Queen Elizabeth II – 2010 Queen’s Speech

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Below is the text of the speech made by the Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, to the House of Lords on 25th May 2010.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

My government’s legislative programme will be based upon the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility.

The first priority is to reduce the deficit and restore economic growth.

Action will be taken to accelerate the reduction of the structural budget deficit. A new Office for Budget Responsibility will provide confidence in the management of the public finances.

The tax and benefits system will be made fairer and simpler. Changes to National Insurance will safeguard jobs and support the economy. People will be supported into work with sanctions for those who refuse available jobs and the timetable for increasing the State Pension Age will be reviewed.

Legislation will reform financial services regulation to learn from the financial crisis and to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policy holders.

My government will support investment in new high-speed broadband internet connections, enable the construction of a high-speed railway network and reform the economic regulation of airports to benefit passengers.

My government will modernise the Royal Mail, in partnership with employees, and will ensure it benefits from private sector capital and disciplines.

My government will limit the number of non-European Union economic migrants entering the United Kingdom and end the detention of children for immigration purposes.

Legislation will be introduced to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses, to promote low carbon energy production and to secure energy supplies.

My government will remove barriers to flexible working and promote equal pay.

My government will seek to build a strong and fair society by reforming public services and encouraging individual and social responsibility.

Legislation will be introduced to enable more schools to achieve academy status, give teachers greater freedom over the curriculum and allow new providers to run state schools.

The voice of patients and the role of doctors will be strengthened in the National Health Service to improve public health alongside actions to reduce health inequalities. A commission will be appointed to consider a sustainable long-term structure for the operation of social care.

A bill will be introduced to make the police service more accountable to local people and to tackle alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour.

The role of social enterprises, charities and co-operatives in our public services will be enhanced. The cost of bureaucracy and the number of public bodies will be reduced.

A bill will be introduced to devolve greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities control over housing and planning decisions. Legislation will be introduced to stop uncompleted plans to create unitary councils.

My government will propose Parliamentary and political reform to restore trust in democratic institutions and rebalance the relationship between the citizen and the state.

Measures will be brought forward to introduce fixed term Parliaments of 5 years.

A bill will be introduced for a referendum on the Alternative Vote system for the House of Commons and to create fewer and more equal sized constituencies.

Constituents will be given the right to recall their Members of Parliament where they are guilty of serious wrongdoing.

Proposals will be brought forward for a reformed second House that is wholly or mainly elected on the basis of proportional representation.

Action will be taken to reform the funding of political parties. A draft Bill will be published on reforming parliamentary privilege.

Legislation will be brought forward to restore freedoms and civil liberties, through the abolition of Identity Cards and repeal of unnecessary laws.

My government will work constructively and co-operatively with the devolved institutions.

My government will introduce legislation to implement recommendations from the Final Report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution and is committed to a referendum on additional powers for the National Assembly of Wales.

My government will support the political institutions and stable devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Members of the House of Commons,

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My government will introduce legislation to ensure that in future this Parliament and the British people have their say on any proposed transfer of powers to the European Union.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our visit to Canada in June and to our visit to the United Nations in New York in July. We also look forward to receiving His Holiness Pope Benedict the Sixteenth in September.

My government will seek effective global collaboration to sustain economic recovery and to combat climate change, including at the climate change conference in Mexico later this year.

My government will fully support our courageous armed forces and undertake a full Strategic Defence and Security Review.

My government will work with the Afghan government, Pakistan and international partners for lasting security and stability in Afghanistan.

My government looks forward to an enhanced partnership with India.

In the Middle East, my government will continue to work for a two-state solution that sees a viable Palestinian state existing in peace and security alongside Israel.

My government will work to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation including the serious international concerns posed by Iran’s nuclear programme.

My government is committed to spend nought point seven per cent of gross national income in development aid from 2013.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Queen Elizabeth II – 2007 Christmas Broadcast

One of the features of growing old is a heightened awareness of change. To remember what happened 50 years ago means that it is possible to appreciate what has changed in the meantime. It also makes you aware of what has remained constant.

In my experience, the positive value of a happy family is one of the factors of human existence that has not changed. The immediate family of grandparents, parents and children, together with their extended family, is still the core of a thriving community.

When Prince Philip and I celebrated our Diamond Wedding last month, we were much aware of the affection and support of our own family as they gathered round us for the occasion.

Now today, of course, marks the birth of Jesus Christ. Among other things, it is a reminder that it is the story of a family; but of a family in very distressed circumstances. Mary and Joseph found no room at the inn; they had to make do in a stable, and the new-born Jesus had to be laid in a manger. This was a family which had been shut out.

Perhaps it was because of this early experience that, throughout his ministry, Jesus of Nazareth reached out and made friends with people whom others ignored or despised. It was in this way that he proclaimed his belief that, in the end, we are all brothers and sisters in one human family.

The Christmas story also draws attention to all those people who are on the edge of society – people who feel cut off and disadvantaged; people who, for one reason or another, are not able to enjoy the full benefits of living in a civilised and law-abiding community. For these people the modern world can seem a distant and hostile place.

