WELCOME TO MY WEBSITE!



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

TIM FISCHER TRIBUTE

August 2019:

Here is a copy of my tribute to Tim Fischer in a special edition of the Wattrain Newsletter. The full newsletter can be downloaded in the link at bottom of this post.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester(PATRON of WATTRAIN)

Dear friends,

Like all of you, I mourn Tim’s passing, but celebrate his astonishing achievements in so many areas of activity. He was someone who made a real difference in whatever he took on.

We remember him chiefly as Australia’s greatest railway heritage afficionado. I was honoured to be asked by him to write the Foreword for his splendid book Trains Unlimited in the 21st Century. I concluded with these words:

I am delighted to celebrate the renaissance of the railway, described with such prescience and verve by Tim Fischer. Ambassador Fischer is an extraordinary phenomenon: a country boy and farmer from New South Wales, a Vietnam war veteran who became successively a legislative assembly member and then Federal politician. He was leader of his party, and for three years deputy prime minister in a coalition government. For all the time he has been such a distinguished public servant, Ambassador Fischer has kept alive and developed his passion for the railway both ancient and modern, and most importantly, convincing others of his point of view.

Many of his successes are described in the book. And so too are the achievements of his beloved railways, from transforming urban and rural life in the 19th century, and making the Industrial Revolution possible, through to the development of high speed rail in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In many countries the railways’ heyday were in the years leading up to the second world war, to be followed by periods of retrenchment, contraction and doubt. Thanks to people like Tim Fischer their time in many countries has come again. Read this book and you’ll see how this has happened, and enjoy with Tim the railways’ superb architectural legacy, its extraordinary technological advances, his description of some of the finest lines, stations, and services around the world – and above all, his message of hope for the railways’ future.

The HON Tim Fischer

Download and read the full article here

THE RAILWAY MAGAZINE- HERITAGE MATTERS

August 2019:

In the August issue of the railway Magazine I submitted a piece on preserving Britain's railway heritage, I discuss how our rail heritage is protected by law and the process an item goes through to become protected.


Download and read the full article here

THE ASIAN NETWORK OF INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE BULLETIN

30th June 2019: Heritage Rail in the United Kingdom and Ireland

In the “The Asian Network of Industrial Heritage” Bulletin I submitted a piece on the Heritage Rail in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Railways all over the world can trace their origins back to the UK at the beginning of the 19th century. When Richard Trevithick built the first steam powered railway locomotive in 1804, it carried 10 tons of iron almost 16 km in just over four hours. With proof that steam traction was viable, the UK built a railway network that grew at its peak to almost 38,000 km of rail by the beginning of the 20th century.

Under UK Government ownership in the 1960s, the railways faced increasing competition from car ownership and road use. In a misguided attempt to save money, the government closed almost 10,000 km of line and over 2,300 stations. At the same time, the rise of diesel and electric traction saw Britain’s last publicly operated steam service in 1968.

Those changes provided Britain’s emerging heritage rail industry with the impetus and the potential to play what is today a very significant part in Britain’s leisure and tourism economy – and more. Closed lines, scrap locomotives and rolling stock provided the raw materials for a growing number of heritage-minded enthusiasts.
Image Caption: The Ffestiniog Railway is the world's oldest narrow gauge railway with almost 200 years of history. Now a major tourist attraction in North Wales, it takes passengers on a 22 km journey from the harbour in Porthmadog to the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

From small starts to big business

Heritage railways in the UK and Ireland now operate some 600 route miles. They attract around 13 million visitors every year, and carry them over 130 million passenger miles. Around 4000 people are employed full-time in the sector, supported by some 22,000 volunteers. The economic benefits of their railways and tramways spill over into their wider communities, with research suggesting local economies benefit by almost three times the railway or tramway’s turnover. That in turn suggest that heritage rail is worth as much as £400 million to the UK economy.
The richness and scale of the UK’s heritage rail draw visitors not just from at home, but from all corners of the world. Rail enthusiasts, of course, have their own agendas and itineraries, but the location and nature of many railways also appeals strongly to ordinary visitors to the UK. Heritage rail’s full contribution to Britain’s inbound tourism economy is, of course, difficult to measure. But there’s no doubt in any quarter that the contribution is as significant as many of the UK’s other international attractions – such as Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Edinburgh Castle and many others - put together.
Image Caption: Caption: The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a preserved historic railway stretching for 18 miles through the heart of the North York Moors National Park, from Pickering to Grosmont, with a 10 km extension over Network Rail’s Esk Valley line to Whitby. It is the largest preserved heritage railway in the UK in terms of route mileage operated and passenger numbers. Also known as Yorkshire’s Magnificent Railway it is locally, regionally and nationally significant due to its historic, scientific, aesthetic, cultural and social values.

