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


23rd March 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

A question I asked on the subject of online harms in football:
Lord Faulkner of Worcester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are planning to take to remove anonymity from persons who post racist and other similarly offensive material attacking (1) sportspeople, and (2) other high profile public figures, on social media sites.

Baroness Barran (Con)

My Lords, the Government are clear that being anonymous online does not give anyone the right to abuse others. We are taking steps through the online harms regulatory framework to ensure that online abuse is addressed, whether anonymous or not. The police already have a range of legal powers to identify individuals who attempt to use anonymity to escape sanctions for online abuse. We are working with law enforcement to review whether the current powers are sufficient to tackle illegal anonymous abuse online.

Lord Faulkner (Lab)

Can the noble Baroness be more specific about what the online safety Bill will achieve? Presumably, it will force social media companies to take down the racist and sexist rantings of some of their customers and lead to prosecutions where the abuse goes far beyond any free-speech justification. How much has happened since the Culture Secretary’s welcome statement on 8 February that those companies can start showing their duty of care to footballers today by weeding out racist abuse now, and will football be a specific priority in the hate crime unit looking at online discrimination against protected characteristics, as specified under the 2010 Equality Act?

A link to the complete Hansard here

A link to the Online Harms White Paper here


22nd March 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, the Minister is right to draw attention to the success of the vaccination programme, but does he not agree that last Thursday’s Statement is rather light on advice on what people should do to protect themselves and others until the lockdown ends? In particular, there is no reference to the need to continue wearing face coverings. The Minister will recall that he kindly wrote to me about this on 28 January. His letter included the advice that, “The public should not challenge people for not wearing a face covering.” Will he now consider changing that advice as, surely, the wearing of masks is as important as social distancing and avoiding large gatherings?
A link to the full statement here A link to the full statement here


25th February 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Here is a letter I wrote to the Guardian. I wrote this follow-up because the original full page obituary contained no reference to heritage railways or to her presidency of the HRA.
"Dame Margaret Weston was the first president of the Heritage Railway Association, and well into her 80s took a hands-on role, cajoling Britain’s heritage railways into professionalism and maintaining high standards of reliability and safety. She was passionate about working with and motivating the volunteers who provided the backbone of their operations."
This photo, from HRA Press Officer, John Crane, shows Chris Smyth and
Dame Margaret Weston presenting the Heritage Railway Association's 2006/7
Carriage and Wagon competition award to representatives of the BASH
(Bluebell Ashbury Supporters and Helpers) team.

A link to my letter can be found here

A link to the original online obituary can be found here


I am pleased and honoured to be asked to be the Patron of the Downs Light Railway Trust.

The Downs Light Railway is the world’s oldest private light railway, with a rich educational heritage that celebrates its centenary in 2025. The science, technology, and engineering related activities provided by the Downs Light Railway are inspired by the tradition of steam railways, are no less relevant to today’s generation of young people compared to those in the 1920s.

A link to a PDF of the Centenary Development Programme here


19th January 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

I congratulate the Minister on the welcome commitment to modal shift that she made in reply to the last question. Is she aware, however, that extended journey times caused by the need to change from diesel to electric traction are one of the greatest deterrents to growing the rail freight business? The EU Goods Sub-Committee recently took evidence from a major freight operator which said it would it prefer to use the railway from east coast ports like Felixstowe, but journey times by road to the midlands and the north were much shorter. Will the Minister encourage her department to look at modest electrification projects that would make a real difference to the rail freight business?
Reply from Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con):

Of course, we will look at modest electrification projects when and if they are brought forward. The issue of journey times is important, but rail freight has the advantage of being able to carry less urgent goods—heavy construction materials, for example—over long distances. Therefore, it can be used for lots of different types of freight, which is to its advantage.

A link to the complete debate here


18th January 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, does the Minister recall that, when the Prime Minister made his extremely welcome announcement on 11 February that the Government were proceeding with HS2, he said:

“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”?—(Official Report, Commons, 11/2/20; col. 712.)

In view of that, can the Minister give a commitment that her department will look very carefully at HS2’s potential for shifting traffic from domestic flights to trains, as that would make a huge difference to the carbon emissions target?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton's Reply:

Any expansion by Heathrow would already be assessed according to modern environmental standards because, of course, the ANPS is future-proof: London Heathrow must show that its plans are compatible with updated carbon targets and international obligations before it can obtain a DCO for the project.

