Robert Parry – 1985 Speech on Soccer Violence

Below is the text of the speech made by Robert Parry, the then Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, in the House of Commons on 11 June 1985.

I am sad to have to raise on the Adjournment the question of soccer violence. Now that the dust has settled and temperatures have dropped after the tragic European cup final between Juventus and Liverpool, perhaps we can take a cooler look at the causes of the disaster.

Let me, at the outset, make my position clear about the terrible rise of soccer violence and state unequivocally my condemnation of hooliganism at football games or anywhere else. I speak not as a Liverpool supporter but as a lifelong Evertonian. Like a true sportsman, I have for many years marvelled at and envied Liverpool’s magnificent record in domestic and European football and its unique record of 22 successive years in European competition. In none of those years were Liverpool fans involved in any violence on opponents’ grounds. On 1 March 1984, following violence at the France-England international, I told the Minister that I was concerned about football hooliganism at home and abroad and referred to the examples set by Liverpool and Everton football supporters over the years. The Minister replied:

“I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman and endorse his statement I am confident that on 25 March the two great clubs from that great city will continue with their excellent behaviour.” — [Official Report, 1 March 1984; Vol. 55, c. 396.]

That was prior to the Milk Cup final, when Liverpool played Everton.

On 4 April 1984, following a question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) — he is the chairman of the all-party football committee—I congratulated both Liverpool and Everton supporters on their outstanding behaviour at the two finals. I said that I wished that Everton would reach Wembley in the FA Cup. The Minister replied:

“I must refrain from partiality, but I pay the highest tribute to the football supporters and spectators from both clubs, not only for their exemplary behaviour in recent weeks, but for their continuing good behaviour over many years.” — [Official Report, 4 April 1984; Vol. 57, c. 955.]

In view of those replies, one must now ask, how did this great Liverpool reputation get trampled in the dust at the Brussels stadium? The name of Liverpool football club and its supporters, the name of our great city and its citizens were knocked by the media hastily in days of tension following the tragedy.

UEFA’s decision to ban English teams from competing in European competitions was a panic decision, but FIFA’s decision to ban all English teams from playing in foreign countries was a shattering blow to most sane football fans, including the Football League. I understand that the chairman of the Football League, Mr. Jack Dunnett—a former Member of Parliament—has made his feelings clear. The Football Association has also let its feelings be known.

I am not speaking as a Johnny-come-lately football supporter or a know-all, like some of the commentators who made wild statements following the tragedy. I played amateur football for many years in the Liverpool boys’ association league, the Catholic men’s society football league and the Liverpool and district Sunday football ​ league. When I was 17 I played in trials for the Everton football club. I have been a lifelong Everton supporter and have a great love for the game.

I had the misfortune to fracture my right ankle and break my nose when playing for my local team of Holy Cross. I am therefore aware of football violence in the field, not off the field. For the past 14 years I have acted as president of the Liverpool and district Sunday football league—the biggest league in Europe.

Now that temperatures have cooled, UEFA and FIFA should think again and allow innocent teams to compete in European competition. A small team like Norwich City, which has been relegated from the first division of the Football League but which would have had its first taste of European football, should not be penalised or its fans prevented from seeing their team play in Europe.

A team like Everton, which won the first division championship by a record number of points, should not be banned from the champions’ cup. We all recall that Everton played in Rotterdam only two weeks before the Brussels disaster, and 20,000 Everton fans attended the game. The Dutch police made it quite clear that they felt that the Everton fans were the best supporters they had ever seen. Everton football club went to Wembley not once or twice but four times last year, and there was no trouble whatever among Everton fans at any of those games. Therefore, a team such as Everton and its fans should not be penalised.

I believe that appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that there is never again a disaster such as the one in Brussels, and I hope that the Government will give deep consideration to the question of sensible measures to prevent such a disaster.

I have given my deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of the Italians who were killed. I also offer condolences on behalf of scores of thousands of my constituents and Liverpool citizens who grieve deeply for the people of Turin. Recently there were services at the Roman Catholic cathedral and the Anglican cathedral in Liverpool. Both those great cathedrals were full to overflowing. At the latter service the Italian ambassador and the Secretary of State for the Environment were present, together with other people showing their deep distress at the Brussels disaster.

I am greatly concerned — as are many of my hon. Friends — about the large number of National Front supporters who were present at the game. I have here a book called “Hooligans Abroad”. It is a first-class book and I urge the Minister to read it. On the front cover it shows a Fascist thug with a Union Jack painted on his face. Anyone who has watched football on television in recent years will have seen those people, in different parts of the country, carrying Union Jacks with them, sometimes with Union Jacks tied round their necks, and shouting racist slogans from the terraces at coloured footballers. I am sure that those people played a part in the Brussels disaster.

In a ground with 60,000 people the tensions are very high. It does not take many people to get others excited. Unfortunately, when flags are flying all over the ground, people tend to become nationalistic or patriotic. The chants and the shouts then tend to bring out the baser instincts of ordinary, decent football supporters.

I believe that the Brussels stadium was in a very bad and dangerous condition. There should be a full investigation into it. I hope that the Government will take a keen interest in the state of the ground. Indeed, the chief ​ fire officer of the London fire brigade has made it clear in a recent report that the ground was not suitable for staging the match and would not have been licensed even for a friendly game in England, let alone a cup final between teams from two different countries.

I should like to read the conclusion of the report, which was given by a professionally qualified person with no axe to grind. It says:

“The stadium is 50 years old and all the installations (in section Z)”—

that is where the trouble arose—

“appear to be of the same age. There is no evidence of any recent repairs to the barriers, walls, fences or terraces. The general impression is that of long-term neglect, with the exception perhaps of the pitch perimeter fence which appears to be fairly new. Under our legislation the stadium would not have been allowed to operate. It appears that while the attack by Liverpool supporters caused the panic and the resulting stampede, the main direct cause of the deaths was the collapse of the safety barriers near the bottom of the terraces.”

I make a plea to the media to realise that the majority of Liverpool supporters are decent people. Anybody who knows the Liverpudlians or the Scousers knows that they are warm-hearted, good people with a sense of humour. We feel this tragedy, and I hope that we shall not be blamed as animals; in fact, I would not even call some of the thugs animals, because that would be an insult to animals.

I hope that the Government will seriously consider supporting the football league and football associations in appealing against the hasty ban by FIFA and especially UEFA in view of the fact that there appear to be other factors involved in the terrible disaster. It is wrong that English football should be isolated from the world football stage, and that we should be considered as the football lepers of the world. I hope that in the near future we shall see English football taking its rightful place in Europe, that both we in England and UEFA have learnt from this terrible tragedy, and that in future all major matches will be played on first-class grounds, which are examined and inspected regularly and policed by professional policemen who are properly equipped and have experience in dealing with riots and big crowds. 1 hope that the Minister will not speak from a prepared brief but will answer my points.

Colin Shepherd – 1985 Speech on the River Wye

Below is the text of the speech made by Colin Shepherd, the then Conservative MP for Hereford, in the House of Commons on 22 May 1985.

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Welsh Office, for coming to the House to take part in a debate on a very important subject for our part of the country. I am delighted to see in their places my hon. Friends the Members for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Marland) and for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris). The fact that my hon. Friend the Minister of State also has the River Wye going through his constituency and therefore knows it very well gives me confidence that this subject will receive the attention that it deserves.

There is a poignant point that I want to make at this juncture. I received a letter from my late hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Hooson) two days after he died. I know how deeply he felt about this matter because the headwaters of the River Wye ran through his constituency.

The problems to which I wish to refer relate to the whole extent of the River Wye. It is a unique river. For the whole of its length it is a site of special scientific interest and for most of its length it passes through areas of outstanding natural beauty. It is a major asset to my county, Herefordshire, and it gives enormous pleasure to thousands of people through a variety of activities: angling, rowing, canoeing, rafting, birdwatching, or just enjoying nature. People take part in these activities in a spirit of quiet enjoyment.
It has been well known for a long time that there is no co-ordinating authority. These activities have grown up alongside one another, yet with a growing sense of unease that the balance between them may not be sustainable. Until last year the stresses and strains of conflicting interests were accommodated by each recognising the legitimate aspirations of others with, thankfully, an ever-increasing level of understanding, although it would not be entirely correct to say that the use of the River Wye is at present an idyll of harmony.
Those who fish point out that they pay substantial sums of money for their pleasure. In the south Herefordshire district council territory alone they pay £65,000 in rates. If that is extrapolated to cover the entire length of the Wye, we must be talking of well over £160,000 in rates, not to mention about £3,500 in fishery rates to the water authority, on top of which there is another £1,500 in environmental charges—not to mention a cool £52,000 in licensing fees.