Heritage rail travel in the UK is not limited to the sector’s own track. The country’s main line network owners understand the historic and commercial benefits of steam hauled trains, carrying passengers in heritage carriages, on substantial journeys across some of the country’s most spectacular scenery. Other heritage railways provide public transport services, or tourist transport, especially in destinations where car-free access is a benefit.

A national asset

The value of heritage rail in the UK is more than simply commercial. There is a widespread understanding at every level that Britain’s railways enabled much of the nation’s industrial, economic and social development. Heritage railways are important and highly-valued elements of living history, which merit the same safeguarding that applies to historic buildings, landscapes and institutions. Locomotives such as Flying Scotsman and Mallard are internationally recognised icons of British history and engineering (with Flying Scotsman happily restored, and working regularly on Britain’s main lines and heritage railways). They, with tramways and museums, do a vital job in informing and in educating, just as much as they do in providing leisure and entertainment.

Britain’s heritage railways also provide valuable skills training. Often, they do this in areas where employment opportunities, particularly for skilled workers, are low. In particular, they provide entry level jobs for a wide range of skills and disciplines. For younger staff and volunteers, they offer a valuable training ground for subsequent jobs on the main line network or elsewhere.

Those of us involved in railway heritage have a duty to ensure that what is important to Britain’s railway history is preserved and made available for present and future generations to enjoy. We do this in a variety of ways. The first is to maintain world class railway museums which tell the complete railway story, from their effect on social, business and industrial life through to demonstrating the very latest developments in modern railway operations. The National Railway Museum at York – part of the Science Museum Group – is the very best example, and maintains the proud tradition of free entry (none of Britain’s national museums and galleries charge for admission).

The structure and ownership of Britain’s railways have undergone many changes since their earliest days - from tiny private companies in the 1840s to the creation of the “big four” railway groupings in 1923, state ownership from 1948 to 1995, and private ownership of the train operating companies from then up to the present day. To keep track with all the changes, and to make sure that precious artefacts and records were not lost with privatisation, our parliament passed the Railway Heritage Act in 1996 which gave them legal protection. I have had the privilege of being involved with this process since 2002, for much of the time chairing the committee or board responsible.

I believe Britain is the only country in the world that has passed legislation specifically to ensure that we secure the preservation of evidence which is significant to the railway’s history. Rail is the only industry in the UK which is viewed in this way.

Enshrined in the legislation which privatised Britain’s railways in the 1990s are a series of requirements about the treatment of railway items of historical interest.

In the days when we had one large state industry, life was simpler. Britain’s national record offices and the National Railway Museum could readily judge what they considered important for their collections; and simply request the British Railways Board to hand items over once they were no longer needed.

Image Caption: The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railways runs along the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire border of the England’s Cotswolds Hills. The GWSR has restored and reopened around 23 km of track, operating between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. The 45 km round trip on steam and heritage diesel trains follows part of the route of the former Great Western main line from Birmingham to Cheltenham.

But that approach could not work with the privatised network. For one thing, The National Archives has no remit other than in special circumstances – to take the records of private companies. A new approach was needed.

The solution lay originally in the creation of a new statutory body called the Railway Heritage Committee. The Committee was given the legal power to ‘designate’ – and subsequently agree the disposal of – significant railway records and artefacts that justified long-term preservation, which since 2005 have included the military railways owned by the Ministry of Defence.

The range of items and records designated – and thus saved from unauthorised sale or scrapping – is enormous. There are well over a thousand artefacts protected in this way.

Effective support

Perhaps surprisingly, heritage rail in the UK is unsubsidised. Other than modest grants (for which bidding is often competitive), the industry pays its own way. It benefits from the support of the UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail (which I help to found in 2011). The group is effective in briefing parliamentarians about heritage railways, the contribution they make to their local and national economies, and the skills training oppor - tunities it provides. In a world complicated by standards and legislation designed for a national railway, the APPG on Heritage Rail gives the sector a much needed voice at government level.

On a day-to-day level, the interests of Britain and Ireland’s heritage railways are served and promoted by the Heritage Railway Association (HRA). A volunteer-run trade association, it represents and supports over 180 member organisations. The HRA provides a steady stream of news, guidance and advice on every aspect of running a heritage railway. It maintains a busy programme of seminars and events, and liaises with similar organisations across the world. The HRA also administers the very successful Inter- Rail Card scheme. Holders of the modestly-priced card are entitled to privilege rates, discounts or free travel on over 100 HRA member railways.

