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


18th May 2022: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Today I asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the heritage steam sector in the light of the current interruption to coal supplies. Visit the link at the bottom of the page for the responses.

"My Lords, the Minister will be aware that during the passage of the Environment Bill his noble friend Lady Bloomfield, whom I am delighted to see in her place, made clear the Government’s support for this sector and that there would be no curb on the burning of coal by steam trains, not least because only 0.02% of CO2 emissions are caused by heritage steam. But imports of coal from Russia have now stopped and virtually every coal mine in Great Britain has closed; as a result, stocks are at a dangerously low level. Will the Minister agree to meet representatives of the sector and me, and is he able to offer any other hope of where future coal stocks will come from?"

A link to to the full debate can be found here


14th April 2022

On Friday 14th April, I welcomed Teresa May as a new board member;

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Chair of the GWR Advisory Board, said: “I’m delighted that Mrs May has joined the GWR Advisory Board. She has been a staunch campaigner for better rail services and connections since her election as the MP for Maidenhead 25 years ago, and she will be a very welcome addition to our Board.”
A link to event on the Rail Business Daily website can be found here


22nd March 2022: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My question to ask Her Majesty’s Government (1) how, and (2) when, they plan to respond to the recommendations of the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance, published on 24 November 2021.

An excerpt from the discussion:

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay:

My Lords, Her Majesty’s Government have endorsed the principle that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game. We are working swiftly to consider the recommendations of the fan-led review and to determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State committed in another place on 3 March to bring forward the government response as soon as possible. This will be issued in the coming weeks.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, that is an encouraging Answer, but can I press the Minister on when we might expect to see the Government’s response to Tracey Crouch’s excellent report, and whether he can give an undertaking that the legislation which will be necessary to establish the regulator will be included in the next Queen’s Speech? Football fans have waited a very long time for some action, and as Mr Huddleston, the Sports Minister, said to the DCMS Committee last week:

“We recognise there are failures in the structure and governance of English football and the fan-led review is pivotally important because it will contain an independent regulator.”

A link to to the full debate can be found here


26th January 2022: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution on asking Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made with football authorities towards addressing the (1) safety, and (2) security, implications of the report by Baroness Casey of Blackstone An independent Review of events surrounding the UEFA Euro 2020 Final ‘Euro Sunday’ at Wembley, published on 3 December 2021.

My Lords, the Minister will recall that on 6 December he answered a Private Notice Question on the excellent report by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, when I declared my interest as vice-president of the charity Level Playing Field. Particular recommendations were made in respect of disabled supporters, disabled access to the stadium and the disgraceful way in which thugs effectively overran them. Would he be willing to meet representatives of Level Playing Field—the chairman, the chief executive and perhaps me—to discuss what the next steps should be?

A link to to the full debate can be found here


13th January 2022: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the debate on Racism in English Cricket.

My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, which has a proud record of inclusion and cultural and ethnic diversity going back over 60 years, starting with the great Basil D’Oliveira, followed by his son and this grandson, all of whom have been associated with the club. The chairman is from an ethnic minority background and his insistence on good governance and diversity is a model that other counties should follow, and the club is certainly well ahead of the ECB guidelines. Could the Government have some conversations with Mr Hira to see what Worcestershire is doing right and how others can learn from it?

A link to to the full debate can be found here


13th January 2022: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the debate on the Health and Care Bill.

My Lords, I am very pleased to follow all noble Lords in supporting all the amendments in this group. I congratulate my noble friend Lady Thornton on the way in which she introduced the debate when moving Amendment 11. I will speak briefly to Amendment 66, which was tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, and signed by the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, and me.

It was enjoyable listening to the noble Lord, Lord Young, taking a voyage down memory lane to more than 40 years ago, when he was a Health Minister. He could perhaps have added that we would have become a smoke-free country rather earlier, had his advice and proposals for tobacco control been accepted at the time, and had he not been removed from health on the instruction of Sir Denis Thatcher and given another role in government. He is and remains a pioneer, and I am delighted to be behind him with his amendments; we shall come to other smoking amendments later.