Those who enjoy the competitive sport of rafting point with some hard-earned pride to the £50,000, plus, that they raise for so many deserving charities. Those who promote canoeing holidays on the Wye can point to the benefits accruing to the community by the development of the tourist trade. My hon. Friend the Minister of State knows very well that the Wye valley is world renowned in this respect. In addition, the community has an additional interest in the financial aspects of the Wye, in that the declining levels of fish caught, for whatever reasons, are leading to successful appeals against rateable values by fishery owners. It is not unlikely that within a short time ​ there will be a drop in rate income of about 50 per cent, which will leave another £80,000 to be borne by other ratepayers.

In 1981 the Welsh water authority recognised the drift of things and made an application for the functions of any navigation authority still in existence to be transferred to it. I was told in response to my inquiries at that time by my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Welsh Office that the matter was complicated and that the Welsh Office was having to examine Acts of Parliament going back as far as 1674. I was assured that before any irrevocable decisions were taken:
“there will be ample notice and opportunity given to all interested parties to enable them to prepare and present their points of view.”

I heard nothing further until after I wrote again in January 1983, when I was told that counsel’s opinion was being sought and that progress was slow. However, I was assured by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary that he was pursuing the matter further with his officials.

I heard nothing further until I wrote again in March this year, when I was informed that in the light of counsel’s opinion the Welsh water authority was having to reconsider its application and decide what action it might need to take. I was also told that the Welsh water authority had commissioned the Middlesex polytechnic to report upon the uses of the River Wye by various recreational groups, and that it had decided to defer making any final decisions until it had considered that report.

What could have been described in 1981 as a routine evolutionary problem has, since last year, erupted into a major and potentially revolutionary problem. I refer to the advent of hovercrafting as a recreational activity on the River Wye. In 1984 six craft were launched from Hohne Lacey and travelled up and down the river from Ross-on-Wye to north of Hereford.

I have no doubt that from the hovercrafters’ point of view, it is an attractive place to exercise an excitingly new, advanced, technological recreation. Indeed, in the magazine of the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain it was described in glowing terms. For those who have hitherto utilised the river with quiet enjoyment, this has caused consternation. It became clear to them that the craft were extremely noisy—their drivers wear ear muffs—that they disturb the river and its banks, and I have heard reports that salmon fry have been washed up and left high and dry on the banks. The craft are a serious potential danger to other river users.

It has been observed that, when operating at low speed, the wash is substantial and does not appear to lessen at all until speeds of 20 knots are reached. I dread to think of the hazard to a wading angler or a novice canoeist. The anglers point out that there is frequently a drastic reduction of the swan population where there is an abundance of noisy, powered craft, and they stress that the healthy population of swans on the Wye is, in all probability, due to the absence of powered craft along great stretches of it.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds points out that the Wye carries a number of important breeding colonies of kingfishers, dippers and, as my hon. Friend is probably aware, in recent years we have been privileged to see the return of peregrine falcons breeding at Symonds Yat, not a mile from my home. All of those would not lake kindly to an abundance of hovercraft. In addition, farmers ​ and fishermen alike are concerned about the prospect of oil pollution—something not so far experienced on the Wye, one of the cleanest rivers in the country.

Almost more alarming than anything else was the unco-operative attitude of hovercraft drivers on their first run, who were reported by anglers of the Hereford and District Anglers Association to have had complete disregard for anglers and their tackle. A grain of encouragement can be drawn from the revised stance of the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain, which has indicated that in the light of the present consternation it will not now be organising the proposed weekend expeditions on the Wye this year, and that it does not wish to be seen to operate in such a manner as to be a danger to other users of the river or, indeed, its members.

I welcome that wholeheartedly, but I must reflect with some caution that the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain is but a proprietors’ club, interested in promoting hovercrafting. It has no regulatory controls over hovercrafting or over its members or non-members.

We therefore must come to terms with this new situation that has arisen in respect of the River Wye. The door to hovercrafting on the Wye has been shown to be wide open, and it is an activity that is fundamentally inimical to the River Wye as a site of special scientific interest, as an area of outstanding natural beauty and as a recreational asset to so many activities based, as I have said before, on quiet enjoyment. We need to know the precise position concerning navigation on the Wye. I have grave disquiet about the referral of the problem by the Welsh water authority to the Middlesex polytechnic. It has all the hallmarks of a delaying tactic — a kicking for touch, a playing for time. I do not think that that time exists.

Despite the assurances of the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain, the threat of hovercrafting will not go away by itself. Regardless of what the Middlesex polytechnic reports, progress towards resolution of today’s problems will have to be based upon the present legal situation. A clear exposition of that position may well give rise to the kind of lateral thought necessary to achieve a satisfactory and fair reconciliation of conflicting interests, and allay the reasonable concerns of many people and organisations.

Finally, I should like a reassurance that there will be an opportunity to enable all interested parties to put their points of view openly before any change is made, as was promised to me in 1981. I think that we owe this to all the interests on the River Wye. If this can be done, I know that it will be appreciated. I think that it will be helpful for the longer term evolution of the quiet enjoyment of the River Wye for many people.

Keith Joseph – 1985 Speech on Higher Education

Below is the text of the speech made by Keith Joseph, the then Secretary of State for Education and Science, in the House of Commons on 21 May 1985.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement about the Green Paper published today on the future development of higher education. Copies of the Green Paper are available in the Vote Office. It covers the United Kingdom as a whole and, therefore, I am speaking with the agreement of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I see my colleagues from those Departments on the Government Front Bench.

The purposes of the Green Paper are to present the Government’s thinking on future development of higher education, to set the scene for the next decade, and to invite the views of those involved in higher education and of the taxpayers and ratepayers who finance so much of the cost.

The paper has been prepared in the light of advice on future strategy from the University Grants Committee and from the National Advisory Body for Public Sector Higher Education in England, published last September. In Scotland, a review of strategy and of planning and funding arrangements for higher education is being undertaken by the Scottish Tertiary Education Advisory Council. The application in Scotland of the policies addressed in the paper will be considered in the light of the council’s advice, which will be available later this year.

As well as reaffirming the view of the aims and purposes of higher education defined in the Robbins report in 1963, the Government believe that it is vital for our higher education to contribute more effectively to the improvement of the performance of the economy. This is not because the Government place a low value on the general cultural benefits of education and research or on study of the humanities. The reason is simply that, unless the country’s economic performance improves, we shall be even less able than now to afford many of the things we value most, including education for pleasure and general culture and the financing of scholarship and research as an end in itself. The Green Paper, therefore, emphasises the need for higher education to become more responsive to changing industrial and commercial circumstances, and the importance of close links between higher education on the one hand and business, the professions and the public services on the other.

Since 1963, successive Governments have endorsed the so-called “Robbins principle” that, “courses of higher education should be available for all those who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.”

The UGC and the NAB have advised that qualification for higher education should be interpreted broadly and that the test should not be paper qualifications but “ability to benefit”. So long as the taxpayer continues to bear most of the cost of higher education, however, the benefit must be sufficient to justify the cost. Subject to that, the Government accept that the criteria for entry to higher ​ education—which will, as at present, remain under the control of institutions themselves — should place more emphasis on intellectual competence, motivation and maturity, and less on formal qualifications. Those criteria should be applied as rigorously to those with paper qualifications as to those without. The Government do not expect this change of emphasis significantly to affect the numbers of students for whom higher education should be provided. A consultative paper on student support arrangements will be published shortly, as part of the review of such arrangements which I announced on 5 December last.

As with their policies for schools, in higher education too the Government are committed to raising standards and the pursuit of value for money. In both these areas important reports have recently been published, and are under active consideration.

