Nusrat Ghani – 2019 Speech on Buses

Below is the text of the speech made by Nusrat Ghani, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, on 6 February 2019.

Good morning everyone.

It’s a pleasure to join you this morning.

I’d like to thank Transport Times for hosting this key event in the bus calendar. And ensuring buses remain high on the agenda as an important driver of mobility, economic growth and community cohesion.

One hundred and twenty years after the first motorised bus services were established in Britain – buses remain by far our most popular, effective, and flexible form of public transport.

Over that time, transport technologies have come and gone.

And travel patterns have changed dramatically.

Yet throughout, buses have remained a constant.

Part of the transport fabric of every town, every city and every region.

You may have seen reports last week that passenger journeys were down slightly.

But the fact remains that two thirds of all public transport journeys in Britain were made by bus and coach last year.

4.4 billion individual bus journeys last year in England alone.

And almost nine in ten passengers say they are satisfied with their bus services.

Which is a tribute to the whole industry.

But these numbers are so much more than just a set of statistics.

Mere figures don’t reflect the purpose of those journeys – nor the benefits they bring to society. Benefits like taking children to school, young people to job interview and pensioners to medical appointments.

Buses are the glue that binds communities together. And they are a vital link for those who may otherwise be isolated and for those who live in rural areas.

But they also keep our high streets busy while tackling congestion and air pollution.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to talk to you about what we are doing in government to ensure that Britain’s bus network not only serves people’s transport needs. But is also set up to continue contributing in all these ways to our society and economy.

First – if we want buses to thrive over the coming decades, it’s vital that we continue to improve, to innovate and to move with the times.

And to do this we have to ensure that buses participate in the digital revolution all around us.

The rise of technology highlighted by innovations such as CityMapper’s journey planning app, as well as ride sharing services like UberPool, are changing the way we get around and the way we think about transport.

Increasingly, mobility is being viewed more as a service planned and paid for via a smartphone. So if bus services are to continue accounting for three quarters of journeys, the industry has to reach out to customers to provide easy access to information about local bus services, fares, payment method and bus stops.

Customers are going to demand real time data about the journey all through easy and convenient apps. And there’s a lot of great work going on to speed up the pace of change.

For example operators are developing contactless and mobile ticketing – making travel more convenient.

But as Secretary of State Chris Grayling said in a speech to the Confederation of Passenger Transport last week the industry also needs to respond to the growth of demand-responsive transport. Through initiatives like travellers being able to request journeys through a smartphone app or minibus services which take passengers where they want, when they want.

That’s exactly what ArrivaClick does, which I saw when I visited Kent last week, as well as Go-Ahead’s PickMeUp service in Oxford and it can do it at a lower cost than a traditional fixed-route, fixed-timetable bus.

Technology changes like these should be seen as an opportunity for the bus industry – not a threat.

For example, we can use innovation to make buses accessible to all.

Last summer I launched our Inclusive Transport Strategy – to help disabled people travel easily, confidently and at no additional cost.

And the Bus Services Act 2017 contained a range of measures to harness technology in order to create better, more accessible services.

Measures such as Accessible Information Regulations, which will speed up the delivery of audible and visible information on board local buses, with £2 million government funding to help smaller bus operators meet this commitment.

The Bus Open Data powers in the Act will also lead to improved services, helping passengers to plan their journeys and secure the best value tickets.

I saw this already happening on a trip to Reading Buses last summer for the launch of their Innovation Centre.

Lastly, the Act enables local transport authorities to partner with local bus operators and introduce benefits like multi-operator smart ticketing, connecting bus timetables and ticketing with other modes of transport, such as rail, to provide more seamless journeys.

Today I also want to highlight greener travel.

Buses have a clear strategic advantage over other road transport in terms of the environment because they have the capacity to reduce car use, ease congestion and improve air quality.

Fifteen percent of the fleet already uses low emission technology, with electric buses now on the streets of Liverpool, Guildford and others, such as Harrogate, which I was pleased to see in person.