It is all too easy to ‘turn a blind eye’, ‘to pass by on the other side’, and leave it to experts and professionals. All the great religious teachings of the world press home the message that everyone has a responsibility to care for the vulnerable. Fortunately, there are many groups and individuals, often unsung and unrewarded, who are dedicated to ensuring that the ‘outsiders’ are given a chance to be recognised and respected. However, each one of us can also help by offering a little time, a talent or a possession, and taking a share in the responsibility for the well-being of those who feel excluded.

And also today I want to draw attention to another group of people who deserve our thoughts this Christmas. We have all been conscious of those who have given their lives, or who have been severely wounded, while serving with the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The dedication of the National Armed Forces Memorial was also an occasion to remember those who have suffered while serving in these and every other place of unrest since the end of the Second World War.

For their families, Christmas will bring back sad memories, and I pray that all of you, who are missing those who are dear to you, will find strength and comfort in your families and friends.

A familiar introduction to an annual Christmas Carol Service contains the words: ‘Because this would most rejoice his heart, let us remember, in his name, the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and those who mourn, the lonely and the unloved.’

Wherever these words find you, and in whatever circumstances, I want to wish you all a blessed Christmas.

Queen Elizabeth II – 2003 Speech at CHOGM Opening

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Below is the text of the speech made by HM Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on 3rd December 2003.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your invitation to visit Nigeria and for your kind words of welcome. Prince Philip and I have many vivid memories of our visit here in 1956. Although much has changed since then, the warmth of the Nigerian welcome remains a constant and we have again been touched by the generous reception we have been given.

Mr. President, my visit is a demonstration of the value Britain attaches to its relations with Nigeria and a recognition of the role this country plays on the international stage. The links between our two countries of course have deep historical roots, but it is also a living and expanding relationship.

Thousands of Nigerians visit the United Kingdom every year for business and pleasure. Many are enrolled in British universities, colleges and schools. And British citizens of Nigerian descent continue to make a valuable contribution in many areas of British life at national and local level.

The United Kingdom is well represented in Nigeria. British investment in the economy is worth billions of pounds and more than four thousand British citizens live and work here. The British Council is this year celebrating sixty years of helping to spread knowledge of modern British life across your country and the BBC World Service reaches many Nigerians in their homes. My government also provides significant development support for Nigerian programmes in areas as varied as universal basic education, access to justice and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Nigeria has much to be proud of. Your natural wealth has made it the world’s sixth largest oil exporter. You have writers and artists, international laureates, celebrated sports and music stars, and heads of international organisations. You have built this fine new capital which this year has so successfully hosted the All Africa Games. Abroad, you play an important role in the region and in the continent as a whole. And, as Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria has an important voice on global issues. My country particularly applauds the leading part the Nigerian Government and people are playing in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the international community’s efforts to bring peace and stability to Liberia, Sierra Leone and other nations wracked by conflict in West Africa. It is fitting that Nigeria should host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this year.

You will know better than I that Nigeria has also suffered adversity and reverses. So Britain and the wider international community rejoiced at Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999. We also recognised the importance of the elections held earlier this year and the civilian transition that followed. We welcome your government’s plans for much-needed political, economic and judicial reform, poverty alleviation and the fight against corruption.

These are huge challenges. I am told that a Nigerian proverb runs: “never start a journey if you have no plan to finish it”. Mr. President, it matters to the United Kingdom and to the other countries of the Commonwealth that Nigeria does not falter on the journey of development and democracy. Without prosperity – and democracy – in Nigeria, there will be no lasting prosperity in Africa; and without that prosperity in Africa, there cannot be lasting prosperity, with good conscience, in our world.

Queen Elizabeth II – 2000 Speech at Berlin Embassy

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Below is the text of the speech made by HM Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of the British Embassy in Berlin on 18th July 2000.

Mr President, Mr Foreign Minister, Mr Governing Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen.

As Sir Paul Lever and his predecessors can testify, I have been asking British Ambassadors about this building project ever since I laid the foundation stone in 1992. I am pleased to be here today to open the new British Embassy in Berlin and to welcome you all to this ceremony.

This is a British-German project. A British architect, Michael Wilford and Partners, won the competition to design the building. A German consortium, Arteos, won the competition to build it. Both have worked closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who, for the first time, were charged with building a new Embassy in public/private partnership, and with the Berlin authorities. I congratulate all of those involved in it.

As I look back at my previous four visits to Germany since 1965, it is gratifying to see how much has been achieved. Berlin and Germany are now one. But history has not, of course, come to an end. We have before us a further European task. That is to expand the European Union so that those countries who for over fifty years were artificially excluded from the mainstream of European life can soon rejoin it, so that Europe as a whole, like Germany, can be without division. Berlin will no longer be an outpost but a geographic centre of the continent. Where formerly West and East confronted each other, now they can come together here.

