Below is the text of the resignation letter sent by Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, to Theresa May, the Prime Minister.
Dear Prime Minister
I am proud to have served in your government since 2016, first as your environment secretary and for the last two years as leader of the House of Commons, and pay tribute to the excellent work of my civil servants in both roles. More recently, setting up the new complaints procedure, putting in train the restoration of the Palace of Westminster, introducing proxy voting for MPs, proposing a new strategy to support early years, and ensuring the timely delivery of our legislative programme, my role as leader of the Commons has been highly rewarding, and I am grateful to have had these opportunities.
I stayed in cabinet to shape and fight for Brexit. There have been some uncomfortable compromises along the way, but you have had my determined support and loyalty in your efforts to deliver Brexit as our shared goal.
I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result, for the following reasons:
1. I do not believe that we will be a truly sovereign United Kingdom through the deal that is now proposed;
2. I have always maintained that a second referendum would be dangerously divisive, and I do not support the government willingly facilitating such a concession. It would also risk undermining our union which is something I passionately want to see strengthened;
3. There has been such a breakdown of government processes that recent Brexit-related legislative proposals have not been properly scrutinised or approved by cabinet members;
4. The tolerance to those in cabinet who have advocated policies contrary to the government’s position has led to a complete breakdown of collective responsibility.
I know there are important elections tomorrow, and many Conservatives have worked hard to support our excellent candidates. I considered carefully the timing of this decision, but I cannot fulfil my duty as Leader of the House tomorrow, to announce a bill with new elements that I fundamentally oppose.
I fully respect the integrity, resolution and determination that you have shown during your time as prime minister. No-one has wanted you to succeed more than I have, but I do now urge you to make the right decisions In the interests of the country, this government and our party.
It is therefore with great regret and with a heavy heart that I resign from the government.
Below is the text of the statement made by Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, on 7 May 2019.
Today, the Government publishes its response to the Joint Committee’s report on the draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill.
The Joint Committee published its report on 21 March 2019. This report followed careful consideration by the Committee, taking evidence from a range of interested experts and stakeholders. The report set out a series of helpful recommendations on the content of the Bill and on wider issues related to Restoration and Renewal, including matters for the Shadow Sponsor Body to consider.
The Joint Committee was appointed by the House of Commons on 26 November 2018 and the House of Lords on 29 November 2018. It scrutinised the draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill (“the Bill”) by considering written and oral evidence from a range of contributors, including the Leader of the House of Commons, the right hon. Andrea Leadsom MP and the Leader of the House of Lords, the right hon. Baroness Evans of Bowes Park.
The Government welcomes the Committee’s report and considered “an evidence-based approach” the Chair and members of the Committee have taken in scrutinising the Bill. The support of the Committee and its endorsement of the overarching aim of the draft Bill is very important in progressing this important and pressing work. The Government are committed to establish in statute the necessary governance arrangements to oversee the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster, and in doing so, ensuring it provides value for money for the taxpayer.
The Government are committed to introducing the Bill as soon as possible. We recognise that this is a significant and urgent task given the current state of disrepair of the Palace. The recent incidents in the Palace of Westminster, including masonry falling from the building have further highlighted the urgency of the works to restore and renew the Palace of Westminster. The tragic fire at Notre Dame has also served as a reminder of the risks to this historic and iconic building.
Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, on 27 February 2019.
Thank you Vicky [Ford] for inviting me to speak about what is such an incredibly important issue – both for this Parliament and for our society as a whole.
When I became Leader of the House of Commons in June 2017, I knew it could be quite a challenge.
I recognised then that what we were doing – legislating to leave the European Union – was vitally important, but also that how we were doing it mattered too. It was predictable that temperatures would run high…
… and so it was important to emphasise the need to conduct our debates in a spirit of tolerance and respect.
But what no one could have predicted was that the issue of how we conduct ourselves would become about far more than just how we treat each other in the chamber.
That we would need to take a long hard look at how the power and influence we wield have shaped behaviour in this institution.
Our democracy needs and deserves a Parliament in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
But it took the fall out from the #MeToo scandal to fully highlight how deficient Westminster had become.
The revelations of widespread sexual harassment, bullying and abuse which emerged shocked us all.
Now, I would argue that we have achieved a lot in the 18 months since then. You will draw your own conclusions no doubt.
The Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, which has been up and running since July, is underpinned by a Behaviour Code, which was very widely consulted on.
And there is now a system with real teeth that puts complainants at the heart of the process, and importantly respects their very clear need for confidentiality – which is why you have not seen a blow by blow account of everything it has done and said and concluded since it started last July.
I think the test of an independent and confidential system is if it is reported in the press or not, and we are not – which is good news. We should all be pleased with that.
I do think the complaints procedure, together with the further changes that we want to make, has the potential to transform Westminster from being well behind the curve to being a role model. Genuinely my aspiration is that we are admired around the world and I know lots of people here share that aspiration.
And I hope we will be looked to, in part, precisely because of our willingness to accept that this work must be ongoing and it must be continuous.
We cannot pat ourselves on the back and say ‘great job done, we have a complaints procedure, let’s move on to the next thing’.
I have always said that the Independent Complaints Procedure was not the not the end of the process, but only the beginning.
And it’s in that spirit that I want to make three brief points that I hope we can all agree on.
Firstly, the harrowing nature of the stories we have seen about behaviour in Parliament sicken and appal us all, and that remains undiminished. We still have stories coming out now which are utterly unacceptable.
When we hear individual examples of bad behaviour – as in Dame Laura’s report, or when we learn that a significant percentage of people remain very concerned – as in the Fawcett Society’s report, we are reminded that the urgency of further reform is as pressing as it ever was.
It’s the need for ongoing reform that is my second point…
The recognition that, to truly create an environment that we all want to work in, we must acknowledge that achieving culture change will take patience and tenacity. It is not going to be an overnight solution.
That’s why, when the House approved the establishment of the Independent Complaints Producer last summer, we built in reviews of how it would function after six and after 18 months.
The first of these reviews is now underway and will report back within a few months. We will be able to see exactly how we think it is going, what more there is to do, how we can improve on it further and so on.
I’m encouraged that early evidence shows an increasing number of complainants are coming forward, because the culture definitely won’t change in Westminster until enough people have the confidence to think they can come forward and have their problems addressed.
By ensuring confidentiality and inspiring confidence that the perpetrator will be sanctioned appropriately, I do think we have designed a system that people will trust.
That leads me to my third point… That achieving culture change has to mean creating a system that protects everyone in Westminster.
There are teething problems, as you would expect in a new system that is pretty groundbreaking around the world. These things must be tackled head-on.
Parliament is a complex place. It is full of a wide variety of people:
There are many contractors, where some of the difficulties arise.
From tourists and constituents coming to lobby their MPs, to those working for parliamentarians and for the House itself.
And of course to the Members of both Houses.
All of these groups have their own issues and challenges.
I’m very grateful to Dame Laura for her report examining the experiences of House of Commons staff, which is one part of the staff – about ten per cent of the total number of people – who work here.
I am also grateful to Gemma White QC for her ongoing work at the moment into the behaviour of MPs and those they employ. She has just recently finished her inquiry into MP’s staff, current and past, and is now looking at MPs themselves who may have been subject to bullying or harassment, which is an interesting and important point.
But when we talk about changing the culture, we do have to make sure the views of all those in Parliament are taken into account.
Our democracy is fundamentally about ensuring that every hand can be counted and every voice can be heard.
That can only happen in a Parliament where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
So, in conclusion, we have come a long way since the #MeToo scandal first hit our shores.
