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Below is the text of the speech made by Nigel Dakin, the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, on 15 July 2019.
His Honour the Speaker, Your Ladyship the Chief Justice, the Honourable Premier, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Her Excellency the Deputy Governor, the Honourable Attorney General, Honourable Ministers, Honourable Members of this Honourable House, the Commissioner of Police, Ladies and Gentlemen, Family.
And, through your various representational roles, my greetings to the people of these islands, a community I hope I will soon be able to call ‘friends’.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity of addressing this House a thank you I extend to the Honourable Premier, and to the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, for their welcome, not only to myself but also my family.
As experienced leaders you will have chosen your words with care and I look forward to weighing those words accordingly.
To reply today to the important points you make would suggest I have arrived with an agenda prepared in London; you will all be relieved to hear that I don’t. My views can wait until I am better informed, through detailed conversations with you.
In truth, I come with only one idea: ‘To preserve and to improve’. I’ll explain this in a moment.
Let me first though properly introduce you to my family, supporting me here today. Mandy my extraordinary wife, who you will find ready to contribute a great deal to these islands. Charlie – our daughter – an ‘International Relations’ graduate now deeply engaged on environmental issues and Fraser – our son – an Undergraduate studying Engineering.
You, I know, understand the importance of family in the way I’ve just described a family. You also use the imagery of family – rather beautifully I think – to describe the wider islands that I’m now Governor of: “the family islands”. I look forward to getting to know this new family.
A word about first impressions.
This is not our first time in these islands; our family have previously arrived in a particularly important capacity. We arrived as tourists; the economic engine of this country and on which so much of these islands future depends.
We expected the beauty – we’d of course seen the pictures. We anticipated the weather – we’d consulted the forecast. What we didn’t expect was the genuine warmth of the people we met. If it’s the beaches that bought us here it’s the people that would bring us back.
Every person: the immigration officer; the representative of the car hire firm in Provo; the taxi driver in Grand Turk; the waitress; the bartender; the police officer that helped us at the fish fry; the owner of the accommodation we stayed at; the power boat skipper who took us down the islands; all were outstanding Ambassadors for this country. All four of us are delighted to be back.
To substance. The greatest courtesy I can now pay you is to be both brief (I will take little more than 5 minutes) – and to be clear – (I will make just 6 points). Four words that you may choose to hold me to account to, one thought about the Constitution and I’ll end talking about my priorities.
The first word is ‘Care’. I may be a True Brit, but I’m a Brit who cares deeply about the UK’s relationship with the Caribbean, and the Caribbean’s relationship with the UK. With a Bajan wife, whose family has lived on that island for centuries, and children who enjoy joint Bajan / British nationality how could I be anything, but.
I’ve been in the Caribbean every year for the last 35 years and visited many of the islands in this region. Nearly 33 years ago I married Mandy in St Georges Church, Barbados. One of our children was christened in St Ambrose Church, St Michael, Barbados.
I therefore promise to ‘care’ about the people and the future of these islands, an easy promise to make, and an easy promise to keep, because both myself and my family have cared about the future of this region for a very long time.
You will find I will take my responsibility to represent the interests of the Turks and Caicos Islands seriously and diligently.
The second word is ‘Listen’. Long standing connections to this region ensure that I at least know how much I don’t know. I have some insight to island life. I know how hard I will have to work to understand a rich and complex society that few – who have not lived in the Caribbean – can properly understand.
As a result you will find me inquisitive, I aspire to be one of the most informed people on these islands. Whoever you are, you will find that I will ask a lot of questions. You all, I think, have a right to be heard – and I have a duty to listen.
So I promise to seek to understand the collective wisdom of these islands by listening to as many people as I can – from as many different walks of life as I can; I promise to ‘listen’.
The third word is ‘Service’. I was introduced to public service in 1982 when I joined the British Army. Six months later, at the age of 19, I was leading thirty soldiers on operations. That was 37 years ago and this word ‘service’ has been tested every day since then.
The cap badge at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst – where I started my first career aged 18 – does not read “Lead to Serve”. You do not ‘serve’ through your ‘leadership’ – quite the opposite. The cap badge at Sandhurst reads: “Serve to Lead”.
The truth is that the quality of a person’s leadership is based only on the quality of their service, and the quality of their service boils down to putting others first. So I promise, as your Governor, that I will not only be Her Majesty’s servant in these islands, but I will also be your servant.
Being clear and straight: This final word, and we need not dwell on this because you will – in the end – judge me as you see it – is that you will find me ‘clear’ and by being clear you fill find me ‘straight’.
To ‘care’, to ‘listen’ to ‘serve’ and to be ‘straight’ seem to me four good words, four good anchors, to be held accountable to.
I promised a word about the constitution. I am the 15th Governor of these Islands. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, has appointed all 15. She had been crowned twenty years before the first Governor – Alexander Mitchell – was appointed by her. All fifteen Governors received their commission from her, to be her representative as Head of State.
I am genuinely touched by the spotlight you place on me today, but in truth whoever the individual Governor is, is not the issue. It is instead what the office of Governor represents: continuity, the link to the Crown and to Britain, and the Governor’s application of the constitution that is important.
It is important because it ensures everyone in these islands, and anyone wishing to travel to her, or invest in her, understands that through the Constitution it is the rule of law that prevails here and all are equal here before the law.
An investment here is safe, because the law keeps it safe. A persons human rights are in the end guaranteed here because the law demands those rights be protected.
Conversations about the constitution become immediately complex but let me – for the moment – keep things simple. The key test is that a Constitution has to be good enough to weather the bad times as well as the good. To take in its stride not just the sort of outstanding leaders who spoke before me today, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, but those whose intentions, perhaps long in the future, may be less selfless than the standard that all of us in this room aspire to now.
It’s why the oath I swore at the start of these proceedings is taken by all of you so seriously and why it is – to me – the islands sword and shield; something I must steward diligently.
I am acutely aware that as Head of State I am appointed rather than elected. I have the greatest respect for those politicians amongst you, who face an electorate. As a result you – as well as Her Majesty who appointed me as her representative – have every right to demand, in your Head of State, Statesman like qualities. Today is my first step on a journey to earn the right to be judged in that way.
In the 18th Century the political philosopher Burke offered advice. His definition of a statesman was: “A disposition to preserve and an ability to improve”. That seems to me to remain a good aiming mark in the 21st Century Turks and Caicos Islands. To preserve and improve. You will find that I’m interested in making a practical, positive, difference.
So I’m interested in supporting all those helping educate, protect, develop and care for all that call these islands home, including the most vulnerable. I’m equally interested in supporting those who are focused on business, tourism and diversifying the economy. We all rely on wealth creators.
We can all learn from the next generation – I have – and there will be a particular place, in my heart, for those who understand that the stewardship of our environment offers not just benefits here, but also the opportunity for the Turks and Caicos Islands to have a genuine global voice.
That’s a global voice in what will be one of the predictable themes of this century, something critical we must steward for those that come behind us. Fortunately it’s a fast developing UK priority. On the environment we – the Turks and Caicos Islands, Britain and all the Overseas Territories – are more influential and stronger together than we can ever be apart.
In starting a new role though it’s critical to have early focus – my early focus will be on properly understanding issues relating to crime, illegal immigration and hurricane preparedness. My programme has been prepared with that in mind.
That’s enough talk. I start my agenda – such as it is – to work with you all to ‘preserve and to improve’. In the end this is going to be a Governorship based on values. Whether I ‘care’, ‘listen’, ‘serve’ and whether I’m ‘straight’ will best be judged by my actions rather than my words. I’m now keen to get to work.
And may God bless the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Below is the text of the speech made by Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, on 15 July 2019.
An Irishman, a Barbadian and a Kiwi…
Sorry, there’s no punchline – I just wanted to talk about our England cricket team, who I met on the way over here at Downing Street.
And our brilliant England captain, star bowler and star batsman, and this entire generation of England cricketers, who come from so many different backgrounds to play for our country.
Because these guys – like the England Women’s World Cup team – are role models to so many boys and girls in this country.
And it’s a sign of how far we’ve come since Norman Tebbit’s infamous ‘cricket test’ that nobody cares where you come from, only where you want to call home. And I hope that we call it a new cricket test that we are a meritocracy as a country wherever you come from.
I thought it was worth starting with the England cricket team, not only to cheer everybody up but also because we have to make sure that we remember what the recent past was like when we decide on the future.
Our sporting role models now reflect what our country looks like – and this itself is a huge sign of progress. I think we can take that analysis into the space we’re talking about tonight.
Because things weren’t always better for children and teenagers before smartphones and social media. We often discuss the impact of social media and the challenges it brings but as mentioned in the introduction we must also remember the great advances it brings.
By most metrics it’s never been better: smoking is down, alcohol misuse is down, drug abuse is down. More young people are staying in school and going to university than ever before.
You see the thing is, no matter how much we care about improving our country, we’ve always got to base those improvements on an honest assessment of where we are. An honest assessment means also reflecting that each age brings new challenges and our task is to rise to those new challenges and harness those for the benefit of our society.
This afternoon some of the biggest social media companies in the world – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, YouTube, Tumblr and Snapchat – all came together at the Department for Health and Social Care…
…the Matt Hancock app was also represented.
And what we discussed is exactly what we’re talking about tonight – young people, social media and the impact on mental health. And the word that kept coming up in the meeting – and not just from me – was responsibility.
It was clear: the penny has now dropped – social media companies get that they have a social responsibility, and that we all have a shared responsibility for the health and wellbeing of our children.
This was the third social media summit I’ve called this year, and so far we’ve managed to get the big tech firms – which includes Twitter – to agree to remove suicide and self-harm content, and start addressing the spread of anti-vax misinformation, Instagram have introduced a new anti-bullying tool, and they’ve all repeated to me that they recognise they have a duty of care to their users, particularly children and young people.
The next step from the work we’ve been doing is research. Today, we agreed that we must build a scientifically-rigorous evidence base so we can better understand the health impact of social media, and so we can better identify what more we need to do to keep our children safe online.
We will use the data that social media companies hold for social good. Because, while we’ve made significant progress in these past few months, there is still much more to do.