A link to the complete debate here


30 december 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the debate with regards to safety on public transport.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, I shall speak about the wearing of face coverings on public transport. What do the Government intend to do about the attacks on public-spirited individuals who attempt to encourage non-wearers of masks to comply with the law? What advice can they offer to members of the public who believe that the law should be obeyed but are deterred by the threat of physical violence on confronting the lawbreakers?

Yesterday the Evening Standard reported the case of a train passenger who was attacked with a knuckleduster and put in hospital after he asked two men to wear face masks. He was kicked as he got off the train at Barnes station and then beaten up on the platform. He suffered a punctured lung and multiple broken ribs. In an earlier incident in October, an NHS worker confronted a group of two men and a woman on a District line train and asked them why they were not wearing masks. He too was attacked, punched several times on the side of the head and then thrown off the train on to the platform at High Street Kensington. I suspect that a number of your Lordships may have remonstrated with non-wearers of masks on trains, tubes or buses and been rewarded with mouthfuls of vile abuse for doing so; I recall my noble friend Lady Thornton recounting such an incident in your Lordships’ House, and I certainly have.

If we ask public transport workers to support us, they tell us they have no powers to enforce mask wearing. That even goes for Transport for London bus drivers, who will not refuse boarding to non-mask- wearing passengers. My appeal to the Minister is to take whatever powers are needed to get the law enforced, issue new instructions to public transport operators and help all of us who support the policy to stay safe —both from the threat of the virus and from the threat of the thugs.

A link to the complete debate here


30th November 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Speaking on Lord Adonis’s amendment which would have required the Secretary of State within six months of this Act being passed to lay before Parliament the Government’s plans for a Bill providing for the construction of a high-speed railway from the West Midlands directly to Sheffield and Leeds, I said:

My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, who is a most distinguished retired railway manager. He was working for the railway for many years in the last century, and he was a very prominent figure in the industry when I was working for the Board in the 1970s and 1980s.

This has been a remarkable debate in that every single speaker has spoken in favour of the amendment tabled by noble friend Lord Adonis, with cross-party support. I find it very heartening that there is such support for High Speed 2 across the House, and indeed in the other place as well. It is right that the Minister has been praised for backing it so wholeheartedly. Column 528is located here

I hope that she will not disappoint us when she responds to the debate and gives her view on what happens to this amendment.

May I correct one thing that the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, said about Pacers? He may not be aware of it, but there is a Pacer rail group, dedicated to buying at least one of these trains. There are Pacers in use on heritage railways now, and there will be one in the National Railway Museum. If he redevelops a wish to see Pacers, they will be around for some while yet, although happily not on the national network.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Government on supporting the railways of Britain, not just through the present emergency but committing to their expansion in the future as well. That is why it is important that these good intentions are not undermined in the case of the eastern link of High Speed 2. There is a cross-party consensus that increasing the capability, the capacity and the use of the national electrified rail network is crucial to delivering the Government’s zero carbon agenda. No other transport project comes as close to achieving that goal as High Speed 2. Travelling on High Speed 2 will emit almost seven times fewer carbon emissions per passenger kilometre than the equivalent car journey, and 17 times fewer than the equivalent domestic flight.

Part of the essential case for High Speed 2 is the need to create new capacity on the three main lines going north from Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross to allow substantial numbers of extra freight trains to run on them. The eastern branch of HS2, connecting Birmingham and the cities of the East Midlands with Sheffield and Leeds is, therefore, vital. We know from the 10-year experience of modernising the west coast main line earlier this century that attempting to create a 21st-century railway by tinkering with a Victorian one creates years of disruption, delay and increased cost. The situation would be as bad or worse if the same were to be tried with the Midland main line and the east coast main line, rather than building the eastern leg of High Speed 2.

I finish with a comment from the director of Transport for the North, Tim Wood, in an interview with Modern Railways magazine in the current edition. He said that the eastern leg is as important as the 2b route to Crewe, Manchester and Liverpool:

“We all welcome the move, as further progress in delivering a step change for rail travel in the north. The plans to integrate the network on the east of the Pennines need full commitment and to be progressed at speed as well.”

I do hope that the Minister will agree, and that she will accept the amendment.

