20/01/2017 House of Commons


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order, order. Point of order Mr David Nutt. White bake to us that


the house it in private. The question is that the house sit in


private? As many of those who agreed, say Aye, and those who


disagree say no. Division. Clear the lobby.


The question is that the house sit in private. As many who agrees save


Aye, and those who disagree say no. We have the tellers for the Ayes and


for the nose. Would be Sergeant care to


investigate the delay in the voting lobby?


Order, order. The ayes to the right, while. The noes to the left, 40. The


ayes to the right, one. The noes to the left, 40. So the noes habit, the


noes have it. The Clerk will now proceed to read the order of the


day. Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill, second reading. Thank


you, Mr Speaker. I beg to move that this bill be now read a second time.


I'm very pleased to bring this Bill to be house for a second time


because it completes the repeal of historic provisions which penalised


homosexual activity by repealing section 1464 and 1473 of the


criminal Justice and Public order act 1994. I'm proud to do so because


of my commitment to justice and an opposition to unjustified


discrimination. When it comes to employment in the merchant navy or


anywhere rows, what matters is your ability to do the job, not your


agenda, your age, your ethnicity, your religion all your sexuality. --


not your gender. I know that honourable members across the House


share this commitment and many will be surprised, perhaps even


astonished, to learn that this anomaly still remains on the statute


book. There is no place in our society today for employment


discrimination on the basis of sexual -- of sexuality. That one


provision applies to heterosexual individuals and 12 homosexual


individuals. This involves the dismissal of an individual on the


grounds of homosexual conduct. This is the last of its kind that remains


are now statute book and it should be removed. The repeal of historic


provisions penalising homosexual activity was a process that started


with the Wolfenden report in 1957. That landmark report argued for the


decriminalisation of homosexual conduct. The Wolfenden report was


not universally popular at the time, attracting criticism from across the


party political divide. But it wisely saw that Private, consensual


sexual behaviour was not a matter for the law. And the internal


debates within the Wolfenden committee were mirrored in the wider


public debate at the time. This was studied as a matter of course by law


students between Professor HLA Hart and Patrick Lord Devlin. That is


instructive to this Bill, I believe, because it sets the entire tone for


how we think about the law in the area of private sexual behaviour.


Lord Devlin took the view that the enforcement of morals was a proper


function or even the primary function of law. He was right to the


extent that the law cannot be divorced from morality, that law has


an interest in what is good and in identifying wrongs that should be


dealt with in society. However, he was wrong to imagine that eventually


if the majority of people in society thought that something was morally


wrong then it should be illegal. HLA Hart took the view that the reality


is more complicated than that, that there is a Private sphere where the


law should not run and for the Wolfenden report, that, as a matter


of principle, sexual acts between consenting adults were not in fact a


matter for the law. It may initially sound as though Devlin's view is the


more Conservative, but actually Hart saw that there is a distinction


between the state and society and that they are not the same thing and


that Government may protect and create the good issuance for a


flourishing society but it does not intervene in every area unless there


is some very good reason to do so. This is the same distinction that


the late Mrs Thatcher grew in her misunderstood dictum that there is


no such thing as society. There is no such thing as called society.


That is different to the institution of family, individuals and other


civic... I would be delighted to give way. I'm grateful to my


honourable friend for giving way. He mentions the quotation which must be


one of the most frequently referred to the late Mrs Thatcher about there


being no such thing as society. I just wonder if he, as me, has ever


looked up the full quote, which actually was contained in I think it


was the women's weekly all women's own publication and actually sets


out a completely different interpretation to the one that is


usually ascribed to it. I am very grateful to my honourable friend


who, of course, does correct to be misunderstanding about that quote


and he is at the legally right and I think it was a total


misrepresentation of what being late Mrs Thatcher was trying to say. It


is also worth noting that the Wolfenden committee break new ground


as the first time that openly homosexual citizens in this country


gave evidence to a Government committee. It is perhaps evidence of


how contentious the Wolfenden report was at the time that it took a


further ten years before its recommendations were implemented and


the decriminalisation took place in the sexual offences act, 1967.


Other criminal Justice and Public order act 1994, the act that this


bill is concerned with the day was in fact seen at the time as a


liberalising act. Mainly since it reduced the age of consent for


homosexual activity, in addition, sections 146 and 147 repealed the


clauses in the sexual offences act 1967 which made homosexual activity


within the Armed Forces and on merchant Navy vessels a criminal


offence. This was however partially due to the anomaly that an


individual could not be prosecuted under criminal law but could be


prosecuted under service law for the same offence. However sections 1464


and 1473. The sections repealed by this bill, I hope today, and


subsequently, and specifically require that nothing in this bill


should prevent even consensual homosexual activity to constitute


grounds for dismissal. These were added to that bill following


nongovernment amendments during the house rules committee stage. Those


amendments were supported by peers who wish to have then policy on


administrative dismissal held by the Armed Forces on the face the bill.


Those amendments were initially resisted by the Minister at the time


but pressed to a division which the government lost. So while the


criminal penalty was taken away, the discrimination on grounds of sexual


orientation, remained. And during the passage of the criminal Justice


and Public order act, the anomaly that there were no equivalent


provisions for heterosexual activity taking place on board a ship, for


example, was pressed by some members of this house and the other place.


Now the equivalent provisions for the Armed Forces in the criminal


Justice and Public order act were struck down as a result of the


European Court of Human Rights case in 2000. Smith and Grady versus the


UK. Which held that the Armed Forces policy at the time, of investigating


whether personnel were Rob homosexual orientation, or had


engaged in homosexual activity and pursuing and administrative


discharge as a matter of policy that was found to be the case, that case


raised a number of issues related to the place of homosexual men and


women in the Armed Forces. But I want to touch on one aspect in


particular. Bullying. The submissions to the court during that


case, argued that one reason for the Armed Forces policy at the time, was


due to the threat of "Assaults on homosexuals, bullying and harassment


of homosexuals, ostracism and avoidance." The EC HR responded as


we would today by arguing that this should be dealt with robust leak, by


clear codes of conduct, complaint procedures, in the same way as


racial and sexual harassment or bullying. In its decision, the court


said that the court considers it important to note, in the first


place, the approach already adopted by the Armed Forces to deal with


racial discrimination and with racial and sexual harassment and


bullying. The January 1996 directive for example imposed both a strict


code of conduct on every soldier, together, with disciplinary rules to


deal with any inappropriate behaviour and conduct. This dual


approach was supplemented, with information leaflets and training


programmes, the Army emphasising the need for high standards of personal


conduct and for others. Now as a result of that judgment, and the


implementation of appropriate codes and procedures to tackle bullying


and harassment of homosexual men and women, the Armed Forces is clearly


in a different place today than the time of that case as is the merchant


Navy. But while this has been a very positive development in recent


years, we also need to acknowledge that homophobic bullying is still a


live issue today, particularly in schools. No one should be salted,


bullied or harassed as a result of their sexual orientation. And it is


important to recognise this can be particularly damaging when it


happens among 1's close peers in such a crucial informative


environment. I'm pleased that the government has made 2.8 million


available to tackle homophobic bullying. The programme by this


additional money began in September 2016 and run to March 2019, nor to


prevent and respond to homophobic bullying across primary and


secondary schools in a sustained way. The government six initiatives


that will deliver a whole school approaches, staff training to help


prevent and tackle homophobic Viliame Mata. As part of the


programme, that will build on the previous grant of ?2 million. I


hope, this reaffirms that there is no place for discriminatory


employment practice, will also display a clear signal that


homophobic bullying and harassment are completely unacceptable. Firms


which constitute the merchant Navy were not actually within the scope


of the 2000 Smith and Grady against the UK legal case since they were


private employers. And cases brought in respect of the European


Convention rights are brought against governments rather than


private individuals or entity is. Provisions relating to the merchant


Navy were eventually superseded by the employment equality and sexual


regulations 2003 which integrated into UK law, the EU equal treatment


direct is 2000-78- EC. -- directive. The honourable gentleman is really


setting out in great detail the background to this bill. What I


would like to ask him though, is it the case, perhaps he can confirm


that UK merchant ships are classified as residencies as well as


workplaces, that has meant that shipowners had been able to make up


their own rules about what is and isn't allowed to happen on board? I


am very grateful to the honourable lady for her intervention, I will


come onto those points later, we are very clear about this legislation


needing to pass leaving their ambiguity. -- leaving no ambiguity.


The act introduced a comprehensive and new framework which updated,


simplified and strengthens the previous legislation in place. And


created a simple framework of discrimination law which protects


individuals from unfair treatment. The equality act introduced


protection from discrimination to individuals in respect of protected


characteristics. Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and


civil partnership, pregnancy, maternity, race and religion,


belief, section sexual orientation. -- sex and sexual orientation. When


the act passed, did not automatically applied to the


shooting industry. However it did apply, in 2010. -- shipping


industry. So despite the fact that the provisions repealed by this bill


have been superseded it is important that they are taken off the statute


book I believe for four reasons. I would just like to take a little


time with the house this morning, to point at the principal reasons I


have brought this to the house today. Firstly as I have indicated,


it is symbolic. These provisions, are the last remaining historic


legislation on our statute books, which penalised and directly


discriminate on grounds of homosexual at. I am happy to give


way. -- homosexual to. That is very important, those will argue, that


the law has moved on, but there is that symbolism which is so important


that we should sweep it away. The honourable gentleman makes that wise


observation and it is critical, bad actually, this is the conclusion of


a journey that we have been going on in this country for essentially 60


years. By removing this legislation creating a provision that applies to


all individuals, and removing this distinction, we are bypassing this


Bill affirming that this house has a commitment to justice and equality.


That there is no place in society for discrimination on the basis of


sexual orientation. What matters in employment is the ability to do the


job, nothing else. What matters in society, here's how you can


contribute, how you can serve others. Nacho background, your race


or your sexuality. Now secondly, it complete the process of repeal, of


those provisions which started in the Armed Forces act last year,


2016. As a result, it delivers on the commitment, that was made during


the passage of that bill, to bring forward legislation that will deal


with the legislation in the merchant Navy in just the same way as in the


Armed Forces provisions. Thirdly, it gives free assurance, --


reassurance. At the moment the individual could look up the


provisions, 1994 online, and I think the alarm door confused. That it


apparently allows for the dismissal of a seafarer in the merchant Navy


on the grounds of homosexual on the. As I have said, though these


provisions have already been superseded, that cannot be told from


the initial reading of the 1994 act itself. They would already have to


know about the employment equality orientation regulations of 2003 for


the equality act of 2010, work on ships and hovercraft 2011. Fourthly,


the bill will tidy up legislation. Our statute book is complex enough


without the retention of the funked and superseded regulations. Apart


from anything else this bill is a useful tidying up exercise to make


the status of the current law regarding deployment discrimination


absolutely clear. As I have explained, giving important


reassurance to anyone who might be concerned about this apparent thing


in our law. The bill is very straightforward. With a single


clause. A single clause simply repeal sections 1464, and 1473, of


the criminal Justice and Public order act. The territorial extent of


the bill is throughout the UK. I am very happy to give way. Does my


honourable friend agree with me that the side of the legislation has got


nothing to do with how important it may be. And one line in the bill


on the society than a bill that is on the society than a bill that is


100 pages long. Article 50. Absolutely and I think we know what


my honourable friend is referring to. I just wanted to spend a few


moments talking about the territorial extent of the bill,


there was some ambiguity as to whether this bill is an equalities


Bill Hori Maritime bill. The reason this matters is that given the


territorial extent, of the legislative consent motion could


have been required. Saint honourable members will know that maritime


matters are reserved whereas equalities matters are devolved. I


am informed, that this bill is classified as a maritime matter, and


being a reserved matter, a legislative consent motion is not


required from the devolved administrations. And the Department


for Transport has also signalled the compatibility of the bill with the


EC HR Convention rights. So this bill mirrors the repeal of


equivalent provisions relating to the Armed Forces included in the


Armed Forces act 2016. And those provisions are widely welcomed in


the house, and were widely welcomed during the passage of that bill. I


trust that the support that those provisions received then we'll be


indicative of support for this bill today. I want to anticipate the


objection that the provisions in this bill could have been dealt with


earlier. In fact, the Armed Forces act could not have included clauses


relating to the merchant Navy, since legislation covering the merchant


Navy is a transport matter, rather than a defence matter.


As a result, these provisions fell outside the scope of the Armed


Forces act and the ministers said during the reports stage of the


Armed Forces act on the 11th of January last year that, and I quote,


these provisions in no way reflect the position of today's Armed


Forces. We are proud in the Department of the progress we have


made since 2000 to remove policies that discriminated against


homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel so they can


serve openly in the Armed Forces. The honourable member who is


understandably not in his place from Chesterfield speaking for the party


opposite at the time said, and I quote, removing these provisions


from the statute book is a welcome step forward so that the explicit


refusal to discriminate against homosexual servicemen and women is


expunged from the service book, just as it has in practice been outlawed.


This is an important step forward and we welcome it very strongly.


