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


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


21st October 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Here is my contribution to a question raised asking what was the purpose of the review of rail schemes in Network Rail’s enhancements pipeline.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

I refer the House to my railway interests declared in the register. Does the Minister agree that electrification has a central part to play in achieving the Government’s value-for-money and decarbonisation agendas, as does the HS2 project? When will the go-ahead be given to completing paused projects, such as the lines to Bristol and Oxford and the Midland main line? What progress is being made in identifying discrete electrification projects on relatively short stretches of main line over hills, where journey times can be saved going uphill and batteries regenerated going downhill?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)

To answer the first part of the noble Lord’s question, any decision on new or expanded project scopes will be made after the spending review has concluded. On decarbonisation more generally, whether it is uphill or downhill, Network Rail is developing an overarching traction decarbonisation network strategy which will provide strategic advice about which technology—electrification, battery or hydrogen—would be best suited to each section of a decarbonised rail network. This would include individual decisions taking into consideration local conditions and topography, and they would be developed as needed.

A link to the complete Hansard here


19th october 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, this has been a fascinating debate, with many important issues raised with skill and eloquence in all parts of the Chamber, and enhanced by two excellent maiden speeches.

I am a member of the EU Select Committee. The views I express in this debate are of course my own, though I should make it clear that I agree with every conclusion contained in the report which we published last week on Part 5 of the internal market Bill. The report was agreed unanimously, and I pay tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, who chaired our proceedings with skill, distinction and humour.

I also congratulate my noble friend Lady Taylor of Bolton and her colleagues on the Constitution Committee on their report which focuses on devolution arrangements in the UK and the rule of law. Other speakers have dealt with the devastating nature of those issues: the consequences for Britain’s reputation abroad if we appear prepared to ignore the rule of law, the threats to the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday agreement, and the aggravation of the risk that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom.

One concern which has not received much attention in this debate, except, I think, from the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, is the threat posed to public health. Public health is a devolved responsibility, and the individual nations of the UK have different populations and different priorities. Scotland, for example, pioneered minimum unit pricing for alcohol and England led the way on prohibiting tobacco displays in shops. However, the narrow drafting of this Bill substantially undermines the ability of all parts of the UK to innovate and improve public health policy. This is because of the very limited exceptions for public health. Furthermore, the current exclusions, including the list of legitimate aims that override non-discrimination, can be removed or weakened by statutory regulation. In my view, the Bill must be amended to allow the Governments of the four UK nations to protect the health of their populations. Protecting human health must be included as a legitimate aim for overriding all market access rules. I shall be supporting amendments to this effect in Committee.

In my last few moments, I want to make a couple of other points. First, I want to emphasise that this is not a rerun of earlier Brexit debates. If anyone is in any doubt about that, one need listen only to the powerful speech by the noble Lord, Lord Howard of Lympne, earlier today. And this is despite the intemperate attack by some Conservative MPs on the most reverend Primate and his fellow archbishops for daring to have a letter published in the Financial Times today.

The second point concerns the role of your Lordships’ House. The work of our committees—the Constitution Committee, the European Union Select Committee and the Delegated Powers Committee—has been outstanding and has hugely informed today’s debate. If your Lordships believe that Part 5 should not be included in the Bill, we should not be afraid to say so when we vote on the amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, tomorrow, and when we consider the Bill line by line in Committee. However, if Part 5 survives, I hope your Lordships will look closely at new Clause 56. It provides for the House of Commons to have to approve a resolution before Ministers can use the powers in Part 5 but it is silent about any role in your Lordships’ House. That is something I hope we can address as well.