The report of the committee of inquiry into academic validation in public sector higher education, chaired by Sir Norman Lindop and published in April, deals with the approval, and monitoring of standards, of degree level courses in polytechnics and colleges. It recommends substantial changes in the arrangements of universities which validate public sector courses and of the Council for National Academic Awards. One proposal is that some institutions in the public sector should in future take full responsibility for their own academic standards and award their own degrees. The Government have invited comments on the report and will consider these before coming to decisions.

The report of a steering committee chaired by Sir Alex Jarratt, based on efficiency studies undertaken in six universities, has proposed significant changes in universities’ planning and management structures. The present arrangements were developed in a period of increasing resources. Now that resources are no longer expanding, changes are needed if universities are to be able to spend to best advantage the public funding likely to be available. The Jarratt report will also be relevant to the rest of higher education where other efficiency studies are in hand.

In research, the Government wish to ensure that the available resources are used to the greatest possible advantage, which requires more selectivity and planning. The University Grants Committee is developing and promoting new selective allocation and planning arrangements. It is also important that commerce, industry and the public services should take full advantage of what higher education has to offer through research, technology transfer, business start-up facilities and consultancy services. The Green Paper stresses the need for higher education to pay more attention to the development of such services.

The Green Paper recognises that continuing education should be a growth area in higher education, whether for vocational or non-vocational purposes. The Government and local authorities have an important role in stimulating such provision, and the Government contribute directly to the development of in-career vocational education through the professional, industrial and commercial updating programme. But the cost should not fall principally on the taxpayer and ratepayer. Employers are urged to recognise more fully their need, in their own interests, to encourage and to pay for the development and updating of their staff, while adults in work can be expected to contribute substantially to the cost of courses that they take for career advancement or for personal satisfaction.

The Jarratt report recommends a review of the role, structure, and staffing of the University Grants Committee. The Government have accepted this recommendation, and I shall announce the terms of reference and form of the review as soon as possible.

The Government’s expenditure plans published last January indicate the sums that the Government plan to make available for higher education up to the end of the present planning period. Beyond this there are the same difficulties about providing projections of future funding for higher education as there are for other public expenditure programmes. The Government accept that they must give the best indications of longer term policies for higher education that they can, but planning also requires institutions to manage their commitments and the funds available to them so as to be able to pursue their objectives effectively in circumstances of change and uncertainty. Present projections of student demand suggest that there will be a substantial fall in student numbers in the 1990s and planning for the changes that will be necessary must begin shortly.

The Government will review their policies for higher education in the light of the responses to the Green Paper, and hope to be able to make a further statement of intentions in the course of 1986.

Leon Brittan – 1985 Speech on Shop Hours

Below is the text of the speech made by Leon Brittan, the then Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 20 May 1985.

I beg to move,

That this House takes note of the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Proposals to Amend the Shops Acts (Cmnd. 9376); accepts the case for the removal of legislative limitations on shop hours; and looks forward to the Government bringing forward legislation to remove such limitations.

Shop opening hours were last considered in depth by this House during the debate on the Bill introduced in 1983 by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney). By then it was clear that there was hardly anyone who considered the present state of the law satisfactory. The argument for change was put forward on a number of different bases. In the first place, it was almost universally felt that the present distinctions between what could be sold on Sunday and what could not be sold were so arbitrary and outdated as to be indefensible. It was not just a question of a few items that were on the wrong side of the dividing line. There no longer appeared to be a rational dividing line at all. Secondly, there was deep anxiety about the continued existence on the statute book of a law that was being increasingly flouted, and which many if not most local authorities were either simply not prepared to enforce effectively or were unable to do so. These objections to the present law were not seriously challenged.

But in addition, many hon. Members put the case for change in a more positive way. They felt that restrictions on shop opening hours—let us not forget that we are talking about late opening as well as Sunday opening—were an unjustifiable and outdated restriction on the basic freedom that should exist for the consumer to be able to have the choice to shop when he wanted to and for the shopkeeper to be able to assess the wishes of his customers and meet them if he wanted to do so. It was felt by many that the limitations on shop hours were contrary to the interests of the consumer, no longer reflected current social patterns and preferences and were an unjustifiable hindrance to the growth of trade, and in particular the growth of tourism.

None the less, in spite of the virtually universal condemnation of the existing law and the widespread, ​ although by no means universal, belief in the positive merits of change, the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend did not commend itself to the House. A considerable number of hon. Members feared the impact of complete deregulation on the fundamental character of Sunday. Just how many shops would open on Sunday, and which shops would they be ? Other hon. Members were anxious about the impact of such a change on those working in shops and owning them. Would small shops close on an extensive scale, and would there be a major loss of jobs ? Others again wondered whether some compromise or half way house was feasible. Although no one had really suggested any viable new basis for deciding when shops might open during the week or which shops should be allowed to open on Sunday, would not a more careful examination of the problem yield an acceptable and defensible solution falling short of complete decontrol ?

It was because of the combination of almost universal dissatisfaction with the present state of the law, and a widespread feeling of uncertainty about the effects of change and the possible forms that it might take that I decided to accept the suggestions made from all parts of the House, that an inquiry should be appointed to look into the whole question. I accordingly appointed an independent committee of inquiry in July 1983 under the chairmanship of Mr. Robin Auld, QC. The following were the terms of reference:

“To consider what changes are needed in the Shops Acts, having regard to the interests of consumers, employers and employees and to the traditional character of Sunday, and to make recommendations as to how these should be achieved.”

The House will note that the committee of inquiry was specifically required to have regard, among other factors, to the fundamental character of Sunday. The membership of the committee was deliberately small, but in order to ensure that the main groups interested could satisfy themselves that the evidence submitted to the committee was comprehensive and rigorously scrutinised, I appointed six assessors. They represented the employers — both large and small —employees, consumers, the churches and the local authorities. Their main task was to ensure that the committee obtained evidence from across the spectrum of their interests and to offer comment on that evidence. My aim was to ensure that every possible solution to the problem was put to the committee and thoroughly examined by those likely to object to it, as well as by the members of the committee themselves. I know that the committee much appreciated the specialist advice it received from its assessors, and I am grateful to them for their work.

In addition, I commissioned the Institute for Fiscal Studies to carry out an economic review, which has been published as appendix 6 of the Auld report. This was designed to meet the concern that had been expressed that there was much speculation but little hard evidence on the economic effects that increased trading hours would have.

Now that hon. Members have had a chance to read and assimilate the report of the Auld committee, I am sure that they will wish to join me in thanking Mr. Robin Auld, QC and his colleagues, Mrs. Liliana Archibald and Miss Frances Cairncross for their comprehensive study. I of course realise that their recommendations are not universally accepted, but I am sure that their thoroughness has given us a solid and informed basis on which to take decisions.​

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say how, exactly, he decided upon the membership of the committee ? Frances Cairncross has written an interesting article in today’s edition of The Times which tries to persuade hon. Members to go further, in one sense, than the Auld report by agreeing completely that the traditional character of Sunday should be abolished. How was Frances Cairncross chosen ? Was she an independent character ? Where does she stand and where does the right hon. and learned Gentleman stand in relation to what she said ?

Mr. Brittan

At the time of the appointments there was no criticism whatsoever that any of those who were appointed to the committee were other than independent. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I did not have the faintest idea about the views of any of the Committee members.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Brittan

No, I must proceed.

As the report shows, over 300 organisations and individuals submitted evidence in response to invitations from the committee. In addition, another 7,000 people sent evidence to the committee which was able to consider it with the benefit of help from the assessors.

The report of the inquiry and the accompanying economic review place the discussion on the future of shop opening hours in an entirely different context to that when the House considered the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe. Those hon. Members who took a particular view in 1983 are fully entitled to reconsider the position, now that a report has been published exploring all the main questions which caused anxiety in 1983 and led many hon. Members to feel unable to support the change in the law being then proposed.

The committee examined the obstacles and objections, but in considering whether trading hours should be the subject of legal restriction they started from the premise that

“the law should not interfere in the conduct of human affairs unless it serves a justifiable purpose … in doing so”—

a premise which I am sure that the House would share.

The committee examined carefully the arguments for legal restrictions in the light of the interests of consumers, employers, employees and of those wanting to preserve the traditional character of Sunday.

Mr. Skinner

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Brittan

No, not for the moment.

It came to the conclusion that none of these interests or combinations of interests justified the continuation of statutory restrictions on trading hours.