Just as the Armed Forces today does not discriminate against homosexual


servicemen and women, so the merchant Navy does not do so any


more and homosexual men and women make a full and valuable


contribution to our shipping industry. I was very fortunate in


the last parliament to take through the presumption of death now act as


a Private members Bill a few years ago. At the time, I was grateful for


the support and help of charities and organisations who had been


lobbying on those issues for a long time. Today, in a similar way, I am


very pleased that this Bill has been welcomed by and enjoys the support


of key bodies representing the merchant Navy. I hope that will give


us confidence today that this repeal is not something that the industry


are in different too. In fact, they have warmly welcomed it. The UK


chamber of shipping, the industry body for the merchant Navy, have


welcomed the bill and have said, and I want to quote in the House today,


the UK chamber of shipping is fundamentally opposed to any


discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Whilst


subsequent equality legislation has superseded it, this is a welcome


move which would create welcome -- legal certainty. The RMT, the


industry union, has also lent its support to the bill saying, the RMT


is fundamentally opposed to all forms of work -based discrimination


including on grounds of sexuality. We support all efforts to reinforce


LGBT art right in the merchant Navy and Mr Glen's bill should finally


end any threat of legalised persecution, particularly of gay or


bisexual seafarers. We welcome this step and see that it has Government


support and we urge all MPs and peers to ensure that this bill is


passed into law as quickly as possible. Finally, I was also


particularly pleased to receive the backing of long-standing campaigner


Peter Catterall, who said in an e-mail to me it is surprising and


shocking that this exemption from equality laws remains on the statute


books after so many years of gay law reform. The repeal is long overdue


and most welcome. So, in conclusion and in summing up, I hope that the


bill will enjoy support across the House to signal our commitment to


equality and justice. And to give real reassurance to individuals that


no discriminatory employment practices are allowed in law, in the


merchant navy or elsewhere in the United Kingdom. As I said in the


beginning of my remarks, I am pleased to be able to bring this


Bill to the House today and commend it to the House. Order, the question


is that the bill be now read a second time. Thank you, Mr Speaker,


and I am pleased to be able to contribute to this debate and I


would like to thank the honourable member for Salisbury for bringing


forward his Private members bill to the House this Bill relates to the


repeal of aspects of sections 146 and 147 of the criminal Justice and


Public order act 1994 which purport to preserve the right of the


Seafarer on a UK registered merchant Navy ship. Although both sections


are off no effect as a consequence of the development of other


legislation, most notably the equality act of 2010, repealing the


sections would prevent any potential misunderstanding, as has already


been said, and doing so would tidy up the statute book. There are other


good reasons for doing so which I will elaborate on in due course. It


is initially to reflect on the legal background and development of the


last 50 years which have created a situation whereby the repealing of


aspects of the sections may be considered. Sections 146 subsection


four and 147 subsection three of the act have been made obsolete as the


increase in and of LGBT writes in this country over a period of time.


50 years ago in section one of the sexual offences act in 1967 to


criminalise homosexual acts in Private in England and Wales.


However a subsection ensured that committing a homosexual act was


still a -- an offence in military law and on a merchant ship. Moving


forward a generation, we come to the criminal Justice and Public order


act of 1994, the very act to which this bill refers. This act covered a


plethora of different areas including young offenders, bail


arrangements, justice, police powers, trespassing, squatters,


terrorism and prisons to name just a few. Part 11 of that act also


covered topics relating to homosexuality and perhaps, most


notable, in section 145, which reduced the homosexual age of


consent from 21 to 18. This is, of course, -- this has, of course,


since been lowered to 16. Other sections of the act also removed the


criminal liability which existed under the 1967 act. Sections 146 and


147 which are subject to the bill before us today were added in 1994


following non-government movements. -- non-government amendments. I


understand the proposer of those amendments was concerned that making


homosexual acts legal might mean that homosexual people could be


dismissed for engaging in it. These do not have any consequence on any


other measure. Indeed, the wording of 146 and 147 mean that it is


possible for dismissal solely on the basis of homosexual conduct to be


prevented by other legislation and Government policy. As has already


been mentioned with regards to the Armed Forces, in September 1999, in


the case of script -- of Smith versus the UK, the European Court of


Human Rights ruled that the ban of homosexuals in the Armed Forces


broke the human rights Convention which safeguards the right to


privacy. Up until this point, the Ministry of Defence's position had


always been that homosexuals in the military were bad for morale and


were potentially open to blackmail from foreign interventions. It was


thought that it was incompatible with military life because of the


close conditions within which personnel have to live and work and


also because their sexual behaviour could cause offence, polarise


thoughts and result in difficult circumstances. As a result of the


ban, dozens of servicemen were forced to leave the service every


year as a result of the prejudice they encountered. Following the


decision of the European Court of Human Rights, the Government lifted


the ban on the 12th of January in the year 2000. With regards to the


merchant Navy dismissing a member of crew on a merchant ship because of a


homosexual act, that is specifically because the act was homosexual as


distinct from dismissal for participating in a sexual act


irrespective of sexual orientation. That would constitute sexual


orientation discrimination which is contrary to part five, chapter five


of the equality act 2010. In Northern Ireland, a regulation in


2003 achieved the same in regards to removing discrimination against


sexual orientation. Mr Speaker, over the years, both sections have been


gradually amended until they have reached their present composition,


whereby they only make reference to the merchant Navy. These part of


those sections regarding offences relating to military discipline were


repealed by the Armed Forces act 2006. All references to the Armed


Forces were removed from the sections three part 14 subsection


three of the Armed Forces act 2016. Part 14 subsection three originated


as a consequence of an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill watch was


moved during the Report Stage. It was initially thought during the arm


-- early stages of the bill but it could not repeal the relevant part


of 146 and 147 which related to the Armed Forces because those parts


were also tied up with the merchant Navy. A subject outside the scope of


the bill. The Government subsequently agreed upon decoupling


beauty issues and bust dealt with the aspects of those which


specifically relate to the military as part of the Armed Forces Bill,


whilst stating that the aspects that dealt with the merchant Navy would


be addressed as soon as possible. The bill which is the subject of


this debate is thus advocating a similar approach to that applied by


the Government in the Armed Forces act of 2016. Although the


Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for defence suggested last


year that the Department for Transport intended to deal with the


references to merchant Navy as soon as possible, the honourable member


for Salisbury has in fact be the Department through his own Private


members Bill. I am of course pleased to note that his intended -- it was


the intended decision of the Government to address this as soon


as possible and I welcome the comments made by the ministers in


this chamber and in the Other Place. I also welcome the cross-party


support that this approach has received and that of the members


from Renfrewshire and East Dummett respectively. As I have previously


stated, neither 1460147 ar of any legal effect due to the existence of


other legislation. Both sections are indeed obsolete and in removing


them, this Bill tidies up the statute book. Mr Deputy Speaker,


this fact alone would of course provide ample justification for


bringing forward this Bill. There are caught -- there are however


other reasons for bringing this billboard which are perhaps far


significant. Even know both sections which are related to are of no


effect, they are ambiguous. They could be interpreted as a clear


statement that being homosexual is incompatible with employment and


merchant vessels and that homosexuals are unwelcome in the


merchant Navy. Will my honourable friend give way? Thank you. I am a


grateful to my honourable friend for giving way. He is doing a sterling


job in setting up the background and the detail for this Bill. Would he


agree with me though that I think it is important that we recognise that


like most of society, the position of LGBT sailors has markedly


improved over the last 20 years. That's not to say that I'm not


supporting this Bill today, because I will be, but this is clear from


the merchant Navy Code of Conduct which sets out a much more


up-to-date process with regards to disciplinary and grievance processes


and guidelines on preventing bullying and harassment? I'd like to


thank the honourable member for her intervention. What the honourable


member may not know about my past is that of course I grew up in


Australia and my father was actually in the merchant Navy. I am going


back many, many years, but I do know from some of the old seafaring


stories that my father used to tell me when I was a much younger man


that actually bullying and particularly bullying around


homosexual people and by people in the Navy was absolutely rife and


totally unacceptable. So, yes, I absolutely agree that the conditions


for LGBT personnel on those vessels today is probably far better than it


was in the days when my father was in the merchant Navy. But I dare say


that this Bill will indeed make it even better for them going forward.


Mr Deputy Speaker the code of conduct for the merchant Navy was


approved in 2013, it was agreed between the union of rail Maritime


and transport workers, the RMT, as the UK chamber of shipping and


approved by the Maritime and coastguard agency. The code takes


into account the rather unique situation of working on a merchant


ship and the fact that seafaring is a civilian occupation which imposes


on seafarers certain demands that are not found in land-based jobs.


Just to take up on my honourable friend's intervention earlier as


well, one of the key aspects of course of working on a merchant


ship, is that you live and work together with your fellow


colleagues, so that if you don't get on, if there is bullying and


intimidation, it is far greater a stress for those that are on the


receiving end of that bullying. Because of course the confined


environment, of those very ships that they work on. Furthermore the


guidance on eliminating, ship bullying is produced by the


International chamber of shipping and transport workers Federation


affirms the importance of eliminating discrimination in


respect of employment and occupation. It goes on to state that


all seafarers have the right to work without suffering harassment and


bullying and outlines the serious consequences for physical and


emotional health of seafarers who are subject to that very bullying.


The guidance makes it explicitly clear that harassment and bullying


based on a person's sexual orientation is unacceptable and said


Sabah formal complaints and investigations to ensure that all


incidents of homophobic Rulli in our -- are properly dealt with. It is


clear that the sentiment expressed, in these two sections, is not shared


by those within the shipping industry, it is incompatible with


their current policies, aims and values. The potential inference of


the sections as they currently stand, that being homosexual is


incompatible with employment, is outdated and unhelpful. And removing


these sections and any potential ambiguity should therefore be


welcomed. Both the code of conduct and the guidance of eliminating


shipboard harassment and bullying making it clear that LGBT people are


welcome inside the merchant Navy. Any suggestion to the contrary is


clearly wrong, and efforts to avoid any potential misunderstanding by


removing these references from the statute book will I am sure received


the support of the industry. Mr Deputy Speaker there are a number of


practical reasons for removing these sections, doing so has several


members have already indicated to me is also highly symbolic and in a


sense it is this aspect that is arguably the most compelling reason


for supporting this bill. As I outlined earlier, legislation and


government policy relating to the LGBT people has changed


substantially over the last 50 years however the fact that we are


discussing this issue today demonstrates that there is still a


way to go. Beginning with the sexual offences act 1967 that


decriminalised homosexual acts, we have witnessed many important


milestones in relation to LGBT writes in recent decades. Some of


these such as equalising the age of consent, removing the ban on serving


in the Armed Forces, and outlawing all the discrimination practices,


which I have already mentioned, other measures prior to 2010 include


but were not limited to the repeal of section 28 of the local


government act 1988, and, the right of same-sex couples to adopt


children and civil partnership legislation. Since 2010 we have seen


further measures to enhance LGBT equality and a consistent desire


from the government to tackle any remaining prejudice and


discrimination. As my honourable friend from Salisbury has already


said, ?2.8 million has been made available to tackle homophobic, by


phobic and transfer obit bullying in schools in England. The government


has also worked alongside LGBT organisations to combat online abuse


and harassment through the launch of a website called "Stop online


abuse". Sports England, have requested to ensure that the


involvement of GPT people in sports receives an equal emphasis as part


of their efforts to encourage wider involvement in sport to. Furthermore


for those who doubt how far we have come in a relatively short period of


time, it is also worth reflecting on the fact that in 2014, our Armed


Forces came second in the world's first league table in the world's


most LGBT friendly military in the world. This came 14 years after the


band serving in the military was formerly overturned. We now have the


women and equality select committee which is able to hold the government


to account on its approach to these issues. We have seen the development


of the worlds LGBT action plan reduced by the government and the


development of a number of measures to address specific challenges that


trance people face in their lives. The government has also built on the


pardon of Alan Turing, by saying those convicted of consensual


same-sex relationships would be formally pardoned. Through an


amendment to the policing and crime Bill. However the most high-profile


measure is of course the introduction of marriage for


same-sex couples. Since the first same-sex marriages took place on


March 2014, the latest figures for England and Wales suggest that over


15,000 marriages were recorded in the 15 months after the law had


changed. The total figure now of course will be somewhat higher. Mr


Deputy Speaker, sadly we cannot change the events of the past, and


the discrimination and prejudice that LGBT people often experienced


in society. We can however change the present, we can seek to tackle


discrimination and intolerance where it still exists, and we can lead by


example in this house. When it comes to challenging legislation which is


plainly inappropriate and inconsistent with the values which


we hold today. Nor will it be remembered in the same way. However,


it is symbolic, nonetheless. Its purpose is very much in keeping with


our virtual legal and policy developments and the changes within


society, which have radically improved LGBT writes over the last


50 years. This bill, as to be seen through the prism of that changing


landscape, and it is a small but important change with regards to


insuring that LGBT people are protected from discrimination in the


workplace. If this bill is passed Mr Deputy Speaker is no doubt be seen


in years to come as part of the gradual journey into improving LGBT


writes and ending the historic prejudice that LGBT people have


experienced. I'm pleased to have been able to contribute to this


debate today and I am pleased Mr Deputy Speaker to support this bill.


Thank you Mr Deputy Speaker I am very grateful to have the


opportunity to contribute to this debate, at such an early stage in


the proceedings. I serve on the transport select committee, and I'm


also an openly transsexual man. Let me start with the customary -- gate


man. Let me congratulate him on his good fortune in securing such a high


place in the private members bill. In choosing this subject, Bill, if I


heard him correctly, in this speech, if this bill is successful, it will


be his second. In the laws of the land. That makes him eligible for a


membership of a fairly exclusive club, what a backbencher to have


secured not one but two changes in the law. But we mustn't get ahead of


ourselves, this is only the second reading, there are many more stages


in this place and the other place to come. I do welcome the fact that


both he, and my honourable friend from Calder Valley, made important


points that this bill is much more than a simple tidying up exercise. I


did have some concerns reading the explanatory notes to the bill, and


some of the briefings that had been provided. That's the sole purpose of


this bill, was just to tidy up some clumsy legal arrangements that exist


from previous legislation, that is important for reasons that both are


honourable friends have set out. But I am also glad, and I appreciate the


wider significance of this bill. To developing the journey on LGBT


issues. That we had been on for many decades. I do appreciate, that there


is a clumsiness in a legal sense, from having a separately to the one


in the Armed Forces and I do appreciate that it was going to be


difficult to keep the dots together in a single measure. I am glad, that


the sensible decision was taken but it was better to decouple them at


that point and allow the welcome changes, in terms of the Armed


Forces, to proceed without delay. Rather than getting into it and


proceeding with the two bound together. I'm stand that point. This


is as my honourable friends have said, completing a journey that has


already been started, and both my rubble friends, think this is a very


helpful pr cis of the changes that have happened. In decriminalising


homosexuality, the steps towards equality that have happened under


governments of all colours, over the last few decades. My honourable


friend for Calder Valley, touched on, the same-sex marriage act. I


would like to focus on that too, there is a strong parallel, between


the process of arriving at that point and this bill. And if the


house will indulge me I will try to explain that a little bit. When the


civil partnership act was introduced, under Tony Blair's


government, that was a recognition that legally, it was going to be


very difficult to move straight to same-sex marriage. I think there was


a wide acceptance at the time, that although that was a desirable


ultimate goal, the legal difficulties, the objections from


many of the churches, made it very difficult to go to that point


straightaway. And I was perfectly comfortable, well I wasn't a member


of the house at the time, I was perfectly comfortable with the civil


partnership act. As pretty much giving the same rights to same-sex


couples as heterosexual couples had under civil marriage. It was a small


legal difference in the terms of the provisions, but it was about 98% the


same and I thought that is good enough. On that point. It is


interesting that my honourable friend focuses on the same-sex


marriage act but also mentions, the civil partnership act, that changed


under Tony Blair. But would we agree with me, that actually, that was


prog with the most significant act, in regards to quality because for


the first time, it put, those that went through civil partnership on a


legal equality, putting, with the rest of married couples. I'm very


grateful to my honourable friend for that point, I agree with him to that


extent. It almost got us on the same footing. But there was a difference.