A link to the rest of the debate here


14th October 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the “Project Big Picture” proposals for reforming the governance of English football.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question in my name on the Order Paper and refer to my interests declared in the register.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Barran) (Con)

My Lords, it is clear that this proposal has not been cleared with all those affected. We strongly urge the Premier League and the EFL to continue to work constructively to come up with a deal that provides a comprehensive package of support for the whole football family. The Government promised a fan-led review of football governance in their manifesto. Events of the past few weeks have made this look more essential than ever.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on that reply, with the contents of which I completely agree. The overriding priority is to agree a rescue package for members of the English Football League, especially those in the lower level, which can generally be regarded as community clubs and are in the deepest trouble. I am sure that she agrees that it makes no sense to use the present emergency ​as cover for a power and money grab by the wealthiest, mostly foreign-owned, clubs in the Premier League. Can she say a bit more about the fan-led review of football governance to which she referred? Will that consider proposals for a national football board, charged with distributing the wealth in the game more fairly and evenly?

Baroness Barran (Con)

The noble Lord is right that this proposal risks conflating some of the governance issues with the immediate financial pressures that many in the football family are facing. The fan-led review that we have committed to will include consideration of the owners and directors tests but, more broadly, we are currently deciding on the scope and structure of the review and will liaise with football authorities while we do this.

A link to the complete Hansard here


13th October 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Intervening on a question about the Great Barrington Declaration:

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, is the Minister aware that this so-called declaration is principally the work of the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank funded by the Koch foundation and best known for its denial of climate change? As the Minister said in an earlier answer, a large number of the signatories are completely bogus. Does he agree that we should have nothing to do with fake science, which provides cover for a cull of the elderly and the disabled under the guise of herd immunity and promotes an American far-right agenda?

Lord Bethell (Con)

My Lords, there is some shared interest with those who drafted the Great Barrington declaration. They quite rightly make observations about the impact of the pandemic on education, and we are providing £1 billion to support those whose education has been hit by Covid. They make observations about support for those who are shielding, and we have written a new letter to 2.2 million people who are undergoing shielding. However, the noble Lord is entirely right: this is Johnny Bananas science, and we will not support.

A link to the complete Hansard here


19th october 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

I was delighted to visit the Great Western Society at Didcot on 30 August to perform two presentations. One was of a photograph taken in 1919 of the staff at Bordesley Junction in Birmingham amongst whom was my late father, Harold Faulkner.

The Society plans to put it in their museum, where it will join other historic photos of the old Great Western Railway. As well as the station master, ticket collector and porters shown in the photograph, the staff at Bordesley Junction included their colleagues on other shifts, signalmen, platelayers, clerks and porters at the goods depot and carters, as well as the crews of passing trains. They formed a close-knit community and Harold came to know many of them personally. I handed the photograph to Richard Croucher, who retired as chairman and director of the Great Western Society in 2019 after 18 years.
I carried out the second presentation in my capacity as President of the Heritage Railway Association. The GWS won the 2020 HRA Chairman’s Special Award for the building of a new “Saint” class locomotive, Lady of Legend. The photograph below shows me handing over the plaque to Richard Croucher, Peter Chatman (project engineer), and Emma Jihta (chief executive of the GWS). Lady of Legend is behind the four of us.


15th July 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I have taken the unusual step of tabling an amendment of regret to the Motion moved so ably by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham, because it is demonstrably clear to me as a member of the Ecclesiastical Committee that a senior and distinguished member of the clergy, the very reverend Bob Key, the former Dean of Jersey, had suffered a grave injustice at the hands of the Church of England during the events that led up to the decision on 9 March 2013 to strip him of his commission over the safeguarding issue to which the right reverend Prelate referred.

That followed publication of an investigation carried out for the Winchester diocese by a psychotherapist called Miss Jan Korris. Her report was highly critical of the dean but contained serious flaws. As the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Chartres, said in his brilliant report on the relationship of the Channel Islands to the wider Church of England:

“That there were flaws may, in significant measure, be attributable to the fact that the draft report was published on the diocesan website before the participants could take advantage of the offer provided by Ms Korris to give them the draft report” before publication.