This site in the Wilhelmstrasse is where the British Embassy stood between 1875 and 1939. During that period the name of the street, like that of Whitehall, was synonymous with the Government and the street is once again at the heart of Berlin and of Germany’s national political life.

But relations between countries today, and certainly relations between member states of the European Union, are no longer the preserve of governments. It is contacts between people which matter; and contacts with all the various organisations, public and private, which represent people.

This Embassy building is designed to reflect the challenges of this new diplomacy. It is of course the place where Embassy staff go about their business. But it is more than that: it is conceived as a showcase for Britain, and a meeting place with Germany; an instrument to reach a wider German public; a place where, we hope, many Berliners, and many from outside Berlin, will have occasion to visit. The design of the building is itself a statement of this intention: open, transparent, innovative.

So, even if it is natural in the Wilhelmstrasse to think of the past, the accent today is on the future; the future of Berlin, Germany and Europe, and of German/British relations. I shall this afternoon at the British Council be meeting young Germans who have studied in Britain, and young Britons who have studied in Germany. They are, together, our common future.

Knowledge of other countries and of other languages will be of increasing value as the world becomes more interdependent and as communication becomes a more important feature of the global economy. I therefore warmly welcome the work which is being done by so many organisations to promote youth and student exchanges between Britain and Germany. I am glad that, as a result of the new Internet Exchange Initiative, a new website is being developed for this purpose. In these ways the partnership between our two countries, which is of such vital importance, can deepen and widen. Ladies and Gentlemen, Just before this ceremony I had the pleasure of meeting some of the Embassy staff who will in the next few months be starting to work here. Their enthusiasm for their new building was plain to see. For them, and for all the many people who will use this Embassy in the years to come to build ever closer relations between the United Kingdom and Germany, I have great pleasure in declaring the building open.

Queen Elizabeth II – 1977 Jubilee Speech to Parliament

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My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

I am deeply grateful for your Loyal Addresses and for the kind and generous words in which the Lord Chancellor and Mr. Speaker have expressed them.

Thank you also for what you have said about my family and the service they have given over the years. You will understand that for me personally their support has been invaluable.

It is appropriate that I should come to Westminster at the start of the Jubilee celebrations in the United Kingdom. Here, in a meeting of Sovereign and Parliament, the essence of Constitutional Monarchy is reflected.

It is a form of Government in which those who represent the main elements of the community can come together to reconcile conflicting interests and to strive for the hopes and aims we all share. It has adapted itself to the changes in our own society and in international relationships, yet it has remained true to its essential role. It has provided the fabric of good order in society and has been the guardian of the liberties of individual citizens.

These 25 years have seen much change for Britain. By virtue of tolerance and understanding, the Empire has evolved into a Commonwealth of 36 Independent Nations spanning the five Continents. No longer an Imperial Power, we have been coming to terms with what this means for ourselves and for our relations with the rest of the world.

We have forged new links with other countries and in joining the European Economic Communities we have taken what is perhaps one of the most significant decisions during my reign.

At home there are greater opportunities for all sorts and conditions of men and women. Developments in science, technology and in medicine have improved the quality and comfort of life and, of course, there has also been television!

We in Government and Parliament have to accept the challenges which this progress imposes on us. And they are considerable.

The problems of progress, the complexities of modern administration, the feeling that Metropolitan Government is too remote from the lives of ordinary men and women, these among other things have helped to revive an awareness of historic national identities in these Islands. They provide the background for the continuing and keen discussion of proposals for devolution to Scotland and Wales within the United Kingdom.

I number Kings and Queens of England and of Scotland, and Princes of Wales among my ancestors and so I can readily understand these aspirations.

But I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of this United Kingdom.

A Jubilee is also a time to look forward! We should certainly do this with determination and I believe we can also do so with hope. We have so many advantages, the basic stability of our institutions, our traditions of public service and concern for others, our family life and, above all, the freedom which you and your predecessors in Parliament have, through the ages, so fearlessly upheld.

My Lords, Members of the House of Commons. For me the 25th anniversary of my Accession is a moving occasion. It is also, I hope, for all of us a joyous one. May it also be a time in which we can all draw closer together.

Thank you again! I begin these celebrations much encouraged by your good wishes and expressions of loyalty.

Alex Neil – 2012 Speech to SNP Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Alex Neil at the 2012 SNP Party Conference on 21st October 2012.

Just two of her achievements have been keeping the Accident and Emergency Departments at Ayr and Monklands open; and introducing free prescriptions for everybody in Scotland.

These two measures alone have already alleviated unnecessary suffering for thousands of people and saved an unquantifiable number of lives in Scotland.

Nicola, on behalf of the people of Scotland we say to you thank you for all you have done for the NHS in Scotland.

My job now is to build on Nicola’s success and ensure the NHS in Scotland is one our children and grandchildren will be proud of.

That means total rejection of the privatisation agenda pursued by both Labour and the Tories south of the border.

It means maintaining our commitment to free personal and nursing care for the elderly and frail.

Unlike Johann Lamont I don’t believe that free personal care is about getting “something for nothing”.