Once the civil partnership act was enforced and hundreds of couples


have taken advantage of it, the debate then started, well, should we


now move to full same-sex marriage? At the same time -- at the time, I


thought, do we really need to do this? Haven't we got what we wanted


in practice and isn't this just going to be us indulging ourselves


in a bit of a sideshow on a matter that won't really make much


difference? That was my fault at the time and I think other -- that was


my thought at the time and I think other colleagues felt the same. But


the more I thought about it, the more I realised the importance of


the move to full equality as my honourable friend has said. The


reason for that is that although the Civil Partnership Act almost gave us


equality, it wasn't the same. Gay people and straight people were


treated differently under the law. The reason I'm mentioning this is we


could argue that under the provisions of the criminal Justice


and Public order act, combined with the equality act 2010, in terms of


the merchant Navy, it makes it very difficult for the seafarer to be


dismissed because they are homosexual or engaged in a


homosexual act. Very difficult. But the discrimination existed on the


statute book. And they could be a case where someone was dismissed for


that. -- there could be. That is wrong. It is not just tidying up


exercise. It sends out a powerful signal. It might not involve a great


number of individuals. Homosexuality is not a new concept. I understand,


doing some research, that there is even a special language which has


been used where discreet signals could be sent out for people who


might be interested. I am not fluent in the language, but thank you for


your point, my honourable friend from Finchley and Golders Green. So


it is not a new concept and it might not involve a great number of people


but it is still discrimination. We shouldn't be ignorant of the fact


that it may deter people from wanting to pursue a career on the


high seas. It can cause significant psychological damage to young gay


people growing up when they know that they potentially cannot pursue


the vacation or profession of their choice because they are different.


Both my honourable friend is from Salisbury and Calder Valley have


made reference to the problem of bullying that still happens in our


schools and workplaces today and there has been very welcome


improvement on these matters but it still exists. And it still causes a


lot of emotional and physical distress to young people growing up.


Having the discrimination on this matter just adds to that. It might


not be a huge thing but it is part of the same problem. And I can


relate to my personal experiences will stop growing up thinking you


are different is very tough, even in these more enlightened times, as you


still think something is wrong with you. And you might be inhibited from


pursuing that what she wanted to do. -- you wanted to do. If members are


interested in reading more about this, it's not a well-known subject,


but there is a growing body of evidence in psychology that is


unravelling and pointing out the damage that could be done. There was


a very good book written by Professor Alan Dowd called the


velvet Ridge and he documents both in America and hear how lots of


young people growing up, even after homosexuality has been


decriminalised and we have same-sex marriage, civil partnerships and


lots of the discrimination has been lots of the discrimination has been


removed, you still grow up feeling different and that can cause, some


people deal with it better than others, but it still causes


long-term damage to a lot of people. That is why taking out


discrimination in legislation is so important. It's not just a tidying


up exercise. Just looking at a career that you might want to pursue


and thinking that you can't is very damaging. I for a long time in my


teenage years and early 20s, when I decided that politics was my


passion, and this was a career that I wanted to pursue, I did think for


a time, actually, I can't do it. I would live in fear of being revealed


for who I was, something that was so innate in me that I can't change


being gay, that's the way I was being -- born. It's as natural as


being right-handed, left-handed, the colour of your hair. I felt I could


not pursue a career in politics because I was so afraid that I would


be cast aside or prevented from doing it, exposed, whatever, because


of who I was. That was in the late 1980s, early 1990s. That is why


section 28 or section two A as it was in Scotland was so damaging. It


really had a detrimental effect. And this party has made an apology for


it but we should not underestimate the damage it did at the time.


Although it was initially introduced not as a discriminatory measure but


as a measure to curb the excesses of some local authorities at the time,


that was the effect it had. And I didn't feel that it was real --


right for me to be dissuaded from my career choice because of that.


Imagine saying to someone like Terry Wogan he couldn't be a radio


broadcaster because he had an Irish accent. It's that level of


ridiculousness. I got through that. It took me a long time to realise


that actually I could still have this career and now it is not an


issue at all. We have, I think, just this week been voted as one of the


most friendly LGBT places to work for both members and staff and


that's an incredible achievement of which we should be proud. So it is


more than symbolism. My honourable friend is for Salisbury and


Calderwood were right to say it is symbolic but it goes much deeper


than that. It is not going to make the headlines today. I think there


are other events happening over the pond that might be in the front


pages of the news tomorrow. But that shouldn't diminish from the effects


that this will have. I am looking forward as well and I hope that our


merchant Nati has a very bright future -- al merchant Navy has a


very bright future. In the post-Brexit world, I hope this


nation will regain its seafaring traditions and be sailing goods all


around the world. Hopefully lots of new free trade agreements with


countries near and far and I hope that many of those goods will be


transported on the high seas. In making sure we are able to do that,


we need to have the best people to crew our ships. I do not want any


young person who might be gay thinking, oh, that's not for me, I


can't do it. I'd be bullied, I'd be discriminated against, I might be


dismissed. This measure is, I think, more than symbolic. It is important


for our future economic prosperity but, above all, it is another step


on the journey to proper equality, another important step on breaking


down those barriers, those injustices, those fears that afflict


too many young people growing up. I hope what I have said today is


helpful to explain the wider significance of this bill and once


again I do congratulate my honourable friend for Salisbury for


choosing this subject as his private members bill and I wish it every


success in today's vote, if it comes to that, and that committee stage or


any stages into the Other Place and I will be very proud to support it.


Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I'll be brief, as the point I wish to


make is not complicated because on their side of the House we


wholeheartedly support this bill and everything it signifies and I


congratulate the honourable member for Salisbury and bringing it


forward. Can I also associate myself with the comments he made about


bullying in general and particularly homophobic bullying in schools? They


are very important points. It is a pleasure also to follow my near


neighbour, the Member for Milton Keynes South and I congratulate him


on a heartfelt and very powerful contribution. This bill, its


intention, I think is relatively straightforward. It will repeal to


conditions from the act from 1994, suggesting that it could be lawful


to dismiss a seafarer for homosexual acts. As we have heard, those


provisions are from another age. They are unfair, completely out of


keeping with the commitment now held across this House to an inclusive,


just and tolerant society and, furthermore, again as we have heard,


they are out of date in terms of legislation. A similar position that


suggested it would be possible to dismiss a member of the Armed Forces


for a homosexual act have already been revealed as we have heard. --


repealed as we have heard. They are superseded by the current equality


legislation, primarily the equality act of 2010. Although that was


passed before I came into this House, that is legislation that


everyone on this side of the House is extremely proud of. As we have


heard, this bill is symbolic but symbols do matter. We strongly


believe it is important to make legislation to reflect the equal


rights that have been so hard one. So, Mr Deputy Speaker, these


provisions that are being removed our archaic leftovers of a time


which was sadly not nearly long enough ago. We say, let this bill


today be a reminder of how far we have come of increasing equality in


this country but let us also remember that there is still more to


do. On this day in particular, and reference has already been made to


this, we must always recognise that tolerance and freedom for everyone


cannot be taken for granted. Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker,


and can I start off by congratulating my honourable friend


for Salisbury for starting the process of steering his second


private members bill through the House in such a short space of time.


Something that I will never be able to do, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have a


feeling that if I were to introduce a Private members Bill, they would


say that there should be forever and a day seven days in a week and that


somebody would talk it out. I've no idea why they would feel motivated


to do that but I am sure that would happen and I would understand their


reasons for doing so. But obviously my honourable friend is much more


popular than me and for obvious reasons and he has no such problems


and I congratulate him for bringing forward this particular bill. It was


not only a very powerful introduction to why he brought this


be -- this bill forward but a very powerful speech and one of the


points made is that this legislation cannot just be seen in isolation. It


is part of the journey that has been over many years in terms of making


progress on social issues generally, but in particular about gay rights,


but I don't even see these things as being about gay rights, Mr Deputy


Speaker, because in many respects it is about dealing with things that


should never have been illegal in the first place. I sometimes fear


that when we talk about gay rights, it is as if we are doing someone a


favour. It is not that at all. This is all about making clear that some


of these pieces of legislation should never have been enacted in


the first place. But it's very easy, I guess, for us living in our age to


criticise people who have gone before us in years gone by and in


effect try to impose our standards on them. That is a dangerous route


to go down and I don't intend to go down that route even though clearly


from our perspective in this day and age these pieces of legislation


should never have been there in the first place. But obviously different


times, people had different views and we shouldn't be too critical


because I dare say in 50, 100 years' time, there will be people in this


place who will actually be criticising the laws that we have


passed, saying that they were absolutely ridiculous,


authoritarian, Draconian, and how on earth can we possibly have been


doing those things? So it is very dangerous for us to play that


particular game ourselves. I was very struck by my honourable friend


for Salisbury really referencing the Wolfenden report as the starting


point back in 1957, really as the starting point for his bill today.


It is very good to be reminded of what an important part of our


country's history that report was and Sir John Wolfenden and the 13


strong committee that made those recommendations back then about how


homosexuality shouldn't be a crime, how important is that was and how


obvious that seems to us today but how big a deal that was back in


1957. He also made clear, as I want to come onto a bit later, how the


sexual offences act 1967, which many people today, virtually all of us


today would criticise as a piece of legislation, was seen at the time as


a liberalising measure. Again, I guess that particular piece of


legislation should be seen in that particular context as well. I very


much congratulate him for bringing forward this bill. My honourable


friend for Calder Valley again made a very powerful speech and I was


struck by his family background in the merchant Navy that he referenced


during his speech and I have a feeling there will be other members


who want to also say that they have family connection to the merchant


Navy to and it's great to have that kind of expertise in the chamber. I


was also struck by how he said that we can't change the past but we can


change what happens now and what happens in the future. That is what


is important that we concentrate on in this place, that we don't always


go on about apologising for what has happened in the past, what we should


do is take responsibility for what we can do now and what we can change


for the future. I thought that was a very good point he made. I have to


say, I thought my honourable friend for Milton Keynes South gave a


particularly powerful speech. From a -- for a gay man, his


perspective on this legislation, what it actually means to people,


was very, very powerful and he talked about how this was part of a


journey in terms of legislation and it should be seen in that context,


rather than just in isolation by itself. I thought the most powerful


message he gave in his speech was when he talked about people not


being able to do the job that they wanted to do. I thought that was an


incredibly powerful point and it's very easy for people to


underestimate this point. Can I just say, thank goodness he did carry on


to pursue his career in politics. The house at the Conservative Party


are much stronger for it, so it's great that he made sure that passion


continued. The sheer lunacy of somebody thinking they can't


continue in a particular career simply because of their sexuality, I


can't emphasise how ridiculous that concept is.


The fact that it was happening to him so recently is something we


should take to heart. He's absolutely right that there will


have been many people no doubt he would have wanted a career in the


Merchant Navy, who would have been stopped, deterred and put off from


being able to pursue that career simply of legislation like this. And


the impact that has had on those people's lives should not be


underestimated. His speech was absolutely excellent, and I am sure


my honourable friend will have noticed, it was good to be on the


committee. I was also struck by the interventions from my other


honourable friend, who has clearly done a lot of research into this


Bill. Some of the point she made in her interventions, I was unaware of.


She was making a point, there she is right on cue. She was making a point


I believe in one of the interventions about ships being a


residence rather than a place of work, and I hope she will have the


opportunity to go into that in more detail, because it was a point I


hadn't grasped in looking at this Bill, and I think clearly quite an


important point and hope should be able to expand on that. I am very


struck by his remarks and he clearly has a depth of knowledge. I was just


wondering if he could enlighten the House about his role on the


Equalities Committee and how that advances views on the subject. I am


grateful to him for drawing attention to that. I'm very proud to


be on that committee. I am rather touched that my candidature for that


select committee was so popular that nobody even wanted to oppose me


election. And that was very touching. But he is absolutely


right. I believe in equality so much that I would rather the committee


would just renamed the equalities committee, because, as it shadows


the government's Equalities Office, that's what it should be called.


That is the agenda I want to pursue on the committee. He is absolutely


right. This is something that is a key part of that. We should always


make clear that nobody should ever be discriminated against on the


basis of their gender, on the basis of their race, religion, sexuality.


All of those things should be irrelevant. We should be blind to


those things. That's the agenda I want to pursue. I hope the passing


of this Bill will help in pursuing that agenda. That is the journey my


honourable friend from minutes and Kings, that's the journey I want to


see. But we don't see things in terms of race or gender or sexuality


or religion. I think this Bill is part of that particular journey.


I am here to aid its passage through the house, I am certainly not there


to block its passage through the House. I feel it is important to


make that point clear from the outset. But I think we should say,


it wouldn't be unreasonable if somebody did say that this bill is a


solution looking for a problem, in the sense that we can note that it


will bring about no real tangible change in the law, so to speak,


because subsequent legislation has effectively made the question is


unenforceable and therefore redundant already. As the briefing


states, the Bill would reveal aspects of an act which suggests it


would be lawful to dismiss a seed feeder for homosexual acts. The law


is without effect because such a dismissal would fall foul of


equalities legislation. The current Bill is therefore of symbolic value.