We’re supporting innovators to make buses cleaner than ever and last year the government announced £40 million of funding for 20 local authorities through the Clean Bus Technology Fund – providing grants of up to £500,000 to upgrade buses operating in areas of poor air quality, with low emission technology.

And today I am delighted to announce that we are awarding £48 million to operators and local authorities across the country to help buy ultra low emission buses and invest even further in charging technology.

This funding will support the purchase of 263 ultra-low emission buses, ensuring that communities from Cardiff to Nottingham, from Yorkshire to London, from Coventry to Newport, from Manchester to Brighton and many more places around the country can enjoy the benefits of cleaner, greener bus services that benefit society as a whole.

It will also provide £14.2 million of investment in charging infrastructure, further supporting our progress towards greener journeys.

Indeed, this latest investment reinforces the bus industry’s role as a leading contributor to the government’s Road to Zero Strategy and also to our Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, which encourages greener journeys through technological innovation.

But buses also benefit society because of the role they play in improving lives on an individual level.

As lead minister on the role of transport in tackling loneliness, this is a matter close to my heart and it’s essential that we act.

Research by campaign group Greener Journeys found that two thirds of people sometimes feel lonely – while a third admitted that they deliberately catch a bus to ease these feelings.

There’s some really imaginative thinking going on in the industry to examine if there’s more we can do.

For instance, last week Go Ahead launched the Chatty Bus campaign – meaning that from Newcastle to Brighton, Chatty Bus ambassadors were on board buses talking to anyone who wanted a chat.

Stagecoach also redesigned one of its open topped buses, previously used to transport holidaymakers around Skegness into a community bus which provides a friendly place for people to chat and have a cuppa.

And National Express and First Group have been running their own campaigns aimed especially at preventing loneliness among older people.

But stopping the scourge of loneliness will require a much more concerted effort.

Which is why we made a commitment last year, in the government’s Loneliness Strategy, which was itself inspired by the visionary work of my late colleague Jo Cox to work with the transport sector and take action.

So today I am delighted to make a further announcement. That the department is launching a major collaboration with Greener Journeys to explore how we can use buses to further address the issue of loneliness.

This initiative is supported by a pledge from four bus companies, Go Ahead Group, Stagecoach, National Express and First Group to examine the vital role of buses in addressing loneliness.

Whether that’s looking at how bus interiors can be designed to help with social interaction or considering how to roll out even more chatty buses -which have so far proved to be a great success.

This is just the first step and there is huge potential for the transport industry to make a real difference to the lives of people who want more human contact. So I look forward to seeing more great initiatives over the coming year.

I want to finish by talking about a theme which has run throughout this speech – and that’s partnership.

I firmly believe that the quickest and most effective way of improving bus services is through partnership – whether it be through initiatives with government, working with local communities or effective collaboration between operators and local transport authorities to tackle congestion.

I know that many of you are already involved in collaborative initiatives – whether they’re as a result of the government’s £2.5 billion Transforming Cities Fund. Or whether you are taking advantage of the collaborative opportunities afforded by the Bus Services Act. Legislation which provides new and improved ways for local transport authorities to partner with bus operators, like in York, where the city council and operators have launched a customer charter which sets out the standard of service that passengers can expect.

But while we can legislate to encourage partnerships the impetus must come from you.

So I would encourage all of you – operators and local authorities to continue to forge strong relationships which are so critical for achieving many of the goals I’ve spoken about today.

Because if we can build a bright future for this industry, we will also achieve a bright future for the communities you serve.

This will be built on new technologies, like the ultra-low emission buses we are supporting today.

On effective legislation, like the Bus Services Act.

On understanding what customers want.

And on collaboration to tackle issues like loneliness.

These are our objectives for the future – not just to boost bus services and not just to provide better journeys but to build a better society too.

And we will build it through partnership.

Thank you.

Nusrat Ghani – 2019 Speech on the Maritime Sector

Below is the text of the speech made by Nusrat Ghani, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, on 24 January 2019.

Good afternoon everyone,

As I bring today’s event to a close I would like to thank you all for attending.

And express my gratitude to our speakers.