Mr. Foulkes

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Brittan

I shall in a moment.

The Committee considered very carefully all the possibilities for partial deregulation, with which I should like to deal before giving way to the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), as I shall, of course, do. Just how widespread the present anomalies are was well illustrated by the article in last Saturday’s Daily Telegraph which pointed out that on ​ Sunday one can buy alcohol but not dried milk for babies, aspirin but not toothpaste or soap. Newsagents can sell sweets and newspapers but not the Bible or stationery. Grocers can sell fresh or frozen fruit but not tinned fruit. One can buy cut flowers but not plants. One cannot buy fish and chips in a fish and chip shop, but one can buy other take-away food.

The committee therefore naturally looked at various kinds of proposals for revising the schedules of goods that can be sold late at night or on Sundays. It concluded that there was no way of compiling a list which would not now or in the future be every bit as plagued with anomalies as the present legislation. It is relevant to point out the extent of those anomalies.

Mr. Foulkes

The Home Secretary has detailed all the further consideration that has taken place by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and the Auld committee and its assessors and he invites hon. Members who voted one way on a previous occasion to reconsider their point of view. How can his hon. Friends reconsider their views if, because of the Whip, they are not allowed to exercise their own judgment and their own consciences ?

Mr. Brittan

I am sure that my hon. Friends will be greatly assisted by the hon. Gentleman’s intervention. The Government are fully entitled to express their views and to seek to persuade my hon. Friends of the merits of those views. As the hon. Gentleman knows, it has been made clear to my hon. Friends who have deeply held conscientious views, that their views are fully respected.

Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

Will the Home Secretary give way ?

Mr. Brittan

Not for the moment.

I was explaining that the Auld committee looked unsuccessfully at the possibility of compiling a different list of the schedule of goods that could and could not be sold on Sundays. Members of the committee also considered proposals that Sunday trading should be limited to certain kinds of shop or to shops of a certain size, but, again, they could see no way of finding a solution that would work. What type of shop should be allowed to trade ? In these days of mixed shops, it would be hard to produce separate and distinct categories of shops that should or should not be allowed to trade.

The committee considered exemption by size of shop, exemption for self-employed retailers, exemption by area and exemption by periods of the year. It examined the call for a maximum number of hours or days per week. It looked at the possibility of an extension of the present trading hours. Chapter 5 of the report is a thorough, unprejudiced examination of all the alternatives that were put forward.

The committee no doubt felt, as do many hon. Members, that something short of complete deregulation might be more acceptable if it were viable. But the analysis is devastating. Each of the alternative limitations is shown to be either indefensible or unworkable. The conclusion, which is amply supported by a reason, is:

“In our view, all the forms of control canvassed in our Inquiry, while affording protection to some, would neglect the interests of others. More importantly, we are convinced that none of the suggestions for reform, short of complete abolition of restrictions, would work. None of them would work because they would not form the basis of a fair, simple and readily enforceable system of regulation.”

​The committee therefore recommended the complete abolition of all the statutory restrictions on retail trading hours, both during the week and on Sundays.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend agree that we are dealing with Sunday, which is a day when people are expressing their religious convictions in one way or another, and the arguments of the Auld committee, important though they may be, deal only with facts ? People’s faith and their convictions must be considered. My right hon. and learned Friend’s comments seem to take no account of that fact.

Mr. Brittan

I respect what my hon. Friend has said and I shall be coming to those aspects of the matter.

Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)

Will the Home Secretary give way ?

Mr. Brittan

Not for the moment.

The Shops Act also contains provisions relating to the conditions of work of shop workers, in particular young shop workers. The committee concluded that it would be wrong to preserve the rigid provisions of part H of the Shops Act 1950 in statutory form. It was, however, worried about the demands that might be made on shop workers in the event of deregulation and, although it was not within its terms of reference, it recommended the retention for retail workers of the machinery of wages councils.

The House knows that, since the committee reported last year, the Government have produced a consultative paper on wages councils. The question whether the machinery of wages councils should be retained is important not only to workers in the retail trade, but to all the other workers covered by wages councils legislation.

The position of shop workers, vis-á-vis shop opening hours, will be given detailed and sympathetic consideration in the context of the consultation that is taking place, and what is said in the debate will be taken into account as part of that process of consultation. The Government will announce their conclusions on the future of wages councils before any legislation on shop hours is put before the House.

Mr. Pavitt

The Home Secretary read the last paragraph of chapter 5 of the Auld committee. Does he agree that the evidence in other chapters refutes the assertion that the evidence received by the committee was conclusive ?

Mr. Brittan

The evidence was carefully analysed. Whatever else may be said about the Auld committee, its capacity to analyse specific suggestions for partial methods of decontrol cannot be doubted. It was particularly well qualified to do that, and its conclusion was nothing other than a proper assessment of the evidence.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

A comprehensive review of how people did their shopping was carried out by the National Consumer Council. It reported that only one respondent in 10 found existing shopping hours inconvenient. How can the Auld report support its contention in chapter 5 that there is no justification for the continued regulation of opening hours ? Surely the reverse is the case. There is no excuse for changing the law when only 10 per cent. of the population want a change.​

Mr. Brittan

Whether or not people find existing hours convenient is a different matter from whether the criminal law should continue to be used to enforce those hours.

I shall come later to the other safeguards for those working in shops and the impact on employment more generally. Faced with the Auld committee’s conclusions about the lack of a viable halfway house, those who have anxieties about going along with the committee’s decontrol recommendations have to ask themselves just what action they would now favour.

As a Minister whose primary responsibility is for law and order, I could not advise the House to let the present position remain unaltered.

Mr. Conal Gregory (York)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way ?

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way ?

Mr. Brittan

In a moment.

The law is being regularly, flagrantly and publicly flouted up and down the country. Some local authorities seek to enforce it to the best of their abilities, others do so patchily and many have not the slightest wish to do so and go through the motions only when they are threatened with legal action if they fail to bring some prosecutions.

The result is inconsistency and injustice on a massive scale. Sometimes it is the small shops that are prosecuted and the large ones that get away. In other places, the reverse policy is followed. Everybody will be aware of situations where the same type of shop is prosecuted in one local authority area and escapes prosecution if it happens to be half a mile away in another district.

Mr. Gregory rose —

Mr. John Carlisle rose —

Mr. Brittan

I shall give way in a moment.

The reason why this has happened is quite simple. The Shops Acts do not penalise behaviour that is self-evidently of a criminal character. They are a means of prescribing a particular, limited pattern of trading. Social change has made that pattern of trading no longer one which is sufficiently generally acceptable for the criminal law to be regarded as an appropriate means of enforcing it.

Mr. Gregory

My right hon. and learned Friend lays a lot of store by the legal consequences. From his senior legal position, does he agree that much of the problem results from the fact that he has not sent a circular to local authorities and enforcement officers setting out their abilities and right to enforce the law ?

Mr. Brittan

I do not believe that that is true. The local authorities are well aware of the law. The real reason why they are not enforcing it is that in large parts of the country local people do not want the law enforced.

Mr. John Carlisle

The fact that the law is an ass in this instance is no reason for the Government to do away with it completely. Is there not some halfway house—even if it was not considered by the Auld committee—that my right hon. and learned Friend could have looked at ? This is a matter of deep conscience for hon. Members on both sides of the House.

Mr. Brittan

I look forward to hearing my hon. Friend’s suggestion as to what that halfway house should be. The Auld committee looked at every variant that was ​ presented. Indeed, the committee was equipped with assessors representing all views—not all of them were by any means in favour of deregulation—in order to ensure that it considered every variant. However, it was unable to find any variant that stood up.

Several Hon. Members rose —

Mr. Brittan

I shall give way in a moment.

I say this to those hon. Members who deplore that this has come about. I deeply respect and can readily understand the feelings of those who observe with sadness and regret the social changes that have taken place. But is it feasible for us now to turn the clock back ? If no viable halfway house is available, for any society that believes in the rule of law, the only alternative to removing the sanctions of the criminal law is to enforce them. As long as the prospect of change was in the air, it was just about possible to tolerate a degree of inconsistency and injustice. But it was becoming increasingly uncomfortable to so so. We now have no excuse for not making up our minds, and if we do not proceed in the way Auld recommends, we will really have to do everything in our power to enforce the present laws.