Johann, do you not realise the elderly and frail people who get free personal care have worked for it, they’ve paid for it through a lifetime of paying taxes and national insurance contributions. And they deserve the best care money can buy.

Labour also wants to end free prescriptions for all, claiming we can’t afford them. Rubbish.

Under the SNP, free prescriptions will be a permanent feature of our NHS and are here to stay. Unlike Labour we understand the language of priorities. And a health service free at he point of use is a TOP Priority

Unlike our opponents we have a vision for the NHS in Scotland.

By 2020 we intend that everyone in Scotland is able to live longer and healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting.

We intend building a health system where we have integrated health and social care, a focus on prevention, anticipation and self-management.

When hospital treatment is required, and cannot be provided in a community setting, care will be provided to the highest standards of quality and safety, with the individual at the centre of all decisions.

The NHS in Scotland faces three major challenges:

Firstly an ageing population means an increasing demand on the health service.That’s why our top priority is the integration of adult health and social care.

It is totally unacceptable when an elderly person or a disabled person suffers because of a bureaucratic battle between a local authority and the local health board.

We are determined to put an end to such nonsense and ensure that everybody gets the quality of both health and social care they need when they need it.

The second major challenge is from the consequences of poverty and deprivation, which the Labour/Tory welfare changes and benefit cuts will make much worse. It’s projected that the actions of the UK Government could mean that over 50,000 additional children would be in relative poverty by 2020. We must do all we can to stop that from happening.

That is why we are doing so much to increase the social wage in Scotland, so that our poorest people get the help they need.

The third big challenge arise from the Westminster cuts.

That’s why we’ve made our money go further by re-investing every penny of the three quarters of a billion pounds already saved from improved efficiencies made by the NHS into improving quality and frontline services in the NHS.

And conference, today I can announce a new initiative to further drive efficiencies to release cash for frontline services for years to come.

We are investing £24 million in the ‘NHS Scotland Carbon Reduction Programme’ which through a number of energy saving schemes will reduce energy costs for Scottish health facilities by £4 million per year.

£4 million per year that will be reinvested in provision of patient care.

The new 3 year programme also has the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Friends, research shows that the single biggest contributor to improving the health of a nation is to have as many people in good, well paid jobs as possible.

That’s why Jobs and Growth are at the heart of all we do. Not only are jobs and growth good for the economy, they are essential to improving the health of our country.

But delegates, no matter how much we do with our existing limited power and resources to create jobs and improve public services we will be able to do far, far more with a YES vote in 2014.

For example, we will have a benefits system that genuinely helps people into work rather than drive them further into poverty; we will have a fair tax system that places the heaviest burden on the broadest shoulders.

But as well as spelling the positive case for a YES vote over the next two years we have to explode the myths being perpetrated by the “Better Together No” campaign.

The No campaign claims that the UK has been a raving success:

Tell that to every family who have lost a young son or husband or brother because of the illegal war in Iraq

Tell that to the young men who have been serving in Afghanistan without the proper equipment to keep them safe and protected – many being the same young brave men who on their return from Afghanistan are now being rewarded with a P45.

The UK hasn’t been a raving success for them.

It hasn’t been a success for the two and a half million unemployed people in the UK.

Or the millions of children, disabled and elderly people living in dire poverty in the UK.

What they promise is “Better Together”. What they mean is:

“Poorer Together”

“More People Being Forced To Rely On Food Parcels Together”

“Unemployed Together”

“More Debt Together”

“More Unwanted Wars Together”

Delegates they must think our heads button up the back.

As the SNP Government has proved we have achieved much more over the last five years than Westminster did over the previous fifty years of London rule over Scotland.

The only way Scotland will be “Better Together” is by being an Independent nation:

– If people want jobs only Independence can deliver

– If they want an end to austerity only Independence can achieve it

– If they want rid of nuclear weapons that can only happen in an independent Scotland

While the Scottish people see the SNP Government as a model of competence, they also know that this lot in London couldn’t run a whelk stall never mind a nation.

Delegates the choice facing the Scottish people is clear in 2014. Turn backwards and undo all the progress our nation has made in the last five years with a No vote or leap forward to a better future for us, our children and our grandchildren by voting YES. Yes to Independence.

Airey Neave – 1953 Maiden Speech

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Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Airey Neave on 29th July 1953.

This is the first time that I have had occasion to address this House and I ask the indulgence of hon. Members. A maiden speech in the House of Commons is a milestone in the life of a new Member and I ask, therefore, for the consideration of hon. Members when I make certain points on the subject of defence.

It may be thought that this is a complicated and difficult subject for a maiden speech, but I have chosen it for certain reasons. In the first place, in my constituency of Abingdon, which I have recently come here to represent, there are certain defence establishments, in particular the Military College of Science at Shrivenham and several other Service establishments, as well as the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell. As hon. Members will be well aware, my predecessor was much interested in defence matters and it would appear that I shall be connected with such matters through having these establishments in my constituency.