Whose contributions have informed us all.

It has been wonderful to see so many representatives from all sectors of the maritime industry here today.

Your presence underlines the strength of your commitment.

Towards turning the vision for our sector’s future, laid out in Maritime 2050, into a reality.

As the Secretary of State said at the start of this event.

Our industry is on the cusp of an era of change.

But I think today’s event has highlighted that it is also on the edge of a time of great potential.

There will be many opportunities over the coming decades for our industry.

And the document we have launched today outlines a clear vision of how together we will seize them.

And chart an ambitious course for our sector.

As we seek to harness the opportunities of technology.

Strengthen our status as a global maritime leader in the fields of environment, security and trade.

And give the next generation of seafarers the skills needed to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Today marks an important step in our journey towards those goals.

And I hope it will prove to be a catalyst for action to turn our shared vision into a reality.

But while Maritime 2050 examines nearly every aspect of our industry in its more than 300 pages.

From trade to technology.

Security to supply chains.

And regulation to resilience.

At its heart is the people who make up our great industry.

And I’d like to talk about them today.

Without the dedication, skills and talent of its workforce, the UK’s maritime sector quite simply would not be able to function.

For while our industry provides fantastic career opportunities.

And our top quality maritime education institutions — along with the renewed focus on providing high quality apprenticeships — mean that British training for the maritime industry is second to none.

There is still much more we need to do.

Particularly in ensuring that the great career opportunities the maritime industry has to offer are open to everyone. No matter their gender or background.

Unfortunately at present that’s not the case.

Just 4% of the 10,600 UK certified officers active at sea are female.

The reasons for this are many and varied.

But one thing is clear.

This is a situation has got to change.

Of course there is already some great work underway through the Women in Maritime Taskforce.

Last year it launched both the Women in Maritime Pledge and the Women in Maritime Charter — challenging companies to make progress on diversity.

I am delighted that there are already over 100 signatories to the pledge.

And the charter is midway through its pilot phase, with 4 organisations, from across the breadth of the maritime industry taking part.

They are making sure the charter works for all the diverse businesses within it. From training companies to law firms, to ports and marine manufacturers.

But we need to go further still.

This document lays out how we plan to dramatically overhaul the diversity of the maritime sector by 2050.

And let me be clear — this is not a tick box exercise.

Or an attempt at virtue signalling.

It’s handing our sector a wonderful opportunity.

That will serve it well into the future.

Because no industry will reach its full potential if it only takes advantage of a tiny proportion of the talent pool.

There are so many gifted people out there.

And we want them to see all the great things our industry has to offer.

So through Maritime 2050 we have pledged to.

Build on the success of the Women in Maritime Taskforce and other great joint government and industry initiatives.

To highlight the industry’s wide variety of career opportunities, both at sea and on land, to as wide an audience as possible.

This includes funding a project called People Like Me — that will address the image of the industry and dispel myths.

And explore harnessing technology, such as connected ships, to enable seafarers stay in touch with family on shore.

Making periods away from home less isolating — improving mental wellbeing and making a career at sea a possibility for a wider variety of people.

And it’s this theme of technology opening up new horizons for our industry, which runs through Maritime 2050.

But to take advantage of these innovations our workforce must not only be equipped with the right skills.

It must also be ready to adapt and keep pace with technological change.

Over the next 30 years the importance of STEM skills will increase as jobs become more skilled and data driven.

And industry roles will become multi-disciplinary.

For instance in future it may not be simply enough to operate a technological system.

You will probably have to be able to create and maintain it too.

So through Maritime 2050 we have set out our plan to create a culture of continuous learning.

By encouraging maritime employers to offer professional development and training to their workers throughout their careers.

In addition we have committed to develop cutting-edge seafarer training. For instance by using virtual reality technology to enable workers to get to grips with new systems.

And to ensure the industry is fully prepared for the changing recruitment pressures of the future we plan to help assess the needs of the industry through a Maritime Skills Commission.

A body tasked with finding ways of addressing current maritime skills gaps and anticipating future trends.