Faced with clear evidence of an extremely widespread desire on the part of large numbers of shopkeepers and their customers to do what may be regrettable but is not inherently criminal, I frankly find the prospect of an attempt to enforce the present law almost impossible to contemplate. The protests that would rain down on us from our constituents if that were attempted would make the lobby against VAT on newspapers seem like an amateurish effort on the part of a particularly badly organised constituency party branch.

Mr. Michael Grylls (Surrey, North-West)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend take comfort from the experience in Massachusetts and Sweden where shop hours were quite recently freed ? Despite the fears of some small retailers that they might suffer, the opposite happened, and many new opportunities were provided for businesses and retailers, and for the creation of new jobs. If we are serious about new jobs, as we are, it is essential to sweep away this very old-fashioned law.

Mr. Brittan

I take the point that my hon. Friend has made. It would be unacceptable to enforce the present law to its full rigour because of the very great social changes that have taken place since the 1950 Act. In 1951, for example, only 24 per cent. of married women below pensionable age worked full or part-time. By 1981, that figure had risen to 57 per cent. It is not much use to those women—or to their husbands and families—if shops are open only during the time that they are at work.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East) rose —

Mr. Brittan

But for many people Sunday is a special day to be set aside for religious worship and observance. Those who wish to confine what they do on Sunday to that deserve our fullest and sincerest respect. For most people, however—

Several Hon. Members rose —

Mr. Brittan

I shall give way in a moment, but I am making an important point.

For most people, however, there is no conflict between going to church and undertaking all the other activities that ​ are popular on Sunday: leisure, entertainment, sporting and other outdoor activities, as well as cleaning, decorating, gardening or whatever it may be. Shopping is one of the activities that people would increasingly like to be able to undertake on Sundays. Sunday shopping provides an opportunity for shopping as a family, which is greatly welcomed by the very many families who cannot shop together during the week. The question that we have to ask is whether we have the right to continue to use the criminal law to deprive them of that choice.

Mr. Duffy

The Home Secretary has spelt out and, in his own words, respected, the special character of Sunday. That presumably explains why the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department told the House the last time we debated Sunday trading that any decision about any change in the character of Sunday that involved deregulation would be a matter of conscience for each hon. Member. The Under-Secretary’s speech to the House on that occasion can be found in column 557 of Hansard for 4 February 1983. Why has the Home Secretary changed his mind ?

Mr. Brittan

The hon. Gentleman is well aware that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State was setting out the position in the relation to the debate that day. The Government responded clearly to the request of the House that there should be an inquiry. Following that inquiry, which examined the very matters that cause concern to the House, the Government are entitled to express their views and to say to those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who feel unable to go along with them, that their consciences are fully respected.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is misrepresenting what happened on 4 February. The Under-Secretary of State said:

“There are important considerations and fears about the character of Sunday … These fears are held in many parts of the House and I agree that they are an important factor. That is why the Government adhere to the view, which successive Governments have adhered to, that the decision must be for the individual conscience of hon. Members.”—[Official Report, 4 February 1983: Vol. 36, c. 557.]

The Under-Secretary of State was talking not about the Shops Bill but about the general principle. Why will the Government not keep their word and have a free vote today ?

Mr. Brittan

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the view expressed on that occasion related to that Bill, and it is utterly inconceivable that the Government would be expressing a view as to the position that they would take two years later in response to a report that had not even been commissioned, let alone published.

I was explaining why I took the view that the question that we must ask is whether the right to continue to use the criminal law to deprive people of their choice is justified. I believe that we should only take that view, quite apart from questions of enforceability, if there is reason to believe that a change in the law would lead to a substantial and damaging change in the quality of life on Sunday which would otherwise not take place. The example of Scotland, where there has been no general prohibition on Sunday trading for 50 years, does not lead one to believe that this would be the case. One of the reasons for this is ​ that, although deregulation provides freedom of choice, in practice the consequences of change are unlikely to be as great as some people have feared.

I appreciate the anxiety felt by retailers, particularly small ones, about the impact of deregulation on their businesses.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept that the explanation that he sought to give of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State just will not wash ? When my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary gave that undertaking to the House, it was widely believed that he was saying that this was, indeed, an issue of conscience on which we were all entitled to form an opinion without being pressurised. What most offends those of us on this side of the House who oppose the Bill is the way in which my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary is seeking to steamroller this thing through the House.

Mr. Brittan

My hon. Friend is doing less than justice to my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary. From the moment that this debate loomed on the horizon it was made abundantly clear that my right hon. Friend fully accepted the conscientious objections of any of my right hon. and hon. Friends. Those of them who have such objections will, I think, testify to the fact that when they have spoken to the Whips, that readiness and respect has been quite apparent.

I appreciate the anxiety felt by retailers—

Mr. Heffer

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We cannot hear the Home Secretary.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Order. The Home Secretary should address the whole House, and not turn his back on it.

Mr. Brittan

I appreciate the anxiety felt by retailers, particularly small ones, about the impact of deregulation on their businesses. The retail trade has been in the process of change for many years. The effect of deregulating opening hours will not in itself produce any large-scale change. The conclusion of the economic review by the Institute for Fiscal Studies states:

“it is unlikely that in any of the areas we have considered — costs, prices, employment and trading patterns—there would be effects which would be of sufficient magnitude to be distinguished readily from the other changes which would be occurring as the result of other influences on the style and structure of British retailing.”

I also stress that the opportunities presented by deregulation will provide a stimulus to some sectors of the economy. Garden centres and DIY shops are obvious examples of the trade that will benefit, but there are many others, such as shops involved in the tourist trade. Tourists will certainly feel more welcome, and the economy will in turn benefit if tourists are able to spend more in shops.

Indeed, the British Tourist Authority, which is responsible for securing many jobs, told the Auld committee that the closure on Sundays of many shops causes a considerable loss of revenue for the nation from tourists and would-be shoppers.

None the less, there has been much genuine anxiety about the number of small businesses that will be destroyed if longer opening hours, particularly on a Sunday, are allowed. But, it does not follow that simply because late night or Sunday trading will be permitted, it will be anywhere near universal.

Looking at the scale of Sunday opening, for example, the IFS in its study for the Auld committee considered whether Sunday opening would or would not be profitable for various types of retailer.

The IFS concluded that shops accounting for 48 per cent. of turnover would find Sunday opening profitable. The number of shops that will open is likely to be significantly less than this. We believe that for most of the year it will be in the region of 20 to 30 per cent.

It is interesting to note the results of a survey by ‘Terry Burke, of the polytechnic of central London, carried out in April this year. On the basis of discussions with managers of one of the country’s largest multiple chains, and answers to questionnaires received from 40 major retailing chains, he came to the conclusion that only 15 to 20 per cent. of high street shops will open all the year around, but that there will be widespread pre-Christmas, sales and holiday Sunday opening.

Mr. Faulds

The Home Secretary is emphasising the commercial aspects of these considerations but a little earlier when I tried unsuccessfully to intervene he said that the committee had considered all points of view Did the committee actually consider the proposition that instead of extending Sunday trading, more stringent restrictions should be imposed with which the Home Secretary should be prepared to require compliance ? Does the Home Secretary realise that, perhaps more north of the border than south of the border, Sunday has a special significance ?

Mr. Brittan

I do not think that that view commends itself to the majority north of the border. What I have said ties up with what happens in Scotland. In April this year, managers or assistants from 541 shops in Scotland were asked whether they would open the following Sunday—let us not forget that they are allowed to do so. Across the country 16 per cent. said that they would open but only 8 per cent. of those located in major town centres said that they would.

When the issue was last debated in the House there were also fears that increased retail trading hours would lead to an increase in prices. I think that the House should be reassured by the conclusion reached by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that in the long run the change will have a very small or negligible effect but that, if anything, they will tend to be reduced. If any savings were passed on to customers the effect would be to reduce the retail prices index by up to about 0·4 per cent.

