly good package for the United Kingdom fishing industry, and it has been warmly welcomed by the fishermen’s representatives, and I have no hesitation in commending it to the House.

Andrew Bennett – 1985 Speech on UK Aid to Ethiopia

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrew Bennett, the then Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, in the House of Commons on 10 January 1985.

I am grateful for the opportunity to bring the House back to discussing United Kingdom aid to Ethiopia.

The horrors of the famine in Ethiopia have been in world headlines for three months. The response of the people of Britain in raising money for aid and of the charities to use that money effectively has been remarkable. The United Kingdom Government and many others have mounted a massive campaign to get short-term aid to Ethiopia. I believe that the Ethiopian Government, its people and other groups in Tigré and Eritrea have also made tremendous efforts to tackle the problems of the famine; but in Tigré and Wollo in Ethiopia, people are still dying at about the same rate as in October. There are more people in relief camps in Ethiopia and the Sudan and, if anything, the need for aid is growing rather than diminishing. Increasing numbers of people are being driven from their homes and villages in Ethiopia by the famine. Sadly, the massive effort has not resulted in the matter getting better. We can only claim that it has not got worse much more quickly.

The horrors that were reported on television in October, which I and other hon. Members and the Minister saw in November, are the result largely of the failure of the 1983 harvest. We now face the problems of the 1984 harvest. If we are able to get only 90,000 tonnes of food into Ethiopia through the port of Assab each month from now until October, we shall only hold the crisis at bay. If we can get only 20,000 tonnes of food into Ethiopia each month through the Sudan, we shall also only be holding the crisis at bay. All we are doing is preventing a horrific position from getting worse. It is against that background that I want to put specific questions to the Minister on what the Government are doing to try to improve conditions.

I hope that the Minister will be able to give the House up-to-date information about the pledges on food grain. Can he go back to his answer of 4 December and update the table on pledges for food grain and supplementary food for Ethiopia? What are the expected dates of arrival of those pledges in the port of Assab? Is he satisfied that enough has been promised for the next nine months to ensure that at least the present standard of aid can be continued?

Can the Minister explain to the House and to the country why the United Nations and the world food programme denied in November that there would be a shortage of grain in the port of Assab in December whereas, as I understand it, for almost three weeks there was insufficient grain in the port to keep the relief operation going at full force? What steps are the Government taking to try to sort out what appears to be a great deal of complacency and incompetence in the United Nations and the world food programme? Is he satisfied that the United Nations has got its co-ordination working?

Is it true that there is still insufficient food promised for delivery in April and May? What are the Government doing to ensure that sufficient food will be provided? Can the Minister tell us how much of the EC aid promised at the Dublin summit has been committed to Ethiopia and how far that has got into a programme for delivery from specific countries? Can he assure us that that aid earmarked for Ethiopia will get there at specific times?

Is the Minister satisfied that a steady supply of aid is planned to arrive at the port of Assab in the months from April to October? Is he satisfied that sufficient food has been promised for delivery through the Sudan to Western Tigré and Eritrea? Is he satisfied that there are sufficient vehicles to transport it on that route?

I am sure the Minister will agree that the RAF played a major role in moving the grain from Assab during November. It is still fulfilling that role. Can he tell us if the Government will ensure that the RAF remains there beyond the end of this month? I think that the initial promise was that it would be there for three months. Many people said from the start that it would be needed for much longer. I hope that the Government can promise now that the Hercules planes and the RAF will remain in Ethiopia for at least a further five or six months.

What steps have been taken to improve the handling capacity at the port of Assab? How many vehicles have our Government supplied; and are we in a position to increase the handling capacity of that port? Are we able to speed up the transport of grain by road into Wollo and Tigré?

Can the Minister tell us about increased supplies of supplementary food? When one talks to the relief agencies one finds that there is considerable concern that there are not facilities in some of the relief camps to mill grain and that some of the grain is not put to the best use because it is difficult for young children to eat it in the form in which it arrives. Can the Government say anything about the possibility of increasing supplementary food and helping the Ethiopian Government to process food if it does not arrive in a suitable form for young children.

Can the Minister tell us what is being done to improve accommodation in the camps, particularly if the small rains come in late January and February, to ensure that people are not out in he open?

This brings me on to medium-term aid. What are the Government doing to try to ensure that the people in the affected areas of Ethiopia will be able to return to their villages and plant crops in June, July, August and September if the 1985 rains come? What are we doing to help with the supply of seed and draught animals for ploughing? Are we able to give any short-term aid to ensure that the water is effectively trapped, to reduce the amount of soil erosion that results from some of the storms, and to help improve cultivation? What aims do we have to try to get sufficient food into the relief camps so that people can take three months supply of food back to their villages when they return to cultivate the land?

Can the Minister say more about the Government’s attempts to negotiate long-term aid schemes with the Ethiopian Government? I am sure that on his visit he realised that it was not sufficient to provide only short-term aid and that we must look to long-term aid.

I am tremendously impressed by the efforts of the British people, be they school children or others, to raise money for Ethiopia. It is clear that my constituents and the people of this country want the starving to be fed now, and many feel strongly that this situation should not occur again. As I have said before, many people died in the affected areas of Ethiopia in 1965, they died in large numbers in 1973, and they are dying now. Now that the Minister and other hon. Members have been to see for themselves, we have an absolute responsibility to ensure that this does not happen again. The only way we can do so is by turning to long-term aid.

I hope that the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) will catch the eye of the Chair, after which I look forward to the Minister’s reply.

Jim Wallace – 1985 Speech on the Youth Charter

Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Wallace, the then Liberal MP for Orkney and Shetland, in the House of Commons on 9 January 1985.