These are all steps that will not just improve the prospects of maritime workers.

But those of their employers as well.

Through a lower turnover of staff.

Because a happy workforce is a highly motivated one.

And Maritime 2050 recognises the pressures under which many seafarers are placed.

Whether that’s long hours, hard work and periods away from home.

All situations that can put a strain on workers’ mental and physical health.

So a core part of this document focuses on what we can do to help with these issues.

And ensure we are not so entirely absorbed with dealing with technological change that we forget about the human face of the industry.

In the short term we will work with the maritime sector to develop a social framework — laying out the UK’s expectations for the welfare of its workforce.

And work in the near future to finalise the introduction of a National Minimum wage for mariners in our waters, while producing guidelines that will help employers ensure that workers’ mental health is properly considered.

And we will use our influence through the IMO and International Labour Organization to push to improve conditions for seafarers on a global level. For instance through a limit on hours by shift and eradicating modern day slavery.

A diverse and highly skilled workforce.

Incredible technology.

And fantastic opportunities.

Those are just some of the many things to which our industry has got to look forward over the coming decades.

And Maritime 2050 lays out how we can make the most of this new world.

I know that many of you in this room have contributed and shaped this document over the past year.

And I thank you for your efforts.

And I want us to continue in that spirit of collaboration and cooperation.

Industry and government.

Working together, sharing ideas, and building a better future for the maritime sector in this country.

And it’s difficult to think of a better example than London International Shipping Week which will take place in September.

When government and the UK maritime industry will join forces and showcase this country’s shipping industry to the world.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing you all there.

It should be a great event.

And today was certainly another.

So finally I’d like extend my thanks to the International Maritime Organisation for hosting us this afternoon.

And helping to ensure the launch of Maritime 2050 was a success.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who has contributed to this document.

In particular I’d like to thank staff at my department for their efforts and hard work over the past 12 months.

Your time has been truly well spent.

As this document is an important milestone in preparing our industry for the coming decades.

For it’s clear that the future of maritime in this country will be different from its past.

But no less exciting.

And I hope today we have sparked your imagination and stoked your ambition.

So we can harness technology to grasp the opportunities of the future.

So that we can build a sector that is open to everyone.

And so we can create a maritime industry ready to lead the world.

Nusrat Ghani – 2019 Statement on Future Maritime Policy

Below is the text of the statement made by Nusrat Ghani, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, to the House of Commons on 24 January 2019.

I am today announcing the publication of Maritime 2050: Navigating the Future, the government’s landmark strategy setting out our vision and ambitions for the future of the British maritime sector.

Our nation depends on the wide range of benefits the maritime sector delivers. It contributes over £14 billion a year to the UK economy and directly supports an estimated 186,000 jobs. Around 95% of British imports and exports are moved by sea. The leisure and marine sectors are vital to our enjoyment of the seas. Our maritime clusters around the UK showcase the diversity of our regional economies, from professional services in London to ship management and educational excellence in Scotland.

We rightly take pride in our maritime past. Maritime 2050 is about looking forward; anticipating the challenges and opportunities ahead and recognising the UK’s strengths so we are well placed to capitalise on them. Maritime 2050 looks at these across 7 themes and under each makes short, medium and long-term recommendations:

UK competitive advantage
people
environment
technology
infrastructure
trade
security and resilience

It highlights multi-billion pound commercial investment in maritime infrastructure at ports and beyond. Our unwavering commitment to safety and security. Our reputation for innovation, paving the way on regulatory frameworks and technology to facilitate smart shipping and autonomy; leading the way in clean maritime growth. But no matter how far advances in ships and technology take us, it sets out how the people graduating from our maritime training and academic institutions will reflect the world around us and continue to be sought after across the globe for their skills.

As the global maritime sector adapts to challenges such as climate change, rapid technological advances and security concerns, Maritime 2050 sets a series of strategic ambitions around which government and the sector will focus its efforts, and core values which we will be guided by.