The exclamatory notes from the government. It says the sections are


no longer of any legal effect and that's the policy implications are


ambiguous at best. But it basically says repealing would be symbolic and


prevent misunderstanding but it wouldn't change the law. I think it


was probably a slip of the tongue, but I think I heard him mention the


exclamatory notes from the government, but surely this is the


Private Bill? He makes a good point, but it says the notes have been


prepared by the Department for Transport with the consent of our


honourable friend, the member of Salisbury, in order to help inform


debate on it. Yes, the Bill is from my honourable friend for Salisbury.


I was making the point that the explanatory notes have been prepared


by the government and obviously, the team of experts in the department,


and it's fair to say that anyone producing a Private member's bill is


going to need the help of the sponsoring department in order to


tap into their expertise. An individual backbencher would never


be able to muster that. So I don't think we should cap much about that


particular point. Anyway, the aim of today is to pass the Bill that will


effectively tidy up the legislative rate current -- record and remove


legislation that is no longer relevant. This legislation was never


relevant in my opinion and it certainly is not relevant today. To


clarify the position of the law, as my friend from Milton Keynes South


said, people could quite easily read the current provisions of the law


and presume that is still the law. They may not actually realise that


things like the Equality Act of 2010 have superseded it. Even though


strictly speaking, it would make any practical difference in that sense,


for those reasons, it is worth supporting. So in many respects, the


Bill is straightforward and short. Both sections of the act we want to


repeal reserve the right to dismiss a seafarer on a UK registered


merchant Navy shipping vessel for an act of homosexuality. This is why


this bill repeals those sections. These sections do not relate to


criminal offences, they are just the right to dismiss a seafarer for an


act of homosexuality. It is worth pointing out that interestingly, it


doesn't say seafarers should be sacked for homosexual acts, but that


they could be sacked for homosexual acts. That is the law we are


repealing. And quite rightly so, there is no justification for the


current provisions still to be on the statute book. The actual wording


of the section of the 1994 act is the following, nothing contained in


this section shall prevent a homosexual act with or without other


acts or circumstances from constituting a ground for dismissing


them member of a crew from a United Kingdom merchant ship. The other


section makes identical provision with regard to Northern Ireland. The


Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexual acts in


private. The Act through section 15 also maintains that this did not


prevent a homosexual like being an offence in military law, and section


two maintained that homosexual acts would also remain an offence on


merchant ships. To come this point at a later date, because I want to


briefly touched on some case studies. Because I think it brings


to light is why this Bill is important. And the problems it has


caused the people in the past. It is not just abstract problems, it is


caused real problems with people. But it is actually important to


point out that it does actually prefer section two, because I think


there's been some issue about this in the past, about a homosexual act


on a merchant ship. I am going to come to back to that point later,


because the interpretation of the current legislation that my


honourable friend seeks to repeal, not only was it wrong in principle,


I think in some cases, its practical application also stretched far


beyond what is worded in the legislation. But I will come onto


that bit later. That bit about section two. The criminal Justice


and Public order act 1994 dealt with homosexuality. Section 145 reduced


the age of consent for homosexual acts from 21 to 18 mark and section


146 and 147 remove the remaining criminal liability retained in the


1967 Act. The relevant sections we are seeking to repeal today where


added in that particular piece of legislation. As it was discussed


during the passage of the Armed Forces Bill, the Nestor said that


when sections 146 and 140 71 added, it was government policy that


homosexuality was incompatible with servers in the Armed Forces and


therefore, members of the Armed Forces who indulged in, sexuality


were dismissed. Both of these sections have been


repelled over the years, leaving only the lines I mention to deal


with today. Now, related sections on military discipline and those


relating to the Armed Forces have been repelled by the Armed Forces


Act 2006 and recently the act of 2016. As Jeremy Hanley said during


the passing of the 1994 bill, it would clear I will be anom louse for


the situation in the Merchant Navy to be different from the Armed


Forces. That was the reason at the time for making sure this was in


line with the view at the time of the Armed Forces. And yet, that is


the position we're left in, it seems, that we have this that


actually the Government minister back in 1994 was making the point it


would be an anomaly to treat them differently. Yet, we are here trying


to tidy this up. This is not new, Mr Deputy Speaker. In 1992, on 25th


October, Leo Abs, said in the Commons, how absurd it is that the


law can say a man on a merchant ship can have a relationship with a


passenger but not with a fellow sailor without an offence being


committed. Absurdities are buried in the 1967 act. That was the consensus


of that time. I think he made a very good point, back then in 1982 he was


making that particular point. So, this piece of legislation that my


honourable friend brings forward today has been a long time coming.


It seems to me. Now, with regard to a distinction


between the Armed Forces and the Merchant Navy, it is somewhat


curious that the whole section was not amended in one go and why there


was this distinction made between the Armed Forces and the Merchant


Navy. The repelling legislation for one and not the other. It is not a


distinction that was made teen the two units by how this legislation


affects them, but I think, as my honourable friend touched on, simply


as the Merchant Navy are not part of the Armed Forces it was out of the


scope of the Armed Forces Bill. That is why we need these passages and


during the course of that act, the minister explained, my honourable


friend for Henley, made the following intervention and said,


that during the evidence section for the Select Committee on which my


honourable friend was serving, Mr Humphrey Morrison from central eagle


services was asked whether the two could be done together and the


answer was, it could not. And the minister, the, my honourable friend


for Milton Keynes North, said the issues had been decoupled and the


Department for Transport were going to deal with the second bit and they


would move ahead quickly. So this Private Member's Bill follows that


commitment made by the Government. Some people may wish to take issue,


that it should not have been left to my honourable friend to bring


forward his bill and the luck of the draw we have with Private Member's


Bills and all the rest of it and maybe the Government should have


brought forward provisions before now to do it. I hope when the


minister gets a chance to turn his arm over in this debate later on


he'll be able to explain to us why the Government have left it to my


honourable friend for Salisbury to do this and not actually bring this


forward as a piece of Government legislation before now, which was


the impression which was given by his colleagues in the Ministry of


Defence at the time of that particular act being passed.


Now, much has been said about this issue, but I think it is important


to reflect on why homosexual grounds were grounds for dismissal in the


first place, so the reasons can be viewed today in that particular


content. And one of the best explanations in relation to military


life I think came from my honourable friend the member for Mid Sussex in


1996, when he was a Defence Minister, when he said, the current


policy of excludeing homosexuals in the Armed Forces is not the result


of a moral judgment. The prime concern of the Armed Forces is


operational effectiveness and it deprives from a praing tis of


homosexual orientation on military life. I cannot believe the services


have a right to be difference but I firmly believe they have a need to


be different. He went on to say, that military life is different from


civilian life and actually I have to say that this was actually a


cross-party view at the time. It was a view in that particular debate,


made by Dr John Reed, from the Labour benches at exactly the same


time. And saying that it was about service personnel required to live


in extremely close proximity in shared single-sex accommodation,


with less privacy and stressful conditions and the belief was those


conditions with the need for absolute trust and confidence


between all ranks require that the potentially disruptive influence of


homosexual behaviour be excluded. That was the view at the time. I


might add, Mr Deputy Speaker, General Powell, when he was the


joint Chief of Staff in America, held the same view at the time. He


saw it as different to race and sex. He said unlike race or gender,


sexuality is manifested in behaviour. While it would be


decidedly bay yas for us to decide on a racial group or sex, the same


is not same for sexuality. So, as I said at the start, this was the view


of the time. We consider it to be a ridiculous view to be held. I don't


condone those views or understand those views, but that was the


consensus of the time. Cross party, in different countries. It wasn't


something that was unique. What significance on the views he


describes were annunciated, expressed only 20 years ago? This is


a short period in the social history of our country? My honourable friend


is absolutely right. And in some respects, we should be concerned


that these things were still believed in and legislated for so


recently. I guess the other side of that particular coin is we should


also be pleased that attitudes and views have changed so quickly as


well. It cuts both ways. And so yes, my honourable friend is right. This


is recent history. This is not from a long time ago. My honourable


friend for Milton Keynes North made that point very powerfully himself


during his speech. And actually the Lord Craig of Radley also said at


the same time that the Armed Forces do not lead themselves to


discrimination of freedom of discrimination. For service reasons


we discriminate against certain people, whether for their level of


eyesight, height and all of these things and, but it is not reasonable


to insist that when it comes to sexual, that it is wrong for the


Armed Forces to discrimination or wrong for them not to perceive the


perceived norm. This were all views expressed recently. And it is, I'm


delighted that things have moved on. I think, as we have all seen, as we


have all seen, these are not academic matters, because we have


seen since these things have been resolved, sing common sense has


prevailed, has the effectiveness of our Armed Forces been impaired in


anyway? Are our Armed Forces any less today than they were back then?


Of course not. Of course they are not. They are there still - they are


still the best in the world. And so, these are now not academic


exercises. It has been proved to be the case these restrictions and this


discrimination was completely unnecessary and pointless. As my


honourable friend for Milton Keynes South said, made people who would


have been excellent at a particular career deprive them of an


opportunity to pursue that career. That is something we should all


regret hugely and the proof has absolutely been in the pudding.


It's significant and perhaps inevitable that the most widely


reported spokesman of the, for people who were arguing for gay


rights, Sir Ian McKellan, took the attitude he did. He said, why are


ministers even asking the military. The hidden agenda of those who want


to change policy, it is to steam roller the experience and the wishes


of the military. And that was reported by my


honourable friend for Mid Sussex when he was a minister. Now, I


understand that in 1992 the Select Committee on the Armed Forces made a


recommendation that the criminal law for members of the Armed Forces and


the Merchant Navy should be changed to be the same as for civilians. In


accepting that, the minister then responsible then said, it is not


intended to alter the disciplinary climate of service life. The result


was after 1992 this had not made any difference to the administrative


discharge procedure which had been adopted. Nor were there any criminal


prosecutions apparently either. Andvy count can borne said in 1994 I


should like to cover the Merchant Navy aspects. My noble friend has


expressed considerable reservations about certain clauses. The clauses


provide that members of the Merchant Navy should seize to be subject to


any special and additional criminal liability for homosexual acts on


British merchant ships. The decision to decriminalise acts by repelling


section 2 of the offences act 1967 was written in another place last


December. We believe the clauses here achieve the purpose announced


then and as in the case of the Armed Forces, also and equivalent Scottish


and Northern Irish legislation. The basis of the decision was to bring


the Merchant Navy into line with the Armed Forces. The fact the provision


appear have been used very little in the Merchant Navy is some


encouragement to us saidVy count Cranbourne. The shipping industry


and the unions had been widely consulted and if consensus in the


shipping industry was in favour of appeal. I look unlike 1967 the RMT


is now clearly in favour of repeal. And the Department for Transport was


taking steps in consultation with the employers and the unions to


amend the Code of Conduct for the Merchant Navy and the amendments


would be to make it an offence against the code to demand or


illicit sexual favours from another member of the crew or to make


unwelcome sexual advances to the crew. Those offences of course would


apply to heterosexual and homosexual conduct and they would be subject to


disciplinary sanctions provided for in the Code of Conduct. But in June


1994, Lord Baldman moved a commitment in the House of Lords to


ensure that it would be grounds for dismissal after it had been removed


by a last-minute amendment. And he said, at the time, he was in


a happy position of moving an amendment. The principal of which he


believes had the support of most of the committee to say that homosexual


conduct in the Armed Forces and the Merchant Navy will continue to be a


ground for administrative discharge. It was no not the original


intention. I have been unable to persuade the Government as best how


they can be done and it was necessary and helpful if I run


through the procedure if I run through at the present time. Which I


will not go through today, Mr Deputy Speaker, because it is not


particularly relevant. This is how we got to the situation that we are


in today. And the Minister of State for the Armed Forces confirmed the


Code of Conduct was amended in consultation with the unions and


employ years and -- employers and that was an opportunity to enshrine


in law the repel of the provisions of 15 of the Sexual Offences Act


1967. And this has been under review by successive Governments. Again my


honourable friend for Mid Sussex in 1996 said the High Court recommended


we should review our policy in the light of changing social


circumstances and of the experience of other countries where


homosexuality is not a bar to service. Unfortunately, at that


time, the internal review concluded that homosexuality was incompatible


with service life. If forces to be retained at their operational


effectiveness. This was a decision that was wrong. Clearly nothing has


happened which has made any difference to our operational


effectiveness. In Northern Ireland, and my


honourable friend was very helpful when he pointed out that this would


apply to the hall of the United Kingdom and was not a devolved


matter, and perhaps he can tell us more about how that decision has


been arrived at and whether or not that decision can be challenged in


any way through the courts, and whether or not it may well have been


one of the questions, one of the questions I would have put them is


would it be worth seeking the agreement of the devolved assemblies


anyway, given that I can't think any of them would object to it? Which


may prevent a vexatious legal challenge on the basis of that.


Perhaps the Minister can explain why it would've been so wrong just to


seek the permission of the devolved administrations anyway. But in


Northern Ireland, a Mr Dudgeon complained to the commission of


human rights that Northern Ireland law on homosexual offences was in


breach of articles eight and 18 of the European Convention On Human


Rights. In 1982, it was moved that the draft order be approved. He said


on that order, under article five, a homosexual act on it UK merchant


Navy ship, between members of the crew will continue to be an offence


as now. He also added that the two articles in question deals with the


right to respect for private life and freedom from discrimination. The


commission concluded that the law Northern Ireland breached this. The


case was then referred to the European Court of Human Rights, who


have taken into account the argument put forward by her Majesty's


government that the existing law Northern Ireland was justified by


the emphasis placed on religious and moral factors, and decided there was


not sufficient reason that the interference with private life


entailed in the present law in Northern Ireland. The court


accordingly issued their judgment on the 22nd of October in 1981, that


the law Northern Ireland beaches article eight of the European


Convention on human rights. This was an equalisation between the


countries of the UK. There was an early day motion on the subject, a


Commons debate in 1984. There was an early day motion in 1993, alluding


to the human side of the debate, which is what I want to turn to


next. These are not just abstract points, these are things that have


affected real people in their real lives, and we shouldn't


underestimate the impact it is hard. There was an early day motion in


1993, in which I draw your attention to one of these cases. It read, this


house believes discrimination against homosexual men and lesbians


serving in the Armed Forces should end. And able seaman serving abroad


HMS Act of was discharged from the Navy recently purely on the basis of


his homosexuality. Further notes that this case is featured in a


Channel 4 Cutting-edge film transmitted that year, believes that


the way this case was investigated by naval authorities contradicted


the undertaking given by the Minister of State for defence in


1992 and calls on her Majesty's government urgently to review the


ways the royal navy and other Armed Forces deal with cases of this kind.


