Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Speech at End Violence Summit

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, on 14 February 2018.

I’d like to say thank you to End Violence, the Swedish government and WePROTECT Global Alliance for hosting today’s important event.

One of the objectives of this summit is that we all leave today believing that we can end violence against children – and I believe we can.

And to help that I was going to talk about what DFID had done, what works, our future plans and to talk about the announcement we’re making today of new funding to protect children from physical and sexual abuse.

But with apologies for my hardworking team and to you, because I know I’m preaching to the choir, I think my time here is better spent delivering another message.

The sexual exploitation of vulnerable people, vulnerable children, is never acceptable. But when it is perpetrated by people in positions of power, people we entrust to help and protect, it rightly sickens and disgusts. And it should compel us to take action.

The recent revelations about Oxfam, not solely the actions perpetrated by a number of those staff but the way the organisation responded to those events – should be a wake up call to the sector. They let perpetrators go, they did not inform donors, their regulator or prosecuting authorities. It was not just the processes and procedures of that organisation that were lacking but moral leadership.

We cannot end violence against children unless zero tolerance means something.

I will be guided in my decisions about Oxfam depending on the charity’s response to requirement and questions I have raised with them, and by the Charity Commission’s investigation.

But no organisation is too big or our work with them too complex for me to hesitate to remove funding from them if we cannot trust them to put the beneficiaries of aid first.

I’ve held meetings with charity bosses, regulators and experts over the last few days and tomorrow I will be meeting with the National Crime Agency. While investigations have to be completed and any potential criminals prosecuted accordingly, what is clear is that the culture that allowed this to happen needs to change, and it needs to change now.

I am writing to every single charity which receives UK aid, demanding full transparency and set out assurances about their safeguarding procedures. If our standards are not met, then the British taxpayer will not continue to fund them.

Unless you safeguard everyone in your organisation that comes into contact with you, including beneficiaries, staff and volunteers – we will not fund you.

Unless you create a culture that prioritises the safety of vulnerable people and ensures victims and whistleblowers can come forward without fear – we will not work with you.

And unless you report every serious incident or allegation, no matter how damaging to your reputation – we cannot be your partners.

The same message goes out to any organisation or partner – whether they are in the public, private or third sector which receives UK aid – and this includes the component parts of the UN.

We want procedures to change. We want leaders to lead with moral authority. We want staff to be held accountable for their actions, no matter where they are.

Sexual abuse and exploitation is an issue the entire development sector needs to confront.

The UN reported that there were 300 incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse, including child rape, carried out by UN peacekeepers and civilian staff in 2016. That figure is as morally repugnant and it is unacceptable.

We will not wait for the UN and other organisations to step up. The British government will take action now.

My department has created a new unit to review safeguarding across all parts of the aid sector, both in the UK and internationally. Among other things, we will urgently look into how we can stop sexual abusers and predators from being re-employed by charities, including the possibility of setting up of a global register of development workers.

Secondly, we will step up our existing work with UN Secretary-General to stop abuses under the UN flag. There will be no immunity for rape and sexual abuse and I welcome the recent statement from the UN to that effect and note the recent work that Unicef has done. We cannot let the UN flag provide cover for despicable acts.

Thirdly, my department and the UK Charity Commission will hold within a month a safeguarding summit, where we will meet with representatives across the aid sector, and discuss new ways of vetting and recruiting staff, to ensure protecting vulnerable people is at the forefront of our minds.

We are all taking necessary actions to ensure criminals are brought to justice, organisations are held to account, and procedures to change and stop sexual exploitation, abuse and rape.

And today, I’m calling on all of us to work together to do this. It is only through working together that we can achieve our shared goal of ending violence against children. And everyone in this room has a duty to ensure change within their own organisations. We must ensure we all have the highest safeguarding standards.

This past week has to be a wake up call. If we don’t want the actions of a minority of individuals to tarnish and endanger all the good work that we do, then we must all respond quickly and appropriately.

We must regain the trust of the public.

We must make staff aware of their moral responsibilities as well as their legal duties.

But above all else, we must strive to ensure that no child, no one is harmed by the people who are supposed to be there to help.

Boris Johnson – 2018 Speech in Bangladesh

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in Bangladesh on 14 February 2018.

Thank you your Excellency, it’s wonderful to be here in Bangladesh on my first visit. This is a relationship that is incredibly important for the UK. It is hard to overstate the cultural, commercial and personal links between Britain and Bangladesh. We are proud to have I think 500,000 people of Bangladeshi origin in our country and I want to convey an important message, which is that once we are leaving the European Union, we will want to intensify our bilateral relations and do more in trade together, as well as of course trading with the rest of the Europe.

I also want to congratulate Bangladesh and the people and the government of Bangladesh on the way they have handled one of the biggest humanitarian crisis we have seen in the last few decades. I think that the government of Bangladesh has shown immense compassion, speed and mercy in dealing with a challenge that I think any government would have found very daunting indeed. I am going tomorrow to Cox’s Bazar to look at the camps, to look at some of the contribution that the UK is able to make to helping with that extraordinary Bangladeshi humanitarian effort.

And the third thing I want to say is that, we had an excellent meeting, I thought, with the Prime Minister. It went, it was very long and very friendly, and we discussed all the issues of cooperation between the UK and Bangladesh, the success of Bangladesh, as it rises up inexorably and the population grows more successful, we also discussed the importance of a free press and free, fair and democratic elections.

