Theresa May – 2017 Speech in Jordan

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Jordan on 30 November 2017.

Thank you very much for that introduction and it is a great pleasure to be back in Amman and to be making my second visit to Jordan this year.

From the Great Arab Revolt a century ago – when British Forces fought alongside the Hashemite Army of Sharif Hussein, with the help and support of the region’s local Bedouin tribes – to the establishment of the Emirate of Transjordan under British Mandate in 1921 and the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1946, our two countries and our two peoples have stood resolutely alongside each other.

His Late Majesty King Hussein was crowned one month to the day before our own Queen was crowned in Westminster Abbey. And over the nearly 18 years of His Majesty King Abdullah’s reign, we have continued to stand firmly side by side, including as partners in the Global Coalition against Daesh.

It is true to say that – by virtue of both our shared history and our shared values – there is no country in this region with which the UK feels instinctively closer.

So this further visit is a sign of the priority I have placed on deepening the special friendship between our countries – and the strength of my commitment to supporting the security, stability and prosperity of this entire region.

From trade treaties stretching back to the 17th Century to our alliance in defeating Daesh, the rich and historic relationship between Britain and its allies in the Middle East has been the bedrock of our shared security and prosperity for generations.

And I believe that relationship is every bit as important for our future as it has been for our past.

Today as extremists plot terrorist attacks from this region, they are not only targeting people here in the countries of the Middle East, but targeting people on the streets of Britain too.

As unresolved conflicts and tensions fuel instability across the Middle East, it is not only security here that is threatened, but the whole international order on which global security and prosperity depends.

And as countries here in the Middle East face the generational challenge of creating opportunity and prosperity for all your people – it is in all our interests that your efforts succeed. Not only because your prosperity affects the prosperity of us all – but also because that prosperity is a vital foundation for the long-term stability on which our security depends.

To those who ask if the United Kingdom is in danger of stepping back from the world, I say: nothing could be further from the truth.

We understand that we best defend our values, our interests and our way of life by working together with our international partners to uphold the international rules-based system.

I have a clear message today – for our allies here in Jordan; and for our allies across this region:

We will support you as you confront the threats to your security – and back your vision for societies and economies that will prosper today and play a positive role in the world tomorrow.

And to do this, we are making a new, ambitious and optimistic offer of partnership to support that strength and resilience for the long-term.

A partnership that supports your security, helping you defend and protect your borders and your people from external aggression. A partnership that goes further in seeking to resolve the ongoing violence and political tension across the region. Not just containing current conflicts – but resolving them and in so doing increasing the resilience of the region.

And a partnership which helps you deliver the social and economic reforms that will address many of the underlying causes of this tension and create transformative opportunities for your people – and with it economic security and regional stability.

Security

Our security partnership builds on a strong foundation. Most recently, the UK has been proudly at the forefront of the international coalition that is defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

We have conducted more than 1600 air strikes against Daesh targets, second only to the United States – and we have more than 1450 personnel supporting counter-Daesh operations in the wider region, including over 600 deployed in Iraq. We have trained over 60,000 Iraqi Security Forces on everything from countering IEDs to engineering, logistics, and combat medical support.

And under my leadership we remain profoundly and unequivocally committed to supporting the security of this entire region – for example, with our Royal Navy continuing to patrol the Gulf as it has done for decades.

Yesterday I was in Iraq – where I was the first British Prime Minister to visit in nine years. This visit was a clear statement that while we must draw lessons from our history of engagement in the region, we will not let the challenges of the past prevent us from doing what is right for the future. I am determined that Britain will engage in the most pressing regional and global issues, in our interests, in the region’s, and in line with our responsibilities as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council.

I made it clear in my discussions with Prime Minister Abadi that for as long as the Iraqis want and need it, the UK will continue to be a fully committed security partner.

This includes continuing to train Iraqi forces and investing a further £10 million over the next three years in strengthening Iraqi counter-terrorism capabilities. And it involves working with partners across the region – including Jordan – to develop the capabilities that can help to counter the dispersal of foreign fighters as Daesh is squeezed out of its so called ‘caliphate’.

We will also continue to support the Iraqi government as it seeks to deliver the reforms needed to rebuild public trust in a unified and sovereign Iraqi state, while at the same time recognising that the UK has a long-standing relationship with the Kurds as vital partners in the fight against terrorism. We encourage the Iraqi government to respond positively to the new Kurdish leadership, and we encourage the Kurds to respect the Iraqi Federal Court ruling that the referendum was unconstitutional.

We call on both sides to move quickly to negotiations of outstanding differences on the basis of the constitution – and I welcome the reassurance that Prime Minster Abadi gave me that this dialogue was already underway. And we urge the Iraqi people to ensure that next year’s crucial elections contribute to reconciliation and the creation of a more representative political landscape that can unite Iraq against all forms of extremism and hatred.

Today I want to assure you that my commitment to Jordanian security will be at the heart of our efforts in this region.

So far this year, we have seen four major UK military exercises with over 3,000 UK personnel in Jordan and over 350 Jordanian personnel taking part in 19 different military courses in the UK.

Jordanian police trained by UK-funded experts are patrolling the streets in Mafraqand in the refugee camps in Zaatari and Azraq, helping to keep communities safe.

And on my visit to the headquarters of the Quick Reaction Force with His Majesty King Abdullah in April, I was delighted to announce an uplift in the UK’s security assistance including additional support to help deliver an expansion of that Force to three units.

Following that visit we have also invested in better air land integration; in further enhancing Jordanian intelligence; and in helping Jordan to meet its ambition of a fully co-ordinated National Threat System. And over the next few months we will be working to help improve security in tourist areas and developing new strands of police co-operation.

As we move towards the collapse of the so-called caliphate of Daesh in Iraq and Syria, so we need to adapt our response as they move to new battlefields. We have to defeat the ideologues who fuel the hatred of Islamist extremism wherever they are found. So I very much welcome the development of your national strategy to counter violent extremism. And I pay tribute to His Majesty King Abdullah for his leadership in confronting the ideologies of extremism, as well as the latest in the series of conferences that His Majesty is hosting this weekend in Aqaba this weekend to ensure that we in the international community combat terrorism in a coordinated way.

We must also step up our efforts to crack down on terrorist use of the internet. Tech companies have made significant progress on this issue, and I welcome Facebook’s recent announcement on the use of artificial intelligence to improve the detection of terrorist content and speed of its removal. But we need to continue our efforts to go further and faster to reduce the time it takes to remove terrorist content online, and to stop it being uploaded in the first place.

And, we must confront new and increasingly diffuse threats as foreign fighters disperse and Daesh becomes increasingly active and turns to insurgency within the region – as we saw so tragically only last week, with the despicable murder of more than 300 Muslims who were praying in a Mosque in Egypt. A sickening attack that showed once again how this evil extremist ideology which we face together takes no account of race or religion – and indeed has murdered more Muslims than people of any other faith.

Addressing instability in the region

However, as we see Daesh seeking new ungoverned spaces from which to plot and carry out attacks, it will not be enough alone to deepen our security cooperation. We must also renew our partnership to address the ongoing conflicts in the region which they and others exploit.

Here in Jordan, we see clearly the challenges that the instability from Syria poses. You have the admiration and respect of the whole world for the extraordinary compassion, generosity and humanity that you have shown towards the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled into your country.

As Her Majesty Queen Rania remarked recently in an important speech: “without compassion, we weaken the foundations of our common humanity”.

I am proud of the contribution that the UK has made in helping you provide this compassionate response. We have provided over three quarters of a billion dollars in Jordan – both for vital health and education facilities for those displaced by the fighting and also to address the needs of host communities. And we will continue to play a full role in supporting you to protect refugees.

Of course we must strengthen your security and support you in dealing with the effects of instability, which is why we are spending £25 million to help stabilise the Southern Syria De-Escalation Area on the Jordanian border and why we must continue to support the UN agencies to deliver aid across the border to the millions in desperate need. But ultimately only a lasting political solution in Syria will neutralise this terrorist threat and allow the refugees you are hosting to return home. That is why the international community must stop creating rival processes, and unite behind a single UN-led process in Geneva that will bring about an end to the conflict through a genuine transition to a new democratic, inclusive​ and legitimate government. After having overseen the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his countrymen, women and children, surely none of us can imagine that a government led by Bashar Al Assad could claim such legitimacy.

But it is not just Daesh and Asad’s regime that are a threat to Syria’s stability. Iran is showing that it is more interested in bolstering its role in the region, and that of its proxy Hezbollah, than finding a lasting peace in Syria.

And Iran’s destabilising activity goes beyond Syria. Their previous attempts to acquire a nuclear weapon posed a threat to the international non-proliferation system on which wider international security depends. That is why we must stand firm in our support for the nuclear deal. This deal was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes. It is vitally important for our shared security.

Equally I am clear that the JCPoA only addresses one aspect of Iran’s threat in this region. We must therefore strengthen our response to Iran’s ballistic missile programme and its proliferation of weapons. This includes in Yemen, where it is unacceptable for the Houthis to fire missiles at Riyadh. In my meeting in Riyadh last night with Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman I agreed that we would increase our work with Saudi Arabia to address this. I welcome the ongoing UN investigation into the source of the missiles and the international community must be resolute in its response to the findings.