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to promote opportunities for young people in International Youth Year 1985 by establishing a youth charter giving rights and representation to young people: and for connected purposes. I am pleased to be able to seek the leave of the House to bring in this Bill on the first sitting day of 1985, which is International Youth Year. At the earliest possible opportunity in the year, the House could, by giving me leave to bring in the Bill, express its concern for the problems faced by our young people, and its faith and confidence in them, by extending to them the rights and opportunities that would be contained in the youth charter that I propose.
I have referred to the problems faced by many young people. Regrettably, for many, this new year is no new dawn of hope. Four unemployed people out of 10 will be under 25 and 350,000 people will be on training schemes without the certainty of a job at the end. With 22,000 fewer university places than five years ago—equivalent to the closure of two universities the size of Cambridge — many young people will have their academic aspirations frustrated and will be denied the opportunities enjoyed by myself and my contemporaries only a decade ago. In 1985 drug abuse by young people will reach unprecedented levels, as will juvenile crime.

It is idle to expect that one Bill could remedy these many wrongs. Other political measures requiring Government initiative will be necessary. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I would welcome the appointment of a Minister to co-ordinate Government policies affecting young people. We are in danger of allowing a generation of young people to grow up many of whom feel totally alienated from the society and community of which they are members. During International Youth Year, my hon. Friends and I will try to bring before the House a series of measures which, if supported, would signal to the young people of our country our awareness of their problems and our willingness to respond to them.

In proposing a youth charter, it would be all too easy for me to fall into the trap of patronising the young or telling them what is best for them. Rather than do that, the charter would seek to establish rights and to create a framework within which young people could participate more fully in the affairs of the community and the decisions that affect or shape their lives. I hope that the charter would reflect the themes of International Youth Year: participation, development and peace.

Under the heading “participation” we would hope for greater involvement by young people in decision-making. We would propose a lower voting age and a lower age for candidature. At a time when the future of the world is in the hands of two super-power leaders in comparison with whom our own Prime Minister is a young chicken, is there any relevance in considering those at the other end of the age scale? The young have an important stake in the future, and what they lack in experience may be more than compensated for by the fresh ideas that they can bring forward. A number of causes now coming to the fore in politics — for example, environmental concern — were espoused by young people long before they gained political respectability.

At local level, we believe that there should be a right of youth representation on a number of local committees, including health councils, school and college boards and local education authority committees. There is a precedent in the case of the churches for the inclusion of representation on local education authorities. It seems reasonable, therefore, to extend the principle to the consumers of the system.

We believe that there should be an input into the local Manpower Services Commission committees from young people on youth training schemes. Those who take part in the schemes could put forward useful proposals for their improvement. We also believe that there should be greater youth representation on the local police authority. That view is in line with the recommendation of Lord Scarman in his report on the Brixton riots. This is yet another example of how involvement, and the responsibility that goes with it, can break down the barriers of hostility and alienation which are often found in relations between young people and the police.

We also recommend democratically elected local youth councils. They would be a forum in which young people could express their anxieties to statutory bodies in their areas. The worries of young people in decaying inner cities are very different from those of young people in rural communities, and it is important that someone should represent and communicate the views of young people.

With regard to development, a young person must be able to develop his personality. He can do that inadequately if he is unemployed, insufficiently trained or educated, or poorly housed. We should establish as a right the opportunity for all teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 to have a real choice between continuing in full-time education, taking a place on a much improved training scheme and finding employment. I admit that that would require resources, but it is not an especially new or radical suggestion. In International Youth Year, we should be prepared to look to the examples set by France and West Germany in the training and education of young people.

When young people want to take the initiative and create their own employment through co-operatives or self-employment, for example, statutory bodies such as the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas, the Welsh Development Agency and the Highlands and Islands Development Board should have a remit to provide financial assistance and, more importantly, legal, managerial and marketing advice and expertise.

I am aware that some young people fail to develop their personalities through disadvantage, especially because of race or disability. The charter proposes a youth service which is managed substantially by young people to cater for the needs of such groups.

Development will not be confined to the individual—the wider community would benefit from the greater involvement of young people. A recent opinion poll, which was published in The Times, showed that 78 per cent. of 15 to 24-year-olds support a scheme for all young people to do voluntary community service on leaving school. Some voluntary schemes already exist. With the minimum of bureaucracy, we should like local bodies to be set up to ensure proper co-ordination between community and voluntary efforts.

The measures that I have outlined are by no means exhaustive. The third theme which ties them all together is peace.

It is regrettable that we cannot legislate to create peace. However, we can establish a framework and an environment which fosters and promotes peace. A youth charter would try to do just that. It would try to ensure peace of mind for a person who might be frustrated by inadequate employment, unemployment or because his academic aspirations have been thwarted. It would promote peace in communities by encouraging participation and trying to break down barriers. When the House debates the great issues of world peace we should remember that few have a greater interest in it than the youth of today.

In commending the Bill, I ask the House to support measures that will promote the cause of youth, and allow the voice of youth to be heard. Perhaps more importantly, I ask the House and politicians of the older and not so old generations to listen to the voice of youth and pay heed to their anxieties and ideals in International Youth Year.

John Farr – 1985 Speech on Maternity Units

Below is the text of the speech made by Sir John Farr, the then Conservative MP for Harborough, in the House of Commons on 9 January 1985.

The purpose of my debate is to raise the subject of the small peripheral maternity units in some of the smaller hospitals in Britain. Very often in our major debates on the Health Service in England and Wales the smaller unit, which often gives better value to the public than the larger, more impersonal unit, is overlooked. I am compelled to raise this matter with my hon. Friend because I am concerned about what is proposed for Market Harborough general hospital maternity unit, which has 11 beds.

The value of this unit is recognised not only by the more than 5,000 people who have signed a petition to save it but by Leicester area health authority, which in February 1984 produced an admirable document entitled Strategic Intentions 1984 to 1994″. In this the authority saw the need to keep until 1994 the 11 maternity beds in Market Harborough. The document was entitled, “For consultation”. Naturally, this met with total local support. Therefore, it was with considerable dismay and surprise that I learnt that a further document had been produced by Leicester health authority in October 1984, this time called A Strategic Plan for the NHS in Leicestershire 1984–94 and described as a “draft for consultation”. The proposal is to reduce by almost half the maternity provision for Market Harborough—from 11 beds to six. Eleven beds provide a professional unit; six provide emergency treatment only.