There are personal reasons why I should like to take part in this debate and to put forward a few views which I hope will be regarded as not very contentious. The first is that I served for a long time in the Territorial Army, recently leaving it, when I retired about two years ago, and I specialised during the last war in military intelligence. As a consequence I want to lay emphasis on the subject of training in that sphere, and the points I want to make about National Service men are in respect of the time they will spend in the Territorial Army. I also want to suggest certain measures by which they can be attracted towards remaining in the Territorial Army on a voluntary basis.

It is clear to all hon. Members that a certain amount of radical re-thinking is required upon defence policy. I want to preface my remarks by referring to the need for highly trained Reserves. That applies to the policy of having a system of defence under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Highly trained Reserves are essential to any practical scheme of defence. That point has been made by General Eisenhower on numerous occasions and it is in that connection that I shall call attention to the principle that, in respect of the Territorial Army and other Reserve organisations in the future, it is our duty to seek the highest quality as much as quantity by creating large and skilled Reserves. By encouraging the voluntary aspect of service in the Territorial Army, and by encouraging men to remain on after they have done their National Service, the Territorial Army could be made more attractive to the National Service men of the future.

My first point is that the training of Territorial intelligence officers should be encouraged. That is a type of military service which would be highly suitable for certain types of men who might volunteer to remain on in the Territorial Army. There is at present a certain amount of machinery for that purpose in the field security units which exist in T.A. camps, but it should be carried much further. In the war, no branch of the Armed Forces had a higher proportion of civilian soldiers than military intelligence, and it will be well within the knowledge of hon. Members that many men came from offices and factories to carry out this type of work. It is thoroughly interesting work, and although there may be security problems involved in taking on Territorials for this purpose—former National Service men—I suggest that a lot could be done.

I therefore have three suggestions to make which I hope will find agreement in the House. First of all, we should encourage more language training for Territorials. That could certainly be done more widely than it is at the moment. It would be useful to have a pool of trained linguists available from the resources of the Territorial Army. Secondly, it should be possible to send Territorials abroad in connection with the liaison work which may be required if, unhappily, we have to defend Western Europe through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Individual Territorials could be sent abroad to study such problems in Europe and in other N.A.T.O. countries.

Another point which concerns all Territorial units is training abroad. Would it not be possible to send them abroad a great deal more than is done at present? I know that certain airborne units are being sent abroad for their annual training, but it could be done more generally so that the Territorials could study some of the ground upon which they might unhappily one day have to operate, although we hope that the present relaxation in the international atmosphere will prevent that from occurring.

Speaking of the policy of building up these highly-trained Reserves, I suggest that these are imaginative and interesting methods of training, more likely to attract men to the Territorial Army than an increase in bounty or action of that kind. It may well be that such an increase in bounty would do a lot of good, but if we are to build up skilled Reserves we must attract the sort of people we want by the methods which I have suggested.

My final point can be put much more shortly and it relates not to training in intelligence but to the provision of up-to-date weapons for the mechanics and skilled engineers and, indeed, the infantrymen who are willing and available to join the Territorials at present. I realise that this involves very difficult questions of cost and the whole problem of keeping weapons up to date, but as to the nature of the training, I ask the House to consider that it is very important that mechanics and trained engineers should do a type of voluntary training which does not involve too much in the way of regimental duties or too much foot drill.

Although such duties and training are necessary for certain branches of the Army, I think we ought to provide specialists with facilities to study, in the case of those I have mentioned, the mechanics of new, technical and complex weapons. It seems to me that to adopt this procedure and to cut down the purely regimental duties is a much more effective way of training them, because in my submission it is our duty, in building up a specialist Reserve for the future, to concentrate on quality.

In that connection, although I do not wish to go deeply into the subject, I think the standardisation of weapons should reach down into the Reserves within the N.A.T.O. system. That certainly would be of assistance in bringing about some of the results which I have suggested.

I have made those few points and suggestions for future methods of training in looking ahead to the possibility that we may have to rely upon a long-term plan for training Reserves for the Army and, indeed, the other Services. I believe these are methods by which we can establish an efficient defence system in the future. I thank the House for listening so patiently to my views on the subject.

Mark Isherwood – 2006 Speech on Fuel Poverty

Below is the text of the speech made by Mark Isherwood on 10th January 2006 on fuel poverty.

The Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru states that it is reasonable to expect everyone to live in a safe, warm, affordable, and comfortable home. However, there are growing signs that current housing policy is failing to deliver that.

Wales has the oldest housing stock of any western European nation, with 8.5 per cent of the Welsh housing stock in home ownership classified as unfit. The Council of Mortgage Lenders reports that one in two of the poorest households live in their own homes and 72 per cent of Welsh properties that are officially designated as unfit are owner-occupied. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation tells us that three in five pensioners on low incomes in Wales are homeowners.

National Energy Action states that, across north Wales, 34,000 pensioners are on low incomes or claiming pension credit and 13.8 per cent of households in Wales live in fuel poverty. Each year, there are over 400 excess winter deaths in north Wales and, last winter, the number of excess winter deaths was the highest for five years, with 90 per cent of these occurring in the pensioner population.