However, as we and our allies seek to protect ourselves, we cannot lose sight of the millions of Yemenis experiencing appalling suffering for a war that has little to do with them. For decades the people of Yemen have suffered through civil wars, through Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula using their country as a launch-pad for attacks across the world, and most recently through renewed internal power struggles. The people of Yemen must no longer be caught in the crossfire.

Today almost a third of Yemen’s entire population is at risk of deep food insecurity. This dire situation must end. The UK will work with our partners to do everything possible to achieve this.

We will continue as the third largest humanitarian donor to the crisis in Yemen, increasing our contribution to £155 million for 2017/18 and pressing the whole international community to do more.

But I am also clear that the flow of commercial supplies on which the country depends must be resumed if we are to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. During my discussions with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh last night, we agreed that steps needed to be taken as a matter of urgency to address this and that we would take forward more detailed discussions on how this could be achieved. And, following the Foreign Secretary-hosted talks in London this week, we will also intensify efforts with all parties to bring a political settlement that will bring sustainable security for Saudi Arabia and for Yemen.

The price of failure to resolve such conflicts is nowhere more apparent than with the Middle East Peace Process. With over 2 million Palestinian refugees living here in Jordan, you understand better than anyone the vital importance of getting the peace process back on track and the impact this would have on enabling all of our partners in the region to come together to face their common threats.

The UK has an historic role in the search for a just and lasting settlement. We remain absolutely committed to doing everything we can to support both sides to achieve a peace deal which must be based on a two-state solution, with a viable and sovereign Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel.

And in this centenary year of the Balfour declaration, I have acknowledged that this remains a sensitive issue for Palestinians and many other people today. But just as I have been clear that we are proud of Britain’s role in the creation of the State of Israel – so I have also been clear that we must address the suffering of Palestinians affected and dislodged by Israel’s birth.

Just as we urge countries to stand up against threats to Israel and we are clear that incitement to violence and denial of Israel’s right to exist must stop, so I am clear that those actions of the Israeli government which create an obstacle to peace – not least illegal settlement construction – must also stop.

Across all these sources of instability in the region, we will work with you: not trying to impose Western solutions, but reliant on you and key partners across the Middle East and North Africa to show the bold leadership that can resolve these issues, and backing your efforts to deliver the political solutions that are so essential to solving the conflicts in this region.

Long-term prosperity for the region

These efforts to bolster your security and resolve today’s conflicts will not alone bring the long-term stability that we all want to see. So finally, we must also build our partnership to create economic prosperity now and into the future.

Across the Middle East, populations are growing rapidly to the extent that well over 50 per cent of the population is now made up of the under 24s. Here in Jordan your population has grown from 2 million in the 1980s to 10 million today; with over 40 per cent under the age of 15.

At the same time, the revenue streams of many states have been significantly reduced with the declining value of fossil fuels. All of this places immense strain on governments, social structures and services across the region. Inevitably tough choices have to be made, and these in turn risk creating political instability and provide fertile ground for extremism to prey on the most vulnerable.

Leaders across the region are recognising and stepping up to meet these challenges.

Yesterday I discussed Saudi Arabia’s ambitious reform programme: Vision 2030 with His Majesty King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman.

There are similarly ambitious visions across much of the region including in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

And, of course, here in Jordan King Abdullah has set out his 2025 vision – seeking to build self-reliance, as he told your Parliament earlier this month, and making your economy more competitive and better able to provide jobs and to give hope to the next generation.

A fundamental part of the United Kingdom’s new offer is a step-change in our support for these reforms.

Drawing on the full capability of the government and our private sector, we will back your visions for social and economic transformation with the potentially far-reaching benefits they bring. And in doing so, we will champion steps towards greater rights and openness, while also being realistic about the speed at which lasting change can happen and the necessary balance between stability and progress.

Think of the new trade you that can pioneer across the world, the new jobs for your young people, and the impact that Jordan and its partners can have in shaping the future.

And think of the opportunities for Jordan to become a focal point for new business, new services and new investment to assist the reconstruction of Syria when that longed-for political solution is finally achieved.

The potential for transformative change is very real if we get this right.

But, as His Majesty King Abdullah himself has said, we have enough visions and strategies. We now need to get on with delivering them – implementation is key.

So the United Kingdom will offer all we can to support you in doing exactly that.

The sustained economic partnership I am proposing today goes far beyond our role in supporting you to protect refugees. I come here today to propose a new long-term partnership to support your economic, social and political resilience, to improve education and to empower the private sector in helping to deliver jobs and opportunities for people across Jordan.

The Jordan Compact we agreed at the London Conference on Syria two years ago not only provided significant humanitarian assistance but also put in place a new approach harnessing the private sector and concessional financing to create jobs for refugees and Jordanians alike and boost Jordan’s economy. Building on this approach, we want to do more to support Jordan’s resilience. We will use the full breadth of our international relationships and our position in multi-lateral financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank to leverage the largest possible global financial backing for your vision 2025 reforms.

We will mobilise partnerships between British and Jordanian businesses, focusing on our shared expertise in services, and working to deliver an ambitious post-Brexit trade deal between our two countries.

And we will set up a joint senior policy dialogue on economic reform to maintain the momentum that we begin today.

For our own part, I am today committing an initial £94.5 million to support Jordan’s economic resilience – including £60 million in investment grants, support for critical infrastructure projects, essential skills training and support to improve the quality of education.

And this is just the start of a significant increase in our funding for Jordan’s resilience, which will go on to include support for the reform of government, the growth of private sector investment and the creation of safety nets to ensure that no-one loses out from these reforms.

We will also continue to support the educational reforms that King Abdullah and Queen Rania have so bravely pioneered, and which I saw first-hand when I met the Minister for Education here in April.

Of course, all of this is built on the principle that Jordan will deliver the political, social and economic reforms that His Majesty King Abdullah has set out.

But with His Majesty’s leadership I am confident that you can do so. His Majesty has talked of incremental reform – but it is no less ambitious or important for that.

At its heart is tolerance for different views, active citizenship, equal access to justice, fighting corruption and deepening democracy. These are the principles that His Majesty the King has set out. Our partnership is not about reinventing those principles but supporting them.

These are reforms made in Jordan, by Jordan and for Jordan. And we want them to succeed.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the challenges facing Jordan – and many of the countries in this region – are possibly some of the greatest that you have faced in many years.

But I believe that if you see through the reforms you have set out, there is every reason to be optimistic about the future ahead.

Optimistic that you can build economies and societies that generate opportunity and prosperity for your people.

And optimistic that you can deliver the stability in this region on which the security and prosperity of the wider world depends.

And throughout it all, you can be sure of one thing above all else: Britain will be a partner you can depend on – with you every step of the way.

Thank you.

Penny Mordaunt – 2017 Speech on Disability Inclusion

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, in the House of Commons on 30 November 2017.

I am delighted to be here to mark International Day for Persons with Disabilities in advance of this Sunday.

I want to start by saying a huge thank you to Microsoft for hosting us today and also a big thank to you to BOND Disability and Development group for arranging this event.

Thank you Microsoft for your leadership as well and the example that you are setting.

You recognise that employing people with disabilities is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.

You recognise the virtuous circle that comes from employing people with disabilities.

The insight they bring to your workforce. Their ideas and entrepreneurial skills. Their drive to raise expectations around what is possible.

And that sends a powerful message.

You are inspiring other organisations and businesses and in turn you are benefitting from the talents and gifts of so many people.

And so it is fitting that the message I have today is delivered under your roof.

I worked with Microsoft in my previous role as Minister of State for Disabled People.

And in handing over the baton to my successor the wonderful Sarah Newton who is down the end I said to the sector that they were not losing a Minister, just gaining another one because I am committed to this agenda.

We need to tackle the extra costs of disability. We need to push money into healthcare and early interventions and use the data from that to stop doing assessments on people. We need to enable people to become economically active. Just because all of that is in our in tray domestically, it doesn’t mean we should ignore how we can help the rest of the world raise their game too.

One of the most memorable meetings I had in that role was with a young man who taught coding to people with autism and Tourette’s.

He did this in the UK and overseas. When I met him he had just returned from a trip to Bangladesh. He was eleven years old. Eleven.

He himself had a disability. But he was using his talents uninhibited by physical or mental obstacles.

I often think about what the world will be like when he is older. What will he be doing in the years to come?

I think about his care for others around the world, his hunger to share what he knew with them, and the power of the message he was sending to those around him.

What a force for good he was. And what a force for good he will continue to be, if given more opportunity.

Today the UK Government has launched the Health and Work roadmap, a new plan to transform disability employment over the next ten years. to get one million more disabled people, and people with long term illnesses, into work in the UK.

Its premise is simple: unless every one of our citizens can reach their full potential, our nation never will.

Whatever a person’s abilities, whatever their talents, whatever their gifts, all of them have something to offer.

And it is our job to ensure that they can. To ensure that they thrive, fulfil their ambitions, make their ideas a reality and contribute to their community.

That makes complete sense, doesn’t it?

It makes sense not just in the UK, but in every nation on earth.

If we are in the business of helping nations prosper, and if we want them to succeed, then people with disabilities must be central to all that we do.

They are the group most discriminated against in society.

Too often, people with disabilities are forgotten.

Too often, their needs are unfulfilled.

Too often, the opportunities they bring are not fully appreciated.

In many parts of the world, people with disabilities simply don’t count.

They are neglected and isolated. They are attacked and abused. They are invisible.

Waldah, a four year-old Ugandan girl with cerebral palsy, became isolated from her family and her wider community because of her disability.