The House might ask what happened between February and October to change the area health authority’s proposals. Was it a sudden surge of public opinion expressing itself instinctively, to which the health authority reacted? As the representative of Market Harborough and the surrounding villages, I assure the House that that was not what happened. Between February and October last year one of the most remarkable expressions of public opinion that I have known took place. Out of about 15,000 persons in the general hospital’s catchment area, over 5,000 signed the SOBBs petition — that is the petition to “Save Our Babies Beds”. I was overwhelmed by letters protesting about the rundown of beds. Between March and October I received only one letter in favour of the rundown. It was from the community health council.

The Leicestershire community health council does an excellent job, but in this case it is out of touch. For example, it has recently conducted a mass canvas of local people about organ donors. The Minister is a pioneer in this respect. He may recall my modest endeavour when I introduced a Bill designed to secure the anonymity of organ donors.

As my hon. Friend knows, the supply of organs is insufficient. The community health council has an excellent public consultation scheme. Nearly 3,000 people have been approached to find out what they think of the organ donor scheme and how it can be improved. The results, which have been sent to the Minister’s office, show that the majority do not want a change in the scheme.

I have told the secretary of the Leicestershire community health council, Brian Marshall, that I support what he is doing to promote the availability of organs but that the council should conduct the same public relations exercise for the Market Harborough maternity unit.

The community health council is the only supporter of the area health authority’s sudden change of view. Public opinion did not cause the sudden change by the health authority. What did change it? In 1982 I was concerned about possible threats to the future of that highly successful unit. I wrote to the excellent lady chairman of Leicestershire health authority in May 1982, and Mrs. Margaret Galsworthy replied on 24 May 1982 to the effect that the authority had no plans for any closure of maternity beds in Market Harborough hospital, so far as could be foreseen.

The House will be interested to know that in the Leicester area alone it is the intention to slash the peripheral general practitioner maternity bed provision from 94 beds at the moment to 37 in 1994, a reduction of over 60 per cent. The figures include a reduction from 11 to six in Market Harborough.

I am convinced that behind the change of heart by the Leicester health authority is pressure from Trent region to centralise births. It has declined to provide new replacement GP units in the Trent region and is apparently determined to extinguish the peripheral GP maternity units altogether. In a recent leaflet it gives that as the policy of what it called its regional medical committee and backs that up by saying that it means a lower mortality rate for babies. The House accepts that priority must be given to securing the lowest possible mortality rate of babies. It is a most important factor; in fact, it is the most important factor that can be taken into consideration.

Trent region goes on to say that in the region in 1970, for instance, there were 23 baby deaths per 1,000, and that that figure had been improved to 13 per 1,000 by 1980. However, the single staggering fact, to which I call the attention of the House tonight, is that in the Market Harborough maternity unit, where it is proposed to halve the number of beds, compared with the 13 mortalities per 1,000 nationally, and 6.1 mortalities per 1,000 in comparable units, the figure is 0.67 per 1,000 deliveries. That is a remarkable statistic. It shows that the mortality level in that excellent unit is 20 times lower than the national average, yet Trent says that the unit is too small, does not work and should be closed because it is not wanted.

In the past 10 years, the unit in Market Harborough, in co-operation with consultants, has provided facilities for no fewer than 2,972 patients, of which 1,650 were delivered. During that time only two infants have died in the ward. One of them, delivered in a consultant unit, died unexpectedly of severe cardiac abnormalities, and the other was stillborn — no foetal heart was audible on admission in labour. The perinatal mortality rate of 0.67 per 1,000 deliveries compares with an average of 6.1 per 1,000 in comparable units and 13.3 per 1,000 in all maternity units. Any major change in the facilities available will lead to a deterioration in that record.

My hon. Friend is a busy, well-respected and much-admired Minister, but he should make time to rush to Market Harborough to see what is there. He should come and admire the unit. He would find a part of the National Health Service that is universally loved, admired and respected. He, like me, believes in the NHS. We want to make it successful. In Market Harborough we have a small maternity unit which is an example of how we would all like the NHS to be.

We must remember that it is the mothers’ opinions that count. It may be of interest to my hon. Friend to know that there is a practice at Bowden house, Market Harborough, conducted by eight doctors who work at the Market Harborough general hospital. In a recent letter they said to me that over 90 per cent. of their patients request delivery in Market Harborough hospital and that that is a conservative estimate. They said that: we would be unable to guarantee a bed should these cuts be made. We believe that a significant number of women would not accept delivery in Leicester, and this would result in an increase in the number of home confinements and of deliveries on the way to hospital, thereby increasing the demands on the Flying Squad and already over-stretched Ambulance Services. My hon. Friend is aware that I have been writing to him regularly on this subject since August, and I have been approaching you, Mr. Speaker, regularly for an Adjournment debate. I have come out top of the ballot this year, for which I am grateful. That I did not introduce the debate earlier was not due to lack of interest or urgency. The matter is important to local people.

My hon. Friend wrote a courteous letter to me on 25 October. He said that should any closure proposals emerging from these current discussions be opposed by the CHC, these will come to the Secretary of State for final decision. These proposals are flying in the face of public opinion, the wishes of the mothers and of expert medical opinion. The CHC is completely alone in supporting the proposals and I invite my hon. Friend to investigate the CHC’s attitude, which makes it unique.

Jeremy Corbyn – 2019 Speech at NEU Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, at the National Education Union (NEU) conference held on 16 April 2019.

Thank you for that introduction.

Thank you to all teachers for what you do!

I am very honoured to be invited here to speak to you today at the first ever conference of the National Education Union and can I start by congratulating you on the merger of the NUT and the ATL.

You’ve come together to speak with one collective voice. The old trade union slogan ‘Unity is Strength’ is as true today as it ever was.