And ultimately we need to ensure we allow those who express themselves on social media as a cry for help to make that cry while not subjecting others to the damaging impact of viewing material that promotes self-harm or suicide.
And I have made it crystal-clear that if they don’t collaborate, we will legislate.
So today, we agreed to start a new strategic partnership between the Samaritans and ‘the big 6’: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, YouTube and Twitter.
We want the social media companies to contribute at least £1 million to get this partnership off the ground. The government is playing a leading role in bringing this partnership together, and has also contributing funding.
Our mission will be to follow the evidence: develop a scientifically based understanding of what the challenge is, and what resources, support and guidelines we need to establish and better protect children and young people online.
And the key will be to ensure we have a clinically credible analysis of what should and shouldn’t be online and ensure when social media companies want to take down content that is harmful, or are required to take down content that is harmful, the boundary of what should and shouldn’t be online is defined by clinical standards. There’s a clear need for a partnership here to make sure we get that line right.
Ultimately technology isn’t the problem: cars don’t kill people because of a design flaw. People die in car crashes, most of the time, due to human error.
The challenge with social media is also a human challenge.
I’m well known for caring about driving technological upgrades through the NHS and before that across the economy as culture secretary. The reason I care about technology is because I care about people.
Ultimately, harnessing people to harness technology – that is the challenge that we face. The challenge we face online is to ask the question: are humans going to do the right thing?
Are social media companies going to play their part by making their services safer?
Are governments going to hold these companies to account?
And how are we going to support parents and carers to keep their children safe and healthy online?
Essentially, how are we all going to live up to our responsibilities?
And I believe we will. For 2 reasons.
First: history shows us that new technologies sometimes develop faster than our ability to fully understand their impact, but when we do catch up, we act successfully.
It took a century of speed limits, vehicle inspections, traffic lights, drink-driving laws, seatbelt legislation, to make driving as safe as it is now. And now, per mile driven, cars have never been safer.
And we’re still not done, because driver-less cars will be the next step – proof that progress is driven both by advances in understanding and improvements in the technology itself.
And of course that progress, itself, is never complete.
I take inspiration from the first modern labour law in this country, introduced by a Conservative: Robert Peel, father to Sir Robert Peel, one of our greatest prime ministers.
The 1802 Health and Morals of Apprentices Act recognised that cotton mill owners needed to better protect the children working with this new-fangled machinery.
Now, it took a few more decades, and a few more factory acts, before child labour was outlawed altogether, but that first Factory Act, introduced by a Conservative mill owner, started the course of gradual improvements to make the world of work safer for children, women and men.
This task of harnessing new technology for the benefit of society does not take one act of parliament – it is a constant effort to make sure our rulebook is up to date, to allow for the great innovations of our age but to also ensure the benefit of that innovation is brought to the whole of society.
The history of technology, the history of humanity itself, is one of constant and gradual improvements. Now, gradual does not mean slow – that’s not to say we need to wait decades for change to happen.
The pace of technological transformation is faster now than at any point in history so we must pick up the pace of progress to make this technology safer, sooner.
Look at it this way: Facebook is 15 years old now, which in tech years is about… 46. They’ve even appointed Nick Clegg – and you don’t get more of a grown-up than Sir Nick.
So this technology is maturing, there’s more middle-aged people now using Facebook than teenagers, and through improving our understanding and improving the technology, we can make it safer for everyone. That’s the first reason I have confidence that we will get this right, but it requires constant effort to upgrade the laws by which we live.
Second: Mental health, thanks to the actions of this Prime Minister, and her predecessor, is finally being talked about, and taken as seriously as physical health.
We’ve started a fundamental shift in how we think about mental health in this country, and the approach the NHS is taking to preventing, treating and supporting good mental health in the future.
This fundamental shift is important but it is by no means complete. We’ve put a record amount of funding into mental health services but there is so much more to do.
And I think it’s very important that we talk about the impact of social media, and the wellbeing of young people, in this wider context of good mental health: how do we promote and encourage good mental health?
So the third, and final thing, I’d like to touch on tonight is resilience, which is really another way of saying prevention: the guiding principle of the NHS over the next decade.
How can we help people, particularly children and young people, to become more resilient in the first place?
This isn’t about telling people to toughen up – it’s about teaching people the cognitive and emotional skills they need to deal with adversity.
It’s about promoting positive mental health and preventing problems from causing illness.
Because life will throw at you challenges, times of stress and adversity – losing a job, divorce, bereavement. It’s how we respond, how resilient we are, that ultimately determines the impact on our mental health.
The child development expert, Professor Ann Masten, puts it brilliantly:
Resilience does not come from rare and special qualities, but from the everyday magic of ordinary, normative human resources in the minds, brains, and bodies of children.
Everyday magic, but it is not automatic. Resilience isn’t a fixed attribute. It’s something we can teach. It’s something that can be learned, it’s something that must be nurtured.
It’s an essential life skill that we should equip every child and young person with, so they can meet challenges head-on, face adversity, learn and grow, and improve as a person.
I’m delighted we’re working with our colleagues at the Department for Education to equip and empower children, from a young age, with this essential life skill.
Teaching resilience, along with self-respect and self-worth, learning about the importance of honesty, courage, kindness, generosity, trustworthiness and justice.
Values to live by, and vital to our mental health.
We’re also teaching children about the dangers of fake news and why truth matters – whether it’s falsehoods about vaccines or falsehoods about people.
As a parent, I want to protect my children from the dangers in this world, but I know I can’t be with them every minute of the day – I don’t think they’d like it very much if I tried.
But I hope that what I’ve taught them will help prepare them for the challenges they will face in the future.
As parents, as a society, we can’t remove every challenge, but we can teach young people how to overcome them, how to cope with adversity, and how to become more resilient.
So it comes down to this:
Responsibility: everybody playing their part – social media companies, government, parents and carers.
Research: building the evidence base to improve our understanding, and improve the new technology.
Resilience: teaching the right way to respond to challenges.
That’s how we protect our children. And that’s how we build a safer, healthier world for them to grow up in.
And it is an area in which we can succeed – we are leading the world and we must not fail if we’re going to ensure the next generation grows up to live the happy and fulfilling lives that we all want to see.
Below is the text of the speech made by Chris Skidmore, the Science Minister, at the Policy Exchange on 16 July 2019.
Good afternoon everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here at Policy Exchange.
I’ve always been delighted to come to events here, they’ve certainly inspired me in my career over the past 15 years.
I simply couldn’t have imagined back in the early 2000s that one day I’d be standing at Policy Exchange addressing this august institution as the Space minister, or as my 4-year-old daughter calls me, Minister for the Universe!
It’s personally really satisfying to see Policy Exchange make that decision to gear up towards looking at space policy through the establishment of its space policy unit and indeed to launch its own space manifesto.
And of course, the date today is a very important date in any space fan’s calendar. For today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission.
It was at about this time 50 years ago, at T-minus 20 minutes before lift-off, that Jack King, the ‘voice of Apollo’, reported that 2 faults had been detected during countdown.
The first, was to do with communications equipment, which easily fixed.
The second was more serious, a leaky valve on the fuel line providing hydrogen to the Saturn V rocket. And a small team of technicians had been sent urgently to find a solution.
So just imagine the scenario. Twenty minutes before you start a 4-day, 250,000 mile trip into the void of space – propelled by human ingenuity and around 7.6 million pounds of thrust – a man with a wrench walks by and tells you don’t worry, he’s just got to do a quick repair to the rocket, and if there’s a problem move on to Plan B.
Or, alternatively, imagine being that technician. Years of planning and training, trials and tests; millions of dollars if not billions spent; the expectations of a nation and the attention of a global audience, all waiting to see what happens. The pressure would have been incredible.
But the prize was worth it. The moon landings have inspired generation after generation – after all, what child doesn’t want to be an astronaut? But the spin-off benefits from the research needed to explore space have also been undeniable – ranging from laser eye surgery to landmine removal, to portable X-ray machines and even baby formula.
So, it is not surprising that 50 years on, we still talk about the moon landing with admiration and reverence. And while I was born too late to see Apollo 11 touchdown in the Sea of Tranquillity, although I was watching on catch-up over the weekend the remarkable Moon landings live programme, I have always found space generally to be utterly fascinating, not least because of Apollo 11. We all know the names of the first men on the moon. When we think of space, we often think of NASA and the Kennedy Space Centre. And we all remember the immortal words spoken by Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the moon’s surface for the first time.
But this is where I want to make an intervention. Because, I think, for many people, that’s sort of been the end of it – the big challenge was walking on the moon, and once Armstrong and Aldrin had done it, we started to think that space had somehow been ticked off. After all, only 10 other people have boldly gone where those 2 did, and nobody has set foot on the moon since 1972.
But, unless you’re an Olympic long-jumper, one giant leap is never the end of the story. And since 1969, we’ve come on in leaps and bounds in our knowledge of space, but also in our use of space.
Just look at Tim Peake – our very own British astronaut. Children today have been just as inspired by Tim Peake, and his return mission to the International Space Station, as kids were by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969.
It was a real honour to speak alongside Tim on the return of the Soyuz space capsule which is now on display in the Science Museum. If you haven’t seen it please do go and see it. It’s remarkable.
And as Space Minister I’ve been quickly aware of the strength of our own remarkable space industry. Just looking at our history, the UK was the third country after USA and USSR to have a satellite of our own in space – Ariel 1. And our early lead spurred the growth of key British companies like Inmarsat and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, as well as big companies active here from Airbus to Lockheed Martin.
And this strength absolutely continues today: our space industry has tripled in size since 2000, becoming one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK economy. It employs close to 42,000 people throughout the UK, has an income of almost £15 billion, and, through the use of our satellite services, supports an estimated further £300 billion of economic activity.
I want the UK’s efforts in space to continue to grow, and for us to play our fullest role in exploring the solar system and understanding the universe. But this isn’t just about looking outwards at the universe, by going to Mars or hosting the headquarters of the Square Kilometer Array right here in Britain at Jodrell Bank, which I was delighted to see had the announcement on the UNESCO World Heritage Site last week.