The partnership between government and the maritime sector has been vital to the development of this strategy. It began in March 2018 with a call for evidence, seeking to reach all branches of the sector, complemented by workshops around the UK to capture the views from across our maritime clusters, and interviews with leaders in industry and academia. Maritime 2050 has also benefited from the advice and scrutiny of an independent panel of 13 internationally respected academics, industry leaders, maritime business services providers and promotional bodies. As a result, Maritime 2050 reflects the depth and breadth of the UK’s rich maritime sector.

A copy of Maritime 2050 has been placed in the library of both Houses and is available on GOV.UK, together with the trade and technology route maps setting out in greater detail the steps needed to achieve the UK’s strategic maritime ambitions.

Nusrat Ghani – 2018 Statement on Wheelchair Spaces on Buses

Below is the text of the statement made by Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport and Assistant Government Whip, in the House of Commons on 7 March 2018.

Government believes that where people live, shop, go out, or park their car should not be determined by their disability and recognises the importance of accessible transport networks in supporting disabled people to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.

In January 2017 the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the case of Paulley vs FirstGroup PLC, concerning the “reasonable adjustments” which must be provided by bus operators to enable wheelchair users to access the on-board wheelchair space.

The Supreme Court judgment states that FirstGroup’s policy with regard to use of the wheelchair space was insufficient to meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, and that bus drivers should be required to do more than simply request that a person vacates the wheelchair space, including suspending the journey if needed. The judgment did not provide clarity on precisely what action a service provider should require its drivers to take or how the needs of both passengers in wheelchairs and other bus users, disabled or otherwise, should be taken into account.

In order to understand the implications of the judgment for disabled people, the bus industry and other passengers, and to identify actions for government and others to take to ensure that required adjustments can be provided on buses we established a stakeholder ‘Task and Finish Group on the Use of Wheelchair Spaces on Buses’ (the group).

The group’s report to ministers stated that:

Our view is that drivers need to play an active role in ensuring that the wheelchair space is made available for passengers in wheelchairs, which includes requiring other passengers to move where necessary, but that drivers also need more powers than they have currently to enable them to do this effectively.

The group agreed that that whilst wheelchair users should be granted access to the on-board wheelchair space they may not be the only passengers who rely on using it, but that where other passengers do not have such a need they should be expected to vacate the space in order that it can be occupied by a wheelchair user.

The group made 4 specific recommendations:

That the Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) Regulations 1990 (the Conduct Regulations) are amended to enable drivers to remove passengers from the bus who unreasonably refuse to move when requested from the wheelchair space

The associated guidance is amended to better reflect the behaviours expected from drivers and passengers with respect to use of the wheelchair space

Further work is conducted to consider how best to raise public awareness of the behaviours expected from passengers with respect to the wheelchair space, for example a public awareness campaign, or improved signage on buses

That conditions of carriage and disability awareness training best practice guidance are updated to reflect the fact that passengers will be required to move from the wheelchair space should it be required by a passenger in a wheelchair

I am grateful to the group for their careful consideration of this complex issue.

Government agrees with the group that the wheelchair space should be available to those who need it and that the balance of measures proposed, supporting bus drivers to facilitate access to the wheelchair space, and creating an environment where the needs of disabled passengers are recognised and respected should help to overcome the barriers still faced by some disabled people when using bus services.

In accepting the group’s recommendations in principle we will begin a process of further engagement to understand the specific experiences of a range of stakeholders affected by the wheelchair space issue, including wheelchair users, parents travelling with young children, and bus drivers – with a view to bringing forward a package of measures in 2018, informed by the group’s recommendations and our further consideration, to support access to the wheelchair space.

Disabled people make 10 times as many journeys by bus as by rail, and it is essential that the services they rely upon to access education, employment, social and leisure activities are accessible to them. We hope that in supporting access to the wheelchair space for those who need it we will help many more disabled people to travel with confidence.

Copies of the Task and Finish Group’s report to ministers and accompanying letter have been placed in the House libraries.

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.

Nusrat Ghani – 2016 Statement on Deaths of Journalists

NusratGhani

Below is the text of the speech made by Nusrat Ghani in the House of Commons on 1 February 2016.