Amendment 66 would require integrated care boards to address the leading preventable causes of sickness and death, particularly smoking. The Bill as drafted fails to get to the root causes of health inequalities and will have only a limited effect. Our amendment would correct this oversight as far as smoking is concerned. In 2019, there were 5.7 million smokers in England, one in seven of the adult population. As the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, said, in England smoking is the leading cause of premature death, killing over 70,000 people a year and leaving 30 times as many suffering from serious smoking-related disease and disability.

As Sir Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, said in a lecture on public health at Gresham College last May, smoking is likely to have killed more people in 2020 than Covid-19, but unlike Covid-19, smoking kills on the same scale every year, and will go on doing for many years without robust action to correct this. It is worth pointing out that he also said that one in five people who die from cancer will die from lung cancer, and

“the reason that people like me get very concerned and very upset about it is that this cancer is almost entirely caused for profit. The great majority who die of this cancer … die so that a small number of companies make profits from the people who they have addicted in young ages, and then keep addicted to something which they know will kill them. So lung cancer is unfortunately still a very major problem” that exists almost entirely because of smoking for profit.

While overall smoking rates have fallen significantly over the last 20 years, the difference in smoking rates between the most disadvantaged group and the general population has become more pronounced: the inequality has widened. This includes people with mental health conditions, pregnant women, those in routine and manual occupations, and those living in social housing. There is a real risk that people from these groups will be left behind as we move towards a smoke-free 2030.

Given current trends in smoking, Cancer Research UK has estimated that we will miss the smoke-free 2030 target by seven years, and the most deprived quintile will not reach the target until the mid-2040s. This amendment will help to ensure that this prediction does not become reality. The Government announced their ambition to make England smoke-free by 2030 in the 2019 prevention Green Paper. However, in the two years since, we have seen no sign of the “bold action” that the Government acknowledged is needed to achieve the 2030 ambition.

In December 2020, the Government announced that a new tobacco control plan would be published in July 2021 to deliver that ambition. This did not happen and last month, the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, told Parliament that publication had slipped to 2022, with no date specified. With only eight years left until 2030, there is an urgent need for action to back up the Government’s rhetoric. This Bill is a great opportunity to get us on track to deliver a smoke-free 2030, and to tackle the severe health inequalities plaguing our society. I urge the Government not to squander this opportunity and to accept this amendment, along with the other amendments on smoking which we will come to later in Committee.

A link to to the full debate can be found here


22nd July 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the debate on Cultural and Education Exchanges.

My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Earl on securing this debate. I am going to speak about school trips from abroad. My younger daughter is a schoolteacher at a small rural lycée in the Sarthe region. She has lived there nearly 28 years and has a French husband and three children, who have British and French nationality. As a result of Brexit, she has become a French citizen.

Every other year, travelling by Eurostar, my daughter used to lead a party of her 16 to 18 year-old students to visit London. There were never fewer than 21 in the party; the largest group had 43. Typically, they stayed for five nights at a youth hostel in Canada Water. Toggle showing location ofColumn 95GCDuring the week, they visited all the major museums in London, the Cabinet War Rooms, Roman London, the Houses of Parliament, Camden Town, the National Gallery and much more. A lot of what they visited reminded them of the common history and close links of friendship between the people of France and the United Kingdom. I asked my daughter: what was the value of the visits? She said, “It’s hard to put into words how much it gives them. So many have barely left the region. So many have never taken the train before. The majority come from simple backgrounds with few opportunities for travel. Going to London is just such an amazing experience for them”.

The visits have now stopped and French schools are turning to Ireland instead as an English-speaking destination. A major problem is the British refusal to accept the French identity card, as almost none of the students holds a passport. The disappearance of the European health insurance card from the UK is another major obstacle.

Open-mindedness, cultural and linguistic enrichment, the building of character and increased independence and confidence: that is how my daughter describes what the visits give her pupils. The UK is now barely offered as a destination, so future generations of international pupils are being deprived of a wonderful opportunity. This is also the case for European and British students, who of course can no longer participate in the wonderful Erasmus programme.