And I am delighted that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be coming to our Commonwealth Summit in April where she is going to be majoring on female education, 12 years of quality female education which is again one of the areas where Bangladesh has got an absolutely outstanding track record.

So, thank you again for having me along today, see you all soon!

Theresa May – 2018 Statement at Stormont House

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at Stormont House in Northern Ireland on 12 February 2018.

Today I have been meeting the leaders of the main parties involved in the talks and I have urged them to make one final push for the sake of the people here in Northern Ireland.

It has been thirteen long months since we last saw devolved government here and I think we are now at the point of where it is time for the locally elected representatives to find a way to work together and to deal with and tackle the many pressing issues facing Northern Ireland.

I have had full and frank conversations with the five parties. I’ve also met with the Taoiseach.

And while some differences remain I believe that it is possible to see the basis of an agreement here. There is the basis of an agreement and it should be possible to see an Executive up and running in Northern Ireland very soon.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have been working very hard to close the remaining gaps. But I would also like to recognise the contribution of other parties here in Northern Ireland too.

What I am clear about is that we are all fully committed to doing everything we can to support this process – and as far as Westminster is concerned we stand ready to legislate for the re-establishment of an Executive as soon as possible after an agreement.

Jo Johnson – 2018 Speech on a Greener Railway

Below is the text of the speech made by Jo Johnson, the Minister of State for Transport, on 12 February 2018.

Good morning.

It’s a pleasure to be here today.

And where better to discuss the knowledge economy than the British Museum?

A place ‘full of unassailable facts’, according to Trollope.

And a fitting backdrop for this Knowledge Quarter conference.

Since this kind invitation was extended, I have moved from being Universities and Science Minister to being a Minister in the Department of Transport and Minister for London

And the invitation followed me.

In fact, it was clear to me that even as I entered the world of bus lanes, cycle-superhighways and high-speed trains, there was no leaving the knowledge economy.

Our hard infrastructure of roads, railways and airports and our soft infrastructure, in the form of our human capital and the institutions that cultivate it, are of course intimately connected and mutually dependent.

And one of the reasons for the Knowledge Quarter’s success as a cluster is certainly its hyperconnectedness, so obvious in its extraordinary transport links.

St Pancras, gateway to continental Europe, now restored to its Victorian splendour.

King’s Cross Station, transformed in recent years and now catering for 50 million passengers a year.

Euston about to be transformed by HS2, with faster connections to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Multiple bus routes.

Six different underground lines, as well as the Elizabeth Line and, eventually, Crossrail 2.

The Knowledge Quarter is networked – a quality that’s vital for the transmission of knowledge into practical applications in our economy.

Transport and travel have always been fundamental to the development and diffusion of knowledge.

We can see that in the collection that surrounds us at the British Museum today….

With its countless stories of exploration, adventure and discovery.

And it’s that relationship – between transport and knowledge – that I’d like to discuss today.

During the 19th century, Britain developed from an agricultural economy to an industrial one.

But today, our economic performance is increasingly dependent on our human capital.

Skills, creativity and innovation are more likely to provide a competitive advantage than access to mass labour or natural resources.

At the same time, the relationship between the state, business and citizens is changing.

It was Sir Francis Bacon who said ‘Scientia potestas est’ – knowledge is power.

Today, we all have unprecedented access to information and knowledge.

Tweets and videos go round the world in an afternoon – and sometimes old ones come back to bite too.

Higher education, once rationed to a narrow elite, is now a mass undertaking.

Whereas only 19% of young people went to university in 1990, the proportion is now close to 46% – and this includes more people from disadvantaged backgrounds than ever before.

Technology and political devolution are combining to rebalance power away from the centre – and towards the region, the community, and the individual.

This might sound like a threat to some.

But it’s actually an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity that’s at the heart of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

In our support for hard and soft infrastructure – from HS2 to broadband to our universities and our world-leading science base.

In our creation of elected mayors and devolved authorities.

Building and supporting the knowledge economy across the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine – areas that were global leaders when the industrial economy was thriving, and that are now diversifying into new sectors.

We want the rest of the country to be as hyperconnected as you are here in London’s Knowledge Quarter.

The new industries taking hold in these regions depend increasingly on innovation and specialist knowledge.

Sustainable energy and cyber security in Northern Ireland.

Manchester’s media sector and science parks.

Digital hubs in Leeds and Newcastle.

And fast-growing creative industries in Wales.

But although new knowledge clusters depend on modern skills and innovation, something about them never changes.

Their reliance on good transport links and communications.

The Knowledge Quarter is itself actually part of a much bigger geographical network – sometimes known as the Golden Triangle – linking Oxford, Cambridge and London.

And containing one of the world’s great science and innovation hubs.

Even within this extraordinary Golden Triangle, there is scope for better connectivity.

Which is why we’re reviving the rail line between Oxford and Cambridge.

This route survived the Beeching cuts of the early 1960s, but was torn up a few years later by British Rail.

The closure of the line was one of the most regrettable acts of transport vandalism of the era.

Today, the corridor from Oxford to Cambridge is one of the fastest-growing areas of the country.

It contains not only brilliant universities, but also a great concentration of science and technology employers.