Marie Colvin was a The Sunday Times journalist killed in Syria in 2012, while reporting from the siege of Homs. She passionately believed that through her work she could be the voice of all those experiencing conflict, from whatever perspective. During the latter part of her life, her determination to be that voice had a physical manifestation: an eye patch, the result of injuries sustained in Sri Lanka, where she was hit by shrapnel as she tried to cross the front line.

Following her death, the columnist Peter Oborne wrote:

“Society urgently requires men and women with courage, passion and integrity to discover the facts that those in authority want to suppress.”

Marie Colvin herself said:

“In an age of 24/7 rolling news, blogs and Twitter, we are on constant call wherever we are. But war reporting is still essentially the same—someone has to go there and see what is happening. You can’t get that information without going to places where people are being shot at, and others are shooting at you.”

The relationship between Members of this House and the fourth estate—our friends up in the Press Gallery—is complicated, but although much of modern-day politics could often be described as a conflict zone, we do not daily put our lives on the line in our place of work. When a member of our armed forces is killed in a conflict zone, the Prime Minister rightly takes a moment at the beginning of Prime Minister’s questions to remind the nation of the sacrifice that that brave serviceman or woman has made. But with the notable exception of people such as Marie Colvin, we do not hear anywhere near as much about the sacrifices made by a large number of professional and citizen journalists every year in the name of newsgathering.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, which I want to thank on the record for its assistance in preparation for this debate, has recorded that 98 journalists were killed last year. It has been definitively confirmed that 71 of them were murdered in direct reprisal for their work; were killed in crossfire during combat situations; or were killed while carrying out a dangerous assignment, such as covering a street protest.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) I sought the hon. Lady’s permission last week to intervene. Statistics from the International Federation of Journalists show that 2,297 journalists and media professionals were killed in the past quarter of a century. That is an enormous number. They were standing up for the freedom of speech that we take for granted in this country. Does she agree that the United Kingdom and other liberal democracies should be promoting free speech and liberty across the globe, through the media and through journalism?

Nusrat Ghani The hon. Gentleman makes an important point: the numbers are vast in the past 50 years or so. I hope that the Minister will respond on that, and I will ask him to do so towards the end of my speech. The International Federation of Journalists puts the number even higher than the CPJ, saying that at least 112 were killed last year.

Professional journalists in conflict zones, such as those working for the BBC and Sky, are fortunate to have extensive support from their employers. Employees of those organisations undergo hostile environment training in preparation for travelling to conflict zones to check that they are adequately prepared for the dangers that they will face.

Recently, a member of staff working for a major British media outlet in the middle east was approached by a man who verbally abused him, accusing him of being a traitor and a collaborator. His companions intervened, but another eight people arrived on the scene carrying batons and knives. The journalist ran away and took refuge in a nearby shop. However, two of his companions were heavily beaten up and received hospital treatment from the injuries they sustained.

The incident was reported by the staff member to the high risk team, which subsequently deployed a security adviser to the country to conduct a security review for that individual, and put additional security measures in place to support the staff. However, increasingly, our news comes not just from professional journalists, whose names, faces and employers we recognise, but from stringers and citizen journalists. Stringers are unattached freelance journalists and citizen journalists are members of the public—independent voices.

The ability of citizen journalists to share stories has an effect on professional journalists. The pressure to go deeper into conflict zones is greater. One of the defining features of a war reporter these days is that they are embedded in the conflict. Today, they are on the frontline, or in enemy territory.

Increasingly, we understand that many of the world’s conflicts today are conflicts of narrative. In the middle east, Daesh wants to control what the conflict looks like. It wants a monopoly over stories and images. More than ever, the narrative is what people are fighting over. Daesh wants to recruit with images, and the reality disseminated by journalists challenges that propaganda. Any citizen journalist can break the propaganda machine. Anyone with a phone is an opponent.

Daesh sees journalists as spies. It sees them as western actors who seek to disrupt the Daesh narrative by reporting on its weaknesses and failures, and that makes them a target. The philosopher Walter Benjamin said:

“History is written by the victors.”