Most pressingly, I believe that our efforts in space will help to preserve life right here on Earth. Through measuring the temperature of oceans, to monitoring changes to biodiversity and the extent of deforestation, satellite technology today is enabling us to observe the very real-time changes happening right here on Planet Earth.
And the UK has significant capabilities in satellite Earth Observation, including through our membership of Copernicus, which I want to see continue. These capabilities range from radar remote-sensing through to ultraviolet analysis of the physical, chemical and biological systems here and also to observe how these are changing.
These capabilities are pushing the frontiers of environmental science. For instance, the amazing work being done by the British Antarctic Survey to measure sea-ice dynamics or predict the future of the polar ice sheets.
As humanity’s impact on the world becomes ever more dramatic, gathering evidence from space becomes an increasingly pressing challenge.
Earth Observation, I believe, is therefore an essential green technology, vital for monitoring our changing planet and informing the decisive action we need to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And this is a phenomenal economic opportunity for the UK also – the earth observation sector is growing rapidly, currently supporting around £92 billion of economic activity. I want to see this progress continue as we continue to work to tackle climate change and deliver green growth.
And this work really shows that UK must continue to be one of the leaders of this new space age – a space age that isn’t rooted in Cold War rivalry, but in communication, in collaboration and in commercialisation; a space age which recognises the pivotal role that space will have in delivering life-enhancing and sustainable benefits right here on earth.
A very significant step, which I’m also pleased that Policy Exchange has supported in its Space Manifesto, is the creation of a National Space Council, which we announced just last month, and which will coordinate the Government’s space strategy and capabilities. This coordination will also be driven by a new National Space Framework, which will be owned and operated by the Council.
This will have implications throughout our society, because space affects policy in a wide range of government departments. Most obviously the Ministry of Defence for security and defence – indeed, my colleague Penny Mordaunt will be speaking at the Air and Space Power Conference later this week. But also the Cabinet Office for civil contingencies, Defra for earth observation, BEIS for industry and climate change, DCMS for communications, and across many other departments in terms of the enabling technologies that space and satellite technology can provide.
The National Space Framework therefore recognises three top-level national priorities aligned with the Cabinet Office-led Fusion Doctrine: those of Prosperity and Knowledge, Security and Protection, and thirdly Global Influence.
Through these, the Council will improve its understanding of future UK requirements, deliver the practical joint working across all government departments to improve policy coherence and, importantly, working with the sector, to achieve our ambitious growth targets. Last year the Space Growth Partnership published ‘Prosperity from Space’ – a blueprint to build on our success to date, to enable the UK to access over £70 billion worth of new opportunities by 2030. And we set out a national ambition of accelerating growth to secure 10% of global market share in commercial space activity by this date.
The structure of the National Space Council is still to be agreed with the Cabinet Office, but we expect it to have a permanent full-time secretariat and formal supporting structures from across government, industry and academia.
As we saw from President Macron’s recent announcement of a new space defence command in France, governments all over the world are recognising the strategic value of space. And for the UK, the new Space Council will provide renewed focus and ambition, to accelerate the excellent progress that we’ve already made to date.
We’ve also reaffirmed our commitment to the European Space Agency, or ESA – an organisation which we helped to found, and that we are absolutely proud to be a part of. We’re contributing around £300 million to ESA each year, and I believe that is money entirely well spent. After all, for every £1 we invest with ESA, we see an average return of £10.
While 50 years ago we were embarking on the mission to the moon, the next big space mission will be to Mars.
So I was delighted to see that the new Exo Mars rover will bear the name of a British woman and one of our great scientists, Rosalind Franklin.
The Rosalind Franklin rover will search for evidence of life on Mars, and it is packed full of British tools like the PanCam, a camera developed at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Lab which can record the landscape in 3D.
But our commitment to ESA is also more than just about financial investment, it’s also about investment in people, for space literally knows no borders. So, as part of our ESA membership, I’m delighted to announce we’ve made certain that British ESA staff working in Europe, and also European ESA staff working in the UK, will enjoy the same rights as one another as a result of the ESA Host Agreement: access to healthcare, pensions and benefits – and, most importantly – the right to have families of ESA staff living, working and learning in whichever ESA country they call home.
We’re committed to continuing collaboration with member states in ESA on research and on development – particularly in such an important year for ESA, with the Council of Ministers in November, where member states will agree ESA’s future programmes of work.
It’s fantastic to see that already preparations for that are also building up to an ambitious programme based on global collaboration, excellent science as well as commercial programmes that will support our Industrial Strategy.
You’ve probably heard enough from me about my road to 2.4% speech series I’ve been making as Research and Innovation Minister, but the government’s commitment to raise research and development spending to 2.4% of GDP offers a considerable opportunity to space and other technology-based sectors. The space sector is 6 times more R&D intensive than the UK average, and we will continue to work closely with ESA in order to develop programme proposals that benefit R&D as well as boosting our national capabilities.
This complementary approach offers significant opportunities to maximise the commercial and scientific impact of space, but also to maximise its role in tackling problems like climate change I discussed earlier. I look forward to continuing this strong and vitally important partnership, and to seeing many more fantastic achievements from ESA, for many years to come.
But our vision must also be international, and for some immediate evidence of our determination to work with all countries across the globe, I’m excited to say that on Thursday I’ll be signing a new memorandum of understanding between the UK and Portugal, alongside Portuguese Space Minister Manuel Heitor.
And beyond Europe, we’re also excited to host several international space agencies at the UK Space Conference in September, which will be the most important space-related event in the UK this year. We expect to see a host of international space agencies attending, supported by trade delegations.
Space is a truly global endeavour that benefits everyone, but we can only achieve these benefits if we have a safe and secure space environment. The UK is leading international discussions to determine practical ways both governments and industry can ensure Space will be available for future generations.
Building on our work with ESA, and the increased global appetite for international space agencies to work together, the UK Space Agency is now looking to enhance our level of international engagement and cooperation through a series of bilateral programmes.
The intent is to provide a real opportunity for the UK space sector, industry and academia, to strengthen its international relationships while also continuing to collaborate with our close partners across Europe.
That’s a key theme which runs right through the engagement I’ve taken forwards, also with our publication of our International Research and Innovation Strategy.
I’m delighted that space continues to form part of a wider strategy we have across government.
But that’s also why I can announce today that NASA and the UK Space Agency have today signed a letter recognising our joint interest in accessing the Moon for science, and in using private sector capabilities to support this endeavour. They have also agreed to set up a working group to coordinate joint scientific research and also to identify for the future collaborative opportunities, including the possibility of using a proposed UK commercial communication service at the Moon.
Our two countries have a fantastic history together, and space exploration has been a part of it for quite a while. Back in the 70s, Richard Nixon gifted pieces of moon rock gathered by Apollo 11 and Apollo 15 to some of America’s allies, including the UK.
If any of you went to a reception in Downing Street tucked away in a corner by the Prime Minister’s office you were able to see this piece of wood encapsulating the Moon rock. I understand you can now see them in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
It’s so important that today on this 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, we’re able to make this continued joint commitment for the future.
But if these mentions of NASA start making you think that maybe it is all about the USA after all, I’d like to set the record straight.
We as the UK have that fantastic story to tell. We are, for example, a satellite telecoms powerhouse; one in four telecoms satellites contains parts made in the UK. In fact, when I visited the Space Park at the University of Leicester in March, I was fascinated to hear about the instruments built at the University since 1967.
The University is obviously looking to maintain its track record, and I was very pleased last week to announce almost £14 million of funding to the University’s METEOR centre, which will be a hub for innovation in satellite design and operation, for revolutionising how we use the data that our satellites gather.
And also, exciting new businesses like OneWeb, which aims to provide high-speed broadband to the world through a constellation of 650 satellites, to have chosen the UK as their Headquarters.
I’ve met a host of companies on my tours across the UK and I have to say the enthusiasm and the drive of those leadership teams of these companies to do more if they have the chance and to provide that supporting role where we can as government, and will continue to do.
To continue this progress, I’m delighted to announce today a £2 million investment in ten new projects to develop innovative new instruments, which will put UK industry and universities in pole position for new commercial and scientific missions.
During the Farnborough International Airshow back in 2018, the UK Space Agency announced more than £30 million of funding for Sutherland in Scotland – helping Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop a vertical launch spaceport; giving Orbex the means to build a new launch vehicle; and helping Lockheed Martin to establish launch operations and an innovative new satellite deployment system, known as the Orbital Manoeuvring Vehicle, boosting Scotland’s reputation as a go-to destination for vertical satellite launches.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the country, last month we’ve now joined up with Cornwall Council to invest a total of £20 million into the Newquay Spaceport, which is developing horizontal launch operations with Virgin Orbit.
The Space Industry Act 2018 is a major step forwards in establishing a safe and supportive regulatory framework to enable launches to take place from the early 2020s, and we’re working across government to develop the detailed regulations to implement the Act with industry and other interested parties.
We are also working with international partners to put in place the necessary agreements for companies from around the world to be able to come here to the UK, while investing in related facilities and technology, including almost £100 million for a new National Satellite Test Facility in Harwell, and £60 million for Reaction Engines to develop their revolutionary air-breathing rocket technology, which can be thought of as a cross between a jet and a rocket engine.
This is an exciting project that builds on Britain’s aerospace heritage; an amazing feat of engineering with a wide range of potential applications, and it’s now seen investment from BAE Systems, Boeing and Rolls-Royce. I’m pleased to see the engine’s current tests in Colorado going so well, and I’ll be following the progress of the UK tests next year.
It is absolutely vital that these projects and investments continue, because the UK simply cannot afford to opt out of space. As I said I am not old enough to remember the moon landings but I do remember Project Juno. My father even worked on developing a Doppler ultrasound system, or the ‘Juno Dop’, for the mission. But in the end, the Juno mission failed to take off and Helen Sharman had to hitch a ride on a Soyuz. Because the rest of the world simply doesn’t wait, we had to run to catch up.