And I want to congratulate and thank your General Secretaries Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted for overseeing the merger.

Kevin and Mary: thank you for bringing your unions together, standing up for your members and standing up for the principle of education as a right.

And let me mention in particular the international solidarity work of the NEU.

I’m thinking of your campaign against private fee-paying schools in the Global South – particularly in Kenya and Uganda – and your support for Palestinian teachers working in such difficult circumstances, especially since the US chose to pull its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

But I have to thank the NEU for another reason too. I want to thank you for inviting me to give a speech that isn’t about Brexit.

I think we’ve reached a stage where even political journalists are getting sick of it.

What happens with Brexit is, of course, vitally important and the Labour Party is currently in talks with the government which are serious and constructive.

But I know people are fed up with all the other critical issues that affect their daily lives being ignored because of it and education comes towards the top of that list.

Education is the pathway to liberation – not just for the individual but for society as a whole.

But that pathway is becoming ever narrower.

For years the idea that education has value in and of itself has been in retreat, replaced by the more limited notion that the only point of education is to meet the needs of the economy or business.

That thinking has increasingly been reflected in the way education is delivered in the proliferation of testing and competition and in the culture of educational institutions.

And since 2010 this retreat has been hastened by the devastating effects of austerity on our education system, which has seen schools stripped back to the bone and university students loaded with debt.

The result has been a narrowing of what education offers to people.

Of course a central task of the education system should always be to prepare young people for the world of work.

But we believe that it must do more than that. That it must be broader, that education is a public good and that encouraging creativity, critical thinking and an understanding of the world is important too.

The language and methods of the market have invaded our schools and universities and encroached on young people’s learning.

Academies and free schools have brought the private sector into the heart of our children’s education.

But have they improved results? Have they empowered parents? You know the answer to those questions.

What they have done is introduce the concept of Multi-Academy Trusts with chief executives on salaries of as much as £420,000.

So I’m proud that at the Labour Party conference last September, Angela Rayner our Shadow Education Secretary announced that the next Labour government will immediately end the academy and free schools programmes.

I want to thank Angela and her team for the work they’re doing on this and for setting out a new agenda for education after nine years of Conservative failure.

And at the centre of that agenda is the creation of a National Education Service which will be the great legacy of the next Labour government.

It will remove the corporations from the classroom and the campus.

Because we believe that education is a right not a commodity to be bought and sold.

The National Education Service will make education freely available to everyone whatever their age from cradle to grave – just like the NHS.

My great friend Tony Benn used to say that education should be like an escalator running alongside you throughout life, that you can get on and off whenever you want.

What a wonderful way of putting it.

And so we will make free lifelong learning a reality.

And we will abolish tuition fees.

And at the other end of the scale but just as important we will provide 30 hours of free early years provision for EVERY two, three and four year old.

A recent report from the House of Commons Education Select Committee found huge inequalities in early years provision in England.

And that has knock-on effects.

A disadvantaged pupil in England is almost two years behind their peers by the time they take their GCSEs at age 16.

Children who get a good start in life at pre-school do so much better in schools and beyond.

I want all children in every part of the country to get that good start.

School should be about supporting every child in our society to reach their full potential to explore where their talents lie and to discover their passions.

A healthy society needs the full breadth of talents and skills that are developed in those vital years.

At primary school in particular children need the space and freedom to let their imaginations roam.

Instead at the ages of just 7 and 11 we put them through the unnecessary pressure of national exams.

I think that’s wrong.

And I think parents agree.

They don’t want their children stressed out at a young age.

SATs and the regime of extreme pressure testing are giving young children nightmares and leaving them in floods of tears.

Teachers are reporting instances of sleeplessness, anxiety and depression in primary school children during exam periods.

And it’s even worse for children with special educational needs and disabilities. One teacher said the exams “reinforce everything they can’t do instead of what they’re good at.”

Why are we doing this to our children?

These excessive exams are not driving up standards but they are driving up stress both for children and for teachers.

I meet teachers of all ages and backgrounds who are totally overworked and overstressed.

These are dedicated public servants. It’s just wrong.

They get into the profession because they want to inspire children not pass them along an assembly line.

It’s no wonder we have a crisis of teacher retention and recruitment.

Forty percent of teachers leave the profession within five years of starting their training often because of the unmanageable workload.

And when the system forces teachers to ‘teach to the test’ narrowing down the range of learning to core parts of core subjects to get through exams that’s not actually helping pupils.

We need to prepare children for life not just for exams.

These tests are bad for children, bad for parents and bad for teachers.

We need a different approach.

So today I can give you this commitment: the next Labour government will scrap primary school SATs for seven and eleven year olds.

And we’ll scrap the government’s planned new baseline assessments for reception classes too because they can’t give accurate comparisons between schools when pupils have such different backgrounds.

Instead we will raise standards by freeing up teachers to teach.

Labour trusts teachers. You are professionals. You know your job. You know your students.

We will consult with teaching unions, parents and experts and bring forward proposals for a new system that separates the assessment of schools from the assessment of children.

It will be based on clear principles.

First to understand the learning needs of each child because every child is unique.

And second to encourage a broad curriculum aimed at a rounded education.

When children have a rich and varied curriculum when they are encouraged to be creative to develop their imagination then there’s evidence that they do better at the core elements of literacy and numeracy too.

So I’m proud of Labour’s Arts Pupil Premium that will ensure children can learn musical instruments drama and dance and visit theatres, galleries and museums.

Those things are part of what make us human and what bring us joy. Children should be allowed to be part of that.

The pressure heaped on primary children and teachers by SATs comes on top of the devastating impact of austerity on our schools.

More than 90% of schools have had their per pupil funding cut the first cuts to school funding in a generation.

Classrooms are overcrowded.

Support staff have been cut.

Children are losing out.

This is an attack on a whole generation who are being denied the start in life they deserve.

The shocking stories we hear speak for themselves:

Head teachers sending out begging letters to parents asking for money to buy basics like gluesticks and paper.