That remains true, but the victors, and the course of the fight, are now a consequence of what is written, and that is even more the case now than it was in Benjamin’s time. That makes it even more important that we protect and honour those journalists, whether professional or citizen.

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet said last year:

“We often say that journalists are no longer on the frontline. But we are the frontline…We are targeted in a way we never have been before… now journalists are seen as bounty and as having propaganda value.”

Journalists in conflict zones are not ordinary members of the public. They tell the stories that allow us to understand what is truly going on in the confusion and propaganda of warfare, and they carry out a vital public service.

Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con) I thank my hon. Friend for giving way and I congratulate her on securing this very important debate. Does she agree that the pace of news in the modern age means that we can no longer wait for dispatches to be informed about what is going on in conflict zones? Journalists are best positioned to give us this real-time accurate information of what is really going on.

Nusrat Ghani I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. Conflict is changing incredibly quickly. Lots of chaotic terrorism acts are happening all over the world, and, quite often, we rely on journalists to be our eyes and ears on the ground.

My discussions with journalists and their employers in recent days have highlighted what I consider to be a gap in the service provided by the Foreign Office to those taking risks to bring truth and to hold people to account. Will the Foreign Office consider making it the policy of British embassies and consuls abroad to hold a register of journalists working in conflict zones within the relevant country at any one time? At the moment this process is ad hoc. On registration, the embassy would and should provide a security briefing on the situation in that country or the neighbouring country if it is in conflict, increasing the ability of journalists to protect themselves, and their employer’s ability to ensure that they are acting according to legitimate and expert advice.

The role of foreign Governments in the protection of journalists is an important one. Will the Minister outline what expectations the Foreign Office currently has of foreign Governments to do everything they can to protect journalists who are British, or working for British-based media outlets, and to challenge them to extend that protection to their own local journalists? Will he consider making it a requirement for negotiations with foreign Governments, especially when embarking on diplomatic relations with emerging democracies, that the protection of journalists is an issue on the table?

The British Government have rightly identified Bangladesh and Pakistan as critical countries in the region and we have partnered with them as a result. Yet in Bangladesh, for example, bloggers are killed by al-Qaeda and others because of what they write. Last year, over 40% of journalists killed in Bangladesh were killed by Islamic extremists because they just disagreed with the words that were written.

In Pakistan in 2006, it is documented that the Government prepared a list of 33 columnists, writers and reporters in the English and Urdu print media and tried to neutralise the “negativism” of these writers by making them “soft and friendly”, and one could interpret that as going a bit beyond a friendly chat. I have more up-to-date testimonies, but the journalists concerned were reluctant for me to raise that on the Floor of the House today. Will the Foreign Office consider making it a requirement that countries that we are partnered with show clear intent to protect the rights of journalists, both professional and citizen? We must not flinch from exporting our proud British values of freedom of the media and of expression.

I will finish by talking about Ruqia Hassan, a citizen journalist in Syria who used her Facebook page to describe the atrocities of daily life in Raqqa, until she went silent in July last year. It has been reported that her last words were:

“I’m in Raqqa and I received death threats, and when Isis [arrests] me and kills me it’s ok because they will cut my head and I have dignity it’s better than I live in humiliation with Isis.”

It has been speculated that her Facebook page was kept open for months so that other citizen journalists could be lured in and so that they too, in turn, could be silenced.

Naji Jerf, a 38-year-old activist who reported for the website “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently”, was also murdered late last year following his final work, “Islamic State in Aleppo”, which exposed human rights violations in the city. His murderers disagreed with him that anyone should hear about those violations. I believe he is the fourth person from “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” to have been murdered so far.

Individuals such as these are part of conflict, and through our consumption of news we are complicit in their participation, but they take the risks. We must honour their bravery, and their pride in what they were, and still are, doing, by highlighting their contribution not only to our understanding of what is going on in conflict zones, but also their contribution to ending conflict by shedding light on it, and we must do all we can to defend their right to do what they do, and protect them as they go about it.