We cannot make that same mistake twice. We need to build on our strengths and to make space a major priority for the UK’s future. This means continuing to be a major investor in ESA, to put forward our best and most talented minds, and to invest in our satellite applications cluster from Glasgow to Goonhilly. We cannot afford to be left behind again.
So, let me round off this speech where I started – with the hydrogen valve on Saturn V, a few minutes before the launch of Apollo 11. In the event, the problem with the valve was a minor one. The team poured on cold water to freeze the valve, tightened some bolts and bypassed the valve all together. The countdown proceeded as planned, and everything was in place for ignition, just a few minutes from now at what would be 2:32pm, GMT.
It was the start of an amazing journey. One that has inspired all of us for half a century. The Arts and Humanities Research Council together with the UK Space Agency have been compiling stories from those who watched in real-time the moon landing, and I think it’s fair that we give the last words to some of them.
There are many great tales emerging out of this new research, but I want to focus on just 2 stories of scientific inspiration.
Nigel Shadbolt, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, said:
I was 13, a young boy in a small village in the Peak District. I remember the exhilaration of the moment… an exhilaration shared with bleary eyed friends later that morning in School Assembly. The night’s events instilled in me a passion for science. A passion that led me into a 40 year career in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science.
And the account of Lance Thompson says it all:
I would not choose to have been born at any other time: my 62-years have been so influenced by the ‘Space Race’ it is difficult to imagine any other life for myself. The passion I had for the whole adventure resulted in me following a career in engineering, specifically in remote sensing. For a young lad from Newcastle, this was not the usual prospect. Had I not popped into the world at just the right time I would not have been inspired by mankind’s greatest undertaking.
For these 2 young boys, the moon landings were a moment of magic that helped shape the course of their entire lives. And for all of us, young or old, space continues to inspire and amaze. It brings the visceral excitement of embarking on voyages of discovery. It sparks major scientific advances in our understanding of the universe. And it creates opportunities, opportunities for businesses to deliver great new products and services to consumers. These are the reasons, among many, that we continue to persist and invest in space.
So, as we celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this week, I want us to remember that the small step that Armstrong took was just the first in an amazing, inspiring and essential journey. And that journey is one that I’m proud that the UK will be continuing on for many decades to come.
Below is the text of the speech made by David Duguid, the Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2019.
It is an honour to follow the hon. Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) and, in particular, to hear the translation of some Welsh poetry at least. I am pleased that the Scottish Affairs Committee, of which I am a member, and the Welsh Affairs Committee have secured this debate to mark 20 years of devolution. It is an important landmark in the history of the United Kingdom and an appropriate time to reflect on the progress we have made towards more representative and more effective government in Scotland and Wales—and Northern Ireland, when we get its Assembly back.
Over the past 20 years, Scotland has seen multiple rounds of devolution. It was a Conservative-led Government who oversaw the Scotland Act 2012 and the Scotland Act 2016, which devolved additional powers to the Scottish Parliament, making it one of the most powerful devolved legislatures in the world today. The Scottish Affairs Committee’s recent report on inter- governmental relations highlighted the many other upheavals that have influenced the devolution settlement during that time, including the change of Government in 2007 and the independence referendum in 2014. It is clear that the devolution settlement that Scotland enjoys today is very different from the one created back in 1999. With 111 additional powers due to be devolved from Brussels to Holyrood as we leave the European Union—87 immediately and another 24 to follow—it will soon be changing further.
As the Member of Parliament for Banff and Buchan, the heartland of Scottish fishing, I know that my constituents will be glad to see overall fisheries policy being determined closer to home, rather than by distant bureaucrats on the continent. I also know that many of my constituents have been frustrated by the SNP’s apparent desire to keep all those powers in Brussels, by keeping us in the EU and, by association, in the common fisheries policy.
Brexit or no Brexit, however, it is right that the UK and Scottish Governments should be investigating how intergovernmental relations can be improved, but this is not the time for talk of radically rewriting the devolution settlement. While we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of devolution as a whole, it is worth recognising that the last Scotland Act came into force just three years ago. In fact, we are still implementing that last rewrite of the devolution settlement, and earlier this year it emerged that the SNP-run Scottish Government will not be ready for the full devolution of welfare powers until 2024. This from the same party that told voters in 2014 that it could set up a whole new country in just 18 months.
Instead of plotting a rematch against the voters on independence or devising increasingly left-field proposals to overhaul the devolution settlement yet again, the focus of this review should be on ensuring that the devolution settlement we have got is implemented smoothly and effectively.
Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD)
The hon. Gentleman is making an interesting point about the devolution settlement. We in the highlands and islands have identified something of a democratic deficit: we feel our voice is not being heard by those in power in Edinburgh and that power is being dragged out of the highlands to Edinburgh. That does not suit highland people, and what we get is elected Members turning around and blaming the Highland Council, but it gets its money from the Scottish Government. I believe there should be a Minister for the highlands and islands, in whatever Government, of whatever colour, who would speak up for the highlands and islands and would actually exercise some power to the good of the highlands and islands. We do not have one at the moment and we should.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point. I am going to raise a similar one about the north-east of Scotland, where I come from—that will come as no surprise.
The work involved in this review is vital if the Scottish people are to enjoy the good governance they deserve, from both the Westminster and Holyrood Governments. I was pleased, therefore, with the UK Government’s response to the Committee’s report on intergovernmental affairs, which showed their commitment to such a review. It remains to be seen whether the Scottish Government will put the interests of the Scottish people first and work constructively with the UK Government. We may see more of the same from the SNP: this is the party that is delaying the implementation of the Scotland Act 2016—particularly on welfare, as I have mentioned—and is desperately trying to keep agricultural and fisheries policy under Brussels’ control. This is the party whose own Brexit Minister has said he does not like the devolved settlement. This is the party that ran roughshod over the procedures of the Scottish Parliament and the advice of its Presiding Officer to ram through its continuity Bill, only for swathes of it to be struck down by the Supreme Court.
The choice is the SNP’s, and I hope for the sake of the Scottish people that the SNP chooses a more constructive path. If it fails to do so, I suspect that come 2021, when we have the next Holyrood elections, the Scottish people will bring that nationalist era to an end and elect a new Government who will take that constructive approach—
With Ruth Davidson as First Minister, yes. Like the majority of people in Scotland, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party supports the Union. We are invested in the devolution settlement and we want it to succeed. That is because localism is a core Conservative principle.
It is a source of endless disappointment to me and to my constituents in the north-east that the spirit of devolution, of decisions being taken closer to home, has not taken root entirely within the Scottish Government. Successive Labour and SNP Scottish Governments have hoarded power in Holyrood and, it has been suggested, governed primarily for the central belt. While English city regions are getting more control of their own affairs, to accompany growth deals, Nicola Sturgeon is ensuring that Scotland remains rigidly centralised.
Scotland’s diversity, from region to region, across the whole of Scotland, is one of the many things that makes Scotland a nation that I and my immigrant wife are proud to call home. It is tragic that the political structures that the SNP has imposed on our nation do not reflect that. When the revenue grant for local authorities in the north-east is falling by £40 million this year, even when the SNP have made Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK, with the north-east taxed more than most areas in Scotland, it is clear to see that the north-east is missing out.
My message for the Scottish Government on this anniversary is simple: it is time to work constructively with the UK Government to make the most of the existing devolution settlement, and ensure that the new powers coming to Holyrood from both Westminster and Brussels are transferred.
Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
My colleague on the Scottish Affairs Committee talks a lot about constructive working of the two Governments together. The SNP tabled more than 100 amendments in the debates on the Bill that became the 2016 Act and they were completely ignored by the Government. Would the hon. Gentleman describe that as constructive working?
I thank my fellow Committee member for her intervention but I would not necessarily recognise voting against those amendments as ignoring them. We just voted against them because we did not agree with them, and that is how democracy works.
In summary, it is time for a fair deal for the north-east, and more powers for local and regional communities across Scotland. It is time to respect the fact that although the Scottish people voted for devolution 20 years ago, at no point—either in 2014 or in any election since—have the people of Scotland expressed a desire to break up the United Kingdom.
Below is the text of the speech made by Susan Elan Jones, the Labour MP for Clwyd South, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2019.
It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Aberconwy (Guto Bebb), my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) and other right hon. and hon. Members.
This is the 20th anniversary of devolution, but it is a bit more than that really, because I refuse to believe that devolution started 20 years ago. There is a real history to it, and one thing I praise Plaid Cymru colleagues for is how they have often acknowledged the work of their predecessors Gwynfor Evans, Lord Dafydd Wigley and Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, who kindly supported my 2017 election campaign in Clwyd South. Lord Elis-Thomas is now serving in the Welsh Government, and he is a good man.
The Labour party does not always do that quite enough. I read the book by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Wayne David) about his predecessor, “Morgan Jones: Man of Conscience,” and I was struck that, in his 1922 general election address, Morgan Jones supported self-government—not separatism, but self-government—to address Welsh needs in an appropriate and distinctive way. In June 1938, he was part of a cross-party delegation that met Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to put the case for a Secretary of State for Wales. Neville Chamberlain did not accept the proposal, but perhaps his judgment was not too good anyway.
Of course, it was not until the reforming Harold Wilson Government of the 1960s that there was a Secretary of State for Wales and a Wales Office. Jim Griffiths was the first Secretary of State. It came from that Keir Hardie tradition of Home Rule all round.
I want to be partisan, not as a Labour Member of Parliament but as a north Walian, in paying tribute today to those great devolutionists: Cledwyn Hughes of Ynys Môn; Goronwy Roberts of Caernarvon; Eirene White of Flintshire; Robert Richards, James Idwal Jones and Tom Ellis, representatives of Wrexham, although the latter two came from Rhosllanerchrugog; Thomas William Jones and William Edwards, representatives of Merioneth, with T.W. also coming from Rhosllanerchrugog. All Labour and all north Walians.
I also pay tribute to Wales’s first female MP—Liberal, and later Labour—Megan Lloyd George, who once recorded a party political broadcast for the Liberal party that ended
“hunan lywodraeth i Gymru. Nos da.”
Or, “self-government to Wales. Good night.” I shared that story when I did occasional Welsh-language voiceovers for Welsh Labour, and people were very interested in my observations.