From what I can gather from this case, the able seaman who was


discharged from the Navy, my understanding is he was seen going


into known gay establishments and that was the reason for his


dismissal. Simply that. That he was seen going into a known the


establishments, rather than actually being caught engaged in any


homosexual acts and particularly, not ownership. As I made clear, the


law in section two in relation to the merchant Navy maintained that a


homosexual act on a merchant ship would remain an offence. Now, it


strikes me that though that legislation was in itself, in my


opinion, the actual application of the legislation was going way beyond


what was actually down in statute of what was ever intended. Because


surely, even within the laws that stood at the time, surely somebody


shouldn't and could be dismissed simply for going into a known gay


establishment. How on earth could that possibly be reasonable grounds


for dismissal? It's absolutely ludicrous, but that's what happened


to that able seaman, and I think it's an absolute travesty that he


lost his career in the Royal Navy over that. I don't know what


happened to him following his discharge. But I think it's an


absolute disgrace that he lost his career in the Navy, serving our


country, over those particular brands. It was this kind of


legislation that led to the dismissal. We must ask why has this


not been tackled before and addressed before? As I mentioned


earlier on, the Bill would have any tangible effect on the current


practices of seafarers, because the provisions have been superseded by


other legislation, most notably the 2010 Equality Act. But it's


interesting to note is why the legislation was not repealed during


the passage of the Equality Act, because that would seem to need to


have been the obvious place for this to have been actively repealed at


the time. I asked the House of Commons library to confirm whether


it would have been was legislation in the 2010 Equality Act or if there


was a particular reason why it wasn't. They said to me that, in


answer to my first question, whether the law could of been amended by the


act, it could have been and it could've been in the Equalities Bill


scope. So it does seem bizarre, the whole point of the Equality Act 2010


was to put together lots of existing legislation and tidying it up and


putting it into one piece of legislation. It seems a strange


omission, that this particular bit of the legislation was passed over


during the passage of that particular act. Now, I do remember


that the Equality Act 2010 did go through Parliament close to the


general election and it made well be one of those pieces of legislation


that doesn't get the scrutiny it should do, because it is being


rushed through in order to meet the deadline before the 2010 election. I


will just there for a say in passing, it's why legislation goes


through this Codes, however well-meaning, should be properly


scrutinised, before it becomes the law. I will give way. I am very


grateful to him for giving way. He has been very generous with his


interventions, or allowing interventions. At this point is


something we should address. He is a known sceptic about all legislation,


as I understand. This illustrates his general philosophy, I think, of


being very sparing in terms of legislation. We have to be thorough


and we have to get it right. This suggests his general approach is the


correct one. I wouldn't go so far as to say I am against all legislation.


In fact, I think I did say at the start, I am supporting this


particular Bill today, and when the provisions of article 50 come


through, is probably likely I will be voting for them to. I would go so


far to say that I'm sceptical about all legislation. I know we said we


were going to have a broad debate, but I certainly don't want to enter


into the debate about what bills will be supported or not supported


in the future. I know he has 20 minutes that is ahead of him and I


wouldn't want to add to that by discussing other areas. He was


leading me astray, Mr Deputy Speaker, you're quite right in not


allowing him do that. I shall see my honourable friend later to discuss


the closure of Kempton Park. This mission... My point is, and it's a


serious point, is that this could've been dealt with many years ago if


the legislation had been scrutinised properly at the time. This mission


has meant we have needed to come forward with a new bill to correct a


failure to repeal something from a previous Act, which is a great


shame. The Equality Act 2010 is a confirmation that this would really


change anything. It came into force on the 1st of August 20 11. In the


interests of time, I'm not going... I know people want to speak and I


will test your patience any further by reading through the part of the


Equality Act 2011, which in effect, makes these things redundant. But if


you look at part five of the Equality Act, which relates to


seafarers working wholly or partly in Great Britain and adjacent


waters, it actually does make clear, in those regulations, but the


Equality Act does apply to seafarers and stitch it is working in that


environment. So I think that really effect is pretty clear. And there is


actually, within those provisions, the work on regulations in 2011, it


does actually, as well as the provisions, it does have an


interpretation of those provisions. And in it, it makes clear it is the


Equality Act 2010 that is the act that applies. It goes through what


is meant by eight United Kingdom ship and a United Kingdom water, and


the legal relationship with this seafarers' employment within the


country. So I think that did make it clear, but I think my honourable


friend for Milton Keynes South did make a pertinent point, when he said


that someone who sees a legislation on the statute book may or may not


know about the 2011 regulations that were introduced. How many people in


here know about the Work On Ships And Hovercraft Regulation 2011? How


on earth can we expect the general public, who may well have been made


aware of the law that was in place, how could we expect them to know it


was superseded by 2011 regulations? Is for that reason, though normally


am I might have been tempted to see this as a solution looking for a


problem and it's not necessarily. I will give way. I'm grateful to for


giving way. Is it not further sensible to bring this Bill forward,


because the courts have watered down the understanding of implied repeal,


in that they have built up a hierarchy of legislation, and


therefore, as the principle of implied appeal has been weakened, it


is more important for legislation be passed to be clear? He has a point


and I hope he will be able to give the Coast more detail in a


contribution. He knows more about that than I do. My understanding,


and are awful well, correct if I'm wrong, really, it is constitutional


legislation that will always take precedence first, but presumably,


anything that is not constitutional that came earlier will be superseded


by something that came later. But my honourable friend seems to be saying


that is not necessarily the case. Perhaps it like to have another bite


of the cherry to inform us. The historic understanding was quite


clear, that any subsequent Act implicitly repealed a previous act,


but the courts have developed in recent years, particularly in


relation to the EU, and understanding of the hierarchy of


legislation, and they have an understanding of what acts are


constitutional or not. We don't make that discrimination, all acts are at


the same level. So it is just about creating certainty. I think that's a


very good point that he makes. Not only does the Bill have the


advantage of being symbolic and actually removing something from the


statute book that to me, shouldn't have been there in the first place,


I think he has made a very good case for why it may have a practical


application in law. What exactly does is it certainly removes any


doubt about the situation, and I think we can all agree that, and I


think that has to be a good thing. Finally, because I don't want to


test the patience of the Has too much, but I would just like to raise


the concern of historical cases. During the debate of the Armed


Forces Bill, the issue was raised of individuals being treated unfairly


because of the legislation and whether something can be done


regarding this. We can to anything about what happens in the past, but


we can do something about what happens now and in the future. While


I wholeheartedly agree with the repeal of this legislation, I would


raise caution about the partitioning of historical cases. That pardoning


of historical cases. But, well indeed we may get on to it


again today, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I will maintain a distinction


between the two pieces of legislation because there clearly is


one. But my honourable friend, the member for welcomen ham made the


point during the de-- Beckenhan made the point last year, and made the


point, these contributions are very powerful when we are discussing


these particular details. My honourable friend said he had the


sad duty of discharging a man administratively from his battalion.


He said, I really regretted it happening at the time, but I must


urge caution about us going back in time to try and put right what was


apparently right at the time, but clearly wrong. I think he put that


very neatly. That was something I would agree with too. There are


plenty of ugly and wrong parts of our past in this country. But we


cannot rewrite what happened or impose really our beliefs on past


generations just as we wouldn't want people in 100 years' time to make so


much judgment on what we do today. I will give way...


I thank the honourable gentleman for giving way on that point. Would he


agree with me in regards of pardoning, it's not just as simple


as he has outlined because in our past, when we had underage sex, for


example, the aim of consent was 21 -- age of consent was 21. Today, of


course it is 16. If you have and have had sex with a minor way back


when with a 14-year-old, that process is still illegal today. So


it is very, very hard, would he agree with me. It is very difficult


to give a pardon in cases such as those?


Yes, my honourable friend is absolutely right. My point is I


would be inner vows about, in effect, giving pardons for what the


law is today, placed on what it was then. We have to accept the law is


what it was at the time. And Lord Craig of Radley said in 1994, in the


House of Lords, he said, finally am I right in my concern we no longer


have confidence that European law may not one day attempt to rule that


discharge on the grounds of homosexuality is discriminatory and


illegal, this could apply whether by court marshal or administratively


and worse be made retrospective and all liable to compensation. And Bill


Walker, a former colleague of ours, said in the House of Commons in


1994, can my honourable friend give an assurance if existing law is


changed, anyone dismissed from the service under the existing


legislation cannot appeal to the European Court and receive large


sums of public money? One thing which has not really come out in the


debate so far, but again I hope that the minister will address this


during his remarks, is that I hope we don't have a situation where if


we change the law here and I say I am all for change in the law and I


support this bill and will do all I can to secure its passage through


the House. But I hope that we don't have any unintended consequences


where we open up ourselves to some retrospective claims for


compensation because we are in effect putting right today what was


clearly wrong in the past and whether or not that needs to be made


clear on the face of the bill, I don't know. I genuinely don't know.


Perhaps the minister will reflect on that and maybe it is something that


might be considered at the report stage of the bill just to make clear


whether it is on the face of the bill or whether we are opening


ourselves up to something which was unintended at the time. So, in


conclusion, Mr Deputy Speaker, I very much congratulate my honourable


friend's bill. I think for many of the reasons given, but particularly


for my honourable friend for Milton Keynes South and I would advice


anybody inside or outside the House to read the speech, if they did ptd


hear it first time around. It made perfectly clear why this bill is one


we should all support. So whether or not it is technically necessary in


law or not, it's certainly a bill that should be supported. I hope it


will successfully pass into law. Thank you very much, Mr Deputy


Speaker. It is a pleasure to follow my honourable friend, the member for


Shipley. I too congratulate my honourable friend, the member of


Salisbury, for securing this incredibly important debate for


being successful in the Private Member's Bill ballot. I think if I


understood correctly his comments earlier and those of other


colleagues, this is the second time that it looks like he's piloted a


Private Member's Bill on to the statute books. No, we will not count


our chickens, but hopefully in a few months or weeks that will be the


case. He is truly becoming a legislative in this respect. I


congratulate him for doing so. He follows in a long line of


backbenchers who have piloted very important legislative developments


in the arena of social policy through this House. I very much


welcome his addition to this important historical trend. I want


to say, in compete support of my friend, the honourable member for


Shipley, how struck I was too by the contribution from the honourable


member for Milton Keynes South. And the comments that he made, the


way he framed them, and the personal testimony actually says better than


any legal language could, why we need to be doing this today.


It's a personal matter for so many people that has been swept under the


carpet for so long. And even if this is a tidying up exercise, if I could


use that phrase, even if it is a symbolic change to make sure


different bits of our legislation aren't giving out the wrong message,


that is why it is so vitally important we do it, because of that


personal testimony. I absolutely echo my honourable friend, the


member for Shipley, in saying if anybody outside of this place just


reads one speech in this debate today, it should be the one from my


honourable friend, the member for Milton Keynes South. Mr Deputy


Speaker, this change, as has been said, is largely a symbolic one. It


is still a vitally important one. There is an knack canism in our


current legislation, which this seeks to rettyfy. That is the law as


it a-- rectify, and that is the law to merchant ships. What would bill


would do, to be clear, repel sections 1, 4, 6 and 1 -- 146 and


147 of the bill. Certain aspects of those two sections which suggest it


would be lawful to dismiss a seafarer for a homosexual act. Those


sections repelled in England, Wales and Scotland and revoked in Northern


Ireland, laws that criminalised homosexual acts in the Armed Forces


and aboard merchant ships. However, the two particular aspects of those


sections which my honourable friend's bill seeks to address today


still maintained that homosexual acts could provide grounds for


discharging a member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces or dismissing


a member of the crew of a UK merchant ship. Now, the Armed Forces


Act 2016 repeled those parts of that previous -- repelled those parts of


the previous act as they maintained their hold over the navy. Her


Majesty's Armed Forces. But they left in place the aspects concerning


merchant ships. So, as such, we still have on the statute books in


this country a piece of legislation which says, "Nothing contained in


this section shall prevent a homosexual act from constituting a


ground for dismissing a member of the crew of a United Kingdom


merchant ship from that ship." And it is purely because we still have


that wording on the statute books. Even though it has been superseded,


I am so pleased to say, by the equality act of 2010, because those


words still appear on our statute books, it gives rise, I am afraid,


to a perception, which is the last thing we want to have as a country


which has moved so far when it comes to equalising the rights of those of


the LGBT community. That is why as symbolic as it might be, the change


with which this bill seeks to introduce is, in my estimate, so


important. Merchant ships are indeed in the unusual position of being


both workplaces ands are denteds. An earlier intervention, my honourable


friend, who has a habit of appearing back in her place as she is referred


to, is very, very, very, clever indeed, it is a skill all members


should develop, I think! But my honourable friend, the pointed out


we are in this position where merchant ships are workplaces and


residents. That is why we are in the position we are in. Many owners of


merchant ships are able, because they are the outright owners of what


can also be a residence as well as a workplace, they are able to


introduce and enforce rules, regulations on those vessels, as


anyone in their own home would do to a visitor. They are able to ban


alcohol, for instance. They are able to ban smoking, even of merchant


seamen in their own cabins, while off duty n other words. They can


impose stringent restrictions on other actives, on health and safety


grounds, for instance. Or merely because they feel it is the right


thing they want to do in their own residence. The danger is, with this


historic language on the statute bobbings, that could be -- books,


that could be extended because they are views as a residence and a


workplace, one fears that... One fears... ... Of course I will... One


also fears there could be a vision of some merchant ship owners


extending those powers to homosexual acts, which of course would be


entirely inappropriate. Thank you. Perhaps I should start by saying I


am not an an per rigs, this is Wendy Morton. But if anybody wants to


learn the techniques of bobbing in and out of the chamber, then it is


always done with the permission of the chair. Referring back to my


honourable friend, the member for North Devon, on that point he was


raising, would he therefore agree with me it is 50 years almost since


the Sexual Offences Act, things have moved so much on, it is high time,


or high tide almost we had this legislation changed and this almost


anomaly regarding residences and workplaces is dealt with.