I was pleased to support the warm homes campaign and to visit a beneficiary of the home energy efficiency scheme in Kinmel Bay a few weeks ago. However, it is clear that much more needs to be done to target those most at risk from fuel poverty. Despite reports of a reduction in fuel poverty numbers since 1998, as we have heard, Energy Watch states that the true figure is likely to be significantly higher following the huge energy price hikes of the past two years.

Recent research carried out by National Energy Action Wales and the National Right to Fuel Campaign suggest that fuel poverty may have increased by some 80 per cent between 2003 and 2005, affecting up to 304,000 people in Wales.

Fuel poverty is a major cause of illness. Cold, damp housing causes a wide range of circulatory and respiratory conditions and is a key factor in social isolation. Children living in fuel poverty are more likely to miss school as a result of cold-related illness and to have difficulty finding places to study.

There is no better example of that than the Finnegan family in Flintshire. All those responsible, and all those who have looked the other way, should hang their heads in shame. Help the Aged in Wales says that that 1,800 older people died of cold-related illnesses last winter. That was the third year in a row of increases in winter deaths among the over-65s.

These are all reasons for tabling amendment 1. A national strategy will be meaningless without measures for assisting the people identified, and that situation is so often the case with this Welsh Assembly Government. Motions without measures are like hot air balloons without tethers—floating off into the ether, never to be seen again. This is the Government of policy-led evidence—the Government that puts policy before planning, preparation and pricing; trying to please everyone, but delivering for no-one.

Such measures should, therefore, acknowledge the call by Help the Aged in Wales for research into all the circumstances that could be contributing to premature winter deaths, including behaviour on cultural issues, availability of and access to heating grants and schemes, health and nutrition.

Only then can we deliver a focused strategy to tackle fuel poverty. As Citizens Advice Cymru states, geographical factors must also be taken into account so that fuel poverty can be tackled evenly across Wales, and to ensure that people outside easily identifiable groups and Communities First areas are not the last ones to be helped.

The Welsh housing quality standard states that all dwellings must be capable of being adequately heated at an affordable cost. However, as National Energy Action states, this commitment requires more than rhetoric.

It requires adequate resources and effective enforcement. For that reason, amendment 2 expresses concern at the slow progress towards achieving the Welsh housing quality standard by 2012. As the Council of Mortgage Lenders Cymru has stated, sadly, to date, the politics and the process have got firmly in the way of reality. The question is: for how much longer will the council tenants of Wales get less than they deserve and need?

You will recall that I spoke on the budget and severely criticised this very factor decisively and categorically. There is a housing crisis in Wales, and it has been engineered by you during your period in Government.

I will move on to amendments 3 and 4, which relate to progress on the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 target, introduced on a voluntary basis by the last Conservative Government. In the last Labour Government, a Labour Member of Parliament tabled a backbench motion to introduce statutory targets, with all-party backing, but pressure from 10 Downing Street forced him to withdraw the motion.

However, in Scotland, statutory reporting has been introduced by threatening court action. I urge the Welsh Assembly Government to put its money where its mouth is and to use the powers that it has to implement similar measures here. Let us show that we really mean what we say.

 

Mae Sefydliad Tai Siartredig Cymru’n datgan ei bod yn rhesymol disgwyl bod pawb yn gallu byw mewn cartref diogel, cynnes, fforddiadwy a chyfforddus. Fodd bynnag, gwelir arwyddion cynyddol nad yw’r polisi tai cyfredol yn llwyddo i gyflawni hynny. Mae stoc dai hynaf unrhyw genedl yng ngorllewin Ewrop i’w chael yng Nghymru, gydag 8.5 y cant o stoc dai Cymru sy’n gartrefi’n cael ei chyfrif yn anaddas i fyw ynddynt.

Yn ôl Cyngor y Benthycwyr Morgais mae un o bob dau o’r teuluoedd tlotaf yn byw yn eu cartrefi eu hunain ac mae 72 y cant o eiddo Cymru sydd wedi eu dynodi’n anaddas i fyw ynddynt yn gartrefi i’w perchenogion. Dywed Sefydliad Joseph Rowntree wrthym fod tri o bob pum pensiynwr ar incwm isel yng Nghymru yn berchen ar eu cartref eu hunain.

Yn ôl National Energy Action, ledled y Gogledd, mae 34,000 o bensiynwyr ar incwm isel neu’n hawlio credyd pensiwn ac mae 13.8 y cant o deuluoedd yng Nghymru’n byw mewn tlodi tanwydd. Bob blwyddyn, ceir dros 400 o farwolaethau gaeaf ychwanegol yn y Gogledd ac, yn ystod y gaeaf diwethaf, y ffigur ar gyfer marwolaethau gaeaf ychwanegol oedd yr uchaf a welwyd mewn pum mlynedd, gyda 90 y cant o’r rhain yn digwydd ymhlith pensiynwyr.