There are three things we need to consider. Six minutes is not very long, and two minutes and fifty seconds is even shorter. First, devolution offers a real chance for distinctive policies—not distinctive for their own sake but distinctive because they can be innovative and they can work. We have seen it with the minimum pricing of plastic bags, which was an innovative policy introduced in 2011, and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. We have to look to the future, considering all the factors.
The Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 introduced the principle of presumed consent, and it saved lives in doing so. There was the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016 and now, with our excellent First Minister, there are proposals for social partnerships. Those policies are distinctive, and they are good.
Secondly, let us not fall into the trap of seeing devolution through the prism of the home nations. It is fine for the rugby, but we miss out when we just look at England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Our late, great colleague Paul Flynn was a passionate devolutionist, and he once told me he felt there was no problem in Wales that could not be solved by an east coast. I think he was joking but, whether he was or not, we do not have one.
Some 50% of Wales’s population live within 30 miles of the border, so devolution has to interconnect between the nations and regions of our country. We see connections between north-east Wales and north-west England in the economy, health and so much more. We also have to see the debate in terms of London, and we have seen greater moves towards devolution. It may not help us, but we have to look to London and the home counties, which want to keep more of their tax take.
The hon. Lady is making some important points. Does she agree that, on social care, Wales has much to learn from the Greater Manchester devolution debate? We can learn from them, rather than just thinking that we are ahead of the game.
Susan Elan Jones
It is an intelligent contribution to the debate that we consider good policies, wherever they come from, on both sides of the border, in Scotland and, indeed, elsewhere in the world. We must not become insular.
Thirdly, and this is especially true for those of us who fall in the social democratic or democratic socialist traditions, structural and constitutional devices are never an end in themselves. It is about empowerment, wellbeing, connectedness, education and culture. I pay great tribute to all those who are fighting the campaign to reach 1 million Welsh speakers—it is not a maximum, and we can go above it—in Wales, which is very important. It is also about the ability to reach out globally, across continental Europe, the UK, NATO, the Commonwealth and so much more. What was important about the initial devolution settlement was the sense that we had to work consensually. Sometimes the electoral system was devised for that and sometimes, to be honest, that consensual working could be a pain in the neck, but I do believe that without it we would not have had that breadth of support for devolution.
If I am quick, I will be able to end—stereotypically, being Welsh—with a quote from a poem: a not-very-good translation of a Welsh poem. It reads:
“Old Welsh customs need must change
As years progress from age to age.
The generations each arrange
Their own brief patterns on the page.”
That is not how Ceiriog said it, but that is the English translation. Most of us will not be here in this place in 20 years’ time, but what is important is that we work together, we get the best for our country and we do it through that devolved settlement.
Below is the text of the speech made by Guto Bebb, the Conservative MP for Aberconwy, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2019.
May I first associate myself with the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Andrew Griffiths) about cystic fibrosis?
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray), and I join him in saying that this is a celebration. Unlike my good friend the Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies), I was in favour of establishing the Welsh Assembly. While it has not been perfect, I would place the blame for its failures primarily on the Welsh Government, not on the institution per se. However, some of the failures highlighted by my hon. Friend are issues that we should be worried about. In education, for example, we genuinely need to look carefully at ourselves in Wales and ask whether we are delivering the educational standards to which we actually aspire.
However, I took one exception with my hon. Friend’s comments about the health service. It is fair to have a political debate about the health service in Wales, and it is fair to say that people can be genuinely disappointed with the health service in Wales. However, we must be honest enough as politicians to recognise that some of the challenges facing the health service in Wales are unique. The age profile of my constituency and many others in north Wales brings particular problems, and I speak as somebody who is represented from a health perspective by a health board that is both the largest in Wales and probably the most problematic in Wales. Although many of those problems are blamed, rightly, on decisions made by the Welsh Government, it would be naive and wrong to blame all those problems on the Welsh Government. Some of the problems we face in north Wales are unique.
David T. C. Davies
In fairness, the Assembly Government are doing some good things in that regard. For example, they are using the Rutherford group to offer cancer care in parts of south Wales, which is an excellent example of using the private sector within the NHS. Of course, that is completely different from nationalising the NHS. The Conservatives are often accused by Labour in England of nationalising the NHS, when Labour is doing exactly that, and quite rightly so, in Wales.
I agree with my hon. Friend.
Turning to how the Welsh Assembly has worked over the past 20 years, I will first touch upon some of the successes. More and more powers have been offered to the Assembly and the Welsh Government. That has happened in a piecemeal fashion, and it has been frustrating in many ways, because it has taken time, but I am proud of the fact that this Government and previous Governments since 2010 have actually delivered more powers to the Welsh Government, and rightly so.
I was pleased to be one of the Ministers who took the Wales Act 2017 through this place, and I am particularly proud of the fact that the way we worked in tandem with the Welsh Government resulted in that legislation being the first piece of constitutional law to pass through both Houses without amendment. That was testament to the fact that we worked in a co-operative fashion, which is important. Co-operation between the two Governments needs to develop quite significantly, and there is no doubt that the challenges of Brexit mean that that is becoming more and more important. We want services to be delivered to the people of Wales effectively, and the way to do that is to acknowledge that both Governments actually have an impact.
When I was at the Wales Office, I kept on making the point that Wales has two Governments and that we should take advantage of that, not see it as a problem. I will provide an example from when I was the Minister for Defence Procurement, because I saw how contracts awarded to Welsh companies by the Ministry of Defence led to those companies being supported by the Welsh Government through their economic development remit. We saw seamless working between the Government in Westminster and the Government in Cardiff Bay for the benefit of communities in Wales, which is exactly how we should aspire to work. We should aspire to acknowledge where the devolution boundary lies, and obviously we can have political arguments on where we need to change that devolution boundary, but we should see the potential of working together and how having two Governments serving the people of Wales is an advantage, not a disadvantage.
I welcome the work of the Welsh Affairs Committee on the growth deals and city deals, and so on. This is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference for the Welsh economy, and that difference is being made by the two Governments working together. The funding coming into those growth deals is coming from Westminster and from Cardiff Bay. More importantly, it is proper devolution, because the ideas and the initiatives are coming from the regions.
If there is one thing I would like to say, and I concur with the hon. Member for Edinburgh South on this, it is that the first 10 years of the Welsh Assembly probably saw powers being sucked into Cardiff Bay to make up for the original settlement in Wales being very weak. Every new institution has this need to feel it can make a difference, and in Wales we often saw powers being taken into the Assembly from local government, and I still believe that far too many decisions are demanded of the Government in Cardiff by local authorities, such as my own local authority in Conwy, rather than their being allowed to be made by the people on the ground.
Yes, we need co-operation between the two Governments, but I strongly argue that we need a more mature attitude in the Welsh Assembly and the Welsh Government, which should trust their partners in local government. That is entirely the right thing to do. The growth deals are seeing the three partners—Westminster, the Welsh Government and local authorities—working constructively together, and we should try to build on that.
On the powers of the Wales Office and how it works for Wales within Westminster, I remember listening to a speech by Lord Elystan-Morgan back in 2013. He highlighted that the creation of the Wales Office in the 1960s was, in fact, the first step towards devolution.
The powers of the Wales Office have changed quite dramatically, and it was advantageous for me to be a Wales Office Minister and a Government Whip, because the Wales Office, in effect, has a cross-Government remit. That cross-Government remit is challenging, because Wales Office Ministers often find themselves being the nuisance who turns up in another Department to say to a spending Minister, “Do not forget that this issue has an impact on Wales as well.”
The Dunlop report is extremely important because, if we are to govern well for Wales from Westminster and from Cardiff, it is imperative that we understand the role of the Wales Office. We genuinely need to ensure that the understanding of Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish issues in Westminster is enhanced, and the way to do that is either by accepting the need to strengthen the Wales Office and the Scotland Office or by acknowledging that we need to change how we do things. I look forward to that report, which is important for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Below is the text of the speech made by Ian Murray, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2019.
I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), the Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, for bringing forward this debate. It is right for us to celebrate 20 years of devolution. Back in 1997, the Scotland Bill was the first Bill that the new Labour Government brought forward from their manifesto. They promised to bring it in early, and it was the very first Bill to be presented to this House. Then we had the referendum in 1999, which gave a yes vote. That is the only time I have ever voted yes in a Scottish referendum, and it is the only time I am ever likely to do so. That referendum brought us the Scottish Parliament. Donald Dewar, who has always been known as the Father of the House in the Scottish Parliament, said at that time this was not about politics and legislation but about what kind of country we were, how we looked upon ourselves and how we were shown to the rest of the world. I think we should carry that through in this debate and in everything we do when talking about the Scottish Parliament.
I was eight when the Scottish Parliament reconvened in 1999—I am glad that nobody in the House can do maths—but the big question 20 years later has to be whether we now have home rule within the United Kingdom. That is the big question, because for all of us who are devolutionists and not nationalists or Unionists, devolution is a journey. The Calman commission and the Scotland Act 1998 were always a journey and the question has always been about whether the Scottish Parliament should progress and where devolution should go on that journey.
There was lots to celebrate in the first part of the Scottish Parliament in terms of the laws it was able to pass. About 280 laws have been passed since the Parliament came into being, and we should look on that as progress, because there was never any ability in this place to pass anywhere near 280 laws for Scotland in a 20-year period. It is probably accurate to say that 10% of that number could have been passed under the previous arrangements. We have had land reform, feudal law reform, the smoking ban and free personal care for the elderly, as well as proportional representation for local government, which was huge. We have also had world-leading legislation on homelessness as well as more schools, teachers, teaching assistants, nurses and doctors, and the abolition of tuition fees in Scotland. All those things have been better for Scottish life and have cemented the Scottish Parliament as the centre of Scottish politics and the centre of Scottish civic life. Anybody who argues that Westminster is the centre of Scottish politics and civic life has not moved on over the past 20 years, because that can be seen in the way the Scottish Parliament operates.