I agree. Let me say for the record, I was not for one moment seeking to


suggest that my honourable friend was doing anything improper or being


discurious to the house in her jiggery pokery. Nothing could be


further from the truth. Mr Deputy Speaker, as we have said,


currently the criminal Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994


exempts merchant ships from certain laws. Within UK statute we have


texts which permits the firing of an individual and prohibiting of same


sexual conduct. It is still there on the statute book, even though it has


been superseded by subs quept legislation, as other honourable and


-- subs quept legislation, as other honourable members have said it


should not have been in the first place. I am glad my honourable


friend is using this opportunity to remove this from our statute books.


It is absolutely the right thing to do. The implications of this bill


are largely symbolic because as has been mentioned the 2010 equally act,


a very welcome piece of legislation, makes it absolutely clear that you


cannot fire, dismiss, an individual, employee, because of their


sexuality. That of course is welcome. No-one the less, it


remains, in my view, incredibly important that we tidy up our


statute books to remove once and for all that history... We need to


ensure we send a very clear message about the direction that we are


taking, which is why this legislation symbolic as it is, is


still incredibly important. There have been many pieces of


legislation, or for the years, symbolic and otherwise, that I've


had tangible and welcome implications for the lives of our


LGBT citizens. The Criminal Justice And Public Order Act, which this


Bill surpasses, was only amended in 1994, but since then, we have seen


the equalisation of the age of consent, the repeal of section 20


eight. We have seen the ban on gay people serving in the military


overturned. We have seen civil partnerships, protections against


discrimination in many areas of people's lives. Adoption rights. And


championed by the previous Prime Minister, we saw the introduction of


same sex marriage, which is something I wholeheartedly


supported. Oscar Wilde once remarked, it was only a matter of


time before Oscar appeared in this debate, Oscar Wilde once remarked,


yes, we will win in the end, but the rewards will be long and with


monstrous martyrdoms. He said. He was right. The road for our LGBT


citizens has been too long. And too many people have suffered for too


long a time. But I'm sure that Oscar Wilde would be proud at the pace at


which changes now actually coming. The list of changes which I


mentioned a few moments ago, already in the last 15 or 20 years, has been


significant and extremely welcome. And my honourable friend's Bill


continues is very welcome process. It purges are statute books of


pernicious clauses in historical and outdated legislation. And I think


it's vitally important that that happens. Progress is being made, but


we still have much to do. It is, I'm afraid, a source of regret that


there still exists discrimination in our society, despite the best


efforts of legislators in this place over the years, to try and put that


right. There is still much work to be done. There does still exist


fears among their LGBT community that there is still not 100%


protection. It is indeed very difficult for any government to


provide such protection, because so much of this comes down to


individual attitudes, comes down to individual behaviours. I think we


have a great deal of work still as a society to do, to try to ensure that


people at really quite a young age are educated, I given the mixture is


easy to be able to deal with issues that are of such importance to our


LGBT community. There are still gaps in their understanding, very sadly.


This Bill seeks to prevent dismissal on the basis of sexual orientation,


which is welcome. However, one in five lesbian, gay and bisexual


employees across all workplaces, still, according to the latest


surveys I've seen, say they have experienced bullying in the


workplace in the last five years. One in five of our LGBT community.


That needs to change, and this Bill sends out the very clear message


that there is yet another workplace in which we insist that that changes


put into binding legislation. The other survey figure I think is worth


voting is one in eight LGBT people have said they would not be


confident in reporting homophobic bullying in the workplace. The fact


of homophobic bullying in any workplace needs to be utterly


condemned, but the fact that so many people who may be the victims of it,


do not feel comfortable in reporting it, do not feel that the mechanism


exists for them to report it, is simply something that we have to


change. And I would echo the comments made earlier, that I was


pleased earlier to see that this place, Parliament, is now in, I


think, the top 30 if I remember properly, for the best employers in


the country, by members of the LGBT community. That is something that


the staff of the House should be extraordinarily proud. 26% of LGBT


workers are not open to their colleagues about their sexual


orientation, even today. This has echoes again of the comments my


honourable friend, the member for Milton Keynes South, about his early


career choice and that he felt at the time and how he wasn't able to


be open about his sexuality. But still today, we're told that more


than one in four LGBT workers feel they cannot be open with their


colleagues or managers about their sexual orientation, which feeds into


the comments I was making a short time ago. We have to change


perceptions, we have to change and minds. And this Bill really helps to


send that message through loud and clear. Even though it is largely


symbolic, the fact that we're having this debate in Has today, and the


fact that we are determined, as I hope we will be the result of the


division, to make a symbolic change, I think it sends a clear signal that


we will not allow any further discrimination, and if that is what


it takes to change hearts and minds, there might have these debates in


this place and let's take these, even if they are symbolic, acts, and


let's make sure the are pushed forward into our statute. It is all


well and good tackling the relationship between the employer


and employees. That does have imported material implications for


LGBT citizens and workers, but changing hearts and minds must be


the main aim. Symbolic bills such as this, although limited in their


legislative effect, are very important in doing so. But only with


a change of opinions will individuals such as those who feel


they currently have to hide their real identity in the workplace, only


then will they feel confident to be open and out. Until that day, I


think we cannot say that we truly have an equal society for our LGBT


citizens, either in or out of the world of work. So this Bill


specifically relates to the rights of LGBT employees on merchant ships,


ships which, by their very nature, operate all over the world. We don't


want an individual, though, to be free from discrimination on board


the ship, or that of these potential discrimination when they perhaps


disembark on a foreign shore. So I want to take the opportunity to see


we must continue to fight for the rights of LGBT citizens and workers


in other countries as well. So I think today, where there are events


happening over on the other side of the Atlantic, which may knock this


fine debate of the top of the news bulletins later on, as surprising as


it resumed, I fear, as a former journalist, I'm just taking a hunch


and guess this might be possible that it would lead the Six O'Clock


News tonight. But let's do our best. On the day that President Obama


leaves office in America, let's take this opportunity to pay tribute to


the work he has done in advancing LGBT writes in the USA. It is not a


finished job, by any means, and in many states, you can still be denied


public services, you can't be dismissed from your job, simply for


being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. However, President


Obama leaves office after eight years, with the LGBT community in


this state is more protected than its has ever been. Let us hope that


nothing is done in the next four or eight years to unwind any of that


good work. This Bill seeks to tidy up legislation in the UK, so that we


in this country hopefully can say the same as we are unable to say


about President Obama on the day he leaves office, that we have given a


very clear signal, that we will not tolerate discrimination against the


LGBT community, either on merchant ships or in any other workplace or


in society and the country as a whole. Reference was made earlier to


the European Union. I'm aware of Mr Deputy Speaker's intervention in


persuading us not to go off on particular debating cul-de-sac


today, but I would simply say, as we leave the European Union, we have to


make sure that the progress that many of those nations have made, is


continued, but we must be aware that there are some of our European


neighbours, particularly in Eastern Europe, where there is more to be


done in the field of understanding, of educating the citizenry there, of


the attitudes towards the LGBT communities in those countries. In


my view, it's absolutely the case that people have a right to be free


from discrimination in employment because of their sexuality, in any


nation at all. It's as important to eat young Eastern European, who,


growing up, aspires to work in a merchant ship, as it is in any other


country. As we leave the European Union, we must keep in mind that our


farmers European partners, we will still be in Europe, if not in the


union, but some of them do still have some little way to go. We must


continue to advocate our values in Europe. And my honourable friend's


Bill goes a long way to achieving that the sending a very clear


message, which is yet another reason why I welcome it. Mr Deputy Speaker,


we must also use our position within the Commonwealth, to push for even


more fundamental rights for LGBT people. In far too many Commonwealth


nations, regrettably, members of the LGBT communities still have to hide


their identity, still have to lead lives where they pretend to be


somebody who they are not. And outside of our family of


Commonwealth nations, in countries across the globe, it is still a


disgrace that there are places where people are criminalised, simply


because of who they love. Thank goodness the UK is no longer such a


country, and this Bill helps to underline that fact, which is why I


welcome it. A final thoughts on the wider implications of the discussion


we are having today, and the international of some of the points


I seek to make. It's often said the UK to have a more muscular


international development policy, that we should threaten to withdraw


funding from nations where there is discrimination against LGBT people,


which those nations and governments are not in our estimation, speedily


enough addressing. In my view, that would not be the solution. The


solution is to double down and make absolutely clear what the UK's view


is of this. The key to ending discrimination is influence and is


education. And our international aid budget actually has an important


role in educating countries where there are some of the blues people


in the world, and changing attitudes of young people through that


education is vitally important. It's important to do so in international


countries as well as it is in the UK. What my honourable friend's Bill


does is give an incredibly powerful and important sign to young people


in this country that the UK is leading the way. It's important to


send that message in this country and indeed across the globe, which


is why I am so pleased to be supporting his Bill today. Mr Deputy


Speaker, in conclusion, we have come a long way in the UK. We are almost


there, but we are not all the way there yet. There is still existing


on our statute books this historical anachronism, which seems to suggest


that we will allow, or that the very least, turn a blind eye to


discrimination against gay people serving in the Merchant Navy. I am


delighted that my honourable friend has secured this debate and will


hopefully secure this Bill, to make sure that we no longer have that


pernicious claws remaining in our statute books. What this Bill seeks


to do is quite simply and is now less than, advance the cause of


equality in our country. For that reason, I wholeheartedly welcome it


and look forward to when it comes to supporting it in the future


decision. -- division. It is a great pleasure to follow my honourable


friend, the member for North Devon, who reminded us all this morning


that while we, in this country, may have made enormous progress, I think


it's fair to say that we have made enormous progress over recent years


in removing discrimination. But there are still many countries


around the world where that is not true, and there is much still to be


done to make sure that the individuals who live in those


countries enjoy the same freedoms that we have established for our


citizens here in the United Kingdom. I want to congratulate the member


for Salisbury for bringing in this bill today, the merchant shipping


homosexual conduct bill. As we mentioned, it is his second go


at this, and he's proven he's got a good track record and this is a bill


that seeks to bring a recognition and acknowledge to the quality for


people of different sexual orientations within the Merchant


Navy and we heard some excellent speeches already during this debate.


My honourable friend, the member forral der valley, told of his links


to the Merchant Navy through his father. I must declare an interest


along those lines in that my own brother is a member of the Merchant


Navy and I suspect as we speak he will be on the high seas on board


his ship. So, I just put that on the record.


My honourable friend, the member for Milton Keynes South made a very


powerful speech, as other members have mentioned, giving his personal


view of the bill and how important measures like this is for him and


the gay community in general. My honourable friend, the member for


Shipley gave the House a tour deforce of the development of the


legislation over the years. Now, I am not sure how lucky my


honourable friend, the member for Salisbury realises he is in the fact


that his bill is first in lain for -- line for debate today, this year


of Private Member's Bills. I think on most year a bill this far down


wouldn't be debated because there would be other bills that would be


at their report stage. But as luck would have it, this year, even


though he was listed as number 18 in the ballot for Private Member's


Bills slots, he has, nevertheless, had some good fortune in the way the


bills have fallen. Therefore he is... He has been able to bring his


bill forward as the first one this morning.


And before I start, I just wish to mention very briefly, very briefly


indeed, in passing there is a curious link between the


constituencies of my honourable friend, the member for Salisbury and


my own and the Merchant Navy and it involves the her chant navy class


number 350009, Shore Savile, steam locomotive, which was named after


Shore Savile. It drew on British naval heritage. But at the end of


its life, it finished up at Riley and Sons Limited in my constituency


of Bury North. Anybody who is an expert or takes an interest in these


changes and -- things and many who have a passing interest, may think


they have heard of that name. I never miss a chance to give a plug


from somebody from Bury. This is a chance to mention the fact that...


That they, the reason why honourable members may recall having heard the


name is that very recently they have been in the news for having restored


the flying Scottish man, which is perhaps the most famous of all steam


locomotives. Were it not for the Merchant Navy, that steam train


would not have existed. So, Mr Deputy Speaker, I...


THE SPEAKER: Of course I want to hear about the joys of Bury North. I


want to get you back on track about what we are meant to the discussing.


I say briefly in passing. With any Private Member's Bill, I think it


has to be assessed against a number of criteria. And the first of these


is what is the bill actually seeking to do? Is there a real purpose for


the bill? And I think having looked at this, this bill is essentially


all about clarity. I would like to be clear in my remarks about what


this bill does and what it does not seek to do.


It is quite clearly a short bill that seeks to omits 146, sub section


four. And 147, sub section three of the criminal jus Criminal Justice


and Public Order Act 1994, which allow the dismissal of someone from


the Merchant Navy just because they have been engaging in homosexual


conduct. The lesbian, gay, bisexual campaign


Peter Thatchal says it is alarming it remains on the statute books,


repel is long overdue and most welcome. Sub section four of the


1994 extends to England, Wales and Scotland. And section 147, sub


section three, is equivalent, having effect in Northern Ireland. The 1994


act, the criminal jus Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994


repeals section two of the Sexual Offences Act, 1967, which stated, I


stress to add in the language that was used at the time, burger it and


gross indecency by a member on a Merchant Navy ship. 1994 act


explicitly maintained homosexual conduct could be used as a ground


for dismissal. Section 146, and I quote, nothing contained in this


section with other homosexual acts for constituting a ground for


dismissing a member of a crew of a United Kingdom merchant ship from


his -- crew from his ship. It is interesting when one looks back in


Hansard at the objections which were raised against decriminalising


section two of the 1967 act. During the debate in the other


place, on the bill, on the 10th May the Earl of, that perceived


homosexual conduct would lead to dissension among the crew and even


to violence. In the book Hello Sailor, the Hidden


History of Gay Life at Sea, published in 2003, it was discussed


- the problem that was faced by gay crew men in the Merchant Navy. They


wrote, in the 1950s, all gay men were, to an extent, part of an anti-


society. This was even more apparent in the Merchant Navy, where being


gay could result in dismissal or transfer. I think my honourable


friend, the member for Milton Keynes South, who referred to this in


passing, this was a genuine, real fear of being dismissed. It such a


real and genuine fear that homosexual crew men were frightened


of being discovered that they would communicate in a slang code, a form


of secret code, which they called a secretive word. These are a snapshot


back to different at tuts -- attitudes in a era. As the


provisions remind us of what things were like back in the 1950s and I


suggest they do provide evidence as to why now in the 21st century there


is no place for them on the statute book.