Teachers staying behind after hours to clean classrooms.

Schools closing on a Friday, as they simply don’t have the money to pay staff or pay the bills to keep the school open all week.

In the fifth richest country on earth.

This is the reality of nine years of Conservative government.

And although there isn’t a single area of the country left unscathed, the cuts are hitting the most hard up areas and the most disadvantaged children hardest.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities – some of our most vulnerable young people – are suffering particularly badly.

According to this union, special needs provision in England has lost out on more than a billion pounds since 2015 because of shortfalls in central government funding to local authorities.

I commend the work of the NEU in exposing this scandal.

And I’m very worried that children with special educational needs are being permanently excluded from school at a rate six times higher than that of other pupils.

We must not brush under the carpet the issue of school exclusions.

Yes, some children can be difficult. Yes, these problems are often complex.

But the increase in exclusions is being driven in part by austerity, as schools can’t provide the support and they can’t fall back on other services that are being cut too.

Look further down the line at what happens to children that are excluded, the harm it can do to their life chances, and the greater cost to society later on. We have a responsibility to ensure they have a fair chance.

We shouldn’t think that the issues affecting education can be separated from the rest of society.

Children living in poverty – children going hungry – are not going to be able to concentrate in class, as the NEU survey released over the weekend shows.

And when other services are cut, it’s left to schools to pick up the pieces.

Over a thousand Sure Start centres have closed. 4,500 jobs in youth work have gone.

And at the same time some schools are having to organise food banks for families who can’t afford to feed their children because of the Tories’ cruel Universal Credit.

We hear of teachers having to source mattresses for students whose families can’t afford them and staff supplying children with school uniforms which parents are unable to pay for.

The circumstances children are living in have the biggest impact on their achievement at school. But it’s easier for the government to blame the teachers.

So I want to say thank you to all those teachers – and I know you do this all the time – who dip into your own wallets and purses to make sure your children get something to eat.

Every single teacher in this room goes above and beyond what is expected of them.

I mentioned the crisis of teacher retention and recruitment earlier, and it is a crisis a crisis which stems from the government’s obvious contempt for the entire teaching profession.

You are undervalued and underpaid.

Because while you’ve taken a real terms pay cut of over £4,000 since 2010 the very richest in society have received tax breaks and giveaways.

Under a Labour government, the whole approach to teachers and teaching staff would change.

Not only would we repeal the Trade Union Act and introduce sectoral collective bargaining to improve your pay and rights at work, but we would genuinely listen to teachers and teaching unions about what you think is right for education.

We value teachers and we value the genius of teachers.

When we campaign against cuts to schools together, when we campaign for a different way of looking at education, we’re doing it for the next generation.

We’re doing it to ensure that there’s a cascade of improvement from one generation to another.

And we’re doing it because we want to broaden what education offers to the next generation, not narrow it down.

Because education is a public good, not a private commodity.

When all of us are allowed to flourish, when our talents aren’t inhibited by circumstance or squandered through neglect, then the achievements of each will enrich the lives of others, and the whole of society will benefit. So can I say to every teacher: thank you for what you do.

To the support staff: thank you for what you do. And to your union: thank you for the help and advice you give us. When we work together there is so much that we can achieve. And if we stick together we will win.

Thank you.

Sajid Javid – 2019 Speech on Violent Crime

Below is the text of the speech made by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, on 15 April 2019.

Today, we’re standing here on the site of a disused pickle factory, next to a very attractive gasworks. In 2013 after a brief spell as a medical storage facility, new life was given to this old unloved warehouse now converted to a trendy events venue.

What we see here today is a thriving business, a cultural asset and a pillar of the local community.

A testament to the Olympic legacy of London 2012, this building speaks to the optimism of those games and the story of regeneration across East London.

We have seen the undoubted benefits of this legacy. Investment, jobs, prosperity – all necessary to changing people’s life chances.

But the story doesn’t end here. In a way, I wish it did.

Economic prosperity can create the building blocks to stronger communities but that alone is not enough.

A closer look at those streets that are surrounding us will show you that our job is not yet done.

There are still too many places where that longed for prosperity has not reached, streets like the ones surrounding us, up and down the country that are instead dangerous and sometimes deadly.

On an almost weekly basis, we wake up to the news that another person has been stabbed, that robbery is on the rise, that serious violent crime is on the up.

This is not just a concern for those communities who are directly affected by that crime. It rightly causes national alarm.

A recent YouGov poll showed that for the first time, crime was a more important issue to the public than health. Last year saw a 14% increase in homicides a 15% increase in hospital admissions for assaults involving a sharp instrument, a 17% increase in recorded robberies.

This does not make for easy reading and that is exactly why it cannot be ignored. In my job as Home Secretary it is my duty to protect the public. And at the Home Office we work tirelessly to find the right policy solutions to tackle all types of crime. But what affects me more is my job as a father.

Take knife crime. Like everyone else I see the reports on young people feeling the need to carry weapons it makes me worry about my teenage children.

Will they be hurt if they’re out in the wrong place at the wrong time on a night out? What if they get into an argument that then escalates?

I may be the Home Secretary but I’m not ashamed to confess; I have stayed up late at night waiting to hear the key turning in the door. And only then going to bed knowing that they have come home safe and sound. And like any other dad, when I watch the news and see the faces of all those young victims of knife crime I despair at the waste of those lives.

Many of those lost were of similar ages to my own children. So sometimes I cannot help but see the faces of my own children in the pictures of those victims.

I find it hard to detach the personal from the policy.

So I know that if we don’t feel safe on our own streets, If I don’t think they are safe enough for my children, or if we see our communities being torn apart by crime then something has gone terribly wrong.

Dealing with this scourge is not a simple question of turning around the statistics. The reasons for this rise in violent crime are many. Changes in illicit drugs market and the drive for profit has made criminal gangs take bigger risks and exploit even more vulnerable people. Alcohol abuse and the escalation of violence through social media are other factors that contribute to this picture.