But transport connections between Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford are so poor they create a barrier between hubs of knowledge-based growth.

So we are restoring the old line.

And we aim to have it fully open by 2030.

By reconnecting the two university cities with rail services, and by linking up Milton Keynes, Bedford, Bicester and Bletchley in the Golden Triangle, we aim to create a knowledge corridor that will drive growth and jobs for generations to come.

To develop more of these hubs across the country, we’re carrying out place-based Science and Innovation audits.

To build new consortia and smart regional specialisations.

We also want to deepen connections between knowledge hubs across the UK.

From Scotland to Cornwall to Northern Ireland.

It’s vital we stimulate the knowledge economy by improving transport throughout the country.

That’s why we’re working with Transport for the North on its important plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

And it’s why we’re transforming connections between Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Midlands by building HS2, linking 8 of our 10 biggest cities.

The biggest investment in the country’s railways since the Victorian era.

But there’s a clear problem with hypermobility that we must also acknowledge.

We’re travelling twice as much as we did in 1970.

We’re driving more than ever before.

And flying more than ever.

Many thought transport would become less necessary as the Internet grew.

But in fact the opposite has happened.

And while this mobility spurs economic growth, there’s a price to pay.

In congestion.

Overcrowded trains.

Pollution.

And carbon emissions.

In fact there comes a point when too much travel undermines its benefits.

When congestion clogs the network and pollution destroys our planet.

We’re at that tipping point today.

Congestion plagues the Knowledge Quarter and every major city in the country.

The average speed of vehicles in the centre of London is now just 8 mph during the day.

Trollope would recognise these paltry speeds.

That’s a slow trot for a horse. If it carries on declining, we’ll before long reach equine walking pace.

However, occasionally, an opportunity arises to make a breakthrough.

To invest in and roll out technologies that are true game-changers.

Providing completely new solutions to old problems.

And we have one of those opportunities today.

To rethink the way we plan and deliver transport services.

To end our reliance on fossil fuels.

With self-driving vehicles and smart infrastructure.

With digital communications that design transport services around the user.

Our opportunity – if we grasp it – is to make travel easier and more reliable.

To clean up transport emissions.

To diversify our transport industry into new markets, and stimulate knowledge-based growth in our economy.

All while continuing to enjoy the special advantages that good transport connections have always brought.

That’s the challenge.

The pace of innovation in the automotive sector, with driverless vehicles about to change our lives in ways we are only now just grasping, is breathtaking.

So let me instead take rail as my example.

Here there has been less innovation.

Certainly – train services have grown at a remarkable rate since privatisation in the 1990s.

Particularly considering that our railway infrastructure was designed and built for a Victorian economy – not a 21st century one.

As a result we now have one of the most intensively used networks in Europe.

This government is injecting record levels of investment in the railway to help it cope with these pressures and to grow further.

But alongside increased funding, the industry also needs to modernise and to innovate.

Compared with other forms of transportation, progress has been palpably slow.

Yes, we’ve got real-time platform information.

Better train management allowing more services to run on existing tracks.

And big improvements in safety.

But the railways of today are ones that in many respects Trollope would again have no difficulty in recognising.

The pace of innovation needs to find a new gear.

Sometimes, those innovations can be relatively modest.

That’s why in October we launched the ‘First of a Kind’ programme…

With Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network…

To speed up the delivery of new ideas and improvements to rail services.

Today I can announce that the winning ideas from the programme’s first £3.5 million competition include:

A system to guide passengers to available seats when boarding.

Apps that will improve the travel experience for disabled passengers.

And programmes which will educate and inform long distance passengers about the sights they see from their window.

But other innovations have to be on a much bigger scale.

And that’s why I am today announcing a new ambition.

I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040.

If that seems like an ambitious goal – it should be and I make no apology for that.

After all, we’re committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

If we can achieve that, then why can’t the railway aspire to a similar objective?

Rail may be less carbon intensive than road transport.

That’s why modal shift’s so important.

Getting freight and passenger vehicles off the roads onto greener forms of transport.

But that does not absolve the rail industry from cleaning up its own act.

You may have seen stories recently about transport becoming the most polluting sector of our economy.

And the fact that rail emissions have actually increased in absolute terms.

Up 33% since 1990.

This cannot go on.

Now – we are making progress on modernising rolling stock.

For example, the much derided Pacers are going.

Along with other long-standing members of the fleet like Intercity 125s….

Old diesels being replaced by much cleaner trains featuring low carbon and NOx technology.

But we need to go further…

By decarbonising rail, we’ll reduce pollutants and improve air quality, particularly in our semi-enclosed stations.

We will tackle this with the urgency it deserves by setting tough new environmental performance goals in each rail franchise which the train operators will have to meet.

Total electrification of our tracks is unlikely to be the only or most cost-effective way to secure these vital environmental benefits.

New bi-modes trains are a great bridging technology to other low emission futures.

Bi-mode trains fitted with modern diesels – which we started introducing last autumn on the Great Western line and on the East Coast Main Line in 2018 – are less polluting than the trains they replaced.

And as battery technologies improve we expect to see the diesel engines in bi-modes replaced altogether.

With batteries powering the train between the electrified sections of the network.

Or maybe in the future we could see those batteries and diesel engines replaced with hydrogen units?