This forced her mother Lucy to hide her away. For Lucy, the strain was too much. She became depressed and ended up losing her job.

All this because of society’s refusal to accept a four year-old girl for who she is.

There are countless stories like this all over the world, and much worse.

Stories of people with disabilities who are denied the love, the support, the education, the healthcare services and the opportunities that they have a right to.

Stories of people with disabilities in developing countries fighting every day just to survive. Their resilience is as impressive as it is humbling.

It is harder, often impossible, for children with disabilities to go to school.

When they grow up, it is more difficult for them to find a way to make a living.

In many instances, they are completely cast out from the rest of society.

And in conflict zones, these problems are compounded.

There are one billion people in the world living with disabilities.

That’s more than one in eight of us.

1 in 8 being excluded from the workforce.

Facing discrimination at every turn. Being unrepresented.

Being unable to build a business. Being precluded from bringing your problem solving skills, your insights, and your resilience to bear.

Imagine not having the tools to contribute to your household, your family, the world, and thrive as a human being.

For many, this is the reality. It short-changes humanity. And it must stop.

We need to break down the barriers that people with disabilities face in their everyday lives.

People with disabilities must have the opportunity to fulfil their true potential and to help their countries prosper.

As Secretary of State for International Development, this will be one of my top priorities.

As a department, we will put disability at the heart of everything that we do. We know that we all have a long way to go, but we are determined to get there.

As our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals promises, we will leave no one behind.

My vision is that people with disabilities are consistently included in, and benefit from, the opportunities that are available to everyone in society.

I want to see a world where people with disabilities can access a quality education, productive employment and the chances in life that they deserve.

I want to eliminate the appalling stigma and discrimination that they face.

I want to ensure that the international system delivers for people with disabilities.

And crucially, when it comes to finding solutions to these challenges, I want to ensure we learn more about what works, where, and why.

Good data is essential.

We must use the power of evidence and reason to ensure that we unearth solutions that don’t just do good – but do the most good possible for every penny spent.

And there is a lot to do, but DFID has already made a good start.

UK Aid is crowdsourcing new ways to make societies more inclusive for people with disabilities.

We have supported over 40,000 girls with disabilities, helping them access an education in Kenya and Uganda.

In Bangladesh, we are providing jobs and skills for people with disabilities in the garment industry and in small businesses.

We are also helping people to start their own businesses.

Sok Khoen is a young woman in Cambodia who now owns her own grocery shop thanks to a programme run by ADD International and funded by DFID. She has been steadily growing her business ever since.

Vision for a Nation, a UK-based charity, has distributed innovative adjustable glasses for those with visual impairments in Rwanda. The glasses cost just £1 for patients, and are giving some of the world’s poorest people back their sight.

D-Rev, a small business supported by UK Aid through its Amplify programme, is developing and scaling up a ground-breaking low-cost prosthetic knee for young adults in rural Africa and Asia.

Thanks to funding received through the Google Impact Challenge, Bristol-based charity Motivation is exploring how 3D printing can be used to develop and produce tailored mobility solutions for wheelchair users in the developing world.

It is exactly this kind of invention and creativity that UK Aid wants to encourage.

That is why we will be matching pound-for-pound donations to Motivation’s Ready, Willing and Able appeal, launching this Sunday.

It will help reinforce the British public’s efforts to help people with disabilities live with dignity, earn a living and create lasting opportunities for themselves.

These inspiring organisations are leading the way. Now we must all match their ambition and entrepreneurial spirit.

We must also expand the circle of people working in this area, and build a wider and even more ambitious movement for change.

That’s why today I am proud to announce that the UK Government will host its first ever Global Disability Summit in London this summer.

We will work with disabled people’s organisations, governments, companies and charities to find creative and lasting ways to help transform the lives of all people living with disabilities around the world.

And crucially, we will work with the International Disability Alliance to ensure that people with disabilities are at the centre of this work. – from its planning and focus, right through to delivery.

At the Summit, we will need to tackle the big questions.

How can we help people with disabilities build a livelihood in the world’s poorest countries?

How can we make proven solutions available as widely as they are needed?

How can we all – governments, businesses and civil society around the world –share our experiences?

How can we make use of the new opportunities that technology brings?

And how can we challenge discrimination and stigma, so that people with disabilities live with dignity, and become the leaders we need them to be?

I am asking these questions to you. All of you.

DFID wants to hear from you.

We must all share our best ideas, and put them to the test. Then we must share what we learn.

It is vital that we harness the smartest solutions from every sector – from government and business through to civil society and academia.

As well as getting the basics right for all people with disabilities – access to healthcare, livelihoods, a good education and freedom from fear and violence – I know that technology will be at the heart of many solutions that we create.

Thanks to technology, we have opportunities that previous generations did not.

We have the power to eradicate poverty.

To enable a person to participate fully in society.

To overcome barriers.

To be connected.

To be empowered.

Technology reduces our costs, extends our reach, and helps us realise our dreams.

It will take this, and all of us, to ensure that people with disabilities are at the heart of all we do in development.

It will take ingenuity and creativity.

And it will take resolve.

At DFID, we are resolved.

I believe in the power of aid to tackle the problems we face – to end disease, hunger and extreme poverty.

And when it comes to supporting people with disabilities, I believe they must have the freedom and opportunities they need to thrive.

There is a long way to go for us all. But with the work the UK is doing, we are beginning to fulfil the promise to leave no one behind.

I now call on others to follow suit. Governments, companies and civil society must join us, and step up their commitments.

Together, we will ensure that all people with disabilities fulfil their potential.

Unless they do, humanity will not.

Thank you.

Adam Holloway – 2017 Speech on the Lower Thames Crossing

Below is the text of the speech made by Adam Holloway, the Conservative MP for Gravesham, in the House of Commons on 28 November 2017.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for selecting this matter for debate. I am very sorry that the Chamber has just cleared, because if Members had stayed, they would have heard how a historic opportunity to fix the M25 at Dartford—as we know, it is broken there—has been missed, therefore condemning our constituents to another two or three decades of gridlock at Dartford.

I guess that the Minister knows my views on this subject, so I will try to keep this short and sweet. Later, I will discuss our concerns about the new crossing, but before that, I think that I need again to go through the uncomfortable truths about what is behind this.

It is a fact that any crossing to the east of the existing crossing will do nothing to ease the long-standing congestion and pollution at Dartford. For many years, all of us have spent hours sitting in traffic there. The people of Dartford have experienced years of gridlock, pollution, lung disease and everything else. The crossing has been stretched beyond capacity for years, leading to an absolute nightmare for the people of Dartford. In my view, they have been let down by their elected representatives, who should have been begging for the crossing to be fixed.

What is the cause of the situation at Dartford? All of us have been on this road, most of us sat in traffic. Only at Dartford do a little local road, regional roads and the busiest motorway in Europe—the M25, which goes around London—collide. We have three types of traffic—local, regional and long-range national—and the gridlock is caused not by the crossing itself, but by the fact that one of the tunnels is unsuitable for vehicles such as fuel tankers. If a fuel tanker tries to go into the tunnel without an escort, all the traffic has to be stopped, so it builds up. Going from north to south, the M25 is just as good or bad as the rest of it, but that is the cause.

For the last 12 years or so, I have thought that because the M25 will always run through Dartford, the only answer to fixing the broken traffic at Dartford is to fix the M25 at Dartford, not seven miles down the road. I thought that the only solution would be a new bridge or, better, a very long seven-mile tunnel from north of the A13 to south of the A2. The fact that that is not going to happen is inexplicable, and all the more so because Highways England estimates that the new crossing will remove only 14% of the traffic from Dartford.

What needs to happen now? The new crossing to the east of Gravesend is being built but, as I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson) will agree, mitigation is urgently needed around the tunnel approaches. About 50 million journeys are made through the tunnel annually, and it is closed briefly more than 300 times a year. When that happens, it results in the gridlock that we have all experienced.

This decision has condemned millions to spending decades more in traffic jams. A project that was initially designed to fix the problem at Dartford has bizarrely morphed into an economic development project that will undoubtedly benefit the people of Kent and Essex, but will condemn the people of Dartford to decades of ​further ill health, pollution and gridlock. The constituents of everyone in this House, including hon. Members from north of the border, will, from time to time, spend huge amounts of time in that traffic. I once spent an hour and a half in it, but I have been visited by people who have been in it for two hours. A couple of years ago, there was a complete blockage and people waited there for 12 hours. Closer to home, thousands of my constituents’ homes will effectively be blighted over the years that it takes to build the crossing.

The decision comes at a time when we are thinking about the future. Autonomous vehicles are no longer the realm of science fiction, and some car manufacturers say that they will have autonomous cars on the road within the next decade. There will be an awful lot of growth in the movement of goods by autonomous vehicles. What does that mean? The big thing about autonomous vehicles is that they can travel much closer together and optimise the road system. If there is gridlock, all the other cars can be switched off and a road train can clear a whole area of traffic very quickly before another road train is released across it. That technology will, if anything, make our roads considerably easier to use.

It is possible to argue the other way. Autonomous vehicles will allow us to get in our car and trundle up to Scotland or travel to work without the stress of driving, allowing us to go to sleep, read a book or whatever. I accept that there is an argument that such vehicles may make more journeys likely, but I do not think that that is the case, given the internet and moves towards home working. I believe that autonomous vehicles will greatly optimise our existing road infrastructure.