The serious violence strategy the Government set out a year ago, has been a major focus of mine, especially trying to understand how we got to this point, and focusing on the immediate that are steps required to bring the situation under control.

The police told me that more powers, more tools and, yes, resources were needed to make a difference. That’s why I secured nearly a billion pounds more funding, including council tax, for police forces, in this year’s Police Financial Settlement.

That means more money to stamp out drug dealing for tackling serious and organised crime and for local police forces. It means that Police and Crime Commissioners are already planning to recruit 3,500 extra police officers and police staff. And that’s not all.

We are supporting the police by changing the law through the Offensive Weapons Bill, making it more difficult for young people to buy bladed weapons and corrosive substances. We know that acid is becoming a new weapon of choice for violent criminals. Now, if you are going to buy or carry acid, you’re having to have a very good reason.

We are changing the law in other ways too.I am trialling reforms that return authority to the police and give them the discretion that they need to effectively carry out stop-and-search. I know this is not universally welcome. I know that.

There is concern that in enforcing these powers, BAME communities will be affected disproportionately, but we must acknowledge that violence disproportionately impacts BAME communities too. And if stop and search rates drop too low, it does perhaps create a culture of immunity amongst those who carry knives. Stop-and-search saves lives. There are people alive today because of stop and search. I can’t say that clearly enough.

The Funding settlement and powers went a long way to supporting our forces, but senior officers told me that they needed more. More support and more funding.

They asked for £50 million to be immediately released to tackle the rise in serious violence. I doubled it. There is now £100 million extra. – £20 million from the Home Office, and £80 million in new funding from the Treasury. The forces facing the highest levels of serious violent crime will receive this additional funding for surge capacity so they can tackle knife crime in real-time, and not at half-speed.

And while all these efforts will make a big difference to our immediate efforts, the lasting solutions are not short-term. We know that crime doesn’t just appear. It has taken several years for the rise in violent crime to take hold, so we know that the answers cannot be a quick fix.

Before a young person ever picks up a knife, they have been the victim of a string of lost opportunities and missed chances. Any youth worker can tell you that gangs recruit the most vulnerable young people.That drug runners who travel over county lines coerce them into committing crimes.

These children are at risk, and we can detect early on who they are. We can do that. The kid that plays truant. The ones that get into fights. The pupils who struggle at school. And even though we can see the path to criminality, somehow, we still expect these children to make good life choices all on their own.

The sad fact is that many feel that they can’t lose the opportunities that they never had in the first place. What they and their families need is our help. It is exactly why I have launched a £200 million Youth Endowment Fund, to invest in the futures of this country’s most vulnerable youngsters. This fund helps steer them away from violence and offers them a better future.

This is not a one-off pot of money, the funding is spread over ten years, enabling long-term planning and interventions through a child’s most important years. But to address the root causes of serious violence we do need to go much further. We need to tackle adverse childhood experiences in the round, and better identify those children who are most at risk.

Children who grow up with substance abuse, with parental criminality, with perhaps domestic violence. I was lucky enough to realise the dream of every parent – to give your children a better start in life than the one you had yourself, but it could have been very different.

I grew up on what was dubbed by one tabloid as ‘the most dangerous street in Britain’. It’s not so difficult to see how instead of being Cabinet, I could have been taken in to a life of crime. There were the pupils at school that shoplifted, and asked if I wanted to help. The drug addicts who stood near the school gates and told you by joining in you could make easy money.But I was lucky. I had loving and supporting parents, who despite their own circumstances gave me security. I had some brilliant teachers who motivated me to go further than what was expected of me. I even had a girlfriend who believed in me and supported me despite my lack of prospects and went onto to become my wife. Thanks to them all I have built a better life for myself and my family. With their help, I suppose, I made it.

But I do not look back at my upbringing and see it as something in the distant past. The lessons of my childhood help shape the decisions I make every day. Shaping what I want to see for other kids who are just like me. That’s why I know the problems we face are not within the remit of any one government department. By the time a person becomes a problem for the police, it is often too late.

If we are to deliver meaningful change, and stop the violence before it begins, then the mind-set of government needs to shift. We need to instigate a sense of shared responsibility.

Take the frontline professionals, the teachers and nurses, the social and youth workers, all of them already working tirelessly to protect vulnerable young people and enhance the life chances of young people.

I have met teachers who have watched helplessly as one of their students falls under the influence of a gang. Nurses who, night after night, have seen teenagers brought into hospital with knife wounds. So I asked myself, what more can I do to help the people who work on the frontline?

That is why we have planned a public health approach to tackle violent crime. In practice, this means bringing together education, health, social services, housing, youth and social workers, to work them together coherently. It will enable those agencies to collaborate and share information. They will be able to jointly plan and target their support to help young people at risk, to prevent and stop violence altogether.

It is not about blaming those frontline staff for the violence, or asking them to do more. Far from it. It is about giving them the confidence to report their concerns, safe in the knowledge that everyone will close ranks to protect that child. A public health approach doesn’t mean passing the problem onto the NHS or a teacher. Rather, it means that serious violence is treated like the outbreak of some virulent disease. A national emergency.

Our legislation will place a legal duty on all parts of the government to work together not to apportion blame but to ensure there is no let up, until the violence itself is eradicated. We have already announced a new Serious Violence Implementation Task Force, the work of which will be driven by research and evidence starting with the review of drugs misuse led by Dame Carol Black. We already know that the drugs trade is a major catalyst of serious violence. That’s why we launched the National County Lines Coordination Centre in September. But the review will also bring home to middle-class drug users that they are part of the problem. They may never set foot in a deprived area. They may never see an act of serious violence, but their illicit habits are adding fuel to the fire that is engulfing our communities.

If we are to understand violence, we must also understand all its drivers and we in government are at the start of understanding how data can help us do that. Creating and understanding the causes and pathways to crime. Recent analysis by my own department found that the top 5% of crime ‘hotspots’ accounted for some 17% of the total volume of ‘acquisitive crime’. In plain English, crime such as burglaries and car thefts.