The fears that have been most widely expressed have been those about the possible loss of jobs that might result from deregulation. The predictions from the study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies are that changes in the number of jobs available in the retail trade will be small both in relation to the total work force of some 2·2 million and to the recent trends of changes in retailing employment. Their model indicates that on the basis that there is no Sunday trading, although that is not now the case, there may be a loss in the short term of 5,000 full-time equivalent jobs and in the long term — by which is meant 10 to 20 years — a further 15,000 full-time equivalent jobs. But, of course, there is already a significant amount of Sunday trading which was not taken into account by IFS, so some of those job losses will have already occurred.

We believe that the Institute for Fiscal Studies probably underestimated the potential expansion in other related ​ fields—for example, catering and tourism. It is a fallacy to believe that there is at any given time a fixed pool of shopping and that if shops are open longer, the same amount of goods will be bought, but over a longer period. It is quite likely that there would be some transfer of expenditure from the purchase of services to the purchase of goods. If sales were to rise by 2 per cent. the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates that the equivalent of 9,000 extra jobs would be created over the next 10 to 20 years, and if they rise by 5 per cent. the equivalent of 51,000 full-time jobs in the same period.

Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

That is an interesting observation, because a considerable proportion of goods which are sold are imported, but 100 per cent. of services are the result of employment in Britain. Why should such a transfer from services to goods result in net employment rather than net lost employment ?

Mr. Brittan

It is impossible to make such a calculation.

The House will recall that, in addition to its recommendations on shop opening hours, the committee recommended abolition of all the special provisions relating to the conditions of work of shop workers contained in part II of the Shops Act 1950 and its associated provisions in other parts of the Act, although it recognised that a case would be argued for continuing protection in the case of young persons. Whether even in the case of young persons such protection, as opposed to the protection provided by the health and safety provisions, is nowadays needed is by no means clear. Moreover, just as in the case of adults, there is considerable doubt as to the effectiveness of the present restrictions. In spite of our very considerable doubts on these points, we shall listen very carefully to the views of the House and we shall want to consider any evidence which may be presented on the need for continuing to protect young persons in this way.

Mr. Peter Hordern (Horsham)

Earlier, my right hon. and learned Friend said that the Patronage Secretary would take account of those right hon. and hon. Members who had conscientious objections to the motion. However, we are not talking in particular about the conscientious objections of right hon. and hon. Members themselves, but of those which they know, from correspondence, exist among their constituents. Even more important, can my right hon. and learned Friend explain the Government’s thinking about those shop assistants who have genuine convictions about not working on Sundays ?

Mr. Brittan

I know that very real fears have been expressed, not only by my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Hordern), and that if regulations are removed, those working in shops now might be forced to work on Sundays.

I understand that concern, not only by those who would be troubled on conscientious grounds about working on Sunday, but also by people who see their Sunday as a day apart, as an opportunity to be with their families and as a day on which they do not wish to work. For example, many married women have for years worked in a shop on the basis that they would do so during the week but would be able to spend Sunday with their families.

That concern is reflected in the amendment to the motion tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) and I know that it is very widely shared in the House. That is reflected in the signatures to the motion. Although the Auld committee did not believe that protection for those in this category would be feasible, on this issue I must differ from the committee. I accept in principle the case put forward by my hon. Friend and will look sympathetically at the best way of ensuring that established shop workers cannot be compelled to work on Sundays. Doing this will in no way detract from deregulation generally, as experience elsewhere suggests that there will be no shortage of volunteers who wish to work on Sundays.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

The Home Secretary has made an important statement, which could be an important concession. Will he clarify what he meant by established shop workers ? Was he seeking to confer a right on those who happen to be employed in shops now, or was he talking about a right that would be extended to anyone seeking employment in the retail trade ?

Mr. Brittan

The former. With the qualifications that I mentioned, I recommend that the House accepts the conclusions of the Auld committee. The Government will seek an early opportunity to present to the House legislation to that effect. It is not possible to put back the clock and I do not think that there would be public support for enforcing the current criminal law.

Many people want change for positive reasons—the main one being not the benefit that that would confer on any particular section of the economy, important though that may be, but rather that restrictions on the freedom of traders to trade and customers to buy what they want, when they want, are inconsistent with the development of a free economy. The onus must rest on those who seek to maintain such restrictions. I believe that that onus can no longer be discharged.

Virginia Bottomley – 1985 Speech on the Highway Code and Bicycles

Below is the text of the speech made by Virginia Bottomley, the then Conservative MP for Surrey South West, in the House of Commons on 16 May 1985.

This debate, taking place during national bike week, provides the opportunity to call for greater awareness of the needs of cyclists, and in particular to ask that much more reference should be made to bicycles in the Highway Code when it is next revised.

The House will be pleased that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will be responding, as she has demonstrated over several years her obvious professional and personal interest in road safety generally and her concern for the welfare of cyclists in particular. Her achievements were recognised by the organisers of this year’s National Bike Week when she was given an award for being

“the person who has done most to bring cycling into the public eye”.

It was not only as a result of the £1 million safety poster campaign last autumn, but her persistent and long-term commitment to cycling.

National Bike Week this year marks the centenary of the modern bicycle. It has been organised by six national cycling and transport organisations — the Cyclists’ Touring Club, the Cycle Campaign Network, Friends of the Earth, Transport 2000, the British Cycle Federation and RoSPA. More than 400 events have been organised, including fun rides, competitions and cycle maintenance sessions nationwide to encourage people to take up cycling and to cycle in safety. I am sure that hon. Members will be aware of the activity over the years of the all-party Friends of Cycling Group to draw attention to the needs of cyclists at Westminister, especially the efforts of the hon. Member for for Easington (Mr. Dormand) and my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen).

My experience of cycling is not as extensive as my hon. Friends’. Like others, I bicycled to school in my youth, although I am told that I covered many more miles in my childhood years as a passenger on my mother’s bicycle. Sadly, she has now hung up her bicycle clips, having remarkably passed her driving test at a distinguished age to the delight and, I confess, great surprise, of her family.

Hearing my mother discuss the Highway Code with a grandchild who satisfied the Department of Transport’s driving test examiner at at similar time provided me with a clear example of the difference between the generations in their awareness of cycling based largely on their own experiences.
A lost generation of motorists who grew up in the 1960s and early 1970s never learnt to ride a bike, and, therefore, do not fully appreciate the hazards which cyclists face in, for example, avoiding a pothole in the road or negotiating large roundabouts. There is a special need to educate that group.

The present edition of the Highway Code was published in 1978. It was prepared earlier in the 1970s when cycling was at a low ebb. That might partially explain why, in the current edition, there is not one bicycle in any of the pictures and diagrams of everyday situations. Earlier editions gave- greater prominence to bicycles—the 1946 and 1959 editions show bicycles on the cover. It is only fair to add that the 1949 version has several horses and ​ carts as well. Highlighting bicycles provides a forceful message that the Highway Code is intended for cyclists like other road users and draws the existence of cyclists to the attention of motorists as having equal rights and needs while being specially vulnerable.

There has been a dramatic increase in the use of cycles since the low point in 1974. According to Department of Transport statistics, cycle mileage for 1974 was 3·84 billion km and was almost 50 per cent. greater 10 years later at 5 billion km. Cycle sales have virtually quadrupled in 15 years to 2·05 million in 1984. That makes encouraging news for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry and for Employment. In 1983, more bicycles than cars were sold. It is estimated that there are 15 million bicycles in the country.

Growing concern about personal health, fitness and heart disease in the past 10 years have contributed to the growth in the use of cycles, as did the 1974 oil price shock which caused many people to reconsider their travel arrangements. The bicycle is now widely used as a quick and effective form of personal transport as well as for leisure. There is a clear appeal to conservationists—the bicycle has been said to be the most efficient means yet devised of converting human energy into propulsion. There has, however, been a corresponding increase in cycle casualties. Whatever might be the rights and wrongs of an incident, the cyclist is most at risk. Each year, some 300 cyclists are killed and 6,000 are seriously injured—one third of them under 15. There is good reason to believe that Government statistics based on police records significantly under record the problem.

A recent report by the Cyclists Touring Club, which has its headquarters in Godalming in my constituency, established that cycling accidents are greatly under reported. It found that only one in four accidents are reported to the police and that only one half of accidents involving hospital treatment are reported.