Alternative-fuel trains powered entirely by hydrogen are a prize on the horizon.

I’d like to see hydrogen train trials on the UK railway as soon as possible.

Hydrogen offers an affordable – and potentially much cleaner – alternative to diesel.

And the technology has developed fast in recent years.

To the extent that Alstom is now testing a train which only emits steam and condensed water – yet is capable of 140 km per hour and a range of up to 800 kilometres.

Which matches the performance of regular regional trains.

Rolls Royce is also looking at this technology

So the next generation of trains is just around the corner.

To speed our journey towards a zero-carbon railway, the government is investing record amounts in public R&D to improve our knowledge base.

Through the environmental performance goals we are setting in each rail franchise, we will hold the train operators to account for progress.

These include reducing energy consumption of trains, depots and many stations.

We have tasked Arriva – the operator of the Northern franchise – to deliver an electric/battery hybrid on the Windermere branch from 2021.

But the drive to decarbonise must come from all sectors of the industry.

So today I am calling on the railway to provide a vision for how it will decarbonise.

And I expect the industry to report back by the autumn.

I want to see a clear, long term strategy with consistent objectives and incentives.

I want to see options like lighter rolling stock and alternative sources of power considered and analysed.

I want barriers to innovation removed, so ideas can be brought to market more rapidly.

And I want to see the railway industry show a lead on this crucial issue.

With train operators, Network Rail, and the companies that supply them – all working together as one team.

So let me finish this speech on a positive note.

Despite the challenges I’ve outlined today, I hope I’ve also communicated my optimism about the prospects for the future of transport in this country.

The organisations here in the Knowledge Quarter have a role to play in developing technologies and know-how that will help Britain to enjoy an even bigger advantage from transport in the future:

Increased mobility for every part of the community – yet less congestion.

More intensive use of the infrastructure – and yet more comfortable travel.

Faster journeys – yet fewer transport emissions. These goals are within our grasp.

A knowledge economy more innovative than ever.

So let’s raise our ambitions – and realise them.

Thank you.

Tobias Ellwood – 2018 Statement on the National Memorial to British Victims of Overseas Terrorism

Below is the text of the statement made by Tobias Ellwood, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, in the House of Commons on 8 February 2018.

I am pleased to inform Parliament that the National Memorial to British Victims of Overseas Terrorism has now been completed at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, and is open to the public to visit.

The process to select the artist and design for the memorial began with a public online consultation in 2016. This consultation identified strong public support and set out what was important to those with an interest ​in the memorial. I am grateful to Baroness Chalker of Wallasey and the other members of the independent panel which took forward the selection of the artists and design for the memorial. They based their decisions on the results of the consultation in 2016.

The overarching themes of the consultation were that the memorial should be a place of remembrance, where people could pay their respects to those who had lost their lives. It was also clear that the memorial should be a place of contemplation and reflection, with many respondents suggesting that the memorial should be a place of tranquillity and quiet reflection, and a place for families to visit and sit. I am pleased with the way that the artist, Alison Wilding, and maker and sculptor, Adam Kershaw have responded to these themes through their work, “Still Water.”

I am grateful also to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whose officials have delivered this project on my behalf. Those Departments that have a direct responsibility for supporting the families of victims of overseas terrorism will now work together to ensure that the families of future victims of terrorism overseas are connected with the memorial sensitively, and by the most appropriate part of Government at the time. The new, cross-Government Victims of Terrorism Unit is well-placed to consider this work.

On 17 May 2018, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, I will host a dedication ceremony at the site of the memorial for families that have successfully applied online to attend. Further information, including how to apply to attend the event, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-memorial-dedication-ceremony.

David Lidington – 2018 Statement on the Infected Blood Inquiry

Below is the text of the statement made by David Lidington, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, in the House of Commons, on 8 February 2018.

I am announcing today the appointment of Sir Brian Langstaff to head the public inquiry into the infected blood scandal. The inquiry will be established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, with full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents, and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.

In relation to the appointment of the chair, the Lord Chief Justice was asked to recommend a judge who, in his view, would be best suited to the task. The Lord Chief Justice recommended Sir Brian Langstaff: a highly respected and hugely experienced High Court judge. I have accepted the Lord Chief Justice’s recommendation.

Sir Brian will be the full-time chair of the inquiry from 1 May following his retirement from the High Court. However, in order that those who have been affected by this tragedy face no further undue delay, he will use the intervening period to conduct a further consultation on the inquiry’s terms of reference.

The infected blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s was an appalling tragedy that should never have happened. The victims of this tragedy who have endured so much pain and hardship deserve answers. It is crucial that their views are properly reflected in the inquiry’s terms of reference. Sir Brian will want to listen carefully to the voices of those that have suffered before making a recommendation to me on what the scope of the inquiry should be. I will return to Parliament with the final terms of reference as soon as this process has been completed.

The Government will ensure that the inquiry has the resources that it needs to complete its work. The inquiry will, of course, also be independent of the Government.

It is very important that the inquiry can identify why and how this tragedy occurred and provide answers for all the victims who have suffered so terribly, and can identify lessons to be learned so that a tragedy of this scale can never happen again.

Harriett Baldwin – 2018 Statement on Same-Sex Marriage in Bermuda

Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the statement made by Harriett Baldwin, the Minister of State at the Department for International Development, in the House of Commons on 8 February 2018.