If we look at the skyline of Dartford from the traffic jam, we see houses that have chimneys and plenty that do not. The reason why those houses do not have chimneys is that we no longer all heat our homes by burning coal or wood. As with many other areas of public spending, we must therefore look at the effects that a new disruptive technology will have on massive infrastructure projects such as this one, which will cost at least £6 billion. In mitigation of the terrible traffic, it really would not be rocket science to look at channel tunnel freight trains. Why do all the trucks have to unload at Folkestone? If they went on up north, it would make the south of England a rather better place to be.

Even if we accept that Highways England will ignore the irrational aspects of building a crossing east of Gravesend, which will not help Dartford, there are many problems with its latest plans for the lower Thames crossing that I and my constituents want addressed. The main purpose of this debate—I will end quite soon—is to outline my concerns and those of the Lower Thames Crossing Association. I and Mr Bob Lane from the association had an excellent meeting today with Tim Jones, the project director from Highways England, and we are very grateful to him for the intelligent and constructive way in which he is approaching this project. I hope that the Minister has a map of the crossing in front of him, but if not, I can provide one—[Interruption.] He does; excellent.

I will return to the crossing, but before I do so, let me quickly outline the concerns of my hon. Friend the Member for South Basildon and East Thurrock (Stephen ​Metcalfe). He apologises for not being in the Chamber—it is my fault, because I did not inform him about this debate until yesterday—but he has four points, which I will read verbatim for the benefit of the Minister. The first is:

“Will not fix problem at existing crossing. Remain convinced that the current plans will do little or nothing to alleviate actual problem at existing crossing.”

Secondly, he wants more “Cut and cover” and says that

“wherever possible the route should be ‘cut in’ and below existing road, not above ground on stilts.”

Thirdly, he wants:

“Minimize footprint of”—

ugly—

“junctions wherever possible and put in place full mitigation.”

Finally, on “Air Quality”, he says:

“Demonstrate BEFORE construction how new LTC WILL improve already poor air quality experienced in Thurrock.”

I have three main requests. First, I want Highways England to remove the proposed junction on to the A226. On a positive note, I see that it has now removed that junction, which is extremely important for us if we are to avoid people using the rat runs through Gravesend and local villages when the Dartford crossing is gridlocked, as it will continue to be because building this crossing will not solve the problem at Dartford.

Secondly, given that there will not now be an exit at the A226—I apologise to people who do not have a map—I want Highways England to move the southern portal to the south of the A226. This would make a great difference to people living in the village of Chalk. It would also get my friend the rector of Chalk, Rev. Nigel Bourne, off my back, as the current proposals separates the village from his beautiful medieval church, so doing this would be a personal help to me.

Thirdly, I want to maximise the use of what Highways England calls green corridors. As much as possible should be done to reduce noise, pollution and environmental impact where the road will cross Thong Lane for the community at Thong and the community up at Riverview Park. This development will be 100 metres from those residents, and doing that, which we should consider in relation to the massive overall cost of the scheme, would generate enormous good will which, frankly, is in short supply. I also hope that as much as possible of the spoil from the great big boring machine can be dumped so that people do not have to look at this eyesore.

What started as a roads project has, in my view, bizarrely morphed into an economic one. Of course it will bring wider economic benefits to Kent and Essex, but we are again at risk of having another big disconnect between the people who make decisions and those who suffer from them. I am not just concerned about several thousands of my local residents who will be very badly affected over the next 10 years or so while the crossing is being built, and some of them once it has been built, although they are obviously my main concern. This is a disaster for the people of Dartford, for every one of us in this Chamber and for every one of our constituents, because the traffic jams will go on and on, and we will be paying over £6 billion for that.

Even staff at Highways England admits that however many new crossings are put to the east of the existing crossing, at some stage they will have to come back to ​Dartford to fix the problem there. There is no getting away from the simple fact that the M25 runs through Dartford. We will fix the problem at Dartford only by separating the long-range national traffic from the local and regional traffic. To be frank, I fear that in 20 years’ time, when people wake up to this missed historic opportunity to fix Dartford, some of us will be seen as the guilty men and women.

Robin Walker – 2017 Speech After Release of EU Sectoral Papers

Below is the text of the speech made by Robin Walker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, in the House of Commons on 28 November 2017.

This House passed a motion on 1 November asking that impact assessments arising from sectoral analyses be provided to the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union. This Government take very seriously their parliamentary responsibilities, and have been clear that they would be providing information to the Committee.

In the past three weeks, Departments have worked to collate and bring together this information in a way that is accessible and informative. I am glad to be able to confirm that this information has been provided not only to the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union but to the House of Lords EU Select Committee and, indeed, to the devolved Administrations. I can also, Mr Speaker, with your permission, inform the House that we have initiated discussions with the parliamentary authorities to make this information available to all colleagues through a reading room.

We were clear from the start that we would respond to the motion, but also that the documents did not exist in the form requested. Indeed, I made it clear to the House during the debate on the day that

“there has been some misunderstanding about what this sectoral analysis actually is. It is not a series of 58…impact assessments.”—[Official Report, 1 November 2017; Vol. 630, c. 887.]

As I said, the sectoral analysis is a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis contained in a range of documents developed at different times since the referendum. The House of Commons itself has recognised that, although Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament, the Government also have an obligation to consider where it will be in the public interest for material to be published.

Furthermore, it is important to recognise that, in some cases, there is commercially confidential information in the analysis and that, in many cases, the analysis was developed to underpin advice to Ministers on negotiation options in various scenarios. It is well understood, as has been the case under successive Administrations, that such advice to Ministers must remain private.​

In the light of all that, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union made a statement on 7 November in which he explained that, given the documents did not exist in the form requested, it would take

“some time to collate and bring together this information in a way that is accessible and informative to the Committee.”—[Official Report, 7 November 2017; Vol. 630, c. 1333.]

He committed that the reports would be provided within three weeks. In providing the information to the Committee yesterday, we have met that commitment. Parliament has endorsed the responsibility of Ministers not to release information that would undermine our negotiating position. Contrary to what has been asserted in some places, the Committee did not give any firm assurances that what was passed to it would not subsequently be published in full. Where there are precedents for Government agreeing to pass information to Select Committees in confidence, these have been on the basis of assurances received before material is shared or a clear set of rules, such as those governing intelligence material.

When he met the Secretary of State, the Chairman of the Select Committee did say that he was willing to enter into a dialogue—after the Select Committee had received documents from the Government. But that is not the same as an assurance that, if we provided confidential or sensitive material, it would not be published, and it is not in keeping with the usual practice of Committees on these sensitive issues. As such, the sectoral reports provided do not contain information that would undermine the UK’s hand in negotiations or material that is commercially or market sensitive. But the House should be in no doubt that this has been a very substantial undertaking. We have been as open as possible, subject to the overwhelming national interest of preserving our negotiating position. We have collated more than 800 pages of analysis for the Committees, less than a month from the motion being passed, and this covers all the 58 sectors. We now consider the motion of 1 November 2017 to have been satisfied.

Robin Walker – 2017 Statement on Release of Brexit Sectoral Reports

Below is the text of the statement made by Robin Walker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, to the House of Commons on 28 November 2017.

Following the Opposition day debate motion on 1 November, the Government committed to making arrangements to respond to the motion which called on the Government to provide the Committee on Exiting the European Union with impact assessments arising from the sectoral analysis they have conducted with regards to the list of 58 sectors referred to in the answer of 26 June 2017 to written question 239.

On 27 November the Department for Exiting the European Union provided analysis covering these 58 sectors of the economy to the House of Commons Committee on Exiting the EU and the House of Lords European Union Committee. The reports were also shared with the devolved Administrations on the same terms.

As the Government have previously made clear, the information requested in the motion does not exist in the form requested. During the Opposition day debate I told the House “there has been some misunderstanding about what this sectoral analysis actually is. It is not a series of 58 impact assessments.” The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU also made this clear before the House of Lords EU Committee on 31 October and to the House at DEXEU oral questions on 2 November.

The reports cover:

i. a description of each sector;

ii. the current EU regulatory regime;​
iii. existing frameworks for how trade is facilitated between countries in this sector, and;

iv. sector views.

We now consider the motion of 1 November 2017 to have been satisfied.

Alok Sharma – 2017 Speech on Community-Led Housing

Below is the text of the speech made by Alok Sharma, the Housing Minister, on 27 November 2017.

Introduction

Thank you, Sophie.

The BBC folk seem to get the best gigs in town.

I am speaking at an event being compered by Mark Easton next.

I am absolutely delighted to be here at what is a landmark moment for community-led housing.

Today’s event – the first ever conference to bring the sector together – is testament to just how far you have come.

With half of the 225 plus Community Land Trusts in England and Wales having been set up in the past 2 years, the momentum is clearly growing.

And I want you to know that I am behind you all the way.

Benefits

Because the strengths of community-led housing speak for themselves.

You know your local areas better than anyone.

And are better placed to make things happen.

To see the potential of small sites.

Difficult sites.

Sites that are off limits or of no interest to developers.

You are not waiting for someone else to step in and just take what you are offered.

You are designing and developing houses that you and your neighbours are proud to call home.

Homes that, from the word go, are an integral part of your communities.

Homes that are not just affordable now, but are affordable forever.

That are models of high quality design, energy efficiency and innovation.

And it’s not just the people in those homes who benefit.

Because your work raises the bar for the entire housing market.

Pushing up expectations of design quality.