A link to to the full debate can be found here


My contribution to the GWR Annual Customer and Stakeholder Report 2021

But in the midst of all the gloom and despair caused by the pandemic which has brought suffering and grief to millions, there is one genuine ray of hope for our industry. That is the recognition that our railways will continue to have a central part to play in the life of Britain.

Those of us who lived through the dark days of the postBeeching era of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, might have doubted that. The question asked back then was have the railways any sort of future at all? Notwithstanding the immense drop in passenger numbers caused by people following government advice not to travel, no-one is saying now let’s abandon our railways. The challenge for all of us is to get passengers back on to our trains, whilst intelligently managing changes in travelling habits as patterns of commuting adapt to the new work conditions.

I am confident that thanks to the dedication, commitment and loyalty of all GWR colleagues we shall come through this difficult period successfully, as we have over the last year. We only need to look at some of the year’s highlights for proof of that.

Looking first at GWR’s response to the pandemic, we saw multiple timetable changes, including focus on school and college travel. Newbury Racecourse became an important vaccination centre, and many trains called additionally at Racecourse station to help with that.

The multi-million pound Exeter depot was completed, new cycle hubs were installed at Newbury and Didcot Parkway stations, specially modified Class 387 trains were introduced on Heathrow airport services, and the first Class 769 units were delivered.

Despite the pandemic GWR still found time to undertake some very special and imaginative commemorative events, including power car namings on a number of high speed trains, a “Poppies to Paddington” celebration (200 wreaths from across the network), and the wonderful Captain Tom Centennial train.

There has been a series of great successes for the company this year. These have included recognition in the National Rail Awards 2020, particularly in the Outstanding Teamwork category for the December 2019 timetable change, and the Customer Service Excellence Award for GWR’s celebration of International Women’s Day.

Modern Railways’ Golden Spanners 2020 awards went to GWR for Best Sprinter – Class 150s at Exeter Depot; the second generation new InterCity (Castle Class) train won Silver and Bronze; and a Silver award was given for the new first generation new DMU.

GWR won HR Team of the Year 2020 award from Personnel Today, the Marketing and Communications Excellence prize in the Rail Business Awards 2021 for That’s EnterTrainment, and Repurposing HSTs into Castle Class trains won the Rolling Stock Excellence award.

For much of the year GWR was in the safe hands of Matthew Golton, while Mark Hopwood was seconded to South Western Railway as interim managing director. My advisory board colleagues and I thank Matthew most sincerely for the excellent job he did, particularly in the successful introduction of the new timetable in December 2019. We wish him well in his important new role with First Group.

In January 2021 we welcomed Mark back to his old job, now the proud recipient of a well-deserved CBE, which he dedicated it to “the efforts of thousands of railway colleagues I have worked with throughout my 31-year career.” It is a pleasure and a privilege to serve on the advisory board, and I would like my fellow board members know how much I appreciate their support, patience, dedication and hard work. Each of them brings something special and unique to the table, and I also thank GWR’s “home team” most warmly, particularly Jane Jones and Tom Lydon.

We look forward to another year, fulfilling our roles as candid friends and enthusiastic ambassadors for a great railway company

A link to a PDF of the report here


16th July 2021

On Friday 16th July, I was delighted to be invited to the The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway who hosted a historic event for the All-Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail by running a historic ‘Parliamentary Train’ to Llanfair Caereinion

‘Parliamentary Trains’ came into service after the Regulation of Railways Act in 1844 which demanded that each train company run a minimum of one train during each weekday on every line which would carry third-class passengers in a covered carriage at a fare which was never more than one penny per mile, as a way to give everybody the chance to use the railway not just the wealthy.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail was created as a centre for discussion by parliamentarians to focus on heritage railways and the impressive contribution they make to their local and regional economies alongside the opportunity to offer skills training.
A link to event on the Rail Advent website can be found here


26th June 2021

On Saturday 26th June 2021, I was delighted to be invited to the Downs Light Railway to present them with the Small Groups Award on behalf of the Heritage railway Association.
Here a short video of the event.

A link to event on the Downs Light Railway website can be found here


7th June 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the debate with a reply from Lord Goldsmith.