Adding to the hurt caused to the dean and to others on Jersey, it remained there until 2016 and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester and the dean never met to discuss it. The dean was reinstated on 28 April 2013, but not before considerable distress was caused to him and his wife and much damage done to the relationship between the diocese of Winchester and the church in Jersey.

In the next month, a further inquiry was commissioned by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester under the chairmanship of Dame Heather Steel, a former judge of the High Court of Justice and the courts of appeal on Jersey and Guernsey. A full-page advertisement in the name of the right reverend Prelate was inserted in the Jersey Evening Post on 3 August 2013 about the Steel investigation. It included the words:

“upon receipt the Bishop of Winchester will supply a copy of the report ... to the Bailiff of Jersey, the Dean of Jersey and the Ministry of Justice.”

Within three months, the right reverend Prelate was able to say that, based on what he had seen of Dame Heather’s findings to date, he would not be taking disciplinary action against any member of the clergy, but had decided not to publish the Steel report. It was not until May 2016 that the Bailiff of Jersey was told that he would not get a copy of the report, and that prompted the response from him that

“the decision will come as a disappointment to many in and outside the islands.”

As someone who knows the Channel Islands well— I declare an interest as a vice-chair of the Channel Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group—I can tell the House that that was quite an understatement. The view on Jersey about how their much-loved and respected dean, who served ex officio in the States Assembly and had a commission under letters patent from the Queen, was one of hurt and outrage.

One example—there are many others—is a letter from Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, a former Bailiff, to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury on 4 November 2015. It states:

“It is a sad fact that no pleasure has been expressed, either publicly or privately (to the best of my knowledge), by the Bishop of Winchester that the clergy in Jersey have been exonerated.

Furthermore, no expression of regret has ever been forthcoming for the unjustified humiliation and distress visited upon the Dean and his wife.”

A press release issued on 19 May 2016 by the chambers of the Bailiff, William Bailhache—Sir Philip’s brother—stated:

“Dame Heather telephoned the Bailiff this morning as she too had received notice from the Bishop of Winchester’s lawyers of his decision not to publish her report. She said that she had written to the Archbishop some months ago to say that the Dean and the other member of clergy concerned were good men who should be exonerated. She told the Bailiff that ‘This exoneration should now be made public. It is totally inappropriate that my report should be suppressed without reference to this fact.’”

On the same day, the Bailiff received a letter from the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which he said that he had

“met the Dean and his wife at Lambeth on 11th May.”

He stated:

“I remain deeply conscious of the enormous personal stress, hurt and uncertainty which Bob and Daphne have suffered” and referred to Dame Heather’s public statement that

“no blame for the handling of the original complaint … can rightly be attributed to them.”

He also said that he offered

“an apology for the hurt and the treatment which they have received over these past years”.

The most reverend Primate’s generosity of spirit will come as no surprise to those of us in your Lordships’ House who admire him and regard him as a friend. It is a pity, though, that not everyone in the Church hierarchy has shown a similar understanding towards the former dean’s difficulties. Had they done so, it might not have been necessary for this measure to be brought before us and for the Channel Islands to move from the diocese of Winchester to the diocese of Salisbury after 451 years. I beg to move.

A link to the rest of the debate here


15th July 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I shall be very brief. I thank particularly the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham for his remarks just now. The most important thing, as far as I am concerned, is that the people who were hurt by the events of the last few years on Jersey will have gained some comfort from the remarks made in this debate tonight, and particularly from the support of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom I referred in my earlier speech.

It was never my intention to divide the House tonight, or to force a vote that would send an issue back to the Ecclesiastical Committee. My purpose in tabling the amendment was to give your Lordships an opportunity to hear some of the background to the circumstances which led to this conclusion being reached and the moving of the Channel Islands from one diocese to another. I have spoken to the former dean, Bob Key, on two occasions—once this afternoon as well as earlier in the last couple of weeks—and I have been in touch with the islands. I can say that everybody concerned is content with the proposal and supports this Measure, as indeed I do wholeheartedly. However, it is important that, when individuals are unfairly singled out for criticism and there is no proper redress or a proper apology given, that should be brought to light; we should have the opportunity to express those views and put those concerns on the record, as we have done in this short debate.