That is why the Home Office will be developing new proposals for a Crime Prevention Data Lab. We will be exploring how we can bring together information from the police and other agencies, to enhance our ability to make targeted and effective interventions.

And just as technology can help us prevent crimes, so too can it help criminals. Identities can be stolen online. Credit cards cloned from fake machines. Keyless entry systems tricked to gain access to your car. Criminals are smart, so businesses need to get smarter. I ask myself, if we can do this, what more can business do to help us?

Products and services must be designed to make crime harder to commit. The tech might be new, but the principle is not. In the 1980s, vehicle manufacturers and government came to the conclusion that you could design products to make it more difficult to commit a crime.

It is the reason a modern car comes with central locking, an alarm, steering locks and an immobiliser in all cars as standard. So I will be chairing a meeting with industry leaders, and asking them how they will help us in the fight against acquisitive crime.

Preventing crime can be as simple as fitting locks, alarm systems, and proper street lighting. This may seem like common sense, and in some ways it is, but it works. One trial in Nottingham saw the windows in council houses replaced with more secure versions. Their evaluation showed this intervention yielded a remarkable 42% reduction in burglary from those properties. We have applied the same ideas to moped-enabled crime including a new standard of anti-theft devices on the mopeds themselves. And working with the Metropolitan Police to target hotspot areas, and design more secure two-wheeled vehicle parking.

This work led to a decrease of over 40% of moped crime in a single year. So, we are now looking to apply this similar approach to a wider set of crimes. Just as we can design products to prevent crime, we can also design policy to shape the lives of young people to prevent criminality.

Changing the lives of young people will not be an easy task. Crime has a way of drawing in those who feel a little bit worthless. But when you belong to something greater than yourself, when you have something to lose, it’s not as easy to throw your life away.

Undoubtedly, of course there must be strong ramifications for those who commit crime- there must be. I do not shirk from my responsibility, as Home Secretary, to keep the public safe, whatever that takes.

I want us to be able to come back to this venue and know that, for these communities, something has changed. But to do that, we need to change how we see our young people.

No life is less important than another.

No future should be pre-determined by where you’re born, or how you’re brought up.

We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.

James Brokenshire – 2019 Speech at Kindertransport Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, at the Kindertransport Conference held on 15 April 2019.

It is a genuine pleasure, and privilege and honour to join you all today to mark the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport.

I’m incredibly grateful to the Association of Jewish Refugees for hosting this really significant, really important conference and quite literally bringing us all together – including so many Kinder from across the world.

It was very special to be able to meet some of you just before this session and hear how the work continues on ensuring that we have that record of history of some of the things we have heard about this morning. And just how much that matters. It’s a mark of just how seminal the Kindertransport has been to countless lives.

There’s also another very special mention, these wonderful surroundings that we’re in this afternoon have equally made me reflect on previous events that we did at the Speaker’s house in the House of Commons, where I was among a number of MPs able to read-out some of the debate in the House of Commons that led to the Kindertransport happening.

And just to be able to read some of those words again in Parliament, to be able to remind ourselves of some the issues that were just so relevant, some of that debate, some of the tensions. But equally to underline its relevance to our politics today. Never forgetting. Always underlining that sense of challenging inequality or division or hatred. But all that we have as a country in that regard and equally the responsibilities that we have in terms of our support for refugees and our place in the world in that regard.

So I think it’s actually quite fitting that we should meet here at Lancaster House, a place that has played such an important role in world events. Indeed, many here will recall Lancaster House as the seat of so many meetings that changed the shape of central Europe after the war.

Legacy

But in turn, the Kindertransport has shaped us as a country. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children, from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland.

It’s something we remain very proud of, yes. But equally, we can be proud of the incredible contributions of the Kinder to the life of this country.

And some of it strikes a personal chord for me. My father-in-law was not one of the Kinder, but he escaped Nazi Germany to Britain as a small child with the help of Frank Foley, the MI6 officer based in the British Embassy in Berlin, who did so much to provide the papers and facilitated so many Jewish people to leave Germany and make a better life elsewhere.

His father – my children’s great-grandfather – was interned in Buchenwald in the aftermath of Kristallnacht. Mercifully, he was reunited with his family.

But I know that so many people, including many people here, were not so lucky.

The Kindertransport is a story of great pride, yes. But it is also marked with deep sadness at every turn. It provokes painful questions. Why only children? What happened to the parents? What became of brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles?

Sadly, we know that the Kinder were often the only surviving members of their family. It is a difficult legacy – but one that we must remember. One that we must never forget.

And the Holocaust has had a monumental impact on our country’s history, our democracy and our values. Even today, it continues to shape us: from people like me, like my family with connections to survivors and refugees, to our society at large as we continue to stand up and challenge the scourge of antisemitism.

Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre

That is why it is right that we remember the Holocaust, that we apply the lessons of the Holocaust – and have a Memorial here in Britain.

Because the murder of the 6 million Jewish men, women and children must never be forgotten. Nor should the murders of the Roma and other victims of Nazi persecution. Nor still, the subsequent genocides across the world that have scarred the decades since.

And today, as we mark the anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen – by British troops so wholly unprepared for the horrors they found – it is important we all reflect on what they confronted there.

It is why our new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, I think, will be so important for our nation.

It will be a centre for remembrance and education at the very heart of our national life. A place where future generations can learn the lessons of the past, through the powerful stories like the Kindertransport and the liberation of Bergen-Belsen.

Beacon of learning and remembrance

And I want to reassure our country’s Holocaust survivors, Kinder and refugees that this important Memorial will be delivered, because we remain determined that our country stands together against the hatred, against the ignorance and against the bigotry that led to the Holocaust and other genocides.

Victoria Tower Gardens will be an exceptional setting for this place of reflection and education, inspiring us all to stand up whenever the values we share are challenged.