Now is a good opportunity to reflect on what the Scottish Parliament is delivering. I always thought that the Scottish Parliament should be part of a devolution journey that would provide subsidiarity, and everyone would have a grown-up conversation about the powers that lay at the Westminster Parliament, the EU level, the Scottish Parliament, our local authorities, or even local communities—I firmly believe in the idea of subsidiarity—and about where powers are best placed to lie. I am slightly disappointed that that is not being portrayed by the Scottish Parliament, because all our arguments about powers are never about powers for a purpose, but about powers for where power should lie.
I firmly believe that, since the formation of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish local authorities, which used to be the vanguard of local service provision, have turned into administrative arms of the Scottish Government. That may be by design, or it may be by accident, but we should reflect on that. Councils no longer have the ability to shape the lives of their local services, not only because of significant financial constraints that have been placed on them, both by this place and by the Scottish Parliament, but because they do not have the ability to shape new policies in the way they once did. The Scottish Parliament, certainly in the past 10 years, has sucked up power into Holyrood, rather than being a devolutionist Parliament that moves things back down to local government. Whether a nationalist who believes in independence, a right-wing Conservative who believes in scrapping the Scottish Parliament, or anywhere in between, we should have a discussion about the best place for powers to lie.
Powers are not being used, and it frustrates me that we have not had an honest argument about that. If somebody stands up and says, “We are not using power A because we do not believe that it should be used for the reasons of sorting problem B,” I will argue all day about the principle of that and whether it is the right thing to do, and then the voters can decide. To say that the Scottish Parliament does not have the powers to do something when it does is disingenuous and undermines not just the Scottish Parliament, but the whole Scottish political system and, indeed, our entire civic system.
For example, the Leader of the House was asked a question earlier about the WASPI women, and the Scottish Parliament has the power to do something about that issue. It could look at a whole range of issues. If it so wished, it could set up a commission to look at how to deal with pensioners in Scotland, but it chooses not to use that power. Let us argue about why the Parliament may decide not to choose that or why it wants to choose it, but let us not say that there is no power to do anything about it. Sections 25, 26, 27 and 28 of the Scotland Act 2016 say that the Scottish Parliament has the power to introduce any top-up benefit to any reserved benefit, and pensions are a reserved benefit under section 28.
I turn to the questions about what we should do next. Intergovernmental relations is a big one. I fundamentally agree with the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire that intergovernmental relations are used as a cover for people to hide behind, rather as a way of having constructive discussions across Governments. Let us look at whether the Scottish Parliament needs a second Chamber. Let us look at whether the Committee system provides proper scrutiny. Let us take an audit of the powers that are being used and the powers that have not been used. Let us look at whether we should examine the subsidiarity and reflect on what other powers should be considered. Let us look at reform of the UK. Let us look at a federal structure or at the House of Lords or at a senate of the nations and regions that could help deal with some of the big issues. Twenty years on, we should sit and reflect honestly and on a cross-party basis.
Is that not the whole point of the Dunlop review? We have an opportunity to look at how we are working at this end of the country and make the necessary adjustments, so that our Union can work better in this devolved arrangement.
The hon. Gentleman is right, because where devolution goes next is not really a problem for Scotland; it is a problem for England. That is why when we are looking at devolution and where it goes next, we have to look at what England does. We cannot look at this in the context of the United Kingdom without dealing with England. That is why we need a senate of the nations and regions and a proper constitutional convention. What we do not need is a citizens’ assembly that is just a talking shop for how to get to independence. We need a proper, sober assessment 20 years on. Let us celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament, but let us look to the next 20 years.
Below is the text of the speech made by David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2019.
I thank the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) for bringing forward this important debate, although I cannot see the past 20 years in quite the same positive light that he has set out. Slightly more than 20 years ago, I was part of the anti-Welsh Assembly no campaign. That was one of my first entrées into politics. We lost, but I felt as a democrat that it was important to respect the will of the people of Wales, so there was no suggestion afterwards that we should try to challenge the result in the courts or say that people had been tricked by Welsh Labour—although I think to some extent that they were; I will come back to that in a minute—or say that people had changed their minds the next day.
We simply respected the fact that the people of Wales had spoken, and I want to put on record right now as a Conservative and as somebody who opposed the Welsh Assembly 20 years ago that it would be absolutely wrong to try to undermine the Welsh Assembly, take away its powers or get rid of it in any way at all. I say that as somebody who was very strongly opposed to it 20 years ago. It would be wrong to do that because the people of Wales voted not once but twice to have a Welsh Assembly and it behoves us all as democrats to respect the voice of the people of Wales, to work with the National Assembly for Wales and to make sure the whole thing is a success. Similarly, had Scotland voted for independence in its referendum, we would have been expected, quite rightly, to respect the voice of the people of Scotland.
It is a bit of a disappointment to me that, having made this clear over the past 20 years, the Welsh Assembly Members who owe their jobs to a referendum that took place 20 years ago are now doing their utmost to try to ignore the will of the people of Wales in the subsequent referendum on Brexit, where a much larger number of people turned out and voted by a much clearer majority in favour of Brexit. I hope that the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, who believes that we should to listen to the will of the people, will agree that Wales spoke clearly for Brexit, that Britain spoke clearly for Brexit and that Members of Parliament have an obligation to honour the result and bring it in in some way.
One could build an argument—one would be wrong to do so—against the Welsh Assembly on the basis that it has failed to deliver on the promises that were made 20 years ago. We were told that we would have a better health service, better education, a better economy, better transport and so on. The reality in Wales at least has been that we now have longer hospital waiting lists, longer responses and waits for ambulances, longer waits in accident and emergency units and less access to cancer drugs.
Will the hon. Gentleman clear up some confusion? He is referring to the Welsh Assembly as achieving or not achieving those aims, but clearly they are matters for the Welsh Government, who have been Labour since the inception of the Assembly.
David T. C. Davies
Absolutely; that is a very fair comment. I consider myself told off, and rightly so. The hon. Gentleman is correct to say that it is the Welsh Government who have failed on the health service. They have also failed on education—
Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
David T. C. Davies
I will in a moment, but let me just make this point because it may be relevant to Scotland as well.
We were promised that we would have better standard of education, but in reality, the independent programme for international student assessment—PISA—tests have shown that Welsh pupils are less likely now to get GCSEs and A-levels, or to go to the best universities, than their counterparts in England.
The hon. Gentleman has expressed disappointment in the health service in Wales. Does he have any disappointment with the English health service?
David T. C. Davies
I would be very happy if I had to wait only 18 weeks instead of 26 weeks for an operation, and I would be very happy if I could get access to the cancer drugs that are available in England but not in Wales. As the hon. Lady should know, many people in Wales come to our surgeries to ask to be treated in England. As far as I am aware—I have tabled a question about this—nobody from England has ever asked to have their health service treatment delivered in Wales. The reality is that the people of Wales are voting with their feet because they know that a Conservative Government are delivering a better health service than Welsh Labour—
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
David T. C. Davies
I will not, as I have apparently got only one minute left, and I am still on my first page.
There has been a failure on transport in Wales. There has also been a failure on the economy. Even the Economy Minister in the Welsh Government has said that we do not know what we are doing with it. There has also been a significant failure on value for money and an inability sometimes to see through the boasts and exaggerated claims that are made by people who are seeking grants. That is a matter of some disappointment to me, but of course it is actually Welsh Labour that is responsible for this, not the National Assembly for Wales. That is why I am looking forward to seeing Conservatives being elected into government at the next Welsh Assembly elections and, yes, if necessary, to working with members of Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats to ensure that we get a change from the one-party rule that has dominated Wales for far too long.
By a strange irony, here I am 20 years later making an argument for more powers for the Welsh Assembly, because where there is a case to be made for it, I am happy to see the Assembly getting powers over issues such as air passenger duty, which is something that we recommended strongly in our report. It is a pity that I have not got time to get on to Brexit and to point out the obvious contradiction in the fact that, while the Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru rightly make points about Catalonia, it is the European Union that is opposed to regional entities such as Catalonia becoming nation states. The real supporter of devolution is the Conservative and Unionist party. Not only are we handing powers over to the Parliaments of Scotland and Wales, but we want to hand more powers over to them, because the biggest exercise in devolution is going on right now. We are taking powers away from Brussels and bringing them back to London, whereupon we will start to distribute them out to Edinburgh, to Cardiff, to Belfast and, of course, to the regions of England. So all those who support devolution and believe that power should be brought back closer to the people should also be supporting Brexit and democracy.
Below is the text of the speech made by Pete Wishart, the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2019.
I beg to move,
That this House has considered 20 years of devolution.
It is with great pleasure that I open this debate on 20 years of devolution on behalf of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs and the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs. Twenty years of devolution—it is hard to believe, Madam Deputy Speaker. It has been 20 years since our Parliaments opened their doors, transforming our nations and redefining the political culture of our countries. Our nations are better because of devolution. Our national life has been transformed, and we now have a distinctive voice because we have Parliaments within our nations.
Devolution has come of age and there will be no going back to before our Parliaments opened their doors to the world. I remember that day 20 years ago: I was going to be a candidate for the Scottish Parliament, and it was only the finishing of a Runrig album that got in the way and delayed my parliamentary career by two years. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if had I managed to secure a place in the Scottish Parliament—[Interruption.] I am hearing that there is still time yet, but as someone approaching the autumn of their career I will maybe just think about that one.
I remember the expectation in the air that day—the sense of anticipation and excitement that at last we could get down to the business of designing our own future because we had our Parliaments. I will never forget the look on Donald Dewar’s face when he said, “There will be a Scottish Parliament,” and he just had to add, “I like that.” And I will never forget Winnie Ewing taking the chair for the first time—Winnie Ewing, whose 90th birthday was yesterday, a celebrated figure in Scotland to whom we owe a great debt—and saying
“the Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on 25 March 1707, is hereby reconvened.” —[Scottish Parliament Official Report, 12 May 1999; c. 5.]
We have had our disagreements like any other normal Parliament or Assembly, and we have scrutinised Governments just as they do everywhere else, but we have worked with a great deal of consensus. There have been fantastic examples of cross-party work, pioneering and innovation in the Scottish Parliament, and it is worth looking at some of the things that we have achieved in the course of those 20 years.