But we still have a long way to go, make no mistake, and that is why I’m so delighted the APPG has chosen to focus on this issue today.
As Leader of the House of Commons, I will continue to take my role in this very seriously. I will continue to do everything I can to press for change.
And I will stand up for the approach taken in establishing the Independent Complaints Procedure – including the importance of defending the principle of confidentiality, and our actions to shift some of Parliament’s more outdated practices. I think things like Proxy Voting go some way to show we are actually living in the 21st century.
So I’m looking forward to hearing about your discussions as we seek to keep our initial momentum going for many years to come.
And I do urge all of you, whatever you do, whatever your role here in Parliament, to keep up the pressure – do not let me off, do not let anyone off.
Keep coming forward with your ideas, give feedback, keep working towards it so we in Parliament can be proud of where we work. So we in Parliament can be role models for other workplaces around the world.
Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, on 25 April 2018.
I am number 336.
I’m sure you’re wondering, ‘what on earth does she mean by that?’ Well today I am standing here as the 336th woman to become an MP – ever in the UK! Just to put that in perspective, there are 442 male MPs in this Parliament alone.
Now 100 years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to be here as Leader of the Commons – but thanks to the sacrifices of the women who came before, we won the right to vote, and eventually, to stand as parliamentary candidates.
The suffragettes and the suffragists made huge sacrifices; women who were imprisoned, women who were humiliated in public and at home, women who endured hunger strikes and women who paid the ultimate price – women like Emily Wilding Davison.
From the first women in the world to get the vote in New Zealand, to those who just pipped us to the post in some states of the US – this was a long, global fight, but it was a fight that changed the world. A century later, we can feel proud with the progress made in the UK as we remember the struggle and the achievements but we are also reminded of how far we have to go.
When we think of democracy, it’s easy to think of it as ‘just’ voting. But it’s about so much more than that. Democracy today is a society that hears every voice, considers every view, counts every hand. Democracy is encouraging open dialogue and embracing, rather than recoiling, from our differing views.
So 100 years since some women in the UK got the vote, can we really say our democracy is as equal as those women sought to make it? I think not.
Democracy is not something we can take for granted. There is a growing concern about democratic backsliding in countries right around the world. Wherever you are, whatever your political context, democracy is something that requires nurturing all the time.
In recent years, something in our own politics has shifted. Aggression and intolerance is on the rise, social media presents a very challenging battleground, and as the Prime Minister recognised in her recent speech on standards in public life, public debate is coarsening.
To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson – the 3rd US President – the democracy we get is the democracy we deserve. That means if we collectively fail to tackle discrimination, bullying, and attempted censorship; then we cannot be surprised when the health of our democracy suffers. We must not be complacent.
For in this centenary year, we have to ask ourselves, where will we be in another 100 years? Well, to begin with, in the spirit of the suffrage movement – we must continue the fight to achieve a 50/50 parliament. We still sadly fall far short of that target. Just as importantly, it is to achieve an inter sectional parliament – one that recognises our diversity of race, religion and gender in the UK.
The question is, how do we get there? We cannot assume that we are heading in the right direction, and just wait to see what happens. We will only realise these changes through action.
So this evening, whilst I am very proud of our democracy, I want to talk about three areas that I think we have to look very closely at over the coming years, if we want to have a democracy that works for all:
first is participation – supporting young people to engage with politics, and making sure everyone uses their voice, and their vote
second is e-democracy – how can we make sure the digital world is compatible with a fair and open democracy?
third is securing a parliament fit for the 21st century – a parliament that is the best workplace in the world
I will come to each of these in turn but I want to start by looking at participation in democracy, and where better than the recent referendums?
The Scottish independence referendum saw an incredible turnout of 84.6% – to be followed by the EU referendum with an impressive 77.2% turnout. These decisions will shape the future of our United Kingdom, and the huge interest they attracted should be celebrated.
Then, the 2017 general election was seen as a game changer for the role of young people in elections. Over a million under-25s made voter registration applications, 34% of the total, in the run-up to the 2017 general election. This helped increase the size of the electoral register to 46.8 million electors – which is a record.
Nevertheless, young people continue to be under-represented in our democratic processes including on the electoral register. YouGov estimate that at the 2017 general election, only 57% of 18 to 19-year-olds voted compared with 84% of those aged 70 and over.
Research by the British Election Study also suggests that the ‘youthquake’ wasn’t as seismic as first reported, putting the turnout figure somewhere in the region of 50%. So whilst youth engagement appears to be at its highest in 25 years, turnout remains comparatively low, especially compared with other European countries.
Recent research shows that young people in the UK are interested in ‘politics’, broadly defined, but have turned to alternative forms of democratic engagement, from consumer politics to community campaigns rather than engaging in what might be seen as more ‘formal politics’. Evidence suggests this could be due to a lack of knowledge and awareness of how and why young people should participate in our democracy.
Well we must do better. Voting is the ultimate act of protest. By that, I don’t mean casting a protest-vote. I mean casting a vote, full-stop. As we have seen in the recent referendums and recent elections, it does matter and it does make a difference. Voting sends a powerful message, it has the ability to change everything and it is entirely yours to cast. As the leading American suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt said in 1920, ‘‘the vote is the emblem of your equality.”
Those words ring true to this day.
That is why the Government is so committed to building a more inclusive democracy. We recognise every voice matters as an issue of social justice, and are working towards making our elections the most accessible ever by 2022.
So I want to pay tribute to the Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith, and her predecessor Chris Skidmore, for their work to:
– tackle democratic engagement by modernising electoral registration
strengthen the integrity of our electoral system through a series of measures to tackle election fraud
– promote this summer’s inaugural National Democracy Week, which will act as a focal point for promoting democratic engagement
I also want to praise Parliament’s own efforts to reach out beyond the walls of the Palace of Westminster. I hope you will all get involved in November, when this year’s Parliament Week takes place, an annual festival which informs people about Parliament and also empowers them to get involved.
In my own role as Leader of the Commons, I’ve loved being able to get involved with the UK Youth Parliament and visit a number of schools taking part in Votes for Schools – a great organisation encouraging young people to debate, and voice their opinion.
The 2018 Audit of Political Engagement by the Hansard Society is published on Monday and will show that progress is being made, with a significant improvement over the period of the Audit in the percentage saying they are certain to vote. This headline figure is encouraging but the Audit also shows that underlying issues remain.
Many continue to take a dim view of the efficacy of our political system. In other words, they don’t feel if they get involved it will make much of a difference. This is a challenge for all of us and doing more to ensure our public space for debate is as inclusive as possible is a critical first step. People deserve to feel that their voice will not just be heard but also respected. Creating an equal space for participation and debate falls to all of us, and not just the Government.
Universities are a beacon for discussion and debate and we are lucky that the UK is home to 12 of the world’s top 100 universities, including the world’s number one and two.
But recently, we have heard worrying reports by online forum the Student Room, that a third of students have experienced racism on campus and a shocking report by the National Union of Students claims that sexual misconduct by university staff is ‘rife’.
As institutions that thrive on free speech and inclusion – universities are in many ways, a testing ground for the state of our democracy.
Nobody should be silenced because of their race or gender, and we cannot let it go unchallenged. What becomes acceptable in a liberal environment like our colleges or universities, soon becomes acceptable in wider society. Whilst ensuring they remain bastions for free speech, these institutions must do more to expel all forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, and all religious intolerance, from their campuses because to feel shut out from a lecture, or from a debate is to be shut out from democracy.
Our experiences in education should encourage us to make our voices heard once we have left school – including at the ballot box. What we cannot doubt, however, is the enthusiasm and engagement of young people in political issues and for that we can’t ignore the role played by the internet.