So, the next point that I look at when considering a Private Member's


Bill, when one comes before the House on a Friday, is how big is the


problem that the bill seeks to address? Having established there is


a problem, how big is it? In respect of this bill, the question that


would be asked is, how many Merchant Navy crewmen would this affect? In


maritime History And Identity, published, it was observed one of


the practical obstacles for shipping lines who wanted to dismiss


homosexual crewmen was the demand for stewards exceeded supply and a


total dismissal of gay or bisexual workers would have decimated the


workforce and made ships inoperable. So, the short answer to the question


of how many have even been dismissed in recent times, is I suspect,


either not many or perhaps even no-one. The maritime website lists


an article about this particular bill, what we are considered this


morning on 6th July last year. And they said, both shipping employers


and unions said they were unaware of anyone losing the job on such


grounds, at leets in recent decades andvy -- at least in recent decades.


And I have to confess this is not an issue, I am pleased to say this,


which has not been raised with me as a constituency MP. I would be


interested to know from other honourable members here this morning


whether they have had experience of any constituents raising the problem


with them. Perhaps this is why repelling


sections has not been seen as a particularly urgent matter.


Of course that is only one end of the equation, because of course that


doesn't address the point that my honourable friend for Milton Keynes


South made about how it may have deterred people from pursuing that


career in the first place. When it comes down to how many people it has


affected, it may have affect an awful lot of people who decided not


to pursue a career in that industry because of this. I think my


honourable friend makes a good point, that there may well be a


hidden effect of this bill that we will never know how many people


would be affected in that way who may be, who may have stumbled across


these provisions or if they live in a sea fathering community on the


coast and it is established law, it has been there for many years, say,


oh, well, I wouldn't go down that road if you were that way, if you


were homosexual, I wouldn't go to sea, you risk losing the job. It


could put people off. So I think my honourable friend is right. Mr


Deputy Speaker, this is, I just saying this is perhaps one reason


why these provisions are not being seen as particularly urgent matters


and it is only now that we are talking about omitting these


sections in the 1994 act. So, the problem this bill is seeking to


address is not one which we can ascribe particular numbers to, in


terms of actual people, who have been dismissed.


And the reason for that is that the provisions which we are discussing


would no longer have any legal effect. But I would argue this


morning that this bill seeks to address another problem which is


that we should not have a potentially confusing provision on


the statute book. And I think that is very important point as well as


the one that my honourable friend, the member for North Devon made


about sending, making it clear to the homosexual community where we


are and where the law is. But I think this point about making


sure that we don't have contradictory pieces of legislation


on the statute book and we don't have pieces of legislation that are


no longer of any validity, is one which I think we should go further


on. I believe it would be sensible to have a regular practise of each


success, in each successive Parliament, the Government should


bring forward a tidying up consultation bill, once in efry


Parliament, so that matters like this -- every Parliament, so that


matters like this could be dealt with. It would give the Cabinet


Office, at least once every five year, the opportunity to collate


together any bits of legislation that the members had come across, or


been brought to their attention by members of the public, which needed


repelling and they could all be dealt with in a and repelled I don't


know if it is something, whether the minister from the Department for


Transport, it is not necessarily his responsibility, but perhaps we will


discuss that idea with colleagues across Government and in the Cabinet


Office? It is worth very briefly mentioning


the Armed Forces and wired was that this particular provision was dealt


with at the time that the other provisions relating to the earlier


back to deal with in the Armed Forces Act of 2016, which repealed


the equivalent sections of the 1994 Act. It appears that the answer to


that is it was the way the Armed Forces Bill as it was at the time,


had been drafted. And during the passage of that Bill, as it moved


through the Bill report stage, consideration was given to whether


or not it might be possible to deal with the repeal of the provisions


which related to a homosexual conduct in the Armed Forces. It was


actually only dealt with by government amendment moved by the


Minister, my honourable friend, the member for Milton Keynes North. And


he said, I am delighted to be speaking to this new clause today.


It reflects the government commitment to the fair and equal


treatment of lesbian, Gay, bisexual, transgender Armed Forces personnel,


and it appeals to provisions regarding homosexuality in the Armed


Forces, which are inconsistent with current policies and the


government's discrimination policies more generally. My honourable


friend, the member for Henley, specifically asked about the


Merchant Navy. He said, Judy Murray evidence session for the select


committee on which I serve, I asked Mr Humphrey Morrison from central


legal services, whether this could be done. The answer I was given was


that because it was tied up but the Merchant Navy, it could not be done.


What has changed, to allow this to go forward? The minister replied, we


have simply decoupled the two issues. We will be dealing with this


matter in this Bill, and the Department for Transport has made it


clear it intends to deal with the Merchant Navy aspect as soon as


possible. I'm delighted to say we are moving ahead quickly, as we said


we would. That was then, and the result of that statement is what has


resulted today in my honourable friend's Bill. There was a high


profile human rights case, which went to the European Court Of Human


Rights,, the case of Smith and greedy against the UK in 1989. The


first applicant, Jeanette Smith, was a senior aircraft person, who was


dismissed from the Royal Air Force after being found to be in a


relationship with another woman. I took the trouble to read through the


full report of that particular case. And it is quite harrowing and


disturbing, as to what happened. It must have been enormously


distressing for the individual involved. Obviously, these judgments


are very lengthy, but I would say that the Armed Forces at the time,


in their report, said that her general assessment for trade


proficiency and personal qualities were described in an internal report


is very good, and yet, all from all conduct assessments, she was


described as exemplary. However, because at the time, homosexuals


were barred from being in the Armed Forces, she was dismissed. The


second applicant, cream greedy, was a sergeant who was posted as a


personnel administrator to Washington at the British defence


intelligence liaison service. He was also dismissed from the royally


force in 1984, after being found to be in a relationship with another


man. He was described as a loyal service man. The report of the case


sets out the very rigorous and intrusive investigations by which


these individuals had to undergo. And the European Court Of Human


Rights found that the government had breached both the applicants' rights


under article eight of the right to private and family life. That case


resulted in the government changing its policy and allowing homosexuals


to serve in the Army, and that was reflected in the 2016 Act. What is


the scope of this going before us today? One of the further questions,


which I'll was like to consider when considering any Private member's


Bill, is, are likely to be any unintended consequences? This was


touched on by my honourable friend, the member for Shipley in his


contribution. It's always worthwhile considering if there is anything in


a Bill which might not at first sight be obvious. But this to say


that on this occasion, this bill does not fall foul of that enquiry.


I think we always need to be precise about the scope of any Bill and be


clear that, in this case, supporting this Bill is about tidying up the


statute book. I don't think we should, in any way, try to mislead


anyone that it would have an enormous effect on their personal


lives at the moment. Repealing the relevant sections of the 1994 Act


will not mean that fewer people who are gay or bisexual working in the


Merchant Navy, I Dismissed, Because, As Has Been Referred To Under Part


Five Of The Equality Act 2010, They Already Have Protection Against Any


Employer Who May Try To Dismiss Them For Having A Gay Relationship Or Be


Involved In A Gay Relationship. This Act Prevents and employers


discriminating against an employee, for example, by dismissing an


employee on the grounds of the protected characteristic. One of


these protected characteristics is sexual orientation. And the


legislation from 2011 extended provisions in Equality Act 2010 to


include merchant ships. Seafarers, irrespective of their nationality,


working on board each UK registered ship, enjoy protections under this


act. We need to stress this point, that it covers, it's not just UK


nationals,. My brother is involved in the Merchant Navy, And I Know The


Crew Come From All Over The World. They Have A United Nations Approach


To Employment. This Bill does not make discrimination unlawful, or


anyone for them it is now, but it does remove any ambiguity. It's


worth noting the unusual position of ships in that they are both a


workplace but also a residence for those on board. My brother spends


some of his day on duty, because that's how it's referred to work, on


duty, and at other times, he is free to be in cabin and relax and do


other things. But it is as a result of this dual purpose approach on


board ship at Seafarer operators may impose tradition is at work that


extend into what otherwise might be considered a person's private life.


An example could be prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, because even


when off duty, presumably in rough seas, there could be an emergency


situation, and crew men might be called upon at very short notice to


carry out duties which would require a clear head. Although some shipping


operators allowed alcohol off-duty, but state that crew must never be


intoxicated at any time. And potentially breaching a requirement


like this could lead to dismissal. I will give way. I just wondered


whether he would agree with the honourable member for Aldridge and


Brownhills, who earlier said that being on a merchant ship is not just


a workplace, but also considered the person's home for much of the year


as well. And the fact that they have these restrictions on their private


life, as well as the working life, because they are working in a


confined space, actually increases stress levels, particularly around


issues where merchant seamen are bullied, maybe because they are


homosexual. I think he makes a very good point. And being in a confined


space for weeks, months at a time, it can increase that stress factor,


I would venture to suggest. And the fact that it is a private living


space is also impacting on the fact that some operators ban things like


smoking on safety grounds, even though it is a private space, and


their whole, which would apply in other areas. But nevertheless, even


though homosexual conduct which would be perfectly lawful in love


the other spheres, it's clear that this legislation would make it


beyond any doubt that this would not provide any grounds for dismissal,


and would protect their Seafarer, should an employer try and enforce


the old rules. The problem with leaving the sections on the statute


books as they are written is the explanatory notes to this Bill made


clear, is it gives the impression that gay or bisexual people are not


welcome in the Merchant Navy. And anybody who comes across them on the


Internet or is passed down from generation to generation, it could


potentially deter people from applying for jobs in the Merchant


Navy. We positioning Britain as an outward, globally trading nation, it


is very important we encourage people from all backgrounds and


walks of life to go into trading and commercial professions. Recruiters


will need skilled and capable workers, undeterred from applying.


Any artificial barriers to employment that may be construed


from the 1994 Act are simply very unhelpful indeed. I believe that


laws should be clear and precise, so even though we are not faced with an


enormous practical problem, in terms of vast numbers, it is necessary to


look at the statute book to avoid confusion. It is simply good


practice. The chair of the Lesbian And Gay Lawyers Association is


reported in Lloyd's list as saying, the repeal of the 1994 sections


creates legal certainty and sets the right side. Just one other question


which I always ask when considering a private member's Bill, is the


question of cost. It is an important question to ask when scrutinising a


Private member's Bill on a Friday, is whether there will be any cost to


the public purse. So often, where the issues are raised, but then we


find out that they, the very hefty price tag attached to them. And


either they require eight money resolution or ultimately, they may


divert taxpayers' funds from other important calls on the public purse.


But I'm pleased to say, that as the explanatory notes to this Bill make


clear, there is no anticipated financial cost to the person arising


from this Bill. Just one further matter, Madam


Deputy Speaker, which I wanted to touch on briefly. I want to touch


briefly on the second clause which deals with the commencement, the


extent and short title of the bill. Klaus two subsection one of this


bill, states that this act comes into force at the end of the period


of two months beginning with the day on which it is pasta. On the face of


it, this is a standard and routine provision. It would seem reasonable


that there would be no requirement for a longer adjustment period


because the Merchant Navy is already required to abide by the Equality


Act 2010 and so wouldn't really have to undergo any changes to what it is


already. Arguably the only changes the confirmation that the provisions


of the 1994 act no longer apply and could therefore no longer be used as


grounds for dismissal as indeed if they tried to do that they would be


prevented or that a seafarer would have protection under equality


legislation. Did I do believe there is an argument are having a shorter


period, I think it's fair to say that I come having thought about


this, could see no reason why those words in the middle of that sentence


should not be omitted and it simply states this act comes into force on


the day which it is past. I see no reason why that could not be the


case in this particular, with this particular bill and perhaps that's


something the lawyers and my honourable friend may wish to give a


little bit of thought to be for the bill proceeds. In conclusion, Madam


Deputy Speaker, as a rule, I will have no truck with purely symbolic


legislation, legislation to my mind is not there to simply make gestures


and I would not be supporting a bill just on that basis. But I believe


this bill provides a genuine purpose because it tidies up existing


legislation and provides both public and also employers with clarity on


the issue it seeks to cover. It's identified an anomaly in the law and


it seeks to address that. I think it's something that will make life


easier for employers and employees of the Merchant Navy and it's able


to step forward. I notice incidentally, I don't think this has


been touched on this morning, there is a Merchant Navy day, annually, on


the 3rd of September. Which many local councils including the Council


which covers my own constituency, Bury Council, they participate in it


and the red Ensign, the official flag of the United Kingdom Merchant


Navy is flown on public buildings. The commercial seafaring operation


will continue to be a crucial part of this country's global future and


it is important legislation supports equality and is fit for the


21st-century. This is a bill which I believe is relatively


uncontroversial, it is straightforward and sensible and I


believe it should be allowed to progress today. I will be supporting


the bill today and I would urge members on all sides of the House to


do likewise. Alan Mac. Madam Deputy Speaker, it's a great pleasure to


speak on this debate on the Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill


and a pleasure to follow my honourable friend the Member for


Bury North who gave an extensive and detailed speech which I very much


enjoyed and it was good to hear about his personal and family


connection to the Merchant Navy which I know is shared by my


honourable friend who made a good speech earlier on. It's also a great


pleasure to follow my honourable friend the Member for Milton Keynes


South who though no longer is in his place, gave a moving, personal and


powerful speech in support of the bill today which I very much commend


and I am grateful to my honourable friend, the Member for Shipley,


North Devon, they have made some important contributions in this


debate and I hope very much to build on that. I also of course


congratulate the honourable gentleman the Member for Cambridge


for his contribution and support embodies a very important piece of


legislation. Of course I congratulate my honourable friend


the Member for Salisbury and South Wiltshire for bringing this


important bill before the House. He has had the good fortune in the


private members ballot of securing the place on a Friday so I very much


congratulate him on the hard work I know he has put in to bring this


bill and debate for the House and campaigning on this import and issue


to update the law in connection to the Merchant Navy. I know he's a


strong champion of equality and diversity, both in this House and in


his own constituency, and he's been a strong advocate for equal rights


in this House and outside it and I would also say I enjoyed his tics


home this morning, setting out the background to his bill and the


reasons for bringing it to the attention of the House and although


Madam Deputy Speaker, it's only one substantive clause, it wrecked an


important legal anomaly which I think actually needs to be done.


