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I set up this personal website over nine years ago to present a simple account of what I do.
Parliamentary Questions and Debates catalogues my work in the House of Lords.

You can also read about my other interests and various issues which concern me.

Richard Faulkner / House of Lords / London SW1A 0PW

TRIBUTE TO JOHN LEFTWICH



26th May 2020

The University of Worcester shared the sad news that one of the University’s Fellows, John Leftwich, had died following a short illness.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, the previous President of our College of Fellows, pays the following tribute.

“The kind of person you only meet once in a lifetime”; “a wonderful advisor, mentor and friend”; “a giant of a character, and a huge presence in any room”; “passionate and focused on every cause he chose to support in Worcestershire”; “his sense of fun and adventure was infectious to all who knew him”; “John had unrivalled energy, connections and personality, and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude”.


A link to the full tribute here: here


COVID-19: INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

18th MAY 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, this week, the World Health Assembly is meeting in Geneva. This should be an ideal and invaluable opportunity to exchange ideas on best practice and experiences of coping with the Covid-19 pandemic. One would have thought that, in this of all years, the WHA would wish to hear from those who have done best in tackling the crisis. By any objective analysis, Taiwan—I declare my interest as our Government’s trade envoy—has done exceptionally well. As soon as confirmation of the new virus was received on 31 December, Taiwan began implementing quarantine of direct flights from Wuhan. On 2 January, it established a response team for the disease, based on test, trace and isolate. Yesterday was the 10th successive day that Taiwan reported no new Covid-19 cases, keeping the number of those infected at 440. The number of deaths from the virus, in a country of 23 million people, is reported as just seven.

Despite this outstanding record, the WHO refuses to issue an invitation to Taiwan to take part in this year’s assembly. It is disregarding the right to health of 23 million Taiwanese people and ignoring the huge assistance being provided internationally, including the provision of 50 million masks and other medical supplies to countries all around the world, including Africa and the Middle East, and assistance to medics working with Syrian refugees. One million of these masks came from Taiwan to the UK.

Therefore, I hope the Minister will endorse what her noble friend Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said in the House on 10 February:

“we continue to support representations that the Department of Health has made directly in lobbying for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization. We are also working with like-minded countries, including the United States and Australia, to ensure that, at the World Health Assembly which takes place in May this year, Taiwan is represented.”—[Official Report, 10/2/20; col. 2072.]

I hope that she can confirm that that is still the Government’s position.

A link to the complete Hansard here

ARCHBISHOP OF YORK’S DEBATE

6th MAY 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I, too, congratulate the most reverend Primate for securing this debate and for the wonderful way in which he introduced it. This is such an important subject. Many of your Lordships will have seen the front-page lead in last Saturday’s Guardian with the headline “UK’s corona divide”, and,

“People living in poorest areas dying at twice the rate of those in richest areas”.

This is based on new data from the Office for National Statistics.

In my two minutes, I want to draw attention to the part played by tobacco in contributing to these shocking figures. Smoking rates among people in routine and manual jobs are more than twice the national average. Among people who are unemployed, smoking prevalence rises further. Nationally, half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor is due to higher smoking rates among those on low incomes. Smoking caused around 78,000 deaths in England last year and over 400,000 hospital admissions. Data from the UK Covid symptom tracker app shows that smokers are more likely to report Covid-19 symptoms, and smokers with the virus who need hospital care are more likely to die than non-smokers.

This should be a wake-up call. We must do more to improve population health and reduce health inequalities, not just respond in times of crisis. Investing in tobacco control and stop-smoking services to achieve the Government’s ambition of a smoke-free England by 2030 would reduce health inequalities, save lives and lift over a million people out of poverty. While tobacco addiction pushes smokers into poverty, the tobacco industry makes over £900 million in profits in the UK each year. A polluter-pays charge on the tobacco industry, as advocated by the APPG on Smoking and Health—I declare an interest as one of its officers—could provide sustainable financing for the tobacco control measures needed to deliver the Government’s smoke-free ambition and support the majority of smokers who want to quit to do so.

A link to the complete Hansard here

EUROPEAN UNION SELECT COMMITTEE INTEROGATION OF MICHAEL GOVE

5th May 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: Will you describe the practical steps the Government are taking to implement the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol, particularly the customs procedures for goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, providing for the necessary sanitary, phytosanitary controls and regulatory checks in respect of goods entering Northern Ireland from outside the EU?

Michael Gove MP: Our aim is to make sure that we implement the protocol in a way that honours the reason it exists. The protocol is a reflection of the desire of the EU and UK to safeguard the gains that have been made since the Belfast Good Friday agreement of 1998. We all want to ensure that, 22 years on, the communities of Northern Ireland can benefit from the peace established, the prosperity that has grown and the relationships that exist across all our islands. That is the principal aim. One of the things we want to do is make sure that we can both guarantee unfettered access for goods from Northern Ireland to the rest of Great Britain and, at the same time, that the UK can play its part in helping the Republic of Ireland to maintain the integrity of the EU single market.