Yr oeddwn yn falch o gael cefnogi’r ymgyrch cartrefi cynnes ac o ymweld ag un o fuddiolwyr y cynllun effeithlonrwydd ynni cartref ym Mae Cinmel ychydig wythnosau yn ôl. Fodd bynnag, mae’n amlwg bod llawer iawn o waith i’w wneud eto i dargedu’r rhai sydd yn y perygl mwyaf o dlodi tanwydd.

Er gwaethaf adroddiadau ar ostyngiad yn y nifer sy’n byw mewn tlodi tanwydd ers 1998, fel y clywsom, yn ôl Golwg ar Ynni mae’r gwir ffigur yn debygol o fod yn sylweddol uwch yn dilyn y cynnydd enfawr mewn pris tanwydd yn ystod y ddwy flynedd diwethaf.

Mae ymchwil diweddar a gynhaliwyd gan National Energy Action Cymru a’r Ymgyrch Genedlaethol dros Hawl i Danwydd yn awgrymu y gall tlodi tanwydd fod wedi cynyddu oddeutu 80 y cant rhwng 2003 a 2005, gan effeithio ar hyd at 304,000 o bobl yng Nghymru.

Tlodi tanwydd yw un o brif achosion salwch. Mae cartrefi oer a llaith yn achosi pob math o gyflyrau cylchredol a resbiradol ac mae’n un o ffactorau allweddol arwahanrwydd cymdeithasol. Mae plant sy’n byw mewn tlodi tanwydd yn fwy tebygol o golli ysgol o ganlyniad i salwch a achosir gan oerfel a’i chael yn anodd dod o hyd i rywle i astudio.

Ni cheir enghraifft well o hyn na’r teulu Finnegan yn Sir y Fflint. Dylai pawb sy’n gyfrifol a phawb sydd wedi edrych i’r cyfeiriad arall, wrido gan gywilydd. Dywed Help the Aged yng Nghymru fod 1,800 o bobl hyn wedi marw o ganlyniad i salwch a achosir gan oerfel y gaeaf diwethaf. Dyna’r trydydd gaeaf yn olynol lle gwelwyd cynnydd mewn marwolaethau gaeaf ymhlith pobl dros 65 oed.

Mae’r rhain i gyd yn rhesymau dros gynnig gwelliant 1. Bydd strategaeth genedlaethol yn ddiystyr heb fesurau i gynorthwyo’r bobl sydd mewn angen, a dyna’r sefyllfa’n aml yn achos Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru heddiw. Mae cynigion heb fesurau fel balwns awyr poeth heb dennyn—maent yn codi i’r entrychion, ac yn diflannu am byth.

Dyma Lywodraeth y dystiolaeth a arweinir gan bolisi—y Llywodraeth sy’n rhoi polisi o flaen cynllunio, paratoi a phrisio; ceisio plesio pawb, ond yn cyflawni dim i neb.

Dylai mesurau o’r fath, felly, gydnabod galwad Help the Aged yng Nghymru am ymchwil i’r holl amgylchiadau a all fod yn cyfrannu at farwolaethau gaeaf cynamserol, gan gynnwys ymddygiad yng nghyswllt materion diwylliannol, argaeledd a mynediad at grantiau a chynlluniau gwresogi, iechyd a maeth.

Dim ond wedyn y gallwn ni gyflawni strategaeth sy’n canolbwyntio ar fynd i’r afael â thlodi tanwydd. Fel y dywed Cyngor ar Bopeth Cymru, rhaid hefyd ystyried ffactorau daearyddol i sicrhau bod modd mynd i’r afael â thlodi tanwydd yn yr un ffordd ledled Cymru, a sicrhau nad y bobl sydd y tu allan i grwpiau amlwg ac ardaloedd Cymunedau yn Gyntaf yw’r rhai olaf i dderbyn cymorth.

Yn ôl safon ansawdd tai Cymru rhaid bod modd cynhesu pob annedd yn ddigonol a hynny am gost fforddiadwy. Fodd bynnag, dywed National Energy Action bod angen mwy na rhethreg i gyflawni’r ymrwymiad hwn.

Mae’n gofyn am adnoddau digonol a gorfodi effeithiol. Oherwydd hynny, mae gwelliant 2 yn mynegi pryder ynghylch y cynnydd araf a wneir tuag at gyflawni safon ansawdd tai Cymru erbyn 2012. Fel y dywedodd Cyngor Benthycwyr Morgais Cymru, yn anffodus, hyd yma, mae gwleidyddiaeth a’r broses wedi sefyll yn ffordd realaeth. Y cwestiwn yw: am faint o amser eto y bydd tenantiaid cynghorau Cymru’n gorfod byw â llai na’u haeddiant a’u hangen?

Byddwch yn cofio imi lefaru ar y gyllideb a beirniadu’n hallt yr union ffactor hwn yn bendant ac yn ddiamwys. Mae gennym argyfwng tai yng Nghymru, ac mae wedi’i achosi gennych chi yn ystod eich cyfnod mewn grym.