Powering the growth of modern methods of construction.

And, by supporting smaller-scale building companies making the house building industry more diverse and resilient.

But the benefits go further still.

By giving people a hand in the conversion or refurbishment of empty properties you are equipping them with new and highly transferrable construction skills.

You are sustaining local economies by giving young home-grown talent affordable places to live and a reason to stay.

You’re not just building better homes.

You’re building better communities.

Barriers

And I certainly don’t underestimate what that takes.

You face significant barriers, such as access to pre-development grants, loans or mortgages and a lack of understanding or resources at a local policy level.

But the biggest barriers are almost certainly cultural.

It is a simple idea: if you need a home, why not build it?

Yet most people in our country never even consider it seriously.

And, if they do, they might think of either Grand Designs or some kind of flat-pack nightmare on an epic scale.

I know, from living and working in Europe that homes built by local communities are a normal part of the landscape in countries like Germany and Sweden.

People there may be somewhat surprised that we need to have a conference about it at all.

Yet here in Britain, the term “community-led housing” is likely to be met with blank looks.

Well, outside this room anyway!

And, even when explained, it’s seen as a heroic endeavour that is only for the most extraordinary and adventurous of individuals.

Of course you are extraordinary people. And I don’t normally like to single out individuals from a sea of excellence.

But on this occasion I must.

There’s Maria Brenton, who for 18 years and counting has committed herself to the Older Women’s Cohousing project in Barnet.

There’s Geoff Pook, from the Beer CLT, who formed a group, secured funding, secured Registered Provider status and built 7 homes – and did it all in just 2 years.

Two years!

I’ve had flat-pack furniture in garage still not assembled after 5 years!

And let’s not forget one of the first innovators, David Brown, who has just stood down as Chair of High Bickington Community Property Trust after almost 2 decades.

Maria, Geoff and David are truly inspirational, and I take my hat off to them, and indeed to all of you.

But I want community-led housing to be a realistic option not just for exceptional people but for all people.

Even politicians!

Realising the sector’s potential

This is vital if we are to realise the true potential of this sector.

To empower more communities.

To, ultimately, see community-led housing playing a much bigger role in delivering the houses our country desperately needs.

Delivering these houses is an overriding priority for this government.

Recent figures showed that the number of homes in England increased by more than 217,000 last year – the highest level of net additions since the depths of the recession.

But you saw in February’s housing white paper, and again in last week’s ambitious Budget, that we want to go further still.

That we want to build more of the right homes, in the right places, at the right prices.

And I believe that community-led housing has a huge role to play in helping us to do just that.

Announcement

A year ago we backed the sector with the launch of the Community Housing Fund.

Since then, we’ve awarded £60 million in grants to help 148 local authorities support more community-led projects

The grants, which ranged in size, were paid to authorities that had the least affordable homes or the highest density of second homes.

Alongside the money, we gave advice on how to spend it in order to deliver the best results.

And we wanted the grants to help build capacity and support local projects, now and into the future.

Some fantastic work has been happening as a result .

Many councils – such as in Sussex, Hampshire and London – have pooled these resources to provide and information and support hub for community groups.

Others – such as Cornwall and West Dorset – have already used the money directly to help get the projects off the ground.

In short, this funding has been a success.

So today I can today announce that we will launch a new programme of funding to help build thousands more homes.

Worth £60 million in the first year alone, it will provide both capital and revenue funding, with flexibility to meet demand.

A significant element of the funding will also go towards developing an advisory network that supports community groups to bring forward projects.

We will shortly publish a prospectus setting out criteria for bids.

And, from January, we will invite applications from community groups, registered providers and any other appropriate organisations.

Bids will be assessed by the experts at Homes England, our new national housing agency.

And we hope to announce the first allocations as soon as Easter.

It is vitally important to me that we continue to work closely with the sector in delivering this programme, just as we have done in the design phase.

Many of you have had a hand in shaping this new programme of work. And I hope you will reap the rewards.

And I also hope you will come together to share your vast experience and expertise.

I want to ensure that our investment in the sector makes a real difference and your contribution will be invaluable in helping us achieve this.

That’s why I will be setting up an advisory group to steer the Department of Communities and Local Government on the delivery of the programme.

Conclusion

Some will say this just small fry.

That community-led housing currently accounts for just a few hundred units a year – under half a per cent of total housing output in England.

That the scale of the challenge before us – building 300,000 homes a year – dwarfs the capacity of the community-led sector.

But when the community-led movement began it was producing just a handful of homes each year.

First that grew to a few dozen, then to a few hundred.

Now, with government on your side, there is no reason why those hundreds cannot become thousands.

No single measure will fix our broken housing market.

But with action on many fronts, with the dedication of many people, we can get there.

It will take time.

But I know that we can do it.

And community-led housing has a serious contribution to make.

There are few sectors that boast the combination of talent and passion that we have here today.

People who are totally committed to making their communities better places to live.

So let’s do everything we can to get even more people involved in community-led housing.

Together with you I want to make the idea of communities building the homes they need not a radical departure, but an everyday reality.

And for the sector to play its part in getting Britain building.

Thank you.

Theresa May – 2017 Speech to DrugFam Reception

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to the DrugFam Reception in Downing Street on 27 November 2017.

Good afternoon everybody and it’s a great pleasure to welcome you all here to Downing Street today. And, as you have heard, we are all here to recognise and celebrate the work that DrugFam has done over the last 11 years – years of real achievement and I’ve not only seen the charity grow over those years but also the impact the charity has made. But, I think we can say that the past year has been exceptional even for DrugFam.

This year:

– you have received the Queen Award for Voluntary Service – the highest honour a charity can receive
– you held a major service of celebration and hope at Westminster Abbey – which I am very sorry I was not able to attend,
– and of course Elizabeth received her MBE from Her Majesty the Queen – an honour which was richly deserved

As you’ve just heard, I have known Elizabeth for well over a decade and she is, of course, a constituent of mine. I remember coming to your home, Elizabeth, and hearing you tell the story of Simon and Nicholas and, sadly, the loss of Nicholas. I think I had tears in my eyes as well as you, as you were telling that story. I’ve heard Elizabeth speak at events subsequently and I’ve seen the impact it has on people, when they hear that story, that tragic story, that brings home to people so clearly the impact that drugs can have not just on the individuals but on their whole family as well. What you’ve built here following the loss of Nick is something of huge value, improving the day to day life of others.

I was proud to serve as a patron of DrugFam before I was appointed Home Secretary. The work you do makes a huge difference. You ensure that families, friends and partners affected by a loved one’s addiction get the support they need.

Because when families have to face addiction, they really do need that support. And I think that was one of the elements is that, often for families, it is very difficult to know where to turn, to know what to do for the best. Sometimes, through love, families take steps that they think are the right ones but sadly sometimes are not. And it is for those feelings of helplessness, of shame, of isolation and fear that DrugFam exists today to show people there is someone to help, there is someone there to turn to.

And what has really enabled DrugFam to do that has been the dedication and commitment of all its volunteers, and I am delighted that so many of you are here tonight. Without your generosity and the gift of time which you give to DugFam nothing it has achieved would have been possible.

So I want to say a huge thank you to all of the staff, trustees, volunteers, patrons, ambassadors, donors, friends and supporters of DrugFam for everything you do. Including Sarah Cooper and her team, who I just met, who fundraise and deliver the fantastic Summer Ball on an annual basis.

DrugFam volunteers gave over 7,000 hours of their time last year – manning the helpline, volunteering in support groups, and helping with fundraising and governance.

But what is particularly striking is that half of the volunteers have previously accessed DrugFam support themselves – so DrugFam was there for you, and now you are there for other people. You are doing wonderful work and it is hugely appreciated.

We know that we face a huge challenge as a country in overcoming addiction. The Government’s Drugs Strategy seeks to protect the most vulnerable, and I’m pleased to say the Home Office minister Victoria Atkins is here at the reception tonight, and to help those with drug dependency to recover and turn their lives around. But no one knows better than the people in this room just how difficult that can be.

There are no quick solutions or easy answers. And for those affected by the addiction of a loved one, the impact can be immense and can last a lifetime. That’s why DrugFam’s work is so essential – providing long-term support and advice at every stage.

So, Elizabeth, you can be justifiably proud of what you established all those years ago. From your personal tragedy has come a strong charity that is doing so much good in helping the lives of others. But thank you to all those that have joined Elizabeth along the way, some of you who through your own personal tragedy have come to give DrugFam the support it needs to be able to help others. You have achieved a tremendous amount in these last eleven years – and there is so much to celebrate and I am very pleased we have been able to invite you here today to do just that. With the support of everyone here in this room, and many who are not, I am sure that you will go on to achieve even more and help even more people in the future. Thank you.

Michael Gove – 2017 Speech to Rural Business Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to the Rural Business Conference on 28 November 2017.

Introduction

I wanted to begin by reflecting on the past. The CLA has been around for around 110 years now. And as I’m sure every single person in this room knows, the CLA was originally founded following the publication of a pamphlet called the ‘Land and the Social Problem by a man called Algernon Tumor. Now, Algernon had been a private Secretary to Benjamin Disraeli when he was Prime Minister. In that pamphlet in 1907 he argued that British agriculture was going through a time of huge change. Of course the political backdrop at that time was a debate about whether or not we should pursue more free trade agreements with countries in far flung regions or whether we should integrate more closely with our European partners. And at the same time as Algernon was making the case for this period of change he also excoriated politicians for their failure to show provide sufficient leadership when it came to charting a clear course for those who own, manage and work on the land. How very different things are, 110 years on. I think the role that you in the CLA have played for over a hundred years has been wonderful. You have been leading the debate over how we use our oldest and most precious national asset – our land. In the face of social, political, economic and technological change, the CLA has always been pioneering new ideas, you have supported imaginative approaches to land management, you’ve helped us to sustain the rural economy, growing health, guaranteed employment for hundreds of thousands and you continue to shape a progressive future for the countryside.