From blogging to campaign videos, the internet has revolutionised the way we interact with politicians and parliament. It has, in many ways, been a force for good. Over half of 12 to 15-year-olds interested in the news get their updates from social media – compared with only 17% who read a newspaper. The web has also made previously opaque processes far more accessible. Take voter registration, or e-petitions; just two examples where digitalisation has made democratic engagement easier and quicker.
In its first year of operation, the current petitions system saw over ten million unique email addresses used to sign petitions in the UK. The topics for petitions are hugely varied – from what should be on the national schools curriculum, through to animal rights issues and foreign policy. All political parties understand the value of social media for communicating to their supporters.
But whilst there is much to embrace, we are in danger of allowing the internet to provide an unregulated free-for-all, with serious consequences for our society, such as the harmful impact of data protection breaches and the ways this erodes trust. The proliferation of ‘fake’ news, we’ve even seen a trend of selective reporting on debates in the Commons – like that of animal sentience. Such cases prove that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its boots on. And of course there is the constant abuse from internet trolls. We heard only last week the appalling antisemitic abuse suffered by Jewish colleagues in Parliament, with social media being used as the most common vehicle for spreading that abuse
I am also concerned by websites publishing details of debates and votes that only tell half the story. I know plenty of MPs have been sent abusive emails from their constituents because websites such as They Work For You have reported them as missing a vote. What these websites don’t tell you, is whether an MP is away from Parliament because they have just become a parent – or whether they were paired with another MP because they are on important Select Committee business overseas – or even if they are tending to a constituency crisis. These are crucial parts of the puzzle when it comes to the accurate reporting of ‘what goes on in Parliament.’ It’s a slippery slope. Abuse can turn to trolling, and trolling has driven some of my own colleagues offline. In the worst cases, parliamentarians have also been victims of violent crime.
A recent report by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy found that 44% of female parliamentarians from 39 different countries have received death threats or threats of rape, assault or abduction.
The Government’s Internet Safety Green Paper, published last October noted:
“There is much anecdotal evidence that online abuse and hate crime can silence the voices of women, BAME, faith, disabled and LGBT communities, who feel that they have to remove themselves from certain platforms and discussions in order to stay safe.”
How can this be the case in 21st century Britain?
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has proposed introducing a social media code of practice, transparency reporting and a social media levy. These are all steps that will help to achieve our aim of making Britain the safest place in the world to be online.
The Government’s response to the Committee on Standards in Public Life report, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister, outlines a comprehensive set of actions. This includes a review of offensive communications by the Law Commission – making sure that what is illegal offline, is also illegal online.
Of course, equal participation in our democracy is not just a problem for our online spaces. The wave of sexual misconduct allegations, and the ‘Me Too’ movement, soon reached the door of Parliament. For too long, a culture of bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment has gone unchecked. It is no wonder, that out of fear of being hounded, out of fear of being called a liar, or out of fear of being ignored; victims so often stay silent. That silence erodes the democratic participation of too many people, particularly women and in Westminster, we have so far failed to set the best example.
A Parliament Fit for the 21st Century
What we urgently need is a parliament fit for the 21st century – and following last November’s allegations, the Prime Minister acted quickly. She asked me to chair a Working Group to tackle allegations of bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment, and to implement strong procedures to handle complaints and grievances. This was by no means easy. With seven political parties plus staff representatives, there were a huge number of views on how best to achieve our aims.
I was reminded quite regularly, by committed and talented colleagues across the House, that we’ve tried this before, and it didn’t work then, so it won’t work now – you all know the score! So it was a groundbreaking moment for Parliament, when the recommendations of the Working Group’s report were actually approved by the Commons, the Lords, and the House of Commons Commission. There will now be radical changes that will fundamentally change Parliament for the better.
Work is underway to establish:
a behaviour code that will cover all those working in or visiting Parliament
independent services to investigate cases of bullying and of sexual harassment – with the appropriate support provided for each
a new set of sanctions available to the Parliamentary Commissioners for Standards – who deal with complaints against MPs and Peers
vitally, confidentiality that will give victims the courage to come forward
It is my hope that by creating an independent complaints process, with proper sanctions, this will not only provide the much-needed support to those who have been treated badly but will also help create the culture change we want to see, where everyone working in or visiting Parliament is treated with dignity and respect.
Since publication of the report, we have heard further, worrying allegations about bullying of House staff by MPs. And it has become clear that the Respect policy that was meant to protect staff of the House of Commons, is just not working for them.
So I was pleased that my recommendation to the House Commission for an independent inquiry into the bullying of House staff was approved and that it is now being taken forward under the independent chairmanship of Dame Laura Cox QC.
There can be no hiding places, or cover-ups, for anyone abusing their power. It is the dream job of so many to work in Parliament and in politics – helping to make our world a better place. We owe it to them, and to the next generation of politicians, staffers and campaigners, to make this a great place to work. As I’ve said many times, it is a right not a privilege, to be treated with respect and I’m committed to making our Parliament a fair and safe place for everyone.
Before I finish, I want to return to the question I posed at the start. Is our democracy as equal as the suffrage movement sought to make it? Their achievement was the moment when some women were given the vote, paving the way for universal suffrage in the following decade.
The franchise is now a fundamental part of our democracy. It is vital. But as I hope I have made clear this evening, democracy is about more than just voting.
A democracy that works for all is one where:
– each voter is confident to express themselves in public debate
– each voter is confident their views will be represented without fear or favour in Parliament by their local MP –
– each voter believes they will not be subject to abuse or intimidation
It’s clear that the UK has a lot to do to safeguard our democracy from what are new, emerging, and uncharted threats.
That’s why I conclude where I started, with those who refused to accept the political status quo, 100 years ago. I am inspired by the suffragists and their determination to achieve change. We should be energised by their example of seeking the political culture we want to see, not the one we have today. We should never forget how lucky we are to live in a country that gives us a vote and we must do everything we can to protect that including making equality itself, an emblem of our democracy.
Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, on 20 March 2018.
‘Deeds, not words’.
That, as you all know, was the motto of the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.
In 2018, these remain symbolic words for us all, as the UK celebrates 100 years since the first women were able to vote.
A century later, and the topic of this conference is a stark reminder that whilst we have achieved so much, we still have a long way to go in the fight for equality.
I’d like to pay tribute to the work of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, who for over 25 years now, have shared the UK’s expertise in those two vital institutions of democracy – political parties and parliaments.
The Foundation has played a vital role in promoting women’s rights around the world through the promotion of democracy.
From the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries Combating Violence Against Women to the Women’s Parliament in Uganda and the support for women candidates in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Foundation has achieved so much.
And that phrase – deeds, not words – resonate with us all to this day – reminding us that for everything we say, it is ultimately what we do that counts.
So I hope this conference has motivated everyone to go back and take action in their jobs, and in their communities – in whichever way they can –
To ensure we can meet the 21st century challenges to gender equality.
My role as leader
Now, many of the steps we can take as parliamentarians and as parties are closely related to my own work as Leader of the House of Commons in the UK.
The role of the Leader is unique, and I wear two ‘hats’ on a daily basis.
My first ‘hat’ is as a representative of the Government in Parliament.
It is my responsibility to oversee the Government’s legislative agenda – which, as we prepare to leave the European Union, is a particularly significant and challenging task.
My second ‘hat’ is as a representative of Parliament in Government.
That means ensuring that Parliament strikes the right balance between giving the opposition, and backbenchers, the chance to conduct robust, effective scrutiny of the executive, whilst also ensuring the Government has the opportunity to deliver its manifesto.
In practice that means encouraging ministers to engage with Parliament in a responsive and consultative fashion.