Yr wyf am symud ymlaen at welliannau 3 a 4, sy’n cyfeirio at y cynnydd i gwrdd â tharged Deddf Cadwraeth Ynni Cartref 1995, a gyflwynwyd ar sail wirfoddol gan y Llywodraeth Geidwadol ddiwethaf. Yn ystod cyfnod y Llywodraeth Lafur ddiwethaf, cyflwynodd Aelod Seneddol Llafur fesur o’r meinciau cefn i gyflwyno targedau statudol, gyda chefnogaeth pob plaid, ond yn dilyn pwysau o gyfeiriad 10 Downing Street fe’i gorfodwyd i dynnu’r cynnig yn ôl. Fodd bynnag, yn yr Alban, bygythiwyd camau cyfreithiol er mwyn cyflwyno trefn adrodd statudol. Erfyniaf ar Lywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru i fod gystal â’i gair a defnyddio’r pwerau sydd ar gael iddi i gyflwyno mesurau tebyg yma. Gadewch inni ddangos ein bod o ddifrif ynglyn â’r hyn yr ydym yn ei ddweud.

Eric Pickles – 2014 Speech at Naz Legacy Foundation

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Below is the text of the speech made by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, to the Naz Legacy Foundation annual reception held in the Churchill Dining Room of the House of Commons, in London, on 30th April 2014.

This very sad week we have thought a lot about teachers and their dedication to our country, given the tragic news of Anne Maguire.

I think Naz knew that classrooms are a place to bring people of different backgrounds together and pursue common goals.

This is the messages that the foundation established in his name and continues to promote today.

Being a kind citizen, a helping hand, or a friendly face shouldn’t just fall to the Naz’s of this world, but to each of us who care about our community.

As a government, we cannot force cohesion, or compel people to spend time together.

But as Naz did, and what we can all do, is create the right conditions to break down barriers and encourage communities to come together.

A particular focus for me has been encouraging faith communities to work together, rather than concentrating on their own communities.

Together in Service has not only funded some great projects, but I think it has sent out the right kind of message.

We achieve more by working together than by doing things separately, and we are offering small grants to ramp up their impact and create closer ties.

The Near Neighbours scheme is all about building relationships across faith boundaries, and it has seen a fantastic response. Almost everyone taking part has said that they feel more connected to their community.

As supporters of Mosaic, the Naz Legacy Foundation are enabling youngsters across the country to find inspiration in enterprise. To discover, and achieve their true potential, no matter what their background.

It’s great to hear the Foundation’s next project, the Diversity Programme, to introduce culture and arts to kids who may not otherwise have the chance or that experience.

This is something Naz did for children in his own classroom, and now thousands of others will benefit from this too.

It can be daunting to take on a role in communities. You might not know where to start.

But by opening up a discussion about the sort of communities we want to live in, or simply by encouraging folk just to come together, we are helping to reduce that fear of taking on a new role in society.

Of course, we have great role models in the Naz Legacy Foundation, enablers of education, mentoring, and training. You take the memory of a great man and remind us of the lengths we should all go to to make our communities thrive.

I am delighted this evening that the Prime Minister has asked me to present a Big Society Award.

This is in recognition of the Foundation’s hard work, to inspire young people to strive for excellence, and to play a full part in their community.

It is well deserved, and it is my pleasure to present it.

Eric Pickles – 2014 Speech at Baha’i Faith Festival

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Below is the text of the speech made by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, at the Baha’i Faith Festival Celebration held at the House of Commons on 30th April 2014.

I am an enormous admirer of the Baha’i faith.

All faiths in this country put a lot back into their communitiy, but none more so than Baha’i.

In terms of looking out for the vulnerable, in terms of wanting to make friends with people of different faiths, there is always a Baha’i in the mix.

What we all have in common is our basic humanity which binds us. It is this commonality, this ‘oneness’ of the human race, that inspires the Baha’i faith.

Whilst the Baha’i religion is relatively young, your message of harmony and unity ripples down through the ages.

It creates an opportunity for all, rejecting all forms of prejudice, and bringing all faiths together to celebrate what we have in common, rather than focusing on our differences.

These are the qualities we strive to promote in the UK, and luckily for us, there are over 10,000 members of the Baha’i faith in this country, each with the same message of optimism and hope.

Whilst you may not be huge in number, you have an enormous impact. You threw yourselves behind projects like A Year of Service, got yourselves involved in the Big Iftar, and continue to be a shining presence in inter-faith projects around the country.

Your knack of reaching out to people of all faiths, and frankly, those of no faith, and promoting ‘one-ness’ is very inspiring, and a little humbling.

This one-ness in the human race, the one-ness of religion – through your Divine Plan, I know will continue to inspire and motivate young people, and ensure the Baha’i Faith will go from strength to strength, continuing to bring people together here and around the world.

As you celebrate this day of divine felicity, I want to say thank you for making the UK a more tolerant, a more cohesive, and a more cheerful place. I want to wish you all a very happy Rizwan!