Above all, I support the Measure. I congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham, and I thank him and the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Chartres, in particular, for the kind of things they said about my contribution. With that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment withdrawn.

Motion agreed.

Sitting suspended.

A link to the rest of the debate here


15th July 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I remind the House of my interest as the Government’s trade envoy to Taiwan. Will the Minister celebrate with me the 30% increase in trade between Britain and Taiwan over the past three years, and congratulate President Tsai Ing-wen and her Government on not just their triumphant re-election earlier this year in a fair and free contest but on their management of the Covid-19 crisis—that was referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay; there have been 447 cases and just seven deaths out of a population of 23.8 million—and their generosity in donating 2 million face masks to the UK? I hope that the Minister will continue to do all he can to ensure that Taiwan is admitted to the WHO so that the whole world can learn from its success and share its expertise.

A link to the rest of the debate here


13th July 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, it is a pleasure and a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham. His record in fighting for public health and achieving sensible tobacco control is probably greater than that of any other Member of your Lordships’ House. It goes right back to the early 1980s, when, as a Health Minister, he was fired from Margaret Thatcher’s Government for taking a tough line on sports sponsorship and advertisements with those whom he described as the “tobacco barons”. In a blog post, he said:

“I banned smoking at the meetings I held with them, and tried to get a health warning not just on the cigarette packs, but on the cigarettes themselves. The barons resisted this; the ink, they asserted, contained substances that could damage the smoker’s health”.

I am delighted that he has put his name to this amendment; I was very pleased to do the same. I congratulate the noble Baroness on the speech she made at Second Reading and on the very persuasive way in which she moved the amendment so ably just now.

This is the latest step on the journey to the smoke-free country which Ministers say they want to achieve by 2030. It is also consistent with the approach we have adopted in your Lordships’ House since we approved a succession of tobacco control measures, going back to the early years of this century. The most important of these, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Young, was the measure to make pubs and clubs smoke-free after the free votes in 2006. There can be hardly anyone, in this House or outside, who wishes to go back to the days when pubs were full of smoke and patrons needed to change their clothes and wash their hair to get rid of the stench when they got home. Those laws were the most significant contribution to public health since the clean air laws of the 1950s and the Victorians’ improvements to the quality of drinking water.

In 2013, I was pleased to be part of a cross-party group which moved amendments to the then Children and Families Bill that were designed to protect children and help prevent them starting to smoke. Those required cigarettes and other tobacco products to be sold in standardised packaging and made it an offence to smoke in cars where children under 18 are present. By the happiest of coincidences, the Health Minister who accepted the arguments in those amendments tabled in Committee was none other than the noble Earl, Lord Howe. He will therefore appreciate how entirely appropriate it is to improve legislation such as this in the interests of public health.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, has said, this amendment enjoys significant public support. Particularly striking is the evidence from Greater Manchester. Over 70% of its population said that they wanted the areas immediately outside public buildings to be smoke-free environments. As she said, all 10 local authorities in the area support this amendment.

I should also mention a friend of mine, Ian Hudspeth. He is a Conservative councillor and chair of the Local Government Association’s community well-being board. In a message to me he writes: “As leader of Oxfordshire County Council, which supports Oxfordshire’s ambition to be the first smoke-free county in five years’ time, by 2025, I want to express my support for this amendment. It is important to ensure that public spaces where people congregate and socialise do not present a health hazard from cigarette smoke. By giving local authorities the mandate and tools to protect their residents’ health, it ensures a level playing field for businesses and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to its ambition for England to be smoke free by 2030”.

I hope that your Lordships will accept this amendment when, presumably, it is moved on Report—unless the Minister is able to indicate tonight that he is able to accept it now. I wholeheartedly support it.

A link to the complete Hansard here


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