A positive future

National and European environmental legislation is curtailing the use of coal for energy. There is adequate availability of coal for the heritage rail sector – it uses a very small fraction of the amount of coal traditionally used for power generation or domestic heat. However, the industry is working to reassure both government and environmental lobbies that steam-hauled railways play their own part in ‘green tourism’. Those many million steam-hauled passenger miles represent dramatically fewer emissions than would be generated if those passenger miles were undertaken by car or even coach. And many of those passenger miles travel through sensitive natural landscapes where heavy road use would be considered harmful.

In recent times, a weakening of the value of the British Pound has made a visit to the UK more attractive, leading to an increase in visitors from overseas. For the same reason, a greater number of UK residents have stayed at home for their vacations. The effect is visible in heritage rail, with visitor numbers continuing to increase. Awareness of heritage rail in the UK goes on growing, as do the standards of railway restoration, presentation and operation. Heritage rail, with all its visual attractions and dynamic properties, also appeals to producers of film companies and TV shows. The income from a film and TV production can generate useful income for a railway. In addition, promotion of heritage rail in national TV programmes and cinemas can be a powerful benefit – think of the Harry Potter movies and Hogwart’s Express. Such new opportunities increase understanding and recognition of UK heritage rail as a sector with enduring appeal for young and old, enthusiasts and families.

Please come to Britain and enjoy these wonders for yourselves!
Image Caption: The most recent extension to Broadway involved raising £1.38 million. Platforms, new buildings and a bridge, built by volunteers.

Download and read the full bulletin here here

FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY ADVISORY BOARD

8th July 2019:

The final meeting of the Government’s First World War Centenary Advisory Board took place in the House of Commons on 8 July. Afterwards the members were joined by the Prime Minister and were photographed with her.


See my comments in November 2018 on the Government's World War I advisory board here

THE OPENING OF THE NEW MORETON-IN-MARSH RAILWAY STATION WAITING ROOM

5th July 2019:

Giving my speech next to the new waiting room The new waiting room at Moreton-in-Marsh station was officially opened on the afternoon of Friday, July 5.
A plaque to mark the occasion was unveiled by Cotswolds MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Diana Barr and Jackie Jessop, the sisters of the late CLPG stalwarts Oliver Lovell and John Stanley respectively. I recalled their roles in fighting British Rail’s moves to close the line between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham in the late 1970s and campaigning since then to maintain and improve train services and the route’s infrastructure.

Read the full details here. Watch a Network Rail video of the event here. A copy of my speech can be downloaded here.

REGENERATING SEASIDE TOWNS AND COMMUNITIES

1 July 2019: Future of seaside towns

I took part in the debate on the report of the House of Lords select committee and drew attention to the importance of transport links and the role of the railway in creating Britain’s seaside resorts.

I wholeheartedly support the committee’s conclusion in paragraph 123 that states: “Inadequate transport connectivity is holding back many coastal communities and hindering the realisation of their economic potential. Emphasis should be accorded to isolated coastal communities which are at ‘the end of the line’”

Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I, too, am pleased to congratulate the members of the Select Committee on producing such an excellent, coherent and well-argued report. I commend especially my noble friend Lord Bassam of Brighton for the brilliant way in which he introduced this debate. I particularly commend the committee for getting such excellent coverage in local and regional media as it went around the country. Coverage of that sort for a Select Committee inquiry reflects well on your Lordships’ House. I must also thank the noble Lord, Lord Shutt of Greetland, for providing the note that appears on page 45 of the report, in which he kindly refers to the second book on post-Beeching railway politics which I co-wrote with my friend and colleague from British Rail days, Chris Austin, entitled Disconnected!—Broken Links in Britain’s Rail Policy.

Read my contribution in full here

Read what was wriiten about the debate in the Scarbourough News here

KING'S SCHOOL DEBATE

29th June 2019: King's School hosts debate on today's political problems

I took part in a debate at King's School which was hosted by one of the school's students. As well as myself, the panel also included city councillor and Labour parliamentary candidate Lynn Denham, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Beverley Nielson, Tory MP for South Norfolk Richard Bacon and Worcester City Council leader Marc Bayliss.

Read the story in the Worcester News here

Read about the debate on the King's School website here

ESK VALLEY RAILWAY LINE

26th June 2019:

I asked Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with Northern Rail about the provision of additional services on the Esk Valley railway from Middlesbrough to Whitby.