I want to say a particular thanks to Ross Murray for his leadership and Tim Breitmeyer for his continuing leadership. You are uniquely fortunate in having two such distinguished individuals who understand the reality of the rural economy, who speak with authority and such candour to those in power and are an asset to this country and also to you, the membership of the CLA.

Even in the brief opportunity I had to mix with some of you after lunch earlier, I was again struck by the way in which CLA members lean in. The way in which CLA members embrace the future. When I was talking to Ed Barnston earlier about the work he is doing in south Cheshire I was struck by the fact that he is ambitious for the future investing in an increasing determination to grow and produce more high quality food. And when I was talking to Peverel Manners, I was struck by his desire to clock up the air miles, go out to Australia and further afield to ensure that Great British produce was on foreign kitchen tables. It is that degree of ambition for the future which has always characterised the CLA and one thing that will always be true about land ownership and land management in this country is that we need to be ambitious for the future when it comes to continuing to produce the very best food and drink in the world. Because demand for British food has never been higher.

Food and drink

Our exports now surpass £20 billion for the first time, up by nearly 10% on the last year. That growth has been built on the reputation for quality built by people in this room.

And we know, that the food chain brings £110 billion to the UK economy. Food and drink is our biggest manufacturing sector. That is why I am so delighted that in the Industrial Strategy published by my colleague Greg Clark yesterday recognised the vital importance of food and drink, with a new Food and Drink Sector Council. This Council will help pair the way for a for a food and drink sector deal in order to ensure that responsibility for effectively marketing and supporting primary producers and others is at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy.

When we talk about the industrial strategy it is important to recognise that we are not just world leaders in the way in which food and drink has grown as an export in the course of the last couple of years. We are world leaders in terms of quality. We have the world’s highest animal welfare standards, we are moving towards having the world’s most ambitious environmental goals and also embedding the most rigorous approach towards sustainability,

All these are good in themselves but it is also the case that they can provide us with an advantage in the marketplace for food and drink. Increasingly consumers – not just in this country but across the world – are demanding higher quality food. Consumers want to know more about the meat they buy, the milk they drink, the provenance of their vegetables, the carbon cost of production, the weight of the footprint left on the planet by particular farming methods and the circumstances under which animals were reared during their lives. Not to mention the way in which their lives end.

The more specific the story we can tell about the care invested in the food we produce the more we actually reinforce our competitive edge Because if we make quality our hallmark we can secure farming’s future.

So when it comes to finding an edge in an ever more competitive world of food and drink, we need to recognise its in goods recognised for their exceptional quality and special distinctive provenance that will become market leaders.

Let me give you one example. As I was searching for an example I was spoilt for choice, thinking about producers in this room who have shown how provenance and quality can give you a marketing edge. So I didn’t want to favour anyone by making them teacher’s pet. I wanted to choose an example not relevant to anyone in this room but very close to my heart. Whisky.

When I was growing up whisky was produced – in industrial quantities – using industrial methods – for an industrious population – that meant that when you bought your Whyte and Mackay or Bell’s or Black and White it was pretty much the same product, the differentiation was price.

Now, whisky is sold more and more not on the basis of price but provenance, not cost but quality. Instead of relying on industrially-produced blends, the Scottish whisky trade is moving to carefully crafted single malts, with water drawn from particular springs, peatiness inculcated from particular islands and delicate flavour notes imparted by ancient sherry or port barrels for the fastest market growth.

And Since 2000 there has been a 218% increase by volume and a 415% increase by value in malt whisky exports. The Macallan, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Laphroaig and others have become global brands. All by stressing their local, and artisan, origins.

I believe that by stressing the local and the distinctive, whether its lamb or beef, cheese or bacon, cider or beer, bread or jam, that products will become the best in the world. The more the story behind the product speaks of provenance and tradition, attention to quality, respect for the environment and the highest ethical standards, the bigger the commercial opportunity for all of us.

But if we are to continue to strengthen our position as a world leader in quality food production we need to concentrate not just on provenance but also on productivity.

Productivity and technology

And that means investing in the technology of the future.

Today you have already heard from the world-leading academics at Harper Adams University. On a recent visit there I saw for myself the ground-breaking work that they are undertaking.

From the fit-bit for cows that tracks their health and diet, to the ‘hands-free hectare’ technology, these latest advances will shape farming in the future and also demand of the next generation of farmers a familiarity with robotics and data analytics alongside an understanding of animal husbandry and soil health.

We are on the cusp of a new agricultural revolution.

There is a critical role for Government to play. We need to support the innovation that you will use to reshape agriculture. Scientific breakthroughs in other countries in areas as diverse as nuclear, biotech and digital have been stimulated by Government investment and government ambition.

There is no reason why Britain cannot be the world leader in drone technology, robotics, laser treatment of weeds and pests, the deployment of big data, and also responsible genomics. All of these have the capacity to improve productivity and enable environmental enhancement. And I hope to say more in coming days about how we will advance these technologies.

Of course, we already help farmers, landowners and rural entrepreneurs through the Rural Development Programme, which is supporting thousands of projects in areas as diverse as innovative cheese making and also the deployment of artificial intelligence. Funding is granted to ideas that improve productivity, generate growth and provide additional jobs in rural areas.

Today I am pleased to announce that applications for grants from a further £45 million will open this Thursday, 30th November. Grants will be awarded to projects that support business development, food processing and, in addition, rural tourism infrastructure projects.

Recently, we have also put £60 million into the Countryside Productivity scheme, which makes large grants for projects that add value to farm produce and improve farming productivity. This money can also be used to buy tools like precision slurry application equipment, which reduces ammonia emissions, delivers savings on fertiliser and ultimately helps the environment.

Tools like this are exactly what we want to support when we say you can boost productivity and enhance the environment at the same time. And that brings me to the final and most fundamental aspect of a successful rural economy: environmental stewardship.

As custodians of the landscape, farmers know, and have known for centuries what the rest of us are only just beginning to properly appreciate: without a healthy environment we have nothing.

To take just one example from many, over the last 200 years we have lost 84% of our fertile peat topsoil in East Anglia. It is estimated that what remains, unless we take action, could be eradicated in the next 30-60 years. The rate at which vast stores of carbon held in these soils is being lost is nothing short of an emergency. We know that in many cases this damage is due to the short-term thinking which governed past patterns of intensive agricultural activity.

We know that 95% of food production relies on healthy soil, antibiotics come from soil, a quarter of the world’s biodiversity comes from soil, so it is clear that we need to think and act together more sustainably. To everyone in this room, soil is a fundamental asset and its degradation costs us money. So Defra must, in its future agricultural support funding prioritise the health of our soils.

History teaches us that civilisations can survive incredible challenges. Coups, revolutions, secession from empires, all these are survivable, sometimes even beneficial, but one change is fatal. The degradation of our environment. We have only one set of natural resources. We have to protect them and manage them sustainably to make sure our children can enjoy their fruits. No country can withstand the loss of its soil.

At Defra we have made a commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. And if we want a better environment we must protect all our habitats, enhance our biodiversity and safeguard the beauty of all our rural landscapes. And it is for that reason we said we will change the way in which we invest in our countryside. The public money which we, rightly, allocate to land owners to help them manage the land is there, ultimately, to secure public goods. And the pre-eminent public good is environmental enhancement.

We all know that the current system of support for farmers and landowners shaped by the Common Agricultural Policy is inefficient, ineffective, inequitable and environmentally harmful.

The environmental damage generated under the CAP has been striking. EU-inspired systems of agricultural production have damaged our soil.

CAP-inspired and sponsored methods of agricultural production in the UK have led to soil degradation which costs us £1.2 billion a year according to Cranfield University.

The damage is more than just towards soil. Since we joined the EU the number of farmland birds has declined by 54% while the populations of priority species overall have declined by 33%. And also, in recent years, intensive agricultural production systems of the kind driven by the CAP have reduced the numbers of pollinators. With a 49% decline in some specific bee populations, scarcely mitigated by a 29% increase in others.

All of this has happened under a system where the majority of financial support allocated to farmers and landowners has comes under “Pillar One” of the CAP and has all been related to the size of productive agricultural land-holding rather than any wider benefit.

And even though Pillar One funding has recently been changed to incorporate explicit environmental goods – the greening of CAP, the evidence that Pillar One funding encourages genuine environmental improvement is slight. In a recent paper by Alan Matthews for the RISE Foundation he pointed out that Pillar One funding had done little to improve land use.

“The maintenance of permanent grassland requirement and the crop diversification obligation have led to minimal changes in land use, and the fact that the great majority of land enrolled in EFAs is used for productive options are pointers to that the additional environmental benefits, relative to the pre-greening baseline are likely to be low”

The lion’s share of current support for land owners is, clearly, inefficiently allocated. It does not secure the public goods the public wants and needs if you want to provide resilient habitats, richer wildlife, healthier rivers and cleaner water, trees and peatland to absorb carbon and provide a home to precious species.