My Lords, I am happy to support what the Government are doing in this Bill, and I do not dissent at all from their wish to improve the natural environment and air and water quality. It is entirely appropriate that there should be legislation to bring about the necessary changes. Clean and safe drinking water and effective sewerage in Victorian times, the smoking ban earlier this century, and the Clean Air Act of the 1950s were all the results of laws passed by Parliament. These all contributed massively to public health, and this Bill is intended to do the same. I certainly do not intend to oppose it.

However, such a policy brings with it a danger of unintended consequences. Had a ban on coal burning extended beyond domestic consumption, it would have wiped out almost overnight the entire heritage steam sector: coal-burning railway locomotives on conserved lines and main lines, traction engines, steamrollers, industrial museums, steamboats, pumping stations and traditional fires in historic houses.

Two years ago, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail—I declare an interest as one of its vice-chairs and also as president of the Heritage Railway Association—was sufficiently alarmed to conduct an inquiry into the requirement of heritage railways for coal and the future of steam locomotives in the United Kingdom. The group’s report concluded that steam trains are an essential part of the railway heritage offer and are the principal attraction for visitors. There is no practical alternative to the use of coal for steam locomotives on Britain’s heritage railways. The economics of heritage railways are fragile, and they would lose most of their unique appeal if they were unable to run steam trains. Such a loss would result in redundancy among paid staff, a restriction in operations, and a smaller sector.

It is worth recalling that, in normal times, these railways attract 13 million visitors, provide 4,000 jobs, with 22,000 active volunteers, and have a £400 million positive impact on the national economy. The impact on local tourism economies where heritage railways are located, particularly in rural areas, is immense. They also provide training and apprenticeships in a wide range of skills and disciplines. In remote areas, such as north Wales, they are already contributing to the levelling-up agenda. The value of the wider sector, which embraces steam road vehicles, ships and boats, is also considerable. It, too, contributes to local economies and offers training, education and apprenticeships. The same goes for engineering museums and historic houses.

I understand why the Government are ending coal-fired power generation by 2025, and I support the restrictions on domestic coal burning proposed in the Government’s consultation on the clean air strategy. I also welcome Ministers’ repeated assertions that the heritage sector is excluded from the proposals in the Bill. They are right to do so, bearing in mind that the quantity of coal used by the entire sector is no more than about 35,000 tonnes a year—the amount burned each day by the Drax power station before it was converted to biomass. Clearly the risk to public health is tiny.

However, having accepted that the sector may continue to burn coal to make steam, it will be essential that there is an affordable supply. I expect that in future all the coal needed will be imported from countries such as Russia, Colombia and the United States. Bearing in mind the scale of the carbon footprint involved in moving coal from one side of the world to another, that makes no sense to me while we here in Great Britain are sitting on vast unmined resources of our own. I accept that we have lost that battle, and it is worth remembering that heritage railways in particular are working hard to reduce emissions and are researching the potential for artificial biocoal.

However, we must not lose the next battle in which another, less well-disposed, Government may decide to attack the activities of the heritage steam sector, perhaps under the climate change rather than clean air agenda, and we need some certainty for the future. My colleagues in the Heritage Fuels Alliance and the HRA and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet the Minister on 25 May to discuss these matters and we are happy to accept his assurances for the purposes of this Bill. He will recall that he said that banning heritage coal use would be a disproportionate response to the clean air and climate change agendas and would damage the great cultural and economic value of the steam sector to our tourism economy. I therefore hope that the Minister will agree to accept an amendment I plan to table in Committee that will put that welcome support into the Bill.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)

The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, mentioned heritage rail. I enjoyed a passionate conversation with him recently, and he really made the case for the exemption. The Government are very confident, as am I, that heritage railways will continue to operate, because although our electricity systems will no longer rely on coal, it can still be used by a range of industries that need it. The decision on where to source coal is, obviously, a matter not for the Government but for the companies involved.

A link to the complete debate here


24th May 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My question to a statement on the future of rail.

My Lords, I remind the House of my railway interests as declared in the register. I am happy to share the optimism of the noble Baroness for the future of the railway, not least because of the involvement of both Andrew Haines and Sir Peter Hendy in Great British Railways. I have the highest confidence in both, and I believe they will work well to deliver what could be a very successful railway.