Read more here

METAL THEFT ON THE RAILWAY NETWORK, FROM CONTRUCTION SITES AND FROM CHURCHES

26 June 2019:

I took part in the debate that discussed what were the plans to counter the increase in metal theft on the railway network, from construction sites and from churches.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I agree with the Minister that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act has been very successful, not least because it was followed up by Operation Tornado and the activities of the scrap metal task force. However, figures for recent times, particularly the past two years, are not as good as the Minister indicated. In the case of railway and cable theft, for example, delays caused in the year up to 2019 are 83% up compared to the previous year. Will the Minister look at these figures again and pay particular attention to the need for stricter enforcement, while encouraging police forces to visit scrapyards to ensure that metal is not being sold for cash?

Read my contribution in full here

ELGAR NAMEPLATE ADDED TO THE HIVE ARCHIVE

2 June 2019
I presented Councillor Lucy Hodgson with the Elgar nameplate from the British Rail Class 92 dual-voltage electric locomotive numbered 92009, which was built to operate services through the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France.

Click here to see full article 

DISABLED PEOPLE

9 May 2019: Lord Borwick moved:

"That this House takes note of the issues facing people with disabilities and the potential for improved treatment and outcomes in the next 50 years"

during the debate....

Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, it is a pleasure to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, on securing this debate and also on an excellent speech, which I am glad to follow. When we speak about minorities, we all too often lose sight of the fact that disabled people are the largest minority group in our country. Out of the UK population of 66 million there are, according to the charity Scope and the Family Resources Survey, 13.9 million disabled people. Despite that, disability discrimination is still considered by the public, the media and in some cases the Government to rank below racial, homophobic and religious discrimination.....

read my contribution in full here

DISCRIMINATION IN FOOTBALL

11 April 2019: The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Ashton of Hyde):

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat a Statement made by my honourable ​friend the Minister for Sport and Civil Society in the other place earlier this afternoon. The Statement is as follows:

“The Government are concerned about the recent rise in racist abuse in football, which threatens to overshadow everything we love about our national sport ..."

Read complete statement here

during the ensuing debate:

Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I listened to the Minister’s Statement from the Gallery of the House of Commons. Like others, I was impressed by the consensus that existed in the House and by the Minister’s enthusiasm and commitment to what she was saying and what she intended to do.
I had a sinking feeling of déjà vu, though, because 21 years ago — almost to the day — the Football Task Force, on which I served as vice-chairman, delivered its report, Eliminating Racism From Football, to the Minister for Sport. The task force had seven objectives, of which the first and most important was eliminating racism and encouraging wider participation in the game by ethnic minorities.

read my contribution in full here

VACCINE HESITANCY

Vaccine hesitancy 1 April 2019 : Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report in the European Journal of Public Health on 25 February that there is a link between anti-establishment politics and vaccine hesitancy.

In response:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford):

My Lords, while there has not been a specific assessment on the link between anti-establishment politics and public confidence in vaccination, we take the issue of misinformation about vaccines extremely seriously land are working across government to tackle this. We are aware of global concerns regarding confidence in vaccinations knowing the protection that they give against deadly diseases, and I am pleased to say that in this country confidence in our vaccines is very high.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

I am grateful to the Minister for that positive Answer. She will know that the World Health Organization has declared the anti-vaccine movement as one of the top global health threats for 2019. That follows the tripling of the number of measles across Europe and the sixfold rise in the United States.

The paper in the European Journal of Public Health, to which my Question refers, says that there is a direct link between the rise in populist politics and vaccine hesitancy, and cites particularly Greece, Italy and France, and of course one would add the United States as well. There is also much disinformation about vaccines spread on Twitter and other social media.

Will the Government make vaccination compulsory as their response to this, as over one-third of countries have done and as we did in Britain in 1853 to combat smallpox? Secondly, what progress have they made in forcing the social media companies to take down this misleading information about vaccines?

Read debate in full

See article in latest issue of The House Magazine

CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS, MARRIAGES & DEATHS (REGISTRATION etc) BILL

1 March 2019

Lord Faulkner of Worcester
moved Amendment 1

My Lords, Amendment 1 is in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Collins of Highbury. This amendment is similar, but not identical, to the amendment I moved ​in Committee. The changes I have made to it reflect the concerns expressed in that debate by the Right Reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford, and the briefing note I subsequently received from Church House.

Your Lordships will be aware that under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 the Church of England and the Church in Wales are subject to what is called the “quadruple lock”.

read contribution in full

Lord Faulkner of Worcester

My Lords, I think I can answer the noble Baroness with a reply to that very last point. I gave her my word during the week that I did not intend to divide the House at the end of the debate for the very reason she said. I would not wish to do anything that made it more difficult for the Bill to get through the House of Commons and become law. It is a very good Bill. I congratulate her on the way she has presented it. She sat patiently through a debate that was not directly on the main subject of the Bill, and I accept that.

For that reason, I will not divide the House.

read more

Amendment 1 withdrawn