Much can be done in a local community to make cycling safer. In my constituency, I have been most impressed by the work of the Farnham Committee for International Youth Year, which has taken a constructive and practical approach to drawing the needs of cyclists to the attention of the public and those responsible for transport policy. Surrey county council has recently adopted a new policy containing measures to assist cyclists. The policy aims to reduce accidents involving cyclists and motor vehicles through the introduction of a variety of schemes such as the provision of cycle routes, dual cycle/pedestrian paths, recreational cycle routes and traffic management schemes.

I welcome programmes such as the national cycle proficiency scheme and RoSPA’s “Cycleway” to increase education and training and to remind parents of their responsibilities. Families should be aware that giving a child a bike at Christmas, like a pet, requires their ongoing supervision and commitment. The encouragement of high standards of cycle safety and practice are crucial. Quite apart from the need for a sympathetic attitude from transport authorities and for education and training for cyclists, much more needs to be done to provide advice for motorists. A comprehensive study of the responsibility for cycle accidents was carried out by the Metropolitan police, who found that, in two out of three adult cycling accidents, the motorist was at fault. The all too frequent explanation of the motorist is, “I just did not see him.” Safety for all ​ road users is centred on the Highway Code. A number of simple proposed amendments to the Highway Code could redress the balance in favour of cyclists. I congratulate the Cyclists Touring Club on its preparatory work drawing up those proposals. The short section in the Highway Code consisting of a mere nine paragraphs entitled “Extra Rules for Cyclists” should be strengthened. Equally important, is the provision of advice to increase motorists’ awareness of cyclists and guidance on how to treat cycles.
At present that is almost entirely lacking. For example, when overtaking cyclists, motorists should be advised to give them at least one metre’s clearance, and more, if they are travelling at speed. Particular driving circumstances in which cyclists should be considered should be highlighted. For example, on roundabouts motorists should be especially watchful for slow-moving traffic already on the roundabout. Too frequently a motorist notices a fast moving car but fails to see a cyclist. Similarly, when joining or leaving major roads and long slip roads, or when turning out of minor roads, a bicycle is too easily overlooked.

A motorist should not overtake a cyclist and immediately turn left. The bicycle is probably going faster than he thinks. That is particularly dangerous and the cause of too many accidents. Motorists should be reminded that at night cyclists are especially vulnerable. Many motorists fail to realise that cyclists can be blinded by oncoming undipped headlights. Motorists need to be reminded to leave space for cyclists, for example, between lanes of traffic on busy one-way streets.

Following the recommendation of the Transport Select Committees and the practice in earlier editions of the Highway Code, the reintroduction of a foreword to the Highway Code is required to remind all road users of their responsibilities for the safety of others, especially the more vulnerable groups — pedestrians, children, cyclists and the elderly.

I shall quote two paragraphs, the first of which is from the 1946 edition of the Highway Code. It states:

“The provisions of the code are a simple summary of the best and widest experience. Each provision, whether it relates to a legal requirement or to discretionary behaviour, has been included because of its importance in preventing road accidents.

It is my sincere hope that all road users, whether pedestrians, drivers or riders, will study the Code and respect its provisions. To do so is, in fact, a moral duty. If observance of the provisions of the Code and the spirit of tolerance and consideration underlying them, became a habit, road accidents would rapidly decrease. They are a social evil which can only be overcome by the co-operation of everyone.”

The 1959 edition states

“Accidents on our roads do not just happen; they are caused —sometimes by a faulty vehicle, sometimes by road conditions, but nearly always by simple human error. These mistakes, which take lives, are made because in most cases we simply do not realize what we are doing until it is too late.
In other words, our conduct on the roads is not what it needs to be for present-day traffic. This H Code is for the ordinary road user: it sets out in the simplest language the code of behaviour which is a ‘must’ if we are ever to make an impression on the totals of road accidents. If we could ensure that for the coming year every road user obeyed the Code, we should save a great many lives—perhaps our own.”

The Highway Code is a set of provisions containing advice on how to travel safely on the roads, and how to allow others to do the same. Everyone has a duty to care for all other road users as well as himself.

There is an urgent need to revise the code, to remind road users of their responsibility for the safety of others, ​ to reassert the need for mutual respect and tolerance on the road and, above all, to redress the balance giving greater emphasis to cyclists and their needs.

Boris Johnson – 2008 Speech on the Fourth Plinth

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the then Mayor of London, at the Royal Academy on 3 June 2008.

I rise with the terror of someone who barely passed Art A-level after working for two weeks on a drawing of a decomposing lobster and yet who is now called upon not only to address this famous academy that has done so much to help make London the cultural and artistic capital of the world, but who is also asked to make judgements, as Mayor, about some of the most bitterly contested battlegrounds of our national Kulturkampf.

And I mean in particular the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, where I am told I must choose.

I can go for a dead white male war hero, gloved, goggled, moustached, forged in traditional bronze and thereby – so I am warned – earn the odium of the entire liberal funkapolitan art world, or else I can continue to support the rotation of strange and wonderful works of contemporary art and enrage those who think these conversation pieces are out of keeping with Nelson’s square and that a failure to install Sir Keith Park is a disservice to the memory of those who saved our country from tyranny in 1940.

As I have wrestled with this problem, I have seen how elegantly I appear to be politically and intellectually skewered.

If we go for Keith Park, we seem to be saying snooks to modern art, remember the war, and on with the great western European tradition 2500 years old of casting military heroes in bronze. Though he is not a Vitruvian model of anatomical perfection, the Keith Park statue is recognisably a human being, and of course there is a large part of me that yearns to memorialise this amazingly brave New Zealand fighter ace.

Yes, I do worry that we have lost interest in our history and in traditional artistic skills and I mourn the loss of so much music teaching in schools and as Mayor I want to help restore it and I grieve that kids have so little time to learn to draw properly. I get pretty steamed up about the general mushy-minded cultural relativism of our age and I assert the total superiority of Homer over the epic of Gilgamesh and I think the artistic output of 15th century Italy was much better than the artistic output of 15th century meso-America and I congratulate Neil McGregor on getting the Terracotta army to London but when you compare those universal imperial henchmen with the Panathenaic frieze you can see why democracy and individualism got going in western Europe rather than in East Asia.

And yet before there is some kind of international incident I want to reassure you that the moment I hear myself arguing in this vein I realise that it does not reflect all that is in my heart because I love Chinese art and I admire those Aztec skulls and I like Damien Hirst’s flagrant rip-off of Aztec skulls and I nod with pleasure and agreement at Richard Dorment’s elucidations of the YBAs. When I was editing the Spectator I was thrilled to print an exclusive original Jake and Dinos Chapman showing one of their dildo-rich Hieronymus Bosch scenes, and I cannot help noticing that large numbers of Londoners are with me in liking the art on the Fourth Plinth and I trust in the sublime instincts of an ancient people.

And that is why I hope we can find a compromise that reflects the division in my heart and that Keith Park will be allowed temporarily to occupy the plinth in the run-up to the anniversary in 2010 while we look for another site. I say to the Keith Park campaigners ‘some day your plinth will come’. Frankly I am prepared to go so far as to rename Hyde Park Keith Park. Of course there will be people on both sides who object to my solution and as the battle rages on we should realise that the row itself is as old as art.

The Keith Park campaigners and the modern art campaigners have the joy of a cultural foe and in their passion they illuminate themselves and they illuminate the other side and they illuminate art, because neither proposition would be half so interesting without the other.

So it has hit me that my function as mayor is not to presume to arbitrate – I leave that to you, the Jedi of the artistic world. My function is to promote this eternal argument, to let a hundred flowers bloom, to be a kind of Don King of the debate between tradition and revolution, to build on the achievements of the previous mayor, to end the tick-box culture, to support and encourage the creative and cultural sectors in any way I can and to make absolutely no distinction between heritage London and the dynamic contemporary scene because, as I have made clear, the two depend on their juxtaposition – incarnated in Trafalgar Square – to make this the most artistically exciting city on the planet.

Sajid Javid – 2019 Statement on Modern Slavery

Below is the text of the statement made by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 22 May 2019.

Today I am laying before the House the final report of the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (CP 100). Copies of the report will be available from the Vote Office and it will also be published at: www.gov.uk.

Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), the UK has transformed its response to modern slavery over the last five years. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was the first legislation of its kind in the world. The Act provided law enforcement with new tools and powers to apprehend perpetrators, new duties on businesses to publish transparency in supply chains statements, enhanced protections for victims and created the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner role. The impact of the Act is evident: more victims than ever before are being identified and supported, more offenders are being prosecuted and convicted and thousands of companies have published transparency statements and are taking action to prevent slavery and trafficking in their supply chains.