Steps have been taken over the decades to make Parliament a more accessible place for women and families – including changes to the sitting hours, and even an on-site creche –
But we also owe a great deal to fantastic candidacy campaigns such as Women2Win – a Conservative group which helps identify women to stand as MPs. I know other parties have similar initiatives.
Even now though, as Leader of the Commons in 2018, there are still practical challenges for women in politics such as formal baby leave for new mothers.
A number of cross-party MPs have been looking at how we can make the system of baby leave more effective for all parents in parliament.
And I am pleased that the Procedure Committee are now looking closely at the options and solutions available.
In my role, I have taken on an important additional responsibility in recent months, which I would like to tell you about in more detail.
In the late autumn of last year there was widespread shock as allegations emerged of sexual harassment and bullying in Westminster.
Whilst this is clearly a problem that affects many in parliament, a majority of the complainants are women.
A fundamental part of the challenge was that it was felt existing procedures for dealing with problems like this are just not good enough.
That was leading some to feel they had no option but to go to the press.
Others were deterred from escalating their cases precisely because of the risk that they would find themselves on the front pages of national newspapers –
so their solution was to deal with the unhappiness by resigning.
The Prime Minister moved quickly to bring all the political parties in Parliament together to address this problem.
She asked me to chair a cross-party working group across both the House of Commons and the House of Lords which aimed to establish a new independent process in which complainants could place their confidence.
Our proposals have been approved by both Houses – and they include establishing:
a behaviour code that will cover all those working in or visiting Parliament;
two separate processes to deal with cases of bullying and of sexual harassment – with the appropriate support provided for each;
a review of the sanctions available to the the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards – who deals specifically with complaints against Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords;
and the right to confidentiality and representation for all involved.
My ambition throughout this whole process has been to bring about a fundamental change to the culture of Westminster – so that we can make this one of the best parliaments in the world in which to work.
Staff and parliamentarians alike deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
And our work to achieve that will not stop there.
Report on violence against women in politics: global perspectives of a global issue
Harassment in workplaces like Westminster, is of course just one of the contributing factors to a world where women and girls experience violence on daily basis, and it came as no surprise that in a survey of female parliamentarians across 39 different countries, 44% of women have received death threats or threats of rape, assault and of abduction.
And it saddens me that I, and far too many of my colleagues, are included in these statistics.
A woman in politics should not have to pay this price.
From trolling and the echo-chamber of social media – through to the shocking and violent deaths of female politicians, like our own Jo Cox, and just a few days ago, Brazil’s Marielle Franco.
Violence against women, particularly during elections, is not confined to one country or society – it is a global problem.
In recent UK elections, we have seen shocking levels of intimidation and abuse – including swastikas graffitied onto campaign posters, as well as vitriolic homophobia, sexism, and antisemitism.
There was even a coffin delivered to the constituency office of one of my colleagues.
In a speech last month, the Prime Minister stated that ‘the ideal of a truly plural and open public sphere, where everyone can take part, is in danger’.
We have introduced steps to tackle this:
The Government will consult on a new electoral offence of intimidating candidates and campaigners;
The Conservative Party has published its Respect Pledge covering all candidates who are standing for election – and we have encouraged all parties to do the same;
We are introducing a new Domestic Abuse bill, which will challenge the acceptability of abuse and address the underlying attitudes and norms that perpetuate it;
We have established a new, Annual Internet Safety Transparency Report, to provide data on offensive content and the response to it;
We are doing more to protect candidates by changing the requirement to publish a home address on ballot papers.
In parliament I am working closely with the security teams to upgrade the security of members in their London and constituency homes.
The threats faced by prospective candidates, for either local or national office, are driving potentially brilliant public servants away from politics.
We cannot allow this sort of behaviour to jeopardize our long-standing tradition of free speech and inclusive politics – the hallmarks of what make us a proud democratic
What we need to do domestically and globally within parties and Parliament
So, I am delighted to see such a diverse representation of people here today.
Delegates from different countries, different societies, different histories and different political systems.
Everyone will have a sense of how far their own political culture has come on the journey to a better parliamentary democracy – one that serves the interests of women as well as men – and how much further there is to go.
But we are all bound by the need to tackle violence against all women in politics.
Not only is it unacceptable, and often criminal, and not only does it lead to wider exclusion of women in public life, but it has a detrimental impact on the people we represent.
Women around the world need women in politics.
It gives them a voice, and a seat at the table.
We can make our democracies a welcome place for women by creating the most inclusive environment possible:
One that educates our young people to respect the views of others, and to value women equally;
One where our electoral laws are respected and upheld;
One where women are given equal pay for equal work;
And one where opportunities for women open up across all sectors – from the engine room to the boardroom.
Whether working in parties or in parliaments, as elected representatives or the officials who support them –
Women make an enormous difference to our democratic life.
That is as true in the United Kingdom as it is in every other country around the world.
So when I look at the recommendations this conference has produced, I see real lessons for the UK –
Particularly in what our political parties can do to stop violence against women.
We’ve got to stamp out this pervasive culture of bullying and harassment, which so often deters women from working in politics –
And it is my sincere hope that the new independent complaints policy I am implementing in the UK will provide the support, confidentiality, and most importantly the sanctions –
That will fundamentally change our parliamentary culture for the better.
Before I finish, I would like to take a moment to share with you some of the lessons I have learned in the work that I have been doing.
The first is, when women speak out, and say ‘there is a problem’, the answer is not ‘no there isn’t.’
Even if we worry about what that answer might mean, the response cannot be to close ranks.
And when women speak out, and say ‘these processes aren’t working for me’, the answer is not ‘yes they are’.
Just because things have always been done ‘a certain way’ does not mean that is ‘the right way’, particularly as the scale of the problems becomes clear, and the evidence that the responses to it have failed in the past.
All parties have got to recognise that changing the way we respond to bullying, harassment, and sexual violence is not just inevitable, but it is the right thing to do.
These issues transcend politics.
When I became Leader of the House I did not expect my job to become so focused on tackling the darker side of the culture in parliament, but I think it’s important that it has, and I hope the groundbreaking changes we are making will support women working in parliaments in the decades ahead.
This conference holds important lessons for all of us who want to change society for the better.
Your actions, your deeds, will make the world a better place, just like the suffragettes before us, and for that, you should all be immensely proud.
Below is the text of the statement made by Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, in the Commons on 16 November 2017.
Thank you Mr Speaker, with permission I will update the House on steps being taken to tackle harassment and abuse in Parliament.
Madam Deputy Speaker, as my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister has made clear – there can be no place for harassment, abuse or misconduct in politics.
I said we would take action in days, not weeks and that is exactly what we have done.
Getting this right matters to everyone here – and I want to thank the Honourable Member for Birmingham Yardley – who I know is taking a keen interest in this matter.
I hope today’s statement will answer some of her questions.
Last week, the Prime Minister convened a meeting of the party leaders to discuss this matter.
All party leaders attended and there was agreement to work together to make swift progress.
The proposals outlined by the Prime Minister for an independent grievance procedure have been embraced across this House, and I am reassured by the consensus.
All parties have acknowledged that any proposal must adhere to three specific criteria: it must have cross-party agreement, it must include both Houses of Parliament and it must be independent.
The new system will be available to all who work here – including all MPs’ staff, Lords staff including cross-benchers, interns, volunteers, journalists, and constituency staff.
It was agreed that the political parties would establish a cross-party working group to take this work forward, and I am pleased to report that the group met for the first time on Tuesday.
The working group is made up of representatives from every party and from both Houses – Conservative, Labour, SNP, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru, DUP, Green, and cross-benchers.