A link to the complete debate here


16th November 2020: The Guardian

My brother, David Faulkner, who has died aged 86, was a distinguished career civil servant from 1959 to 1992, serving mostly in the Home Office before becoming an Oxford academic, a trustee of numerous charities and the author of books on criminal justice, better government, civil renewal and public service reform.

His ambition in the Home Office was to establish a humane and just criminal justice system and he worked towards that as head of the department’s prison department, trying to reduce the size of the jail population and advocating for alternatives to prison to be seen as socially productive, rather than soft options.

After he retired from the Home Office, with the rank of deputy secretary, he became senior research associate at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Criminological Research, and a fellow of his old college, St John’s. He was also chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform, a trustee of the Thames Valley Partnership, and, with Lord (Rodney) Elton, helped to run the charity Divert, which aims to keep children out of crime and persuade magistrates to prefer non-custodial sentences. He knew more about juvenile justice systems than anyone.

David’s passion away from his work was railways. He built an enormous model railway in the loft of his house in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of timetables and history. I interviewed him last year for an oral history project about his recollections of rail travel. Every journey was recalled in meticulous detail.

David was born in Peking (Beijing), where our father, Harold, was manager of the Chartered Bank. Our mother, Mabel (nee Riley), had gone out to teach at Raffles school in Singapore, where they met and married in 1932. The family left China in 1937 after the Japanese invasion, and David spent a lot of the second world war at our grandparents’ home in Cradley in the shadow of the Malvern Hills, which he grew to love and returned to many times during his life.

Our father became manager of the bank in Manchester, and David went to Manchester grammar school, followed by Merchant Taylors’ school in Northwood, Middlesex, after the family moved south in 1950. He studied classics and philosophy at Oxford (securing a double first), did two years’ national service as a second lieutenant in the Intelligence Corps, and then went to the Home Office as a fast stream entrant.

In 1961 married Sheila Stevenson, whom he met at the Home Office while she was a secretary there. She survives him, as do their children, Martin and Rosemary, and five grandchildren, Louise, David, Jonathan, Heather and James.

A link to the obituary in the guardian here


16th November 2020: The Guardian

My contribution to Sir Harold Evan's obituary in the Guardian
Harold Evans, the son of an engine driver, did much as the editor of the Sunday Times to resist government attempts to drastically reduce Britain’s rail network.

In October 1972 the paper revealed plans that would see no railways west of Plymouth, nothing in Scotland north and west of Perth and Aberdeen, only a single line to Great Yarmouth, and much more of the same. It had been sent a copy of a secret report by Richard Hope, the editor of the Railway Gazette, who had received it from a civil servant, Reg Dawson. They took huge risks in revealing what was in this “Blue Book”.

Evans was interviewed and told that he and two of his reporters faced prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. The phones of staff on the Railway Gazette, at home and at work, were illegally tapped and one was threatened with having his gay relationship exposed. But once the phone tapping was exposed in the Sunday People, the appetite for an anti-press witchhunt diminished and the attorney general found that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone.

A link to my contribution in the guardian here


12th November 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the Motion 22A (as an amendment to the Motion on Amendment 22)

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, it a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, and, like him, I declare a Channel Island interest in that I chair the Alderney Gambling Control Commission and am a vice-chair of the Channel Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group. To say that the inclusion of the permissive extent clause in Clause 52 has upset the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey is an under- statement. They are affronted by it, and for very good reason. The clause is neither necessary nor appropriate; it respects neither the bailiwicks’ legislative autonomy nor their centuries-old constitutional relationship with the Crown. This is almost exactly the view taken by your Lordships’ Constitution Committee, to which the noble Lord, Lord Beith, referred.

I shall quote another section of that report, which states:

“The long-standing practice of the United Kingdom when it ratifies an international agreement has been to do so on behalf of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and any of the Crown Dependencies that wish the international instrument to apply to them. Where legislation has been required, it has been enacted by the Crown Dependencies’ own legislatures, subject to the usual requirements for Royal Assent, and any potential differences of view have been dealt with in bilateral discussion rather than by the imposition of legislation from Westminster.”

The report goes on to state:

“We recommend that the Bill be amended so that consent of the governments of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man (as appropriate) is required prior to the use of these powers.”

The crucial word here is “consent”.