Alongside the Act, this Government are delivering a comprehensive programme of policy measures to tackle modern slavery. We are reforming the national referral mechanism (NRM) to improve the support available to ​victims and to streamline the decision-making process. We are continuing to hold businesses to account on their obligations to publish transparency statements and central Government Departments will publish a transparency in supply chains statement this year, to set out the steps we are taking through public procurement to prevent the risks of modern slavery in our supply chains. We are also working with international partners to drive action to address modem slavery risks in supply chains and public procurement.

We continue to play a leadership role internationally, pushing for co-ordinated action to deliver the sustainable development goals on modern slavery, supported by a commitment of £200 million of UK aid, as well as building partnerships with countries from where the UK receives high numbers of victims. To build on this work, the Government recently awarded a further £5 million in grants to seven organisations through the modern slavery innovation fund to trial new and innovative approaches to tackle this heinous crime.

However, this Government are not complacent, and we are determined to lead global efforts to eradicate modern slavery, particularly as the methods used by criminals to exploit vulnerable people and our under- standing of the crime evolves. That is why in July 2018 I commissioned right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Frank Field), right hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) and the noble Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE to conduct an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act. The review considered four themes relating to provisions in the Act: the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, transparency in supply chains, legal application and the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The final report has made a total of 80 recommendations.

I am grateful to the reviewers and all those who contributed to the review for their commitment and comprehensive analysis. The Government intend to consider all recommendations in depth, before making a formal response in summer 2019.

Robert Buckland – 2019 Statement on the Sentencing Code

Below is the text of the statement made by Robert Buckland, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, in the House of Commons on 22 May 2019.

I am today announcing the Government’s interim response to the Law Commission’s report on the Sentencing Code, published on 22 November 2018. The interim response can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/ government/publications/government-response-to-law-commission-report-on-the-sentencing-code. I am also announcing the Government’s intention to introduce ​the Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill to Parliament, which will pave the way for the sentencing code.

The Law Commission’s draft sentencing code is a consolidation of legislation governing sentencing procedure which aims to ensure that the law relating to sentencing procedure is readily comprehensible and operates within a clear framework as efficiently as possible. For the code to operate as intended, there are some amendments required to the existing law to facilitate the consolidation and to remove historic, and now redundant, layers of legislation. To enable this the Law Commission has also drafted a pre-consolidation amendment bill. Neither the code nor the pre-consolidation amendments make any changes to existing offences and penalties, nor do they introduce any new substantive law or sentencing disposals.

The key recommendation of the report is that the draft legislation be enacted. The Government welcome the Law Commission’s report and draft legislation and consider the consolidation of sentencing procedure to be a major step forward in simplifying what is often a complex and technical area of law. It is absolutely vital that unnecessary errors made in our criminal justice system are minimised, and that the courts, offenders, and victims of crime and their families are not put through the time and expense of unnecessary appeals.

The Ministry of Justice is looking carefully at substantive sentencing reform. For example, there is persuasive evidence showing that community sentences, in certain circumstances, are more effective than short custodial sentences in reducing reoffending, and therefore keeping the public safe. At this stage, we are still considering options and have not ruled anything in or out.

However, questions of substantive reform are distinct from the important task of making sure that sentencing procedural law is clear and accessible to those that need ​to use it. We believe the sentencing code provides that clarity and transparency. I will bring forward more detailed proposals in due course, but I emphasise that the opportunity for the consolidation of complex sentencing procedural law presented by the code is a separate matter, and should be brought forward separately.

The Law Commission has also made some further recommendations to the Government for the reform of sentencing law. These have not been given effect in the draft legislation and both Bills as drafted by the Law Commission can be enacted without taking these additional recommendations forward. The Government are grateful for the in-depth analysis that has gone into these complex issues during consultation, acknowledging that in some cases they were unsuitable for inclusion as part of the consolidation process or outside the terms of reference for the project. For those reasons, we do not propose that these recommendations be taken forward at this time, while noting that the benefit of the sentencing code is that it will be readily open to Parliament in future to make such changes. We will, however, provide a fuller response to these further recommendations raised by the Law Commission in due course.

The Government thank the Law Commission for the considerable effort that has gone into producing the report and draft legislation. While the sentencing code itself should be brought forward through the parliamentary procedure for Law Commission consolidation Bills, I am pleased to announce that the Government will be introducing the Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill to Parliament, giving effect to the pre-consolidation amendments, through the special procedure which is available for Law Commission recommended Bills.

Chris Skidmore – 2019 Statement on the Competitiveness Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Chris Skidmore, the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, in the House of Commons on 22 May 2019.

The Internal Market and Industry Day of the Competitiveness Council will take place on 27 May 2019. Katrina Williams, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union, will represent the UK.

The Research and Space Day of the Competitiveness Council will take place on 28 May 2019. Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, will represent the UK.

Day one—Internal Market and Industry

The Internal Market and Industry Day will consider a number of non-legislative items, including a competitiveness “check-up”. Attendees will be asked to debate and agree the adoption of conclusions on “a new level of ambition for a competitive single market” and “an EU industrial policy strategy: a vision for 2030”. This will be followed by the adoption of “conclusions on the competitiveness of the tourism sector as a driver for sustainable growth, jobs and social cohesion in the EU for the next decade”.​

Under any other business, there will be updates on the following current legislative proposals: (a) the directive on cross-border conversions, mergers and divisions; (b) the directive on the modernisation of the EU consumer protection rules; (c) the directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers; and (d) the regulation on the general safety of vehicles.

The presidency with also provide information on better regulation and the forum dedicated to the auto industry. Finally, the Finnish delegation will provide information on the work programme of the incoming Finnish presidency.

Day two—Research and Space

The Research and Space Day of the Competitiveness Council will begin with a session on space, during which the Council will hold a policy debate on “strengthening Europe’s role as a global actor and promoting international co-operation, space diplomacy and contributing to building the global space governance”.

The Competitiveness Council will then break for the 280th European Space Agency (ESA) Council where the UK, as an ESA member state, will vote on the ESA resolution “space as an enabler”. The Council will then reconvene for the 9th EU-ESA Space Council where there will be an exchange of views and adoption of conclusions on “space as an enabler”.

The research session will start with a policy debate concerning “research and innovation as a driving force for a more competitive European Union”. Finally, the Finnish delegation will provide information on the work programme of the incoming Finnish presidency.

Philip Hammond – 2019 Statement on ECOFIN

Below is the text of the statement made by Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of Commons on 23 May 2019.

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 17 May 2019. The UK was represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International Finance, HM Treasury). The Council discussed the following:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President briefed the Council on the outcomes of the 16 May meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU. Ministers then discussed the possibility of the European Investment Bank developing country strategies. Lastly, the Commission updated on the state of play on negotiations on the definitive system of value added tax.

Excise duties

The Council discussed the directive on general arrangements for excise duty (recast), the regulation on administrative co-operation of the content of electronic registers, and the directive on the structures of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages.​

Current financial services legislative proposals

The Romanian presidency provided an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

International meetings

The Council held an exchange of views on digital taxation in the international context, and the presidency and Commission updated the Council on the outcomes of the G20, IMF and World Bank spring meetings that took place in April. The Council then mandated the Economic and Financial Committee to approve the terms of reference for the upcoming G20 meeting in June. Lastly, the Finnish delegation debriefed the Council on the first meeting of the Finance Ministers coalition for climate action.

European semester

The Council adopted conclusions on the outcomes of the 2019 in-depth reviews of macroeconomic imbalances in member states as part of the macroeconomic imbalances procedure; and the implementation of 2018 country-specific recommendations.

Institutional cycle priorities

Under the non-legislative AOB, the presidency informed the Council on the follow-up discussions in regards to priorities for the next institutional cycle in the ECOFIN area.

Working lunch

Following on from the discussions at April informal ECOFIN in Bucharest, EU Finance Ministers held a working lunch to discuss the challenges of labour mobility and their potential solutions, followed by an exchange of views on the way forward in areas of the economic and monetary union, specifically in regards to the reform support programme.