Very importantly, MAPSA, the Members and Peers Staff Association, and UNITE are representing parliamentary staff on the group, and are ensuring that their experiences, and their requirements, are taken fully into account.
The first meeting of the working group made clear that the voices of staff will be at the heart of this process. Any new system will need the absolute confidence of those who will use it.
The working group also agreed that the new procedure must be independent of the political parties – and that to inform the group over the next two weeks, we will hear from a number of different contributors.
This will include hearing from staff directly, as well as groups including ACAS, IPSA, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and experts on a range of topics that will help us to shape a new process.
Anyone wishing to submit their own thoughts or suggestions to the group in writing is also very welcome to do so.
This is early days for the working group, and we will certainly be working quickly but thoroughly to make sure we create a new procedure that provides confidence to all who use it.
I know that in addition, many members of staff have expressed an interest in the provision of HR training, as well as better employee support for staff.
All those employing staff need a certain amount of guidance and training that will enable them to be good employers.
This week the working group heard directly from the Clerks of the two Houses – who provided a very helpful account of the procedure used by House staff.
Whilst we have recognised that the Respect policy used by the House authorities provides an excellent reference point, the independent procedure we are seeking to build will take into account the specific needs of Parliament, and the group has acknowledged the need for more than just mediation.
The working group agreed a new system should provide support, advice and action on a wide spectrum of complaints around bullying and harassment.
We will do everything in our power to ensure the solution is transparent, fair, and effective.
And this fairness, Madam Deputy Speaker, must also apply to MPs and Peers, because we do recognise that right across both Houses we have many model employers who genuinely care about, and look after, their staff extremely well.
We are working to a tight timeframe – but we have all acknowledged that it is right we address this issue with urgency.
The publication of the final proposal will balance the need for fast action with the need for due diligence.
The working group, including staff representatives, are considering the timetable carefully, and aim to report back to the House before the House rises for Christmas recess.
Madam Deputy Speaker, you and the Speaker have said that you hope all parties will live up to their responsibilities by demonstrating both an appetite for change and a practical means of delivering that change.
That is exactly what we intend to do and I want to thank all parties for working together in a supportive fashion. We share this duty to bring about positive change.
People come to work in this place for a number of reasons – out of public service, to support the party of their choice, or to gain new work experience.
Nothing should deter them from pursuing those ambitions, and I know we are all determined to ensure that this is a safe and fair place to work.
Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, on 10 November 2017.
Good morning everyone.
I’m not sure about you, Mr Speaker, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen these benches looking quite so energetic as they do this morning!
I’m delighted to open this year’s Youth Parliament – a fantastic opportunity for all of you, and I’m sure you will do your regions proud today.
I would like to start by asking, who here has been told ‘young people don’t really understand politics’, or ‘you’re too young to be interested in politics’?
Too often, young people are made to feel patronised, or worse still, excluded from politics.
The Youth Parliament is one of the small ways we can demonstrate that the voices of young people belong in politics, and they belong in this Parliament.
Mr Speaker has, over the years, been a great advocate for young people, and I feel just as passionately about removing barriers to politics.
I was delighted that as Leader of the House, the motion on the order paper, which allows the Youth Parliament to sit, went down in my name, and commanded cross-party support.
It’s that cross-party consensus that, in my role as Leader, I work hard to foster wherever possible.
As Parliament’s representative in Government, it’s my job to communicate the goings-on of the chamber to the Prime Minister and her cabinet.
That includes the various requests made or concerns raised by my opposite number and Shadow Leaders – and I’m pleased to say the cut and thrust of the debating chamber does not always reflect the very collegiate working relationship between many of us across parties.
The second part of my role, representing government in Parliament, is focused on getting legislation through this House. In this session there is a big focus on our Brexit bills, but of course we are also working hard to get our domestic legislation through the House, too.
My ambition for this Parliament, as Leader of the House, is to prove this is a ‘listening government’.
I am determined to deliver on the will of the British people, in last year’s referendum, but I recognise that the best way to achieve that is by listening to the views of both parliamentarians and the public.
The process of legislation for Brexit can be a positive one, that proves we are capable of working together and putting the country above all else.
In many ways we could learn more from the Youth Parliament, than they can from us.
Your green benches are more diverse than ours, with a better gender balance, and representatives from a wider range of ethnic and religious backgrounds.
And we can learn so much from the priorities you have identified for today’s debate. They are not only issues that impact young people, but across society:
– improving our transport systems
– work experience hubs – a great idea, which I’m looking forward to hearing more about
– continually striving to improve LGBT+ rights
So, I really hope you get a lot out of today – I know we will.
I’m looking forward to reading Hansard, and hearing your views on these important subjects.
And finally, I hope you’ll carry on proving that young people aren’t just interested in politics, they are very much a part of politics.
Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Minister of State at the Department of Energy, on 5 July 2016.
Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to address such a well-attended meeting of people from all parts of the energy system.
I have been asked to speak about the future of energy in the UK. Now is an exciting time to discuss this subject. In the last few years, we have seen rapid progress in new energy technologies, dramatic reductions in costs, and a multitude of new suppliers entering the electricity market.
And just in the last few months, we have seen periods when the contribution of coal-fired power to the national grid fell to zero, for the first time in more than 130 years. Unquestionably, we have entered a period of transition.
The physicist Niels Bohr famously said that ‘prediction is very difficult, especially about the future’. He could have added, ‘and especially when things are changing very rapidly’. So I am not going to make any predictions.
Instead, I will describe what I see as our direction of travel, and I will set out the principles of energy policy to which this Government is committed.
As many of you know, I have spent much of the last two months campaigning for change. With the people of Britain now having voted to leave the European Union, a change of great national significance is ahead of us.
But when it comes to our energy policy, I would like to start by emphasising what will stay the same.
As my friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said last week, there is no change to the challenges we face. As a Government, we remain fully committed to providing families and businesses with energy that is secure, affordable and clean.
There is no change to our commitment to work with other countries in pursuit of these goals. Our relationships with the United States, China, India, Japan and our European friends will remain central to our efforts to attract investment, to spur innovation, and to counter the threat of climate change.
And there is no change to our commitment to a clear energy policy framework and a strong, investment-friendly economy – making the UK one of the best places in the world to live and do business.
So we have a continuity of aims, and of principles.
As we consider the future of energy in the UK, I’d like to set out how these principles will guide our approach to each part of the energy trilemma.
First, security. Energy security is non-negotiable, and is our top priority.
In the electricity sector, security of supply still requires baseload power. We know that the make-up of this baseload cannot go unchanged. Within the next two decades, virtually all of our existing nuclear fleet is due to retire. And within the next ten years, our goal is to phase out entirely the use of unabated coal.
Put together, that means at least a third of our current electricity generation comes from plants that will need to be replaced.
This Government will not duck the difficult decisions about investment in our energy infrastructure. We have been clear that we expect to bring on power generation from both new nuclear and new gas plants.
That’s why we are commissioning the first new nuclear power station in a generation, and working with developers, who have set out proposals to develop 18GW of new nuclear power stations at six sites across the UK.
At the same time, we have announced plans to use the Capacity Market to buy more capacity and to buy it earlier, to ensure there is adequate incentive for investment in new gas and other forms of generation.
In the long-term, while the security of our electricity supply is likely to remain as essential as it is now, I expect us to achieve it through increasingly diverse means.
The National Grid’s ‘Future Energy Scenarios’, published today, estimates that the maximum potential by 2040 of electricity storage and interconnectors could be 15 GW and 23 GW respectively. I have seen similarly impressive estimates for the potential of demand-side response.