I would like to ask the Minister one specific question about the reference in section 4, on page 33 of the White Paper, to a “national brand and identity”. Does this mean that train operators will have to repaint all their rolling stock in new standard Great British Railway colours? Not even British Rail had a common identity for all its passenger trains. The Government may find some resistance to making companies abandon their established, and in many cases attractive, liveries.

May I also ask about the reference to electrification, which I asked about last Tuesday, particularly the references to Oxford, Sheffield and Swansea on page 14? An announcement is promised “shortly” on page 88. How shortly is “shortly”?

A link to the complete statement here


18th May 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Here is the transcript of my webinair with regards to metal theft affecting the rail services.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you this morning about how Parliament has responded to the scourge of metal theft, and the need to regulate and license the scrap metal trade.

For me, this has been a long journey. I first asked an Oral Question in the House of Lords on 3 October 2011 – almost 10 years ago - arguing the case for cashless transactions and the necessity of amending the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964. As some of you may know, I have a long association with Britain’s railways, and I was particularly motivated then by cable theft which caused thousands of hours of delay to train services.

I said that ACPO reckoned that the cost to the United Kingdom economy in 2010 of this crime was something in the order of £770 million and that the problem was getting worse with the rise in the price of scrap metal. I argued that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 was out of date and that it needed to be replaced by new legislation that increased maximum penalties, eliminated the payment of cash as a means of settling transactions and moved to a system of licensing in place of the registration that then existed.

The Home Office minister who replied – Lord Henley – said, and I quote:

“The noble Lord is right to point to the problems of metal theft. There is not just the direct cost but the cost to the transport industry, to the power transmission industry and to others. We will look at all possible changes that we can make. The noble Lord is right to draw attention to the 1964 Act and possible changes to bring in a cashless model. Whether that would necessarily improve matters needs looking at, but it would certainly improve the traceability of metals and might make it harder for criminals to dispose of them for cash.”

The subject came up again in the Lords just five weeks later, on 10 November, when we had a debate on Remembrance Day. A number of us spoke about the despicable theft of war memorials for their scrap metal value. I said “The situation is now almost out of control. The increase in the world price of scrap metal, particularly copper, has made it a lucrative crime. It is also one that it is easy to get away with, mainly because of the inadequacies of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964. The absence of a proper licensing system for dealers, the use of cash to settle transactions and the imposition of absurdly low penalties for breaches of the law have all combined to produce the present epidemic of crime.” On the desecration of war memorials I quoted Prime Minister David Cameron’s comment at Question Time in the Commons the week, when he described it as,

“an absolutely sickening and disgusting crime”.

I went on to say:

“In an article in the Daily Telegraph on Monday this week, the Mayor of London wrote about how the plaques on a war memorial in Sidcup commemorating the deaths of 342 in both world wars, including that of Lieutenant George Cairns, who won the Victoria Cross in an act of extraordinary bravery in the Burma campaign in 1944, had been, in Boris Johnson’s words,

“brutally jemmied off and sold for scrap”.

By then it was clear that the government was taking the issue seriously. On 29 November 2011 they set up the National Metal Theft Taskforce that received funding of £5 million for extra operational activity to tackle metal theft.

  The lead in this was taken by the British Transport Police, which set up a central team to manage the programme and provide dedicated co-ordination and support in each region of the country. The taskforce programme financially supported the pilot of Operation Tornado, led brilliantly by the BTP, and the implementation of Tornado tactics by forces and agencies across the country. This was an enhanced identification initiative agreed by the British Metals Recycling Association and the police. Of the forces providing figures, 72% of yards signed up to Operation Tornado.

It had an immediate effect on metal theft. The British Transport Police told me that there was a decrease in reported metal theft of 52%. That was particularly good news for Network Rail, as it has led to a reduction of 59% in the total amount of delay minutes and reduced the company’s compensation payments by £5.6 million.

I was told that the Ecclesiastical Insurance company had reported that the number of claims for theft of metal from church buildings had fallen sharply.