There has, for example, been pioneering health work. We were the first country in the United Kingdom to introduce a ban on smoking in public places, and we know about the health dividend that has resulted from that piece of legislation. We recently introduced minimum unit pricing for alcohol, and there is already reasonable evidence that that is starting to have an impact on health outcomes. We have also made democratic reforms: 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland now have votes, and we have proportional representation in local government elections, just as we do in the election of the Parliament itself. Then there is the social agenda: free personal care for our elderly in Scotland, free higher education, and free prescription charges. All those initiatives, and many more, are helping to make ours a better and fairer country.
This is often credited to Donald Dewar, but it was in fact a Welshman, Ron Davies, who said:
“Devolution is a process…not an event”.
What a process it has been, and what a journey we have been on! As a legislative body, the Scottish Parliament is an entirely different creature from the one that opened its doors back in June 1999. Two further Scotland Acts—the 2012 and 2016 Acts—followed the 1998 Act, which established the Scottish Parliament, and have significantly increased its powers. It now controls large swathes of welfare legislation, and its taxation powers mean that we can set our own income tax rates in Scotland. The Welsh Assembly is about to become the Senedd, and Scotland now has a Government. We in Scotland have had coalition government, majority government—although the rules are supposed to forbid such a thing—and two episodes of minority government, and still we move forward.
Hywel Williams (Arfon) (PC)
Does my hon. Friend agree that the Welsh Assembly has advanced even further, given that we were somewhat behind our Scottish friends at the start of the process? It has travelled from being essentially a glorified county council to being a law-making body, which will hopefully proceed very quickly to take on many more law-making and tax-raising powers, leading eventually to independence.
I am more than happy to agree with my hon. Friend. As we observe what has happened in Wales, we see that the pace of the change has been quite dramatic. My hon. Friend is right to point out that Wales now has a law-making Assembly. There was some discussion yesterday about its being renamed the Senedd, which I think will prove very worthwhile and valuable. We are on a journey, and it is not finished yet.
Stephen Kerr (Stirling) (Con)
The hon. Gentleman is making a strong case for what has been achieved in the last 20 years, and I welcome that. Does he agree that, by virtue of the make-up of the Scottish Parliament and the system by which we elect our MSPs, it is right for parties to work together—that there should be no demarcation lines marking who will work with whom, but we should always be working together for the benefit of Scotland?
There is nothing in what the hon. Gentleman has said with which I could possibly disagree. We have seen examples of coalition government in the Scottish Parliament, and, indeed, it was designed on that basis. When Labour and the Liberals, in the main, put together the Scottish constitutional convention, that was what was anticipated. The fact that we have been on a particular journey and have had a variety of different arrangements for government demonstrates our resilience.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
I will not, if the hon. Gentleman does not mind. I want to make sure that the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies), who chairs the Welsh Affairs Committee, has a chance to speak.
There has been a flurry of devolutionary activity recently. A review initiated by the UK Government is to be conducted by Lord Dunlop, and there is an ongoing debate about completing the powers of the Scottish Parliament with independence for Scotland. That continues to be the most debated and defining issue in Scotland’s political and public life. One thing that can be said about devolution is that it is never boring. Our Parliament has brought Scotland to the attention of the world. Our international footprint has increased because of devolution, and as a consequence more people know about our beautiful country and what it does.
Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)
I think it is still the case, and it was certainly the case at the time, that when the Scottish Parliament passed the Bill that became the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, there was a larger majority in favour of equal marriage in that Parliament than in any other legislature in the world. In fact, the Scottish Parliament is the only legislature in the world which, whenever it has been presented with legislation to extend equality to its citizens, has voted in favour of it. Is that not a good thing, and does it not constitute progress that should always be protected in future?
My hon. Friend has made a valid and strong point. He is absolutely right about equal marriage, and about the way the Scottish Parliament responded. There have been other progressive developments on social issues, and I am particularly proud that our Parliament has taken up such causes so dramatically and consistently. I look forward to seeing further examples of progress in the future.
It is right for us to keep devolution under review, and 1 am proud of the work that my Committee has done over the past few months in assessing it after 20 years. We focused particularly on intergovernmental relations, and suggested a number of far-reaching reforms. We believe that, if implemented, our conclusions will make a significant difference in the quality of the inter- governmental relations that currently exist throughout these islands.
I think we can all agree that, institutionally, the Scottish Parliament has functioned well and is now an immovable feature, secure in the fabric of our democracy. It is there to stay. However, the relationship between the two Governments has not kept pace with developments, and the machinery for dialogue and engagement has not kept up with the evolving dynamics of devolution. What we have found is that intergovernmental relations are under pressure as never before. It seems that, having emerged from the experience of the independence referendum, they have been challenged to within an inch of their lives by Brexit.
Before I go into that further, I will give the House the good news. The relationship between the two institutions seems to be functioning well at a sub-political level: the work between civil servants, for example, continues unabated. Our Committee heard solid evidence from senior civil servants that everything was being conducted perfectly well, and that work was being done behind the scenes. However, we were concerned about the quality of the relationships across these islands, and we made a number of recommendations in that regard.
Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
The hon. Gentleman is making a very strong case, but does he agree that responsibility for the relationship between the two Governments is not something that we should dictate through paperwork, or something for which we should have to resort to legislation? Is it not up to the two parties in government to be grown up, to sit round the table and to take part in constructive discussions, rather than engaging in what we often witness here—petty bickering about just about everything when an excuse can be found for it?
The hon. Lady is an assiduous member of the Scottish Affairs Committee, and as I look around the Chamber I see other assiduous members. I agree with what she has said, but I think it is incumbent on us to have the mechanism, the infrastructure and the machinery to ensure that when Governments disagree—as they will when they have particularly different policy objectives —we can accommodate that disagreement, shape it up, and resolve some of the tensions and difficulties that are encountered.
Let me now go back to the beginning, because, as the hon. Lady knows, the Committee looked into this in great detail and heard a great deal of evidence. In the early days of devolution, everything was straightforward and easy. The Labour party was in government in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, and intergovernmental relations were conducted among comrades, friends and colleagues who would just pick up the phone and get in touch with each other to resolve any difficulties. They were generally resolved very easily; I am sure that you remember those days, Madam Deputy Speaker.
Only one issue was not resolved, and it remains in the name of the bar in the Scottish Parliament. In a dramatic rebuke to Scottish colleagues who dared to suggest that they should become a Government, Big Brother down here—in the form of Labour Members—said, “They can call themselves the White Heather Club, but they will never be a Government.” To this day, the bar in Holyrood is called the White Heather Club as testimony to that fantastic rebuke from our Big Brother Westminster Labour colleagues.
It took the UK Government three years to keep up with developments and acknowledge the change when Alex Salmond rebranded the then—it has to be said—pathetically named Scottish Executive the Scottish Government.
I think it is fair to say that the cosy relationship that existed in the early days of devolution was pretty much shattered with the arrival of the SNP minority Government in 2007. This was an SNP Government who were prepared to push the boundaries of the devolution settlement and who tried to define a new means and method for us to assert ourselves as a nation, and they were not content being restricted to what was available in the then devolution settlement.
Then of course came the independence referendum, and who will ever forget that? Curiously, inter-Government relationships survived the referendum relatively intact, and that was because there was a need for engagement between the two Governments and we had the Edinburgh agreement and rules were set up for that. That taught us the lesson that things can be done if there is structure, rules and a means to come together for agreed objectives, and the agreed objective during the independence referendum was that it would be done properly and constitutionally.
Brexit has broken that, however. What we have with Brexit is two Governments, one in Scotland and one in London, with totally different objectives on the issue of leaving the European Union. Scotland wants nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit; it returned one MP with a mandate for an EU referendum, and we have consistently said we find this counter to our national interests. But of course we have a UK Government determined to deliver Brexit. We should have in place, however, a means to be able to accommodate that—to be able to ensure that these types of differences can be dealt with and negotiated smoothly.
That brings us to the machinery of all this. At the very top is the Joint Ministerial Committee. We looked at a number of options for transforming or even replacing it, but came to the conclusion that replacing it would not serve any great purpose. So we suggested a number of things that we could do to improve the functioning of the JMC, because it is not working properly; it does not have the confidence of the Scottish Government and it does not particularly have the confidence of the Welsh Government. The UK Government set the agenda, and they are responsible for all the dispute resolutions, and they seem to be the arbiter of what happens and how things are conducted.
We said that things have to change dramatically, and there is one phrase that runs through almost every chapter of our report: “parity of esteem”. We therefore propose that the JMC be a body where all four of the Governments are treated as equals, and as such we recommended that JMC meetings should be hosted and chaired by each of the UK Administrations on a rotating basis, and that meetings should be held frequently and have a set schedule with agendas agreed in advance between all parties.
We also asked the Government to explore third-party mediation, because again we received a number of pieces of evidence that suggested that this was not working. We also said that the JMC should look at dispute resolution and made a number of recommendations about Whitehall Departments becoming devolution-proof.
Further to that point, the JMC has been described as not fit for purpose in its current form. Its fitness for purpose would be greatly aided if it had its own secretariat, and if it had a statutory basis as well.
We have recommended that the Government look at the JMC having its own secretariat, and the UK Government have now said they are prepared to explore that. However, I want to come back to the Government’s response to our report, and I think that what the Government are prepared to do will delight the hon. Gentleman.
David T. C. Davies (Monmouth) (Con)
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Yes, of course; I give way to the Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee.
David T. C. Davies
Under the suggestion the hon. Gentleman is making about everyone having an equal say, presumably the First Minister of Northern Ireland, when that Assembly is set up again, would have a veto over what was happening in the rest of the United Kingdom.
With all great respect, I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstands and possibly does not really appreciate what we are saying. We suggest in our report that parity of esteem be established. It is not right that the UK Government should chair all proceedings and set the agenda; that should be the responsibility of all Governments and the chairing should be rotated—just the chairing, so not having a veto but just ensuring that that sense of equality exists between the four Governments in a setting and a forum that is supposed to be able to accommodate that.