Reading the Hansard report of the Bill’s Report stage in the House of Commons, I commend the speech of Sir Robert Neill MP, the chairman of the Justice Committee:

“There is a long-standing constitutional convention … that the normal process is that we legislate for the Crown dependencies only with their consent. They are not former colonies or British territories, and they are not part of the United Kingdom in the strict sense. They are possessions of Her Majesty the Queen, by right of her position as successor to the Duchy of Normandy. That is why they do not have representation here. Where necessary, their legislative dealings with the UK Government are dealt with historically through the Privy Council, and are now safeguarded by the Ministry of Justice via the person of the Lord Chancellor. So their constitutional position is different.

The Government have recognised that in the past, for example in tax transparency legislation, where this House accepted that although we have the power to legislate for overseas territories, we do not constitutionally have the power to legislate for the Crown dependencies in a like manner.”—[Official Report, Commons, 13/10/20; cols. 307-08.]

It is almost exactly one month since this government amendment was first considered. The Bill started in your Lordships’ House on 29 January. It received our normal thorough scrutiny, with four days in Committee in March and two on Report in June. Throughout all those stages, and indeed during the Commons consideration at Second Reading and in Committee, there was no reference to this new clause.

The Minister said that the Government would have preferred to introduce the new clause earlier with the consent of the Crown dependencies, and indeed there were discussions between Defra officials and the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey in July, after the Bill had left your Lordships’ House, about the inclusion of a PEC. The island Governments, however, made it clear, verbally and in writing, that they did not want a PEC included; in other words, they denied their consent to it, pointing out that the bailiwicks are responsible for ensuring that they fulfil all the international obligations to which they have agreed to be bound, including by making legislation themselves in their respective jurisdictions.

The islands meet these international obligations by implementing appropriate policies and making and enforcing relevant legislation. The Channel Islands can legislate very quickly, if needed, to comply with international obligations and to resolve any international situations, as they have in the past. Any issues that arose could be dealt with effectively by the islands themselves, and the PEC is therefore unnecessary, and, from a constitutional point of view, wholly undesirable.

At this stage, I draw the House’s attention to the views of my noble friend Lady Pitkeathley, who is the only Guernsey-born Member of your Lordships’ House. She cannot take part in this debate but she has sent me this note:

“I was planning to focus on the issue of trust. Trust which has always existed … between the Channel Islands and what is affectionately known as ‘The Mainland’ or ‘The Other Side’. Every islander has relatives, friends, connections ‘over the other side’ and it is almost taken for granted that the interests of the two jurisdictions coincide, even while recognising and being proud of their own distinctions. It will be a source of great distress that this trust should be undermined as this legislation threatens to do and is surely not in the long term interests of either my home island or those of the government. The relationship between Guernsey and the UK government is based on mutual respect and an understanding of different perspectives and for the government to make these changes without any communication, let alone consultation, shows a gross lack of respect for the constitutional relationships which have worked well for decades. This is a constitutional issue, not one confined to fishing and would set a most unhelpful precedent for future relationships between the ‘dear Channel Islands’ and the UK.”

As I am sure your Lordships will be aware, “our dear Channel Islands” was how Winston Churchill described them in his liberation broadcast on 8 May 1945.

I do not want to be unfair to the Minister, or indeed to the Fisheries Minister, Victoria Prentis, as in recent days they have attempted to persuade Ministers in Guernsey and Jersey that what they are attempting to do is fair and reasonable. I should express my own appreciation that they took the trouble to talk to me last Tuesday.

I heard from Victoria Prentis’s office on Tuesday this week that Defra will “establish a committee to discuss the Crown dependencies’ international obligations”.

We heard a similar commitment from the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, this afternoon. That would be a tiny step forward, but it does not alleviate the Channel Islands’ concerns and would not justify the inclusion of the PEC in the Bill. In his letter to the Constitution Committee on 2 November, the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, gave his “absolute assurance that it is still government policy that legislation should not be extended to the Crown dependencies without first consulting their Governments and seeking their consent.”

When he replies to this debate, can he clarify that absolute assurance: that, in consulting the bailiwicks, the Government would act only once they had not just sought but received their consent, and that that is not just government policy but long-standing, established constitutional principle and practice? If he accepted that, he would at least be following the recommendation of our own Constitution Committee. If he does not do that, I really cannot see any alternative other than to agree to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Beith.