We do know, however, that, public money, properly allocated through agri-environment or environmental land management schemes, can secure significant gains.

Analysis of how farms in one particular set of Higher Level Stewardship schemes have done over the years are encouraging. There is no perfect single measure of biodiversity but the Farmland Bird Index is one of the best. And it has shown that in farms operating countryside stewardship schemes there has been an increase in the Farmland Bird Index of up to 165% even as the numbers nationally were in decline by 24%.

Effective environmental land management schemes can do so much to protect our countryside. It can help protect moorland and heathland, encourage tree planting and wildflower meadows, mitigate the impact of flooding and climate change, improve water quality and lock in improved soil health and fertility. But it is still the case that of the money we allocate from Defra to the CAP, only around one fifth of the goes on environmental land management schemes, around 80% goes on the inefficient and ineffective pillar one payments.

I believe that has to change. And I know that one of the major reasons why there has been such a relatively low take-up of appropriate environmental land management schemes so far has been the dreadful way in which we in Government have actually administered them. Natural England does many many good things but I have to say that Natural England and Defra scarcely deserve medals for the operation and administration of the Countryside Stewardship scheme.

That is why I have asked Andrew Sells, Natural England’s brilliant Chairman, and James Cross, The Natural England Chief Executive, working with the Rural Payments Agency, to overhaul delivery of the scheme. The first part of that reform is a simplification of the application process and the creation of four new, hopefully much more streamlined offers, which I hope will be routes to securing support. These changes will, I hope, encourage more land owners and managers to adopt stewardship schemes but I, and the leadership team at Natural England, know there is still much more to be done.

Because as everyone here knows – if we can get more investment in environmental land management schemes we can generate more economic growth. Studies of rural development spending have shown that schemes with an environmental focus have a very good return on investment, with each pound spent generating £3 in return. Natural capital analysis shows that the priority habitats which environmental land management schemes protect and enhance provide more than a billion pounds of economic benefit every year. And, of course, that investment, properly directed, also helps support food production. Wildflower margins which attract bees and other insects not only help pollination they also attract the predators who deal effectively with crop pests.

In addition, as everyone here will also know, rural tourism is a vital, and inevitably growing, element in driving rural economic growth and wise environmental land management is critical to encouraging that tourism. Whether people are drawn by the chance to see rare flora and fauna, enjoy green space, appreciate the wild and untamed, follow traditional country pursuits or go glamping within easy reach of a gastropub, the quality of the environment is a critical factor in bringing visitors, and money, into the countryside. The consultancy GHK has estimated that 60% of rural tourism is dependent on high quality landscape and wildlife, generating around 5 billion pounds a year and supporting at the moment nearly 200,000 jobs.

Conclusion

As we prepare to leave the European Union we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to refashion how the state supports farming, what we pay landowners and what we want from the land.

Government I believe has a vital role to play. It’s our role to champion food production, it’s our role to help you invest in new technology and it’s our role to pay you if you enhance the environment. Because ultimately our landscapes are beautiful and special not because the state or any Minister decrees it so but because those, you, who work on the land love what you do and where you work. Which is why we in government are grateful to all of you. Thank you.

David Lidington – 2017 Speech at Launch of TheCityUK Legal Services

Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on 23 November 2017.

It’s a pleasure to be here today at the launch of TheCityUK’s Legal Services report for 2017, and can I add my thanks also James to you and Herbert Smith Freehills for hosting this event.

Every year, your report holds a mirror up to our legal services sector. In doing so, it allows us to reflect upon the strengths and successes of this country’s formidable and world-leading legal services.

This year I think the findings of the report should serve as a source of great pride and satisfaction for those who work in our legal services. It is also an important reminder to all of us, of the enormous contribution legal services make – not just to London, but to all the nations and regions of the United Kingdom – and I welcome in particular the focus of the report on the wider contribution the sector makes to the country. It’s particularly apposite given that the new Lord Mayor in his speech to the Guildhall last week part of his role should be to promote the City.

We can look at the contribution of the sector in a number of ways:

– to jobs: legal services employ over 300,000 people across the country, two thirds of these outside London. James mentioned Belfast but he could just as readily have mentioned Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool.

– to the economy: directly contributing around £24 billion last year with a trade surplus of £4 billion, and more broadly, underpinning the wider business and financial sectors.

– but I don’t think either we should neglect what I would term the contribution to the UK’s soft power, our global reputation: our legal services market is one of the top, most admired and respected anywhere in the world.

Legal services and EU exit

Now for the government, we are committed to protecting and promoting the legal services sector – the benefits that its energy and vibrancy bring to the economy and the country.

The report rightly raises the potential impact of EU exit on our legal services. I understand there is a real appetite from the sector for the government to make more announcements about where we are in the negotiations. I get that from your clients’ perspective, one of the biggest deciding factors on whether to use English law to govern their contracts is the enforceability of decisions.

I’ll say now what I said when I spoke at TheCityUK Advisory Council earlier this month, the government is committed to securing continuity and certainty for business as part of the exit negotiations. And that includes taking seriously, and giving a high priority to securing, market access for the legal services sector, and ensuring we have ongoing civil judicial co-operation after we leave the European Union – something that I believe is profoundly in the interests of families and individuals in this country but to the corporate sector and tens of thousands of families in the EU too.

I recognise that, as in any negotiation, there is uncertainty about the precise outcome that will be secured, but I want to reiterate the government’s commitment to ensuring that we have an outcome that protects and promotes our legal services. In particular, that means seeking an outcome that replicates the existing principles with the European Union, for example by incorporating the Rome I and Rome II regulations into domestic law and by continuing our participation in the Hague and Lugano conventions.

And I am highlighting to my counterparts across the EU27 – and shall do so again at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in early December – how vital this is for individuals, families and businesses across Europe.

Legal services are built on firm foundations

As we go through these negotiations, we should not lose sight of the fact that our legal services in the United Kingdom are built on strong and deep foundations. They are underpinned by a strong commitment to the Rule of Law, by the certainty and clarity of Common Law in England that has evolved over centuries and by an independent, impartial and incorruptible judiciary that is recognised and respected across the world. These strengths make the United Kingdom a hugely attractive destination for litigants and legal service providers alike, now and in the future.

‘Legal Services are GREAT’

But in a globally competitive marketplace, where I’m all too conscious that other countries and other jurisdictions are contending for legal business, we must ensure that the United Kingdom’s legal heritage, expertise, innovation and prowess in legal services and the benefits of having disputes settled here is plain for potential clients to see.

That is why, in October, we launched our international ‘Legal Services are GREAT’ campaign. Now the ‘GREAT’ campaign has an interesting history. It was devised by David Cameron to take advantage of the spotlight on this country as a result of the Olympics and Paralympics being held here. It will showcase the expertise of our legal services, the integrity and experience of our judiciary and the benefits of using English Common Law to a global audience that will help us build stronger links with both established but also emerging markets.

The message of the campaign is simple: the United Kingdom is home to the best legal services in the world. Whether that’s London as a global centre for dispute resolution, or Scotland and Northern Ireland as world-leading centres in their own specific areas of distinct legal expertise.

As the 2017 report makes clear, technology and innovation in legal services will be key to ensuring the United Kingdom stands out. That’s why the government, building on the success seen in the Fintech sector, is ensuring that new and innovative legal technologies are embraced and supported. These have the potential to drive down costs, improve quality and fundamentally transform how services are used.

One such example is smart contracts, which are expected to increase trust and certainty, and reduce friction in the performance of business and other contractual agreements. Smart contracts will have a profound impact on the delivery of legal services and the government is exploring how we can use these new technologies to ensure that English law and UK courts remain a competitive choice worldwide.

The data and insights that are included within TheCityUK’s legal services reports are vital tools in our promotion of these messages and in determining our global standing and I’d like to thank TheCityUK for all of the work that has gone into this year’s report.

UK legal services and future trade

The ‘Legal Services are GREAT’ campaign is an important part of our global message about the incredible assets and services that the United Kingdom offers. It’s a message, too, about our future trading ambitions. It’s about ensuring our legal services can both take advantage of and support our future trade arrangements beyond EU exit.

The government is taking a significant step in preparing to leave the European Union by making arrangements for our future independent trade policy, and legislation will be introduced and debated in Parliament in the next 12 months to ensure the necessary statutory underpinning of that trade policy.

Trade is a key driver of growth and prosperity. International trade is linked to many jobs; it leads to higher wages and contributes to a growing economy.

That’s why we are committed to ensuring that our world-class legal services serve as catalyst for future trade, and that the crucial role they play in underpinning the growth of wider business is maintained and understood.

Conclusion

So I welcome TheCityUK’s work on this with its own vision for a transformed, world-leading legal services industry.

That vision sees the United Kingdom continuing to offer a clear and consistent system of law, with a sector that is highly digitalised and innovative….one where London continues to be an international hub for finance and legal services, but where there are also regional centres that serve as specialist hubs.

I have no doubt that the strong and deep foundations on which our legal services are built, combined with the innovation and vision within the sector to embrace new opportunities and new technologies, mean that we will see our legal services not just lead the world, but continue to be the envy of the world. Thank you very much.

David Moran – 2017 Speech in Liechtenstein

Below is the text of the speech made by David Moran, the out-going British Ambassador to Liechtenstein, on 24 November 2017.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you. I really appreciate the chance to deliver some reflections on what has been a fascinating time to be Britain’s ambassador to Liechtenstein. Four years have gone by very quickly, which is usually a very good sign!