We are obviously disappointed about the removal of same-sex marriage in Bermuda. The Domestic Partnership Act, to which the Governor of Bermuda assented yesterday, ensures that Bermudians who have been legally married in Bermuda since the Supreme Court decision will retain their married status and enjoy the same legal rights as those in domestic partnerships.

Less than a year ago, same-sex couples had no legal recognition at all under Bermudian law. While the Act withdraws the entitlement for same-sex couples to marry, it replaces it with a provision for domestic partnerships for all couples, regardless of gender. The intent of the Act is to provide domestic partners with the same benefits as married couples, including provision for pensions, inheritance, healthcare, tax and immigration.

After full and careful consideration of Bermuda’s constitutional and international obligations, the Secretary of State decided that in these circumstances, it would not be appropriate to use the power to block legislation, which can only be used where there is a legal or constitutional basis for doing so, and even then, only in exceptional circumstances. It is important to recognise that the regime for domestic partnerships implemented by Bermuda in its Domestic Partnership Act can also meet the European Court of Human Rights requirement for legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

The Government are committed to promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality globally through projects, partnerships and persuasion. In engaging with the British overseas territories, we have to respect that they are separate, self-governing jurisdictions with their own democratically elected representatives and the right to self-government.

Nusrat Ghani – 2018 Speech on Cleaner Buses

Below is the text of the speech made by Nusrat Ghani, the Conservative MP for Wealden, on 8 February 2018.

Opening remarks

Thank you David [Begg, Chair] for that welcome.

It’s a real pleasure to join you for today’s (8 February 2018) summit.

This is my first formal speech since joining the Department for Transport in the recent reshuffle, and I was delighted to take on responsibility for government bus and coach policy.

Importance of industry

I’m a huge advocate for buses.

Catering for over 5 billion passenger journeys a year.

That’s two thirds of all public transport trips.

Buses are the most effective and affordable way to keep busy towns and cities moving.

And we’re very fortunate to have such excellent coach services in this country too.

Providing a comfortable, reliable and great value alternative to long distance train and car travel.

Put simply, this industry is indispensable.

No other form of public transport offers anything like the benefits that you offer.

Whether it’s capacity, geographical coverage, ease of use, cost, efficiency – I could go on.

For me most importantly, buses provide a unique answer to most of the local transport challenges that we face.

Yet so fundamental are they to British life that they’re often taken for granted.

That’s something that I want to change, with your support.

I want to champion buses and coaches.

To shout about the benefits of bus travel.

How they bind our towns and cities together.

How they provide essential links for rural communities, such as the one I represent in Wealden, East Sussex.

And how they’ll become even more vital in years to come.

Congestion and air pollution

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles to growth is road congestion.

And that’s nothing new.

Buses have been hampered by congestion since the days of the horse-drawn omnibus.

But I want to use the Bus Services Act as a way of encouraging authorities and bus companies to make services more attractive, and create a shift away from car use.

I know it’s a big challenge.

But road transport is going to be revolutionised over the next 3 decades.

New vehicle technologies.

New infrastructure.

The phasing out of fossil fuels.

And digital communications transforming the way passengers plan and use transport….

All of which provide an unprecedented opportunity for buses.

We have to hammer home our message:

That rather than contributing to the problem of nose-to-tail traffic and harmful pollution.

Buses and coaches are a part of the solution.

You’ll certainly have the government’s support.

We have already committed £3.5 billion for measures to improve air quality.

Last year we published plans to tackle traffic pollution, and announced a £220 million Clean Air Fund in the Budget.

Later this year we’ll be unveiling our Clean Air Strategy.

And hosting an international zero-emission vehicle summit.

The opportunity here is to position the bus industry as a leader in environmentally friendly transport.

As a catalyst for greener, smarter travel.

And as the most practical answer to the long term mobility needs of our towns and cities.

Low emission buses

Britain is already a pioneer in low carbon buses.

And the industry can be proud of what it’s achieved in recent years.

We’ve got great companies like ADL, Wrightbus and Optare manufacturing green buses.

We have almost 6,000 low carbon buses in service.

The highest number of electric buses in Europe.

And we also have the largest hybrid fleet of over 3,000 vehicles.

And in 2015, our Low Emission Bus Scheme helped put more 300 green buses on roads across Britain.

And that was followed in November 2016 with a further £100 million investment.

We welcome further interest and participation in these schemes.

The sooner we get more low emission buses on the road, the faster we’ll reap the benefits.

So today I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be awarding nearly £40 million of that funding to 20 local authorities as part of the Clean Bus Technology Fund.

This will be used to retrofit buses with technology to reduce tailpipe emissions of nitrogen dioxide.

Originally we invited authorities to apply for a funding total of £30 million now and £10 million in 2 years’ time.

But we received a large number of strong applications for this round.

And we wanted to start realising the air quality benefits as quickly as possible.

So we’ve made the full amount – just under £40 million – available now to fund two-year projects.

It will enable older vehicles to meet the minimum standards in the Clean Air Zone Framework, particularly in areas exceeding statutory limits.

And I am going to announce the successful bidders:

West Yorkshire.

Bristol and Bath.

Gateshead.

Leeds City.

Transport for West Midlands.

Leicester City.

Oxford City.

Coventry.

Nottinghamshire.