Moreover, it is right that the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre should be next to our Houses of Parliament, at the heart of our democracy, standing as an important reminder of parliament’s power to oppress – and its duty to protect.

Which comes back to why we are here today – underlining that sense of past. Underlining that sense of the important role that we have in helping in international crisis and our response through refugees.

So, as we gather today to remember and rethink the legacy of the Kindertransport, it is my sincere hope that our Memorial will become a powerful beacon of future learning and remembrance.

Learning and remembrance which I know is at the heart of today’s events and why it is so important that we come together, that we remember, and that we apply those lessons for the future.

Thank you very much.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement at European Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at the European Council on 11 April 2019.

I have just met with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, where I agreed an extension to the Brexit process to the end of October at the latest.

I continue to believe we need to leave the EU, with a deal, as soon as possible.

And vitally, the EU have agreed that the extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified — which was my key request of my fellow leaders.

For example, this means that, if we are able to pass a deal in the first three weeks of May, we will not have to take part in European Elections and will officially leave the EU on Saturday, 1st June.

During the course of the extension, the European Council is clear that the UK will continue to hold full membership rights, as well as its obligations.

As I said in the room tonight, there is only a single tier of EU membership, with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations.

Let me conclude by saying this.

I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension.

The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal which would allow the UK to leave in a smooth and orderly way.

But the choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear.

So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.

Tomorrow I will be making a statement to the House of Commons.

Further talks will also take place between the Government and the Opposition to seek a way forward.

I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy or that there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament.

But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the Referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

Nothing is more pressing or more vital.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement on European Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to the House of Commons on 11 April 2019.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on yesterday’s European Council.

But before I do, I am sure that the whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange for breach of bail, after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy. He has also been arrested in relation to an extradition request from the United States authorities.

This is now a legal matter before the courts. My Right Honourable Friend the Home Secretary will make a Statement on this later, but I would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for carrying out their duties with great professionalism and to welcome the co-operation of the Ecuadorian government in bringing this matter to a resolution.

Mr Speaker, this goes to show that in the United Kingdom, no one is above the law.

Turning to the Council, my priority is to deliver Brexit – and to do so in an orderly way that does not disrupt people’s lives.

So I continue to believe we need to leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible.

And of course, this House has voted repeatedly to avoid a No Deal.

Yet despite the efforts of Members on all sides, we have not so far been able to vote for a deal.

So ahead of the Council, I wrote to President Tusk to seek a short extension to the Article 50 period to 30th June.

Critically, I also requested that any extension should be terminable – so that whenever this House agrees a deal and ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement, we can get on and leave.

And I did this not merely to avoid a further delay beyond ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement – but specifically to retain our ability to leave the EU without having to hold European Parliamentary elections on the 23rd May.

Mr Speaker, the discussions at the Council were difficult and unsurprisingly many of our European partners share the deep frustration that I know so many of us feel in this House over the current impasse.

There was a range of views about the length of an extension with a large number of Member States preferring a longer extension to the end of this year or even into the next.

In the end what was agreed by the UK and the EU27 was a compromise – an extension lasting until the end of October.

The Council also agreed that we would update on our progress at the next meeting in June.

Critically – as I requested – the Council agreed that this extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified.

So, for example, if we were to pass a deal by 22nd May, we would not have to take part in European elections. And when the EU has also ratified, we would be able to leave at 11pm on 31st May.

In short, the date of our departure from the EU – and our participation in the European Parliamentary Elections – remains a decision for this House.

As President Tusk said last night: “During this time, the course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands.”

In agreeing this extension, there was some discussion in the Council about whether stringent conditions should be imposed on the UK for its EU membership during this period.

But I argued against this.

I put the case that there is only a single tier of EU membership, with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations.

The Council conclusions are clear that during the course of the extension the UK will continue to hold full membership rights.

In turn, I assured my fellow leaders that the UK will continue to be bound by all our ongoing obligations as a Member State, including the duty of sincere co-operation.

The United Kingdom plays a responsible and constructive role on the world stage – and we always will.

That is the kind of country we are.

The choices we face are stark and the timetable is clear.

I believe we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.

I welcome the discussions that have taken place with the Opposition in recent days – and the further talks which are resuming today.

This is not the normal way of British politics – and it is uncomfortable for many in both the Government and Opposition parties.

Reaching an agreement will not be easy, because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises.

But however challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the House is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both front benches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for. And I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it.

I hope that we can reach an agreement on a single unified approach that we can put to the House for approval.

But if we cannot do so soon, then we will seek to agree a small number of options for the future relationship that we will put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue.

And as I have made clear before, the Government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House. But to make this process work, the Opposition would need to agree to this too.

With the House’s consent, we could also bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – which is a necessary element of any deal, whichever course we take.

This Bill will take time to pass through both Houses, so if we want to get on with leaving, we need to start this process soon.

And it could also provide a useful forum to resolve some of the outstanding issues in the future relationship.

Crucially, Mr Speaker, any agreement on the future relationship may involve a number of additions and clarifications to the Political Declaration.

So I am pleased that at this Council, all 27 Member States responded to my update on the ongoing cross-party talks by agreeing that – “the European Council is prepared to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship in accordance with the positions and principles stated in its guidelines and statements.”

The Council also reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement itself could not be reopened.

Mr Speaker, I know the whole country is intensely frustrated that this process to leave the European Union has not still been completed.

I never wanted to seek this extension – and I deeply regret that we have not yet been able to secure agreement in this House for a deal that would allow us to leave in a smooth and orderly way.

I know too that this whole debate is putting Members on all sides of the House under immense pressure and causing uncertainty across the country.

And we need to resolve this.

So let us use the opportunity of the Recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter. And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse.

So that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible.

So that we can avoid having to hold those European Parliamentary elections.

And above all, so that we can fulfil the democratic decision of the Referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

This is our national duty as elected members of this House – and nothing today is more pressing or more vital.

And I commend this Statement to the House.