If we compared the national average reductions achieved in reported metal crime, then 38%, with the figures in the Deloitte report in 2011 in which they said that metal theft costs the UK economy £220 million to £260 million a year, then it is likely that the £5 million taskforce money had delivered harm reduction for the UK of between £83 million and £98 million. That is a pretty good rate of return, as a relatively small investment of public money seems to have led to a substantial reduction in metal theft.

To make these improvements permanent we needed changes in the law. I spotted an opportunity in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill and moved an amendment to outlaw cash payments for scrap metal in March 2012. I referred again to ACPO’s estimate that the national cost of metal theft was £770 million, to the 16,000 hours of delays suffered by rail passengers over the past three years caused by the theft of signalling cable, and to other examples of metal theft such as lead from church roofs, manhole covers, telephone wire and works of art. Numerous heritage railways wrote to me to say that scores of metal items such as rails, lamps and even a fork-lift truck had been stolen for their scrap value.

I had another press report dated 1 March saying that seven churches were being targeted and robbed every night for the lead on their roofs; and in a new twist Network Rail reports that, in recent signalling cable thefts on the Cotswold line between Oxford and Worcester, the theft of a 650-volt distribution cable had been concealed by the insertion of a short length of domestic cable in its place—an incredibly dangerous manoeuvre.

The Government accepted the principle of my amendment, but for reasons which I never understood proposed an exemption for itinerant sellers. That meant that the sale of metal to an itinerant collector will not have to be recorded, whether it is a householder getting rid of some unwanted domestic appliance or a metal thief using the itinerant as a way of getting into the chain. I warned at the time that by proposing that exemption, the Government were opening up a serious loophole that could undermine much of the benefit that their move towards cashless transactions will create.

I said to the Minister that the itinerant seller exemption had alarmed many in the industry. For example, SITA said this in its briefing:

“There is no reason why a cashless system cannot be implemented by bona fide itinerant collectors, along with the rest of the scrap metal industry … Moreover, the requirement for a cashless transaction between the itinerant collector and a scrap metal merchant will in any event necessitate the former to maintain a bank account with provision for electronic or cheque payment. It is therefore illogical to exempt the initial transaction between the seller and the itinerant collector, but to (rightly) mandate a cashless transaction for the on-sale of the material to a scrap metal dealer. Traceability over the entire chain, from seller to intermediary to dealer, will be broken along with proof of provenance of the metal presented for sale”.

Fortunately that exemption did not last long as later in 2012 we had an entirely new piece of legislation to consider – the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill. That was necessary because, as Alchemy Metals said in a briefing to me:

“the 1964 Act … is abundantly unfit for purpose. The removal of loopholes such as the Itinerant Trader and Motor Salvage Operator exemption must now pass to law as a matter of urgency. This, combined with further police powers and a comprehensive registration system will give the relevant authorities and the scrap industry itself the powers needed to combat metal theft once and for all”.

For reasons which I never understood, ministers decided that this would be a private member’s, rather than a government bill, which meant that it was at risk of ambush from a handful of MPs who either disliked the principle of changing the law by a private member’s bill, or didn’t like some of the provisions in it – or both.

We were right to be worried because that is exactly what happened. In the Commons it only takes a handful of MPs to talk out a bill, and that is what they tried with the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill. In the end they were only bought off by a commitment by the government that they would add what’s called a “sunset clause” as an amendment when it reached the Lords. Had that gone through it would have meant that the Act would have expired after five years – a completely crazy proposition, given that metal theft was never going to disappear, however effective the Act and equally, the commitment to enforcement.

When the bill came to committee stage in the Lords a minister – it was Lord Attlee – duly tabled the sunset clause amendment. I had received many representations how unwise this was. There was also the procedural point that if the bill was amended in the – Lords it would have to go back to the Commons, where it would again be at the mercy of the awkward squad who might this time kill it off altogether.

I led the charge against the government amendment, saying:

“I am aware that the Minister in another place gave a commitment to give this House the opportunity to consider the addition of a sunset clause—not to improve the Bill, but in order to buy off the two Members who habitually cause trouble for Private Members’ Bills. The noble Earl has fulfilled that commitment by moving that amendment this morning. It does mean that the House is obliged to accept it.”