I have very positive memories of my first visit in early 2014 to present my credentials to His Serene Highness Prince Alois. The weather was crisp and snowy, but the welcome was warm. My first official dealings with Liechtenstein were 17 years earlier when I was responsible for our bilateral relations in London. The British Embassy organised a visit to Vaduz by our Foreign Secretary. Not only was it on a Sunday, but also you were holding your elections at the time! So, this may be a little late – but thank you for looking after us when you were so busy!

Being a non-resident ambassador presents a challenge of how to engage effectively with your host government. Liechtenstein makes this easy, with generous access to policy makers and tailor-made events such as the excellent annual tradition of Information Days for Ambassadors. These, together with the excellent New Year’s Reception hosted by His Serene Highness and your very enjoyable 15 August National Day celebrations, provide regular opportunities for engage with the diplomatic community.

Of course, every ambassador wants to supplement these with bilateral occasions. I am no exception. I was very impressed by the Princely Liechtenstein Tattoo last year. Another particular highlight was the visit of our world-famous Globe Theatre to perform Hamlet in Schaan. It was a wonderful performance in an impressive theatre. Before the play, I threw a diplomatic tea party for our 400 guests, and even played the piano in the background! Both events gave me an insight into Liechtenstein life beyond the workplace.

Ours is a healthy, positive and growing bilateral relationship. Our two-way bilateral trade was worth £107 million in 2015 – 600% up on 2005 levels. Even more impressively, Liechtenstein’s foreign direct investment into the UK is worth £4.5 billion. Per capita, that makes you our second largest investor per capita, comparing very well with Switzerland’s (also impressive) FDI total stock value of £39 billion in the UK. Liechtenstein is certainly playing its part as a “job motor” in Britain with your manufacturing companies responsible for over 1,000 UK jobs, and I have been grateful for the chance to visit their headquarters.

The prosperity of both our countries depends on maintaining modern, well-run, financial services sectors. Our respective governments have developed strategies for the introduction and expansion of best practice. The UK is deeply committed to better international governance on tax and transparency, and we continue to play a global leadership role in the G7, OECD and EU.

I have spoken before in Liechtenstein about some of your more recent reforms. I am very aware that this work is not new. The Liechtenstein Declaration is nearly a decade old. Britain represents an important market for your financial centre, and it is safe to say that our two governments have done a great deal of work together on the tax and transparency agenda, and I hope that they will continue to drive forward the international transparency agenda in the future.

Liechtenstein has come a long way. Your participation in the Automatic Exchange of Information on tax as an ‘early adopter’ of the Common Reporting Standard exchanging information from September 2017 is a very welcome contribution to the huge global changes in tax transparency over the last five years or so which the UK has so actively supported and helped to lead. Our respective officials are in touch about ways to raise awareness of evolving legal and regulatory requirements. Indeed, a delegation from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will visit Liechtenstein in December to meet with representatives from your administration and the Financial Centre.

It is against this backdrop of constructive collaboration that I was interested to learn of your most recent set of innovations developed jointly by the government and financial centre. Earlier this year you launched new procedures and products with the aim of helping existing and future UK taxpayers to ensure that they are UK tax compliant when investing in banking, insurance and trust markets in Liechtenstein. While, as you have said, it is ultimately the client who has the responsibility for filing a correct and accurate return, arrangements such as the ones you recently introduced which are designed to promote tax compliance deserve recognition. One of the main reasons why I am here today is to offer that encouragement. I am pleased that Liechtenstein has seen the opportunities brought about by automatic exchange of tax information and has taken the initiative to cultivate an even higher compliance culture. This is the kind of progress the UK’s global tax governance initiatives are designed to foster. I look forward to seeing the full fruits of Liechtenstein’s reforms as they go forward.

In the field of foreign affairs, our two countries find ourselves on the same side of the table on many issues. There is much that we agree with on commitments to human rights protection, fighting corruption and promoting climate protection. This is not surprising for two progressive nations with very similar values. And this feeling of political kinship goes back quite a long way. The British delegation to the CSCE talks in the early 1970s described their Liechtenstein counterparts as “admirably robust on questions of freedom”.
We share Foreign Minister Frick’s passion for issues surrounding women, peace and security and are keen to explore further areas for collaboration. Fighting modern slavery is very much a common priority, as was clear from your Foreign Minister’s recent visit to London on 30 October. British Ministers were keen to discuss a range of UN and other global issues – it remains extremely important to work together to protect rules-based international governance against growing threats. The arrangements for a smooth transition in our political and economic relations following Brexit were also on the agenda.

The UK wants a deep and special partnership with the European Union that covers trade, security, law enforcement and criminal justice cooperation.

We do not want to adopt an existing model. Some of our EU friends favour a stark choice between something based on European Economic Area membership, or a traditional Free Trade Agreement, such as that the EU has recently negotiated with Canada. Neither of these options would be best for the UK or for the EU. We want to find a creative solution to what will be a new economic relationship.

The UK and the EU start from the unique position of regulatory alignment, trust in one another’s institutions and a shared spirit of cooperation. We recognise that membership of the Single Market is built on a balance of rights and obligations and we do not pretend that you can have all the benefits of membership without its obligations. Our task is to find a new framework that allows for a close economic partnership but holds those rights and obligations in a new and different balance. We want to deliver the greatest possible tariff and barrier free trade, including by reaching a new customs agreement.

The UK will remain unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security. We want a bold, new strategic security partnership with the EU, taking in cooperation on diplomacy, defence and security, and development.

We have made significant progress since negotiations began. Theresa May’s speech in Florence added new momentum by making a firm commitment on the financial settlement; and proposing a time-limited implementation period that is in the interests of both the UK and the EU.

We have offered reassurance to EU citizens living in the UK. We want people to stay and families to stay together. We are now in touching distance of an agreement and have committed to incorporating our agreement fully into UK law.

This will ensure that EU citizens in the UK can directly enforce their rights in UK courts – providing certainty and clarity in the long term. Over time, our courts can take account of the rulings of the European Court of Justice in this area, to help ensure consistent interpretation. But our priority remains to preserve the sovereignty of our courts.

We have reassured EU member states that they will not need to pay more, or receive less, money over the remainder of the current budget plan. We have also been clear that we will honour the commitments we have made during the period of our membership. We have also made good progress on Northern Ireland. We have set out a model for our future economic partnership and security relationship with the EU – which will be to our mutual benefit.

Many withdrawal issues are of course linked to the future relationship. In areas that range from agreeing judicial cooperation on criminal matters to deciding what happens to imported goods on UK and EU shelves on exit day, we need to discuss withdrawal issues and our future partnership at the same time.

We now need to look forward to the December European Council and to the framework for our future relationship, as well as transitional arrangements.

Now is the time for both sides to step forward together and start discussing our future relationship. People and businesses across the UK and the EU deserve clarity and certainty for the future.

The UK continues to engage in discussions in a pragmatic and constructive way to make the progress needed. We now need to see flexibility, imagination and a willingness to make progress on both sides.

We want to make a success of the December European Council and to achieve this we have to move together. We remain ready to engage as often and as quickly as needed.

The United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union on 29th March 2019. At that point, neither the UK – nor the EU and its Member States – will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin our new relationship.

We have proposed a time-limited period for implementation. The framework for this period, which can be agreed under Article 50, would be the existing structure of EU rules and regulations. We want our departure from the EU to be as smooth as possible – it would not make sense to make people and businesses plan for two sets of changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

We will have to negotiate the detail of how the implementation period will work. This may mean that we start off with the ECJ still governing the rules we are part of for that period. If we can agree to bring forward the implementation of new dispute resolution mechanisms more quickly, we would wish to do so.

An implementation period would ensure that businesses do not have to make major decisions before they know the shape of the final deal between the UK and EU. It will also provide both sides with the time they need to set up any new infrastructure and systems required by our future partnership.

We should concentrate our negotiating time and capital on what really matters – the future long-term relationship we will have with the EU after this temporary period ends.

Liechtenstein’s importance as a bilateral commercial partner and member of EEA and the Swiss customs union makes engagement a priority. We have been preparing the ground for some time and have launched a dialogue between senior Liechtenstein experts and their British counterparts. In my own discussions in Vaduz and elsewhere I have stressed that we are committed to seeking continuity in our current trade and investment relationships.

It is also worth underlining that we want to treat EFTA state nationals in the same way as EU citizens and hope to see the same treatment for our own nationals on a reciprocal basis. We want to continue to be a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead.

Our first priority has to be to agree new arrangements with our EU partners. But we have the same level of ambitions for our EEA partners and took the opportunity of the Foreign Minister’s visit to reaffirm our desire to liaise closely. It is clear that Liechtenstein will play an increasingly prominent role in our economic future and there is some work to do to make sure that the necessary arrangements are in place.

In due course, we should also start to explore new opportunities, in areas such as financial services, high-end manufacturing; and research and development. We have a positive agenda for a secure and prosperous Europe. And we will want the closest possible links with our European neighbours.

I have been very lucky to have been Ambassador to Liechtenstein at such an interesting time. The bilateral relationship has never been so good, with rapidly growing contacts between Ministerial and officials. I have enjoyed immensely the experience of seeing our relations deepen and broaden and will continue to take a close and active interest in Liechtenstein when I return to London.

Thank you very much for your attention.