Transport for Greater Manchester.

North Tyneside.

Nottingham City.

Transport for London.

Sheffield City.

Sefton MBC Air Quality.

Southampton City.

Derby.

Essex.

South Tyneside.

And finally, Newcastle City.

I’m grateful to all the bus companies who had a hand in the applications.

Ultimately, we see dedicated ultra low emission buses as the long-term answer – but retrofitting offers a very attractive alternative for now.

Not all local authorities were successful with their bids.

But there will be further opportunities for councils to receive money for retrofitting through the Clean Air Fund.

As local authorities prepare to set out their initial plans for reducing nitrogen dioxide concentrations by the end of March, retrofitting technology will help ensure that more buses help clean up the air in our cities.

And as we look to the future, technology will give us other opportunities to improve the efficiency of buses.

For example, if we know how much passenger demand there is for a particular route or service, we can look at providing the appropriate size of vehicle for the job…..

Not just cutting the number of empty seats.

But cutting costs and emissions too.

Bus Services Act

I’ve already mentioned the Bus Services Act, and how it’s designed to make bus services more attractive to the travelling public.

That’s something I will be focusing on in the months ahead.

New enhanced partnership powers will enable local authorities and bus operators to work together to improve services.

And new franchising powers, replacing the existing Quality Contract Scheme, will also improve the management of buses in the regions where they apply.

I’m keen to see the open data provisions in the act benefit passengers too.

One of the existing barriers to passenger growth is that it can be difficult to obtain information on bus fares, routes or times.

Where the information does exist – on the web, for example – it can be inconsistently presented, or be buried in unwieldy and hard-to-decipher timetables.

But by making data open and accessible, software firms can create apps that package and deliver the relevant information to smartphones at the click of an icon.

So the open data should make it easier for passengers to use the bus network.

We published guidance on implementing the measures in the Act last November.

And we’ll publish further regulations and guidance this year.

Conclusion

So – to sum up – I see the future as full of opportunity.

If buses are crucial to our transport system today….

Then as road transport is transformed over the coming decades….

They will become more important than ever.

And I’ll be doing everything I can to spread the message.

I’ll be getting around the industry over the next few months, and meeting as many of you as possible.

To hear your views on how we can best support growth.

But one thing is absolutely clear.

The key to success is partnership. Government and bus industry, local authorities and operators working together. For the benefit of the passenger, for the benefit of bus operators, and for the benefit of Great Britain.

Maria Caulfield – 2018 Speech on Autism

Below is the text of the speech made by Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP for Lewes, in the House of Commons on 6 February 2018.

As a female MP, I am honoured to have secured this Adjournment debate on the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote.

Last week saw the launch in Parliament of the “Autism and education in England 2017” report of an inquiry, which was co-chaired by myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman), that formed part of the work of the all-party parliamentary group on autism. The report came about due to our first-hand experience as new MPs of listening to many parents who visited our surgeries to tell us their stories of the difficulty of getting support for a child with autism.

The often invisible nature of autism means that it can be difficult for a child to get a diagnosis. The process can be long and difficult for parents, often taking years rather than months. Parents feel that the extreme pushing that they have to undertake to get a diagnosis for their child often means that they are labelled as bad or difficult parents who just cannot cope with a naughty child. As a result, a diagnosis can be missed or delayed by many years. Many parents tell me—I know that colleagues have had the same experience—that they often have to resort to paying for a private assessment so that their child can get a diagnosis and start receiving the support that they need.

The problems for parents and autistic children do not end even once a diagnosis has been made. The lack of support that they receive in our schools and education system is shocking, and teachers, who desperately want to help these children, can feel inadequate and unable to offer support because they have had little or no training. I am pleased to say that that will change this year, because initial teacher training will include dealing with children on the autistic spectrum. However, that will not tackle the lack of training for existing teachers and headteachers.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)

I congratulate the hon. Lady on securing this debate. We are all in the Chamber for the same reason: we know constituents who have faced such problems. A Northern Ireland Department of Health report confirmed that there has been a 67% increase in the number of school-age children across all trust areas in Northern Ireland who are diagnosed with autism. I am sure that the figure for the hon. Lady’s area is similar, so does she agree that that massive increase must lead to an increase in the support for such children in schools? If each class has a classroom assistant, it is a vital step towards improving educational outcomes for children with autism.

Maria Caulfield

I agree. Our report found that as many as one in 100 children attending our schools is on the autistic spectrum, which means that a significant number of children need our support.

Our inquiry heard from teachers who told us not only how they struggle to support students in mainstream schools because of a lack of special educational needs provision, but about the difficulties they experience because they have not received training. That comes on ​top of a lack of specialist provision for children for whom mainstream education is not sufficient. However, such children are often placed in mainstream education, which just cannot cope with their needs.

Dame Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con)

I congratulate my hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) on their first-class report, which will make a big contribution in this area and a big difference to people’s lives.

Does my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) agree it is not just initial teacher training—autism awareness training is being included in that training for the first time this year—but the training of teachers who are already in place, such as by the Autism Education Trust, that is making a difference? In the light of her study, would she go further and say that school leaders, school governors and other people involved in educational institutions should also be trained in autism awareness?

Maria Caulfield

My right hon. Friend is correct, and one of our report’s findings is that the training needs to go wider than just teachers. I will touch on that when I come to our recommendations.