“External involvement in the form of a regulator supported by statutory powers is required to reform the way our national game is governed”?

A link to the complete debate here


10th November 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the question asking Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to provide financial support to English Football League teams whilst restrictions are in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, may I press the Minister on my noble friend Lord Bassam of Brighton’s question about the timetable for the establishment of the fan-led review into football governance? When she has answered that, can she also say whether it will take account of the excellent report Saving the Beautiful Game: Manifesto for Change, published last month by the distinguished group chaired by the former FA chair David Bernstein? In particular, will it take account of its central recommendation:

“External involvement in the form of a regulator supported by statutory powers is required to reform the way our national game is governed”?
A link to the complete debate here


28th October 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the debate on the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill:

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, I wish to draw the Committee’s attention to the risk to future public health policy as a result of the inconsistent nature of this Bill and focus on the impact of artificially splitting the public health exclusion so that it applies unevenly across the market access principles.

I will concentrate on Amendments 39A, 47A and 52A —tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham—to which I have added my name and which are also supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover. As the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, said, the exclusions to the market access commitment differ between mutual recognition and non-discrimination. I struggle to understand the rationale of legislation that recognises the importance of allowing policy that is necessary to protect some aspects of human health but provides no equivalent avenue for others. This is not a continuation of how our internal market is currently regulated, but a significant departure from it.

The example of minimum unit pricing for alcohol, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Young, illuminates the risk of arbitrary distinctions. Much of the discussion in the House of Commons on this Bill’s health impacts revolved around its potential effects on minimum unit pricing, which arguably was covered by the mutual recognition principle. If it were covered by mutual recognition, this could have rendered any future similar policy—possibly even modifications of the existing minimum pricing regime—largely untenable due to the lack of a public health exclusion from mutual recognition.

In responding to this, rather than applying a public health exclusion to mutual recognition, the Government instead moved minimum unit pricing and similar manner-of-sale policies from mutual recognition. When introducing these amendments, the Minister in the other place said:

“We are taking the opportunity to put it beyond any possible doubt that alcohol minimum unit pricing-type regulation and any other sales requirements are not in the scope of the mutual recognition principle, unless they amount in practice to a total ban on a good being sold.”—[Official Report, Commons 29/9/2020; col. 189.]

While your Lordships may consider that this represents an improvement at face value, on closer inspection, it is a cause for considerable concern.

First, the Government’s decision to do this indicates that a thoroughly evidenced-based policy such as minimum unit pricing, which has steadily defeated challenge in the courts, might not have been possible if it were included within mutual recognition. That illustrates just how narrow the exclusions are to this principle.

Secondly, it demonstrates the risk that this Bill poses to future public health legislation. We know about minimum unit pricing, so we can modify the Bill to attempt to protect it, but it is not hard to imagine that we might in future see innovative and effective policy based on health labelling bans or content reformulation ​of alcohol, tobacco or food products. All these aspects would likely be subject to the rigid mutual recognition principle.

Lastly, regarding the amendments on the powers of the Secretary of State to amend the Bill through secondary legislation, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee concluded that the Government’s adoption in the Bill of wide-ranging Henry VIII powers, whereby:

“Any power to make regulations under this Act is exercisable by statutory instrument”

and includes the power

“to amend, repeal or otherwise modify legislation”

is completely inappropriate. In effect, it allows the removal or weakening by ministerial diktat of the limited public health protections currently included in the Bill.

At Second Reading, I discussed the importance of allowing the Governments of the four nations of the United Kingdom to protect the health of their populations and how that can lead to innovative policy solutions. The UK has been a leader in the past on tackling smoking, alcohol and sugary drinks. This legislation risks us being unable to embrace, let alone lead, key public health policies in years to come. Our amendments will protect the future of public health legislation, and I commend them to the Committee.

A link to the complete Hansard here


28th October 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to a question on what steps are being taken to protect those threatened with the sharing of intimate images online.:

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, eight months have now passed since the Government published their Online Harms White Paper. I expect that, as one of its authors, the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Cotes, must be a little frustrated at the non-appearance of the legislation it proposed. Does the Minister agree that the greatest threat to online safety is the reluctance of the social media companies to tackle the problem of anonymity, as this encourages people to post vile and hateful material about others without anyone knowing who they are? Will that be dealt with in the government Bill when it eventually appears?

A link to the complete Hansard here