The shift in this direction is already beginning. Electricity storage technology is seeing some dramatic reductions in cost: for example, the cost of lithium-ion technology has fallen by 14% per year between 2007 and 2014.
And on top of the 4GW of interconnectors already operating, we have nearly 8GW of additional capacity in the pipeline for which Ofgem has given regulatory approval.
I know that experts disagree about what is the right energy mix for the future, almost as much as politicians do. As the Government, we cannot simply wait and see, and yet neither can we plan the future in every detail.
Our approach has to be to make some strategic investments, and to put in place a system that will deliver a rational result.
The Capacity Market – our insurance policy for security of electricity supply – is such a system. The auctions we hold under this system will decide how much we rely in future on gas, storage, and demand side response.
I cannot tell you what those proportions will be. But I can tell you, with confidence, that we will be guaranteeing security of supply at the lowest available cost.
That brings me to the second objective: affordability.
This Government is committed to keeping bills low for families and businesses – and to acting as a consumer champion. I fully expect that to remain an objective of energy policy in this country for years to come.
What makes this a challenge is that our energy bills depend more than anything on wholesale prices, set in the global markets, which are largely outside any government’s control.
So our priority is to ensure a competitive UK energy market that benefits all consumers. In that respect, we are seeing real progress.
There are now 33 independent suppliers in the domestic retail energy market, up from just 7 in 2010. Independent suppliers now have over 15% of the dual fuel market, up from only 1% in 2010. I hope and expect that this trend will continue.
Working together with Ofgem, we are also making it easier and quicker to switch suppliers. Between January and March this year, 2 million energy accounts were switched, and more than half of those moved to newer suppliers.
With more suppliers in the market, and consumers better able to switch between them, we are starting to see cost reductions in the global markets being more reliably passed on to consumers.
The report of the Competition and Markets Authority, published last week, contains a strong set of recommendations designed to further improve consumer engagement, and to protect those least able to benefit from competition.
The Secretary of State and I are keen to see these measures implemented as quickly as possible, and to work with industry to rebuild trust in an energy market that delivers a fair deal to all consumers.
The third corner of the energy trilemma is of course decarbonisation.
And it’s here that I’d like to be especially clear, to correct any misperceptions people may have about the implications of the EU referendum result.
Decarbonising our energy system is not some abstract regulatory requirement; it is an essential responsibility that we hold towards our children and grandchildren, as the only way to effectively counter the threat of climate change.
However we choose to leave the EU, let me be clear: we remain committed to dealing with climate change.
The UK’s Climate Change Act was passed by a majority of 463 votes to three. That is really quite extraordinary. The will of Parliament has rarely been expressed so strongly and unambiguously.
This Government has got on with the job. We have achieved record levels of investment in renewable energy: in 2014, 30% of all Europe’s renewable energy investment took place in the UK.
We have surpassed our own expectations: solar power capacity has now reached over 10GW, with 99% of that having been installed since 2010.
We are on track for 35% of our electricity to come from renewables by 2020, and our overall emissions have fallen by a third since 1990.
This is a fantastic success story, of which industry and government can both be proud.
In this context, I make no apology for the fact that we have had to take some steps to reduce costs. Our responsibility is to manage public spending carefully and sensibly.
When the costs of renewables falls dramatically, it cannot be in our interests to pay generators above the odds, while the public foots the bill. Even with the steps we have taken, we still expect our spending on clean energy to double during the course of this Parliament.
With the announcement last week of our intention to legislate for a 57% reduction in emissions for the Fifth Carbon Budget, our expectations for the future are clear. This is a further step towards our 2050 target of an 80% reduction, which implies the large-scale decarbonisation not only of the power sector, but also of heating and transport.
Just as with security of supply, so also with decarbonisation: we cannot and should not plan every detail.
We see a strategic case for the UK to build more offshore wind power, and so we have committed to support up to 10GW of new projects in the 2020s, provided the costs continue to come down. At the Budget earlier this year, we announced funding of up to £730m a year, for three auctions during the course of this Parliament in which offshore wind projects can compete.
But in the long-term, it is the market that will decide the contributions of the different technologies – first through auctions, and then directly as clean energy begins to deploy without subsidy.
This approach will give us confidence that we are decarbonising at the least cost.
And I believe that it is in all of our interests to reach the point where clean energy can deploy without subsidy, and the government can remove itself from the market, as soon as possible
Jobs and Skills
Before I conclude, I would like to mention one more priority, which complements the other three. That is the creation of high-quality UK jobs, throughout the energy sector.
For many years, oil and gas has been our largest industrial sector, contributing £19bn to the economy and supporting 375,000 jobs. In the last year, we have seen over 8,000 jobs lost from this sector, and we know that more are at risk.
We have responded to the difficult conditions facing the industry by providing tax measures worth £2.3bn, to ensure the UK has one of the most competitive tax regimes for oil and gas in the world, safeguarding jobs and investment.
We have published a new strategy for maximising economic recovery from the UK continental shelf. And we have established the Oil and Gas Authority, which is already helping industry to drive down costs and improve efficiencies.
At the same time, the investments in new energy generation that I have described today will create new opportunities.
The new nuclear supply chain could support 30,000 jobs over the coming years, and the shale gas industry to create more than double that number.
Firms related to low carbon goods and services were estimated to employ over 460,000 people in the UK in 2013, and there are already reports of oil and gas fabricators using their expertise to develop offshore wind projects.
As we navigate the transition of our energy system, we must continue to invest in our skills, so that our workforce can successfully adapt to whatever new conditions arise.
To conclude: As we consider the future of energy in the UK, it is worth sparing a thought for the past.
The UK has a rich history of leadership in energy innovation. The world’s first coal-fired power station was built by Thomas Edison in London, in 1882. The world’s first commercial nuclear power station was opened by the Queen in Cumbria in 1956.
When those plants fired up for the first time, their builders could have little idea of the future scale of the new energy industries they were opening up. But we have benefitted from their pioneering efforts throughout the decades since.
Our job now is not to predict the future, but to create the conditions for innovation.
That will give us the best chance of ensuring that a system of secure, affordable and clean energy is our lasting legacy. Thank you.
Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Minister of State at the Department of Energy, at Lloyds of London on 7 January 2015.
Thank you. It is a pleasure to be here with you today in this historic room.
Lloyd’s of London emerged at the end of 17th century, as London’s prominence as a global trade centre grew, leading to an increasing demand for ship and cargo insurance.
Lloyd’s may now have its own dedicated building rather than a corner of a coffee house. The ships and cargo may have changed. And our office wear doesn’t involve bodices, breeches and a wig… But the underlying strengths of London are as true today as they were then.
London remains a leading global trade hub and is now a global centre of insurance skills and expertise. You only have to walk along the “market floor” to see the different types of insurance contracts being brokered and underwritten here in London for businesses in every corner of the world.
So speaking to you here today in the Old Library gives me the unique opportunity of celebrating one of Britain’s great and enduring business success stories: insurance.
As both a minister and a constituency MP, I have seen first-hand how insurers play a fundamental role in the economy of this country.
Whether it’s supporting individuals to plan and finance their retirement, helping households get back on their feet after a flood, or using your unique business model to fund long-term investment.
I realise that I am preaching to the converted here and that many of you will already be aware of the statistics, but insurance does not always get the attention that it merits and so they do bear repeating.
The UK boasts the largest insurance sector in Europe, providing 300,000 jobs in the UK, playing a huge role as an exporter, with over a quarter of our net premium income coming from overseas business.
As the recent London Market Group report highlights, the London insurance market’s direct contribution to GDP is estimated to be £12 billion as of 2013. This represents 10% of UK financial services and 21% of the City’s overall contribution to [UK] GDP.