Given the lack of support, children on the autism spectrum often end up in crisis. If they had received the support they needed in the first place, and if they had received a quicker diagnosis, such children would often thrive in school.

Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby) (Lab)

I commend the hon. Lady on the report of her inquiry, which she co-chaired with the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman).

Cora Leeson, who is a passionate campaigner and advocate for children with autism in my constituency, contacted me after the launch of the report to highlight her concern about the number of fixed-term exclusions from school of children with unidentified SEN, including those with autism. Does the hon. Lady share my concern about the educational attainment of children who are being excluded because they have not received a diagnosis or because, if they do have a diagnosis, they are not receiving appropriate support within mainstream schooling?

Maria Caulfield

The hon. Lady is right. Some 17% of children with autism have been suspended from school at some point. Of that number, 48% have been suspended three or more times, and 4% have been permanently excluded, so the current school system is not working for a significant number of children. That has consequences in later life because, as experts told our hearings, if these children have the right support, they should be doing well in school. Because of their educational outcomes, only 16% of autistic adults currently end up in full-time work, and only 32% end up in any type of work at all. That tells us that their experience in the early years of being excluded or suspended from school has an impact on their educational attainment, which has a long-term impact on the rest of their lives.

Robert Courts (Witney) (Con)

I declare my interest at the outset. My wife is a music therapist, and much of her work is with children who have autism, which gives me an insight into many of the challenges that families face.​

I am listening to my hon. Friend with great interest. Does she agree that children with special educational needs have just as much right to be educated as every other child, and that that education can make a real difference to their ongoing lives? We must not forget them, but we must also not forget their parents, who can often feel very isolated. SEN provision in schools can make a real difference for parents, too.

Maria Caulfield

My hon. Friend is right. These children have not just a right, but a legal right. As the inquiry heard, the most frustrating thing is that existing legislation should be providing for such care in the education system. We have not only the Children and Families Act 2014, but the Autism Act 2009, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan) introduced. The 2009 Act, which is the only disability-specific piece of legislation that we have in England, sets out how autistic adults should be supported.

The problem is therefore not that the legislation is not in place, but that it is not being upheld. As the 10-year anniversary of the Autism Act approaches, we need a national autism strategy to help children and young people, to ensure that the current laws are upheld, and to make sure that all autistic children receive the help to which they are legally entitled. Without that, we will continue to hear these desperate stories of parents and their children who are not getting the support that they need.

Bambos Charalambous (Enfield, Southgate) (Lab)

Does the hon. Lady agree that there is also a need for speech therapists, child psychologists, occupational therapists and other health professionals to support the special needs of those children in being diagnosed with autism in the first place?

Maria Caulfield

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. This is absolutely about not just teachers, but the whole support staff. Our report calls on the Government to introduce a national autism strategy by the end of 2019, which should include training for school staff, the provision of a specialist curriculum for all pupils who need one, and measures to reduce bullying and promote inclusion in schools. We also ask for an understanding of autism to be embedded in the education system, and we want ongoing training for teachers, including headteachers.

We are asking local authorities to collect data on children in their areas, because commissioners cannot plan a service if they do not know how many children are in need of it, and on what part of the autistic spectrum those children sit in. The needs of a high-functioning autistic child are very different from those of a child at the other end of the spectrum, so local authorities need to be collecting data so that they can adequately commission services.

We ask that Ofsted is required to monitor the implementation of the 2014 Act. One of the most striking pieces of evidence we heard in our inquiry was the admission of Ofsted inspectors that they do not always assess how children with autism are supported in schools when they carry out their inspections. If that is not being enforced, it is no wonder that schools are not getting the resources they need to support these children.​

We also ask that local authority staff—this point was made in an intervention—as well as teachers receive training about the requirements of the 2014 Act. This is about more than teachers, who know that they need training, because a range of individuals involved in supporting children could also do with such training.

The Secretary of State came to our launch in Parliament last week. My hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle has met him since, and I know that my right hon. Friend is supportive of our report’s findings. He has asked us to list the aspects of our report that we could introduce into policy, so we will certainly follow up on that. As a society, we are failing autistic children and their families, and that has a key implication for a huge number of people in our society.

During our inquiry on autism and education in England, we heard that too many families face an uphill struggle to obtain the help and support to which their children are entitled. Children with autism only have one childhood, so there is only one chance of getting it right. The impact of getting it wrong can be far reaching for the rest of their lives. We therefore urge the Government to look carefully at our report, and to develop a national autism and education strategy before the end of 2019 that will support local authorities to become more effective commissioners for children on the autism spectrum and ensure that schools are equipped to ensure that autistic pupils are supported in the way the existing law says they should be. In the words of a suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison, this is about “deeds not words”.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech at Vote 100

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at Vote 100 at Westminster Hall, in London, on 6 February 2018.

The 6th of February 1918 may not be as well-known or instantly recognisable as the dates of the wars, battles and coronations that have shaped our nation’s history.

But there is no doubt it was a day that forever changed our nation’s future. A day when, for the first time, we went from being a country where most people could not vote to one where most people could.

It was another decade before equal suffrage was achieved.

But on that February day – seven centuries after Magna Carta, almost 90 years after the Great Reform Act – the Mother of Parliaments finally earned the right to call itself a true democracy.