What we said about the Scotland Office and the Secretary of State’s role probably got most of the headlines and caught most of the attention when our report came out just a few short weeks ago. When we looked at the Scotland Office and the Secretary of State’s role, we found a Department that has more or less been bypassed in two very important functions. One of them is at the highest level of inter-Government relations such as the bilateral meetings between First Minister and Prime Minister. That now seems to be conducted by the de facto Deputy Prime Minister; he does all that and there does not seem to be much of a role for the Scotland Office in those proceedings. The second thing we found, which is probably more important, is that bilateral arrangements between Ministers from Scotland and Whitehall were being conducted by themselves and they were not going through the Scotland Office. If a Minister in Scotland wanted to deal with an issue that was of importance to the UK so it was something that needed to be done together, that would go straight to the relevant Whitehall Department down here with no role for the Scotland Office. So we asked what the Scotland Office therefore really does, and why it is in place, with all the paraphernalia of a civil service and so on.
Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC)
An additional point is that there needs to be formal consideration of the interplay between legislation that is created here and that now being created in the Welsh Assembly. There is a recent example with the Joint Committee on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill: there is a piece of legislation in Wales concerning violence against women. There is no formal mechanism to examine how legislation created here and legislation being created in other places intermeshes and to ensure they do not contradict one another.
That points to some of the evidence we took in the Committee. It is an important point, and I know that it will be looked at when these matters are being progressed.
We found, however, that the Scotland Office did do the following. It is its right and prerogative to do this, so of course it can, but it wanted to make sure that the role of the UK and the workings of its Government are asserted in Scotland. That seems to be the basis of the Dunlop review: how we can make Scotland better love what the UK does. This seems to involve a relatively large resource and budget, and it seems as though we will have to expect a lot of new UK branding with all the associated flagging paraphernalia that goes with it. It seems like some sort of bold attempt to make us love that just that little bit more by visibility.
We asked the Secretary of State about this yesterday, and I got the sense that the UK Government are trying to do a rebranding exercise. [Interruption.] Scottish Conservative Members do not like that and are saying that is not the case. We shall hear their opinions about what the Dunlop review will do, but we are very encouraged by the Secretary of State’s response to our report. I think they have agreed to look at almost every recommendation we made; we are excited that they have said they will look at most of the things around the JMC and that that will form part of the review. They are even prepared to look properly at a review of the Scotland Office and tell us what it will be doing, so we remain encouraged. [Interruption.] I did not want to sound bitter or unhappy with things, but that was what I was hearing yesterday, and the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (David Duguid) was at the same meeting. We have to be positive where we can be and thankful for the fact that most of that response seems to have been quite good so far, so we will just keep things going, and I say to colleagues on the Scottish Affairs Committee that we have a role in this, so we will make sure that that happens.
Just to be absolutely clear to the Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee, he knows that I welcome and support his Committee’s report, but the Dunlop review is about how the United Kingdom Government work better to bring the benefits of the Union to all parts of the Union; it is quite clearly mischievous on his part to suggest something different.
I think that I am actually repeating what the hon. Gentleman said: the review will show us what the UK Government do in Scotland. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman can tell us what he thinks they are doing; I am just saying what I think, but there we go. [Interruption.] Will the hon. Gentleman just calm down a little? He does not need to get over-excited; this is a consensual debate. We will see what happens, but I congratulate the UK Government on their positive response. It is right that we continue to look out for devolution and continue to ensure that it is properly assessed and continues to work in the best interests of all our nations across the United Kingdom.
Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
My hon. Friend is making an important speech marking 20 years of devolution and where we go next. Right at the start, he spoke about Winnie Ewing reconvening the Scottish Parliament and that historical continuity is very important for the next steps. The Scottish Parliament was never abolished; it was adjourned and then it was reconvened, and where it goes next will be a matter for the people of Scotland. And this House of Commons should recognise that now as well and endorse the claim of right and the fact that the sovereignty will lie with the people of Scotland.
It is almost as though my hon. Friend has read my mind, because he anticipates that that is exactly what I was going to come on to, in closing this short introduction to the debate. He is right: this is a matter for the people of Scotland to determine.
We have to agree that the Scottish people should always get what the Scottish people want. We have now said that we agree on the sovereignty of the people of Scotland through the claim of right, and I am delighted that this House passed that. However, there is an ongoing debate just now, and what I do not like hearing is people saying that democracy will be denied in Scotland and the Scottish people will not get their way if that is what they decide. We have to end that sort of talk. We have to say in the House that the Scottish people should always get what they want, and that it is right that the future of Scotland remains in Scotland’s hands. We have had 20 years of a Scottish Parliament. It has been thoroughly good, and we all agree that it is a transformed Scotland and made such a difference to our national life. We now look forward to the next 20 years and whatever future awaits.
Below is the text of the speech made by Sir Alan Duncan, the Minister for Europe and the Americas, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2019.
I am truly grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) for securing this debate, and indeed for concluding it in such a unique historical way. He has the added advantage of being one of the few Members of this House who can actually reach the microphone above him.
Somewhat inevitably, given the nature of its work, GCHQ—Government Communications Headquarters, to give it its full name—has clocked up many extraordinary achievements, but some of them of course have to go unrecognised. Its brilliant, dedicated and creative staff do not receive the public recognition they truly deserve. In this, its 100th year, I am grateful for the opportunity, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, to rectify that as far as I can.
Parts of the agency’s illustrious past are now known. The codebreakers of Bletchley Park were pivotal to the success of D-day and directly responsible for saving so many allied lives. Throughout the cold war, GCHQ adapted quickly to changes in technology, and helped to build the extraordinary security partnership that the UK enjoys today with the United States. For a century, GCHQ’s dedicated service and expertise have protected us from many serious threats. However, as my hon. Friend has said, the future brings with it new challenges—from terror attacks and conflicts to hostile state activity on UK soil—and GCHQ intelligence continues to play a vital role in maintaining our national security and protecting our people.
In the past two years alone, GCHQ has helped to foil 19 sophisticated terror attacks. When Daesh exploited the internet to export extreme ideologies, GCHQ used a whole range of capabilities and degraded its ability to radicalise and recruit. The agency continues to identify, analyse and disrupt terror threats on a daily basis. In addition to combating terrorism, GCHQ takes a leading role in countering new hybrid threats to UK interests, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack launched by North Korean actors in 2017, and the Novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury. As these threats to national, regional and global security evolve, so GCHQ continually learns and adapts, just as it has always done since its early days following world war one.
One thing that many people will perhaps be unaware of is the contribution made by GCHQ officers deployed in support of British troops. Indeed, the insights given by GCHQ intelligence officers to our military personnel have made a positive impact in every overseas conflict of the past 100 years and continue to do so today—I am pleased to see my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence in her place. That contribution is the reason why more than 300 civilian staff have been quietly awarded campaign medals for their support of military operations.
GCHQ also combats serious and organised crime—something responsible for more deaths than all other national security threats combined. GCHQ collaborates with law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Their co-operation has recently resulted in the identification and arrest of prolific child sex offenders. That is just one example of their many successes.
GCHQ remains at the forefront of technological development as we enter the fourth industrial revolution. Agency director Jeremy Fleming said at Mansion House last month that
“this technology revolution is providing extraordinary opportunity, innovation and progress—but it’s also exposing us to increasing complexity, uncertainty and risk.”
To defend us against those risks, GCHQ established the National Cyber Security Centre in 2016, as a single authoritative body, to provide cyber-security advice to citizens, businesses and Government. In October last year, thanks to diligent NCSC staff, the Foreign Secretary was able to attribute a range of reckless cyber-attacks to Russian military intelligence. Those attacks disrupted targets as diverse as a small UK television station and parts of Ukraine’s transport system. The NCSC’s ability to attribute such attacks diminishes the Russian military intelligence service’s sense of impunity and undermines its domestic credibility.
Cyber-security is about protecting Government and commercial interests, but also individuals’ personal data. The Government firmly believe in the right to privacy, and the NCSC’s advice and guidance help with this protection. End-to-end encryption provides billions worldwide with privacy and protection online, but it is abused by a minority to conceal criminal, terrorist and paedophile activity. That impedes the ability of tech companies to tackle harmful content and limits our agencies’ access to the information needed to keep our country safe. Last November, we published a set of principles that set out how the Government will approach encryption. This is part of our desire to have an informed and open public debate about these technical challenges.
As with all our security and intelligence agencies, GCHQ is subject to democratic accountability and rigorous oversight. The Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham mentioned, strengthened GCHQ’s legal framework, so that oversight by both the Foreign Secretary and an independent judicial panel provides one of the strongest legal assurances in intelligence. GCHQ is a powerful and skilled organisation. We can be confident that it uses those powers lawfully, in line with our values and for the national good.
Sir Nicholas Soames
My right hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. Does he agree that the diligence, thoroughness and level of detail with which GCHQ and the other agencies do this work greatly adds to the credibility and authority of what they produce?
Sir Alan Duncan
As always, my right hon. Friend absolutely nails it. He is absolutely right, and I agree with his judgment about the way in which GCHQ goes about its business.
Perhaps most importantly, I would like to return to the people of GCHQ. They are not only brilliant and dedicated, but increasingly diverse and representative of the nation for whom they work. GCHQ is known to champion diversity of thought, which is vital for innovation and problem solving, and it is creating an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive. Since the days of Bletchley Park, it has been a good employer for women and it is actively working to recruit more. It is also, very proudly, a Stonewall Top 100 Employer. Two years ago, the agency attained the highest level in the Government’s Disability Confident scheme.
The Government hugely value the diligence and dedication of all those who work for GCHQ. They keep us safe from terrorism, they fight serious crime and they protect our troops. They have consistently stayed one step ahead of technological advances. They conscientiously protect our security and our democratic values. I thank my hon. Friend for initiating this centenary tribute debate. He is known in this House as the hon. Member for GCHQ as much as he is the hon. Member for Cheltenham.
On behalf of the Government, I thank GCHQ, and everybody who works or has worked there, for 100 years’ dedicated service. I am confident that they will continue to play a vital role in tackling the challenges of the future, to the great credit of the United Kingdom.