You are right that one of the most important areas in that respect is live animals and products of animal origin and agri-food products where there will be a need for SPS checks, because Ireland will not be a single epidemiological zone; it will be a single zone for SPS requirements. We believe it is possible to have light-touch checks that can be conducted on the ferry—through transportation—which will ensure that all the requirements can be met, but it is a matter for the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee and the specialised committee to refine those.

The other thing we want to do is to make sure that goods that go from the UK to Northern Ireland and then pass on to the Republic of Ireland are appropriately registered so that tariffs can be paid, if necessary, but it is important to stress that the amount of trade between GB and the Republic of Ireland that goes through Northern Ireland is small. We want to ensure that the checks we have to honour the need to support the protocol and the EU single market are not so onerous that they create financial and administrative burdens for businesses in Northern Ireland, which all of us want to see benefit from these arrangements.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I think you have accepted that there will definitely be checks on food going from Britain to Northern Ireland, and indeed the other way. Can you say more about what those checks will consist of? What are you doing to enable businesses in Northern Ireland to understand them before they come into effect?

Michael Gove MP: The Northern Ireland Office and the business department are engaging closely with businesses in Northern Ireland, because we want to make sure that this is less a matter of the draconian imposition of a new set of burdens and checks but more the effective implementation of the protocol in a way that goes with the grain of business. It is principally the case that to protect the single market checks will be required on products of animal origin going from GB to NI, but it is also the case that the protocol says that goods coming from Northern Ireland into the UK should enjoy unfettered access. It is important we recognise that there is a difference between goods going from Britain into Northern Ireland and then potentially into the Republic of Ireland, and goods coming from Northern Ireland into the rest of the UK, where we do not want to have any unnecessary impediment.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: You will well remember that when it looked as though we might have been leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement a very significant public information campaign was ramped up to prepare the British people for that. Do you think there will be a similar public information campaign to help people in Northern Ireland understand the protocol before it comes into effect? Will there be a training programme to help small businesses understand what is expected of them?

Michael Gove MP: Yes. We do believe that it will be necessary to support business and the wider population to understand. I do not think it will be quite on the scale of the campaign in the run-up to 31 October, because there has been more time and the changes required to implement the protocol would be fewer than those that might have been required to deal with a potential no-deal situation in the past, but the need for engagement and information is clear.

A link to the complete session here

OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES 2021

28th April 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I am sure the Minister will agree that the London 2012 Olympics were one of Britain’s greatest success stories of the last decade. We recall that pride in our NHS was, very presciently, the theme of the opening ceremony choreographed by Danny Boyle. Will she encourage her department to work with the Japanese organising committee and the IOC to ensure that Tokyo 2021 celebrates the restoration of public health worldwide and recognises the generosity of athletes in all sports everywhere, such as the runners in Sunday’s virtual London marathon, who are making such a difference in the present emergency?

A link to the complete Hansard here

COVID-19: PRISONS AND OFFENDER REHABILITATION

23rd April 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, we have been told that life in Britain will be different once the Covid-19 emergency is over. I hope that one change will be in the approach that we adopt towards Britain’s prisons and the men and women who are held there. The Prison Service has struggled to contain overcrowding for at least the last 50 years. Measures to reduce the prison population have been discussed continuously during that time. Governments have sometimes expressed themselves as being in favour, but far too little has been done to bring that about. The Crime, Justice and Protecting the Public White Paper in 1990, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, will remember, described prisons as an, “expensive way of making bad people worse.” Noble Lords will rightly recoil from the idea of executive release to cancel the effect of a sentence lawfully imposed by the court. However, we now have a situation when a prison sentence carries with it a real risk to the life of a prisoner or of prison staff because of the conditions inside the jails, in half of which the coronavirus is present. There has always been a time when prisoners have died in prison—for some time now, there have been over 300 prisoner deaths a year, a third of them by their own hand—but we have to go back to the time of the great 18th-century prison reformer John Howard, after whom the Howard League is named and who was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, to find dangers similar to those that we have today because of Covid-19. In preparing for this debate, I spoke to someone who works at Her Majesty’s Prison Hewell in Worcestershire, described last year by HMIP as “squalid, demeaning and depressing”. As far as spreading the coronavirus is concerned, he said that the prison was as dangerous as a cruise ship—worse in many ways, as the cells are smaller than a typical ship’s cabin. As so many other countries have decided, and as many of your Lordships have said in this debate, the release of prisoners has now become a matter not just of compassion and humanity but of practical necessity to save lives.

A link to the complete Hansard here

COVID-19: FINANCIAL MARKETS

25th March 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

The Government obviously have no responsibility for what is happening in the American markets, but are they watching closely the reports of the short-selling activities in the financial sector, which are having an even more devastating effect than in this country? Are there any lessons that we should learn from the experience in America?