Unusually for a Friday, I decided to call a division, and won by 89 votes to 31. That meant that the bill left the Lords unamended, didn’t have to go back to the Commons, and passed into law.

I would have liked to be able to say this morning that the passage of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act solved all the problems of metal theft. But we know it didn’t. During the bill’s second reading I put a question to the Minister on Operation Tornado. I pointed out that its funding and that for the taskforce were due to come to an end in March 2013. Did the Government intend that this would be renewed, at least until the provisions of the Bill were fully implemented? The danger was that if the funding stopped, police forces would start to focus on other priorities, and the momentum that they have gained would peter out. I said I could not believe that that is what the Government wanted to see happen.

It gives me no pleasure to say “I told you so”, but those fears were wholly justified, and that I suspect is the main reason you are holding this webinar today. In Parliament we still have much to do, and we have re-formed the All Party-Parliamentary Group on Metal, Stone and Heritage Crime. We would really appreciate your help in attracting MPs to join the APPG, and we’ll do our best to give the campaign our best shot.


18th May 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Today I spoke in the Queen’s Speech debate about football regulation,

My Lords, I will speak briefly about a DCMS issue that I hope will lead to legislation in the current Session but was not in the Queen’s Speech: the outcome arising from the Government’s decision to establish a fan-based review of football, chaired by Tracey Crouch MP. Noble Lords will remember that this was prompted by the furious reaction of supporters to the monstrous plan by the six wealthiest clubs—the majority of them foreign-owned—to break away from the FA Premier League to form the European Super League.

That episode demonstrated the inability of the English game to reform itself. It has been given plenty of opportunities to do so over the past 30 years, with numerous reviews of the governance of the Football Association, and inquiries into racism, hooliganism and so much more, but little has happened. The power balance within the game is flawed, and there is chronic financial disparity and deep-seated unsustainability, with clubs driven out of business and much-loved community assets destroyed, as greedy owners have been allowed to profit from the sale of stadiums, with supporters ignored or treated with contempt.

The European Super League was the latest attempt to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a small number of owners regardless of the disastrous effect on the remaining clubs, but there have been others, such as Project Big Picture and the proposed expansion of the UEFA Champions League. In the face of all this, the organisation which is supposed to be the governing body of English football, the FA, has appeared weak and divided, its credibility shot to pieces. Vested interests have prevented football speaking with a united voice.

I mentioned the succession of reviews that have attempted to solve these issues. I declare an interest as I served as vice-chairman of the Football Task Force 22 years ago. We attempted to tackle the issues which alienated supporters, such as hyperinflating ticket prices and exorbitant prices for merchandise, as clubs declared themselves businesses and made fortunes for their shareholder chairmen by floating on the stock market. The Football Task Force published two reports which were broadly accepted, on racism and disabled access, but the third and final commercial report, which addressed issues ranging from replica shirts and ticket pricing to the involvement of PLCs in the game, and aimed to deliver a fair deal for supporters, was strongly opposed by the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League. In that final report, the majority of us made it clear that if football could not reform itself, the Government should legislate and introduce statutory regulation.

Therefore, I welcome the inclusion, in the terms of reference of Tracey Crouch’s review, an assessment of the need for an independent football regulator charged with implementing regulation and compliance, backed by legislation. I am sure that one of the documents that she will study will be Manifesto for Change, published six months ago by a distinguished group that includes the former chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, former Sports Minister Helen Grant MP, who is promoting a Private Member’s Bill in the Commons to establish a Toggle showing location ofColumn 540regulator, Andy Burnham, the noble Lord, Lord King of Lothbury, and Gary Neville. I conclude with a flavour of what they say:

“Clubs take excessive financial risks to achieve promotion, particularly incurring huge salary commitments. Relegation leaves clubs with parachute payments that temporarily meet unsustainable wages. Competing clubs consequently have to match such wages, creating an inflationary spiral … Stadiums have been sold off for commercial exploitation, fit and proper person tests are carried out in a weak and inconsistent fashion, fans, the lifeblood of the game, feel let down and neglected.”

This has not changed.

A link to the complete debate here