And you only have to look at the London skyline to see how the growth in insurance is making its mark in the City of London. London’s two newest icons, the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie – names which your 17th century counterparts would have been bemused by to say the least – are largely occupied by insurers.
And, importantly, the industry contributes to the wider UK economy, not just that of London, but also regional hubs in Edinburgh, Norwich and York. In fact I could easily be giving this speech about the significance of insurance to the UK economy in one of those cities.
The importance of insurance does, of course mean that we need to work especially hard to maintain our leading position in the world.
The reality is that London competes with other global financial centres – be those traditional hubs like New York, or the emerging centres of Singapore and Hong Kong. And many other cities worldwide have their own aspirations for a place at the top table.
We all know that London has a range of innate and historical strengths, such as location, time zone, a respected legal system, crucial business and support services and a multinational and multilingual workforce.
But we cannot rest on these strengths alone. The City needs to continually evolve to maintain and build upon its competitive position as the number one global financial centre.
As a government we have been proactive in maintaining London’s number 1 status by developing a regulatory framework which ensures greater financial stability, while at the same time developing new strings to the City’s bow.
So this year we became the first country outside the Islamic world to issue sovereign Sukuk. And last month the International Finance Corporation issued an Indian Rupee 10 billion bond – the largest ever Rupee bond to be issued on the London Stock Exchange.
And at Autumn Statement we also announced a number of new measures building on the government’s wide reaching programme of reforms to improve competition in banking, support challenger banks and make the UK the leading global hub for FinTech.
We’ve worked closely with industry in the development of these new services and products.
Forums such as the Financial Services Trade and Investment Board – chaired by the Treasury, but bringing together other Whitehall departments and industry – play a strategic role in attracting inward investment, promoting external trade and removing barriers for the UK’s financial services industry.
For the insurance sector, we have the Insurance Growth Action Plan (IGAP). This was developed in consultation with industry and was launched in December 2013 right in this building. It is a clear demonstration of the strong partnership between government and industry to increase the sectors contribution to economic growth.
IGAP identifies actions that government, industry, and other partners can take forward in 5 key areas:
– grasping opportunities in emerging markets
– targeting inward investment
– promoting the role of insurers as long-term investors
– ensuring that the industry best serves the consumer
building a talented, skilled and diverse insurance sector
As the formal implementation of IGAP has come to an end, I would like to take this moment to celebrate what we have achieved together in a number of key areas.
First, UK infrastructure investment.
We all know that long term investment is vital for sustainable economic growth.
Institutional investors have unique advantages as investors, in that they are large holders of long term liabilities, which can be matched with long duration assets.
And insurers have long been significant investors in the UK economy – not least in public and private infrastructure.
So our focus as a government has been creating the right regulatory conditions for this.
We made negotiations on Solvency II a priority and negotiated a good outcome, with a matching-adjustment that actively promotes long term investment growth.
On the back of this positive outcome, insurers are now in a better position to take long term investment decisions – creating benefits to policyholders and, ultimately, the growth we all want.
As part of the IGAP, the following insurers – Aviva, Friends Life, Legal & General, Prudential, Scottish Widows and Standard Life – have committed to work with government, with the aim of delivering at least £25 billion of investment in UK infrastructure in the next 5 years.
And today, I’m delighted to report positive progress.
Since publication of the IGAP in December 2013, these insurers have invested a total of over £5billion in new direct infrastructure investment. Investments have included housing, energy, social and transport infrastructure projects. Examples include Prudential’s investment of up to £100 million in the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Project and Aviva funding 178 residential properties in Oxfordshire for GreenSquare Community Homes. Legal and General have invested £252 million with Places for People, which will contribute towards the building of affordable housing across the UK. While Standard Life have invested £80 million with Town & Country Housing Group, in providing social housing in the heart of Kent and East Sussex. This will include the development of 600 new affordable homes over the next 2-3 years.
And this strong commitment from the insurance sector in UK Infrastructure is further illustrated by this month’s Autumn Statement measure on Private Placements.
The Investment Management Association announced that over the next 5 years, Allianz Global Investors, Aviva, Friends Life, Legal & General, Prudential and Standard Life intend to make investments of around £9 billion in private placements and other direct lending to UK companies.
Our position as a leading global centre for insurance is built on a talented, highly skilled and diverse workforce. If the industry is to succeed in contributing to domestic growth, the sector must sustain and advance the UK’s competitive advantage in this area – by attracting new talent.
Recognising this, the industry made a commitment in the IGAP to double the number of technical apprentices over the next 5 years, and developed an industry-wide apprenticeships programme.
I’m pleased to report that all elements of the insurance sector have come together, and more than risen to this challenge.
Since the programme was launched at an industry event in March, more than 50 apprentices enrolled onto the programme. The launch was followed up with another industry event hosted by Aon, where apprentices met and made connections with senior industry figures – so thank you, Aon.
And the recently announced Trailblazer Insurance Apprenticeship is setting rigorous standards geared to industry’s needs, so our apprenticeships really are the best.
The third area where we have made real progress is in setting up a more coordinated, targeted approach to trade promotion.
Emerging markets is an area where we have a really significant comparative advantage. The expertise the UK insurance industry has to offer is widely respected.
In implementing IGAP, UK Trade & Investment have worked up action plans for 5 emerging target markets for insurance – these being China, India, Brazil, Turkey & Indonesia.
These are detailed action plans, which identify opportunities in each individual market, the barriers which prevent UK firms from taking advantage of those opportunities, and the levers we can pull to overcome those barriers.
They set out action points for government and for industry, and will be reviewed twice a year to ensure we are on track.
And they are already delivering commercial success.
Through close co-operation between the Treasury, the Foreign Office and Lloyd’s of London, we were able to utilise our respective networks to secure a licence for the Lloyd’s Beijing branch.
They have enabled us to ensure that, in the Indian Insurance Bill which increases the foreign direct investment limit from 26% to 49%, the unique legal structure of Lloyd’s of London is properly reflected in the bill, so as to ensure that Lloyd’s are able to fully operate in the Indian insurance market.
My role in all of this has been to showcase British industry abroad. I recently did this during my visit to South East Asia in October.
For example in Mumbai, I followed up on the Chancellor’s July announcement to establish a Financial Services Partnership with India, and I announced the initial themes of the partnership would include cross-border provision of financial and insurance services.
All of which gives great opportunities for you as you expand your businesses and the range of services you provide.
The pinnacle event of 2014 was the Insurance Regulators and Policymakers Summit, at the start of September.
The summit – coordinated by The City UK – brought together 13 senior insurance officials from markets including China, Brazil and Nigeria. The summit aimed to showcase the UK insurance sector, to deepen their understanding of the UK market and to identify opportunities for industry to take advantage of these emerging markets. In particular, how could we share our skills and best practice to meet gaps in those emerging markets?
I am pleased that the summit has opened further opportunities for UK firms. For instance, recognising the low penetration rate in Brazil, a delegation is coming over early this year, its aim being to attract UK firms to invest in the Brazilian market.
This positive step follows the Chancellor’s visit to Brazil in April last year, where he announced that Hiscox have joined Lloyd’s Brazil reinsurance platform – boosting the amount of business they do in Brazil.
So my message today is: if you want to expand, we will help you do so.
And though the formal implementation of IGAP has been completed, our commitment to the insurance industry remains.
At last year’s Autumn Statement – which I know, after Christmas and the New Year, seems like a very long time ago – the Chancellor announced the following:
Building on the UK’s position as a world leader in the global insurance market, the government will explore options to ensure that the UK’s regulatory and tax regime is as competitive as possible to attract more reinsurance business to the UK.