A 1909 postcard published by the Women Writers Suffrage League shows a woman being dragged from the feet of Justice by the masked thug of Prejudice. And so it was in real life.

Because the right to vote was not handed over willingly. Rather it had to be forced, over many years of struggle, from the hands of those who held it for themselves. All around us here today are reminders of what that struggle looked like.

Through that small door away to my right is the cupboard where Emily Wilding Davison hid on census night. Up the stairs is St Stephen’s Hall, where the statue of Viscount Falkland still bears the mark of Margery Humes, who chained herself to its spur.

Outside, beyond the grand arched window, lie New Palace Yard and Parliament Square, scene of such brutality when suffragettes clashed with police on Black Friday. Now these stories now dwell in the history books, dusted off to share with visiting constituents and schoolchildren. Yet in this hall tonight we see the living legacy of the suffrage campaigners. Hundreds of female Parliamentarians, past and present.

Women who serve or have served as ministers and shadow ministers. A female former Speaker of the House of Commons. A female Prime Minister.

A century after women won the right to send MPs to Westminster, nearly all the parties represented here have a female leader or deputy leader.

The women in this hall come from every corner of the country, indeed from right across the world.

We represent many parties and almost every point on the political spectrum.

None of us are exactly alike, none of our stories are the same.

Yet every one of us is here today because of the heroic, tireless struggle of those who came before us.

Women who led a campaign not just for themselves or their families, but for generations as yet unborn.

Of course, women were not the only people brought into public life by the 1918 act.

It also enfranchised, for the first time, more than five million working class men. Men who – for four, bloody years – had been expected to fight and die for their country, yet had not been trusted with the right to choose who governed it.

So the granting of Royal Assent was a truly momentous moment in our history. Yet when it came, the celebrations were muted.

In 1918, Europe was still at war. In the words of Emmeline Pankhurst – the founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, who I’m proud to say was later adopted as a candidate for the Conservative Party – “the sorrows of the world conflict precluded jubilations”. A century on, we’re putting that right.

And not just this evening. As we’ve heard, the celebrations and commemorations will run all year long, both in here in Parliament and across the country.

In an age where millions around the world are denied the right to vote and millions here at home are apathetic about exercising it, it’s only right that we all learn more about those who fought so hard to extend the franchise.

We don’t hear enough about these Edwardian radicals.

In fact I think for many people, the first time many of us encounter the suffragettes is when we see Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins. It’s certainly an entertaining introduction to the “soldiers in petticoats”. But in terms of detail I think it leaves a little bit to be desired.

We owe such a debt to the suffrage campaigners that they deserve greater recognition. And that’s why, later this year, a statue of Millicent Fawcett will be unveiled in Parliament Square, It’s why the government is also helping to fund a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in her home town of Manchester.

And it’s why the Government has put £5 million towards events marking this year’s centenary. Events that will recognise and celebrate not just the Pankhursts and the Fawcetts, significant though they were. But also the many other women whose roles are often overlooked. Marion Wallace Dunlop, the illustrator of children’s books who staged the first suffragette hunger strike. Sophia Duleep Singh, the Maharaja’s daughter who faced both sexual and racial prejudice as she played a leading role in the Women’s Tax Resistance League.

Helen Ogston, the “woman with the whip”, who in 1908 was driven from the stage by an angry mob during a suffrage rally in Maidenhead – a town that, many years later, I have the privilege of representing in Parliament. And, of course, the thousands – tens of thousands – of ordinary women and men whose names are lost to history. Some risked arrest and imprisonment. Others were forced out of their jobs. All faced being shunned by family, friends and society.

Yet each played their part in securing a right we should never take for granted – and a right that is still not secure today. Because a century after women were first enfranchised, some are still prevented from taking their place on the electoral roll. Many survivors of domestic abuse are unable to register for fear of revealing their address to an ex-partner. That effectively means the threat of violence is removing women’s right to vote, something that is simply unacceptable. That’s why just before Christmas, the Government laid a series of statutory instruments that will make it easier for those who are at risk of abuse to register and vote anonymously.

Those changes will be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow. I’m sure that, in the week of this significant anniversary for women voters, MPs of all parties will set aside their differences to support this important change.

The need to expand anonymous registration is a reminder that the Act we’re commemorating tonight was only one step on a long journey.

I’m the 54th person to be Prime Minister of this country, but only the second to be a woman. Women make up half the population of this country, yet only a third of its MPs. I’ve long campaigned to get more women into public life at all levels. It’s not about appearances, or even just about giving women an equal chance to get on. I want to see more women in politics and government because greater female representation makes a real difference to everyone’s lives.

The same is true of the many other groups who do not see themselves properly reflected in public life.

People from minority ethnic groups, members of the LGBT community, people with disabilities, or those from less privileged backgrounds. At last year’s election, the proportion of MPs who were educated at comprehensive schools reached a record high – but it’s still just 51 per cent.

So let us celebrate this centenary, and give thanks to those who gave their all so that we might be here today.

But let us also commit ourselves to continuing their work.

To carrying forward the torch they passed to us.

To securing the rights they fought for and ensuring that everyone, regardless of background, is able to play a full and active role in our democracy.

The brave women and men who came before us left us the most precious inheritance.

Now let us all, through words and deeds, be their fitting heirs.