A link to the complete Hansard here

COVID-19: CHARITIES

24th March 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I remind the House of my railway interests, as declared in the register. The Minister will be aware that the heritage railway sector has effectively been wiped out for the whole of this summer season by the emergency. However, will she commend a worthwhile initiative which the HRA—the trade association—has taken to help Network Rail with its laudable aim to keep trains running for the next six months under government control? The heritage sector is volunteering its members, who are retired railway staff, particularly signallers and station staff, to help Network Rail. Will the Minister encourage Network Rail to take up this offer and, maybe, encourage similar groups where volunteers are available and skilled to take on work in the national interest?

A link to the complete Hansard here

COUNTY LINES DRUG TRAFFICKING

19th March 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Does the Minister agree that the work of the West Midlands Police and West Mercia Police in Operation Ballet, led by Detective Inspector Julie Woods, has been exemplary? It led to convictions at the Worcester Crown Court last Friday of 13 individuals who had operated a county lines ​scam starting in London, going to Birmingham New Street station, and then spreading out, with couriers and local people in the towns of Herefordshire and Worcestershire; these towns are not normally associated with drug trafficking, but, in the present circumstances, seem to be hotbeds of this terrible anti-social activity.

A link to the complete Hansard here

GLASGOW MUSEUMS ACQUIRE HISTORIC RAILWAY NAMEPLATE ‘THE RT. HON JOHN SMITH, QC, MP’

14th March 2020

On Saturday 14th I attended a heritage railway event in Glasgow, below is a piece taken from the Glasgow Times.

Glasgow Museums has acquired a railway nameplate of outstanding historic merit, named after John Smith, the late Labour leader and former Member of Parliament for Monklands East. The plate, ‘The Rt. Hon John Smith, QC, MP’, which has been mounted on a wooden backing board, was presented by the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board (RHDAB) in the presence of members of John Smith’s family at Riverside Museum, where the city’s world-class transport and technology collection is exhibited.

RHDAB, co-chaired by Lord Richard Faulkner, selected Glasgow Museums as the recipient of the significant nameplate given John Smith’s connection to the area and the organisation’s reputation for preserving items of railway heritage from across Scotland, together with the impressive scope of the collection in its care. This was a key item on the agenda of the annual Heritage Railway Association Scottish Forum, which took place at Riverside museum this weekend.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Co-Chair of RHDAB and President of the Heritage Railway Association, said: ‘We are deeply grateful to Glasgow Museums for agreeing to accept this iconic nameplate, which commemorates the life of one of Britain’s greatest statesmen. It is a rare honour for trains and locomotives to be named after parliamentarians, and it is wholly fitting that the wonderful Riverside museum should be this nameplate’s final home. I particularly appreciate the efforts of my colleagues in the RHDAB Scottish Support Group for the part they played in ensuring this important part of the story of railways in Scotland is preserved for everyone to enjoy and appreciate for ever.’



An online link to the Glasgow Times can be found here

A link to the press release from The Herald here

A link to the press release from The Metro here

TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE - HS2

11th February 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for the letter of 4 February that she wrote to all Peers who took part in the debate on 23 January. I certainly found it very helpful and encouraging, although not all her noble friends did. I will raise a question that was touched on by her noble friend Lord Haselhurst. The Minister says that, if the project goes ahead, HS2 will create a long-term carbon alternative to domestic flights or driving, and that HS2 can play a key role in achieving the transition to carbon net zero by 2050—something that I wish the Green Party would occasionally take seriously. The Prime Minister’s Statement says that: “Passengers arriving at Birmingham Airport will be able to get to central London by train in 38 minutes, which compares favourably with the time it takes to get from Heathrow by taxi”. Presumably we are not now going to have a third runway.

A link to the complete Hansard here

TAIWAN SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT ISSUES

10th February 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I declare my interest as the Government’s trade envoy to Taiwan; the Minister will know that this constrains me a little in what I can say in the Chamber. Will the Minister take back to his right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary the very great satisfaction among the friends of Taiwan at the statement made by Mr Raab after the legislative and presidential election? He offered warm congratulations to the people of Taiwan on the smooth conduct of those elections, and to Dr Tsai Ing-wen and her party on her re-election.

A link to the complete Hansard here

HRA AWARDS 2020


Here is a picture taken of me and the winner of the 'Lord Faulkner Young Volunteer of the Year' at the Heritage Railway Association annual awards dinner. The winner was Philip Civil of the Chacewater Railway.


A link to the picture on the HRA website can be found here

TAIWAN TOURISM AWARD

29th January 2020:

On 29th January 2020, I was presented an award by Ambassador David Y.L. Lin on behalf of the Tourism Bureau of Taiwan's Ministry of Transport for Special Contribution to Taiwan Tourism. The award was for my contribution to promoting tourism, cultural exchanges and heritage preservation between Taiwan and the UK.
Download and read the full article here