Of course, we need to do so in a way that preserves the revenue base. As the Chancellor made clear at the Autumn Statement, we are committed to “low taxes, but taxes that will be paid”, which is why the UK has introduced the new diverted profits tax. Your comments on the current consultation – particularly how reinsurance should be treated – are welcome as we finalise the rules to ensure they are clear and targeted.
But we also want to make sure that businesses are here in the first place.
Here in London we have huge depth and knowledge of the international insurance markets and, of course, the reinsurance markets to. By definition, then, both underwriting groups and brokers with London offices are also trading on the world stage. We think of the key Lloyd’s firms such as Amlin, Brit, Hiscox, Beazley & Novae – each with London plc listings. And then the huge ‘distributors’ such as AON, Marsh and Willis.
However, the issue for the UK is not just these organisations utilise the ‘London Hub’ – but that they trade, transact and place their insurance contracts here in London whenever possible – and not, for example, in Bermuda, Zurich or elsewhere.
Increasingly, the proportion of business actually traded in London by these groups is diminishing – so we need to understand why this happens and work out what can be done to ensure ‘London’ is the preferred trading domicile.
So behind the Chancellor’s statement is the question – how can the UK be a more attractive place to transact this business? What are the barriers? How do we create these more favourable conditions in London?
And this is where each of you can help the UK government – by making your views known in detail so that they can be examined and assessed.
I would encourage you to do so through the London Market Group as a really good conduit. In turn, both HM Treasury and Michael Wade are in close touch with the London Market Group to try and bring these issues into urgent consideration in time for the Budget Statement in March.
As many of you may be aware, the London Market Group produced a recent report emphasising the contribution the London insurance market makes to the UK economy. I have already stated the hugely impressive figures.
In total the London market transacts £58 billion in premium per annum, which is equivalent to over a fifth of the City’s contribution to UK GDP. Of the £58 billion, £6.8 billion is from the reinsurance of non-UK domiciled insurance & reinsurance companies, and £23.2 billion relates to the insurance of overseas commercial enterprises. A significant international component, in other words.
I know that we must continue to work together to promote the strengths of the UK financial services sector and to ensure that we continue to remain the global financial centre.
Insurance has a significant role to play in ensuring that the UK and London remains one step ahead of the competition. IGAP has developed the foundations upon which the insurance sector can continue to contribute to the UK’s economic growth – whether in UK infrastructure investment or through developing a skilled workforce.
And I can assure you that we will continue supporting the insurance sector to take advantage of the exciting opportunities the 21st century will present.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today – and I look forward to working with you all in the future.
Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire, on 22 June 2010.
According to the Bank for International Settlements, the amount of global derivatives outstanding is now $1.14 quadrillion; that is more than $1,000 trillion and more than 10 times the GDP of the entire world. It is a vast risk, and not only that; it is largely unregulated and traded between the banks themselves.
I am grateful for this opportunity to give my maiden speech during today’s crucial Budget debate. There is no doubt that the actions we take now to cut our deficit and make our banking system safer will determine how quickly our economy recovers.
In speaking today, I am following in the big footsteps of my predecessor, Tim Boswell. He made his maiden speech during a debate on the Finance Bill in 1987, and I hope I am not tempting fate, because within a few months of his speech the stock market spectacularly crashed.
It is a great pleasure to pay tribute to Tim’s 23 years of service in this House. He is one of a small number of politicians to have been called a saint by The Daily Telegraph and he has certainly been an honourable Member of this House. As well as his many virtues, however, he also has a wicked sense of humour. He recently e-mailed me to tell me he was never going to vote for me again-ever. It was only after a few minutes of sheer panic that I realised that that was his way of giving me the great news of his elevation to the other
place. Tim has many friends on both sides of the House and I am sure many Members will want to join me in congratulating him on his well-deserved new role.
South Northamptonshire is a new constituency, with two thirds of it from Tim Boswell’s Daventry and a third from Northampton South. My family members have worked and farmed there for generations. It is a wonderful place in the heart of England: we have a mixture of ancient villages, with the market towns of Brackley and Towcester; we have thriving new communities on the outskirts of Northampton; and, of course, we have the world-famous Silverstone circuit. Engineering and technology businesses are a great strength, and we also have some big local employers, such as Barclaycard and Carlsberg.
We do have our own challenges, however. Under the last Government Northamptonshire was a huge target for housing growth, with little regard for the needs and desires of existing long-standing communities, and I am very glad that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has announced plans to scrap the regional spatial strategies, thereby giving power back to local people.
We have been beset with applications for wind turbines on the edge of villages, where local residents have felt unable to defend their own environment.
More recently, we have whole communities under threat from Labour’s preferred route for high-speed rail. It would literally cut through farms and villages in my constituency, in some places on a 6 metre-high embankment. We all know that we cannot build new infrastructure painlessly, but there is a huge price to pay by people whose homes and businesses would be destroyed by the track. I urge our Government to make sure that the consultation on high-speed rail gives to everyone whose life and business will be affected the opportunity to have their voice heard. South Northamptonshire is a gem of a place to live, to work and to visit and I am hugely honoured to be its first Member of Parliament.
Let me return to the subject of the debate. To me, it is absolutely key to restore the health of our financial services sector as a critical part of restoring our broken economy. There are two ways of doing that. First, I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already decided to give back extra responsibility to the Bank of England.
In 1995, Barings bank collapsed due to rogue trading in the far east. Nick Leeson had found a way to put on massive uncovered derivatives exposure without the knowledge of Barings’ treasury in London, in a different time zone if not on a different planet. At the time, I was managing the investment banks team at Barclays, and we were the principal banker to Barings. The collapse came on a Friday evening and the markets were threatening chaos, but Eddie George, the then Governor of the Bank of England, called together a small group of bankers, including myself, and we worked over the weekend to calm the fears of banks that were exposed to Barings. The direct result was that there was no run on the banks on the Monday morning, Barings was allowed to fail and there was no systemic contagion.
The difference between that experience and the more recent experience with Northern Rock is the difference between accountability and the tripartite system. In 1995, Eddie George knew that it was down to him to prevent a run on the banks, whereas in the case of Northern Rock, we had the Financial Services Agency looking to the Bank of England, which was looking to the Treasury for action. The result was the first run on a bank in 150 years and a taste of the financial meltdown to come.
From my experience, I am positive that a key to restoring the health of our financial sector is giving back powers and accountability to the Bank of England, and I am delighted that my right hon. Friend plans to do just that.
There is a second key action that we need to take as well. The financial crisis was not just a failure of regulation; it was also a failure of competition. The great Adam Smith always said in his wealth-creation ideas that for markets to be free and for us to create new wealth we have to have free entry and free exit of market players.
But in the world of finance those principles have not been true for years: cost and complexity have created huge barriers to new entry; we have already seen that Governments cannot possibly allow a single bank to fail when there are issues of systemic contagion; and we see every day the distortion of free competition in the power of investment banks to charge huge margins for derivatives trading and underwriting.
So, I and many of my ex-City colleagues argue that a key way of making our banking system safer is through measures to change the culture of our financial sector. The banks that are supposedly too big to fail must be broken up. The barriers to entry must be removed. The ability to charge monopoly prices must be taken away.
In South Northamptonshire, businesses are struggling because of the lack of available working capital, but with our high-tech and engineering expertise we should be really well placed to build new jobs in the low-carbon economy that our Government want to create.
The Government are right to want to promote a broader mix of business in our economy. That mix must contain a successful financial services sector with healthy competition and the free availability of working capital.
It is a mix that will be at the core of our economic recovery.