It's long overdue and it is very much welcome. It sends a strong


message from this House that equality is a key aspect of


Britain's modern society and key aspect of our industrial bus. --


practice. It repealed some erroneous provisions in a previous act and


anyone investigating the log, looking through Hansard, the statute


book, would avoid confusion, making sure no one misinterprets those


provisions as being any way representative of the modern diverse


society that Britain is today of the modern, diverse profession that the


Merchant Navy is today. I congratulate all my honourable


friend but there are detailed and informative speeches, bringing this


topic to the attention of the House, I congratulate my honourable friend


the number for Salisbury for his hard work in bringing it to the


floor of the House. I want to begin by taking the House back to


Christmas Eve, just over three years ago in 2013. Alan Turing, wartime


code breaker was granted a posthumous pardon by Her Majesty The


Queen or his criminal conviction for homosexuality. Doctor Turing was the


man who helped bring an end to World War II but he killed himself after


receiving a conviction in 1952. He was a scientist, innovator and a


mathematician. He is widely considered to be the father of


theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Both


foundations of the fourth Industrial Revolution, a topic I know


honourable members across the House will note I have been keen to bring


to the attention of the House and country as a whole. Doctor Turing is


widely recognised today across Britain in public life not just in


this House. In Cambridge University, there is an Alan Turing room and the


Alan Turing Institute is the national area for science. The UK


engineering and physical sciences research Council created the Turing


Institute in 2015 to answer the national need for investment in data


science and research. The mission of the Centre is to make a great leads


in order to change the world for the better and it's my view that my


honourable friend the Member for Salisbury's bill is doing the same


thing, people who work hard in the modern Merchant Navy received


equality and respect they so deserve for their hard work. The Turing


conviction is one of the greatest travesties in modern justice. Today,


such an appalling and wrong position would be unthinkable and rightly so.


Only since 2000 have gay and lesbian people being allowed to serve openly


in Her Majesty is Armed Forces and discrimination on sexual orientation


basis is now rightly forbidden. In fact the military act -- actively


recruits gay men and women. Anyone who holds apprenticeship Ferris


knows recruitment officers who come to the events and talk about the


great work the armed forces do protecting us night and day at home


and abroad. I know from first-hand experience the Royal Navy actively


recruits in gay magazines and allows gay sailors to holes of partnerships


on board ship and since 2006, to march in full naval uniform at Gay


Pride parades. I saw this spirit that Schmeichel spirit of equality


myself over the last 18 months when I had the pleasure and honour of


participating in the Armed Forces Parliamentary scheme giving members


of Parliament across all sides of the House and in both houses, the


opportunity to do what I call a little bit of light experience with


the Royal Navy and other armed services and I want to congratulate


my honourable friend the Member for North Wiltshire for his hard work


and coordinating the programme and bringing parliamentarians from all


sides of the House in closer contact with the Armed Forces, in my case


the Royal Navy, but also the Merchant Navy and members of the


wider Armed Forces in the military and civilian family. I saw, as I


said, from the defence academy in Wiltshire, a county known to my


honourable friend from Salisbury, I had the opportunity to spend time


with crew on passage from Cardiff to Plymouth, on the freezing shores of


the Arctic in Norway training with the Royal Marines. We saw first-hand


the spirit of equality that pervades the Armed Forces today and which we


hope will continue to pervade all ranks of the Merchant Navy. Today's


bill brought forward by my honourable friend for Salisbury has


actually great relevance to my own constituency and the wider Solent


region and the south coast of England. We have a proud seafaring


nation and tradition in haven't and the south coast, many generations of


constituents have joined the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy.


Generations of seafarers have been part of Britain's maritime past and


future. -- Havant. They have sailed proudly under the red instant and


helped to fuel commercial and maritime interests. Madam Deputy


Speaker, from an old heritage to the age of ultramodern cargo and


container ships, the shipping fleets of today which compose Britain's


rattan capability, span the globe using the latest technology to have


transport over 90% of the world's trade. Specially designed vessels to


support the oil and gas industries, fossil carriers made for a buyer nor


and other commodities are proud symbols of Britain's maritime


strength and as my honourable friend the Member for Milton Keynes South


said earlier, in the age of Brexit, we need to be an outward looking,


global trading nation and to strengthen our connections with the


world and my honourable friend for Bury North said we need to make sure


that profession is accessible to people with all backgrounds and


sexuality, and that is why the bill today is important sending out the


right message to make sure the merchant shipping capability is open


to people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, racist but


also all sexuality. I know Madam Deputy Speaker the work of my


honourable friend on International trade is here in Portland, he


mentioned free-trade agreements and we know in this House we can only do


trade in the modern world at the merchant shipping fleet is fit for


purpose and we can't build legal agreements with friends and partners


in Europe, Asia, but America, Africa, Latin America and other


parts of the world, we need to turn the paper commitment into practical


reality, rich and shipping capability that this country has


plays a key role in doing that. -- merchant shipping. I also want to


draw attention to the fact the merchant Dave has evolved over


centuries, it has changed as society has changed, as industry and society


has changed, the Merchant Navy has changed and I want to draw the


House's attention to its code of contact, the position of LGBT


sailors, which has markedly improved over the last 20 years. It's clear


from the Merchant Navy's on code of conduct which was traditionally


based on disciplinary is and grievances, most of the guidelines


are clear on preventing bullying and harassment which were adopted by the


Merchant Navy and by our European partners and subsequently


internationally at the instigation of the United Kingdom and the UK's


National role in trying to change views on homosexual conduct are


important and I will return to those later. I would also cite the UK's


National Maritime occupational health and the committee which has


published guidance for shipping companies on HIV and aids, including


advice and prevention and policies for employing those living with HIV


and aids. It's important we make sure the merchant shipping industry


is open but makes sure those who are employing merchant sailors are


cognisant and mindful of some of the specific challenges they may face on


medical issues. How is it that we are here in 2017 and there is still


a division on the statute book for a homosexual act of a registered


Virgin may be dazzled to constitute grounds for discharging a member of


a ritual may be. It makes no sense at all, I would content. And


although it's been mentioned by a number of other honourable members


that actually as a matter of law, it could never be applied, thanks to


the provisions in the Equality Act 2010, it sends completely the wrong


signals and is open to misinterpretation is my honourable


friend the Member for Salisbury mentioned. It would not be right at


all if anyone investigating the statute book, wanting to look into


this area of law, wanting to understand the UK's legal framework


for merchant shipping, in the context of trade, investment in the


age of Brexit, or to find provisions that seem to purport to allow people


to be dismissed from the Merchant Navy as a result of their sexuality.


There are two words. But we need to completely change them to make sure


the principles that are embedded in the modern armed services that are


mentioned earlier in the speech are reflected in the merchant shipping


fleet and registered framework. Those are principles which the whole


of society is now based upon, and in this very house, we can all say with


pride that the UK now has the highest number of openly LGBT


parliamentarians in the world, and my honourable friend the Milton


Keynes South rightly made a point of that in his speech, and he made a


very personal and powerful speech as to how he is a living example of how


somebody has not allowed prejudice about sexuality to stop him building


a very successful career here in Parliament and elsewhere as well, so


that is what we should try to repeat in the Merchant Navy fleet. I am


also proud to say that this Government introduced the same sex


couples act 2013 which legalised marriage for same-sex couples here


in England and Wales, on the Government is very keen to continue


tackling homophobia and transphobia, particularly in terms of bullying,


and the Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill is very


much in that vein. The Government programme that runs for three years


from September 20 16th of March 2019 has the objective of venting and


responding to bullying across primary and secondary schools in


England, and as a former school governor, I welcome the emphasis on


and focus on educating our young people, not just our merchant seaman


and employers, but also children, to make sure that all types of


discrimination are not part of outage society, and when enter the


workplace, whether in the merchant shipping fleet or any other sector,


that that behaviour will not be tolerated, and we send a strong


message from this House as we help my honourable friend the Member for


Salisbury passes legislation, that we will not be tolerating it any


more at any level, whether you are young or old. I believe that this


programme actually builds on a previous ?2 million grant announced


by the last government in October 2014 preventing homophobic and other


bullying in schools, so I welcome that funding. It is also important


to note, Madame Deputy Speaker, that the previous coalition government


issued the world's first LGBT action plan in 2011, further sustaining the


Government's commitment to equality, which I hope will be spread to the


Merchant Navy through the words and actions of this bill. Showing


further leadership on this issue, in December 2011, the Government


publish the first transgender equality action plan setting out


actions to address the specific challenges that trans people face in


their daily lives. So I want to take this opportunity not just to talk


about homosexual bullying which obviously has been a challenge for


some years and is well known, but actually bullying in the trans


community and also in the bike -- bi-trans community as well.


Guidance was published for employers and service providers on how to


sensitively deal with transgender and homosexual issues, further


outlining this Government's commitment to defending the rights


of the LGBT community. This government has taken steps in every


area of public life from the workplace to schools to our


immigration policy. The Government has taken steps to stop the


deportation of asylum seekers who have come to this country because


there sexuality puts them in danger. It is still legal in many -- illegal


in many other countries around the world to be homosexual, with some


countries still holding the death penalty, so bypassing this bill and


taking to the next age, we do send out a strong message that Britain is


a global leader in fight for human rights and gender and sexuality


equality, which is why it is essential that we continue to show


global leadership on this matter and lead the way in defending the rights


of the LGBT community, whether it is an merchant shipping vessels, in the


workplace, on land, in our Armed Forces, schools, areas of other


civic, public and commercial life. British values such as tolerance,


respect, democracy, individual liberty in the rule of law and the


values that bind us together as a nation, and that is why we are


promoting British values and strengthening institutions that hold


them as we do, and that is what this bill can do. I am pleased that the


rights that the LGBTQ ministry enjoys in this country have gone


from strength to strength, and that public support for those rights has


gone from strength to strength, too, as the work we have done in this


House, by passing legislation similar to that opposed by my mono


or friend, has raised the level of knowledge and education outside this


House, and in 2004, a poll by Gallop said that 52% agreed that marriage


between same-sex couples should be Raggi dies, 45% not. More recently


61% of the public agreed with the statement that gay couples should


have an equal right to get married, not just have civil partnerships,


and only 33% disagree, so things are moving in the right direction.


Support has traditionally been highest among those aged between 25


and 34, where 78% agreed and 19% disagreed, and it is lowest in those


over 75, so we have somewhat to do to make sure that the work we do in


this House is understood and felt promulgated all sections of society


regardless of their age group or background or geographic. Equality


must be for everybody, not just for people from a certain age group or


geographic location or industry, and as normal members have said, the


Armed Forces have been in this area. We in this House have a strong track


record, it was my honourable friend the Member for North Devon who raise


those important statistics, and unanswerable members have talked


about the work happening in other industries, and today's will from my


honourable friend the Member for Salisbury will show that the


Merchant Navy will be seen in the same rights. Due to the anomalous


provisions in the Criminal Justice Act Public Order Act 1994, someone


investigating the statute book may well be confused, so it is right


that today's legislation goes for, and I will certainly be supporting


it later today. Those statistics I mentioned earlier, Madame Deputy


Speaker, show that public opinion has been changing fast when it comes


to LGBT writes, and will continue to do so, and today's provisions put


forward by my honourable friend will be in the same vein, and actually


push that work forward. I also want to draw the attention of the House


to the very positive reception that the equal marriage legislation has


received, regardless of people's views on it or how they voted, and


it was before my time in the House, there has been a change of opinion,


and a lot of the provisions in that legislation have been taken up. 1409


same-sex marriages were formed between same-sex couples in the


period 29th of March to 30th of June 2014, 50 6% between female couples


and 44% -- 56% between female couples and 44% male couples, so


there has been a sea change in how the LGBTQ minute he has been viewed


when new legislation comes forward to the House, and I hope that that


optimistic, positive outcome will be repeated if and when my other war


friend the Member for Salisbury's legislation reaches the statute book


and received royal assent. I would also add that in the UK it has


become the norm for people to be accepting of same-sex marriage is,


to be accepting of diversity in the workplace, whether it is in the


Armed Forces, on board ship, on land, on bases or any other sector,


but unfortunately this has not always been the case. At the end of


1984, in England and Wales, there was a staggering 1069 gay men in


prison of committing homosexual acts, and in an attempt to curb


these figures, Labour MP Neil and see, and Conservative peer Lord


Arran, put forward proposals to change the way that UK law treated


gay men through the sexual offences Bill, and thankfully that was


passed, but it wasn't until 1967 that the then Labour government got


while assent for the Bill on the 27th of July 1967 after what I


understand was an incredibly late-night intense debate on the


floor of this House. Thankfully I hope that the proposal from my


honourable friend the Member for Salisbury Wote in anyway be as


contentious, and it will command the support of the whole House and both


houses, and a member of the Cambridge indicated that that would


be so. If there were members on the opposition benches, they would be


surprised to learn that the 1967 act did not extend to Scotland at the


time, where all male homosexual behaviour remain illegal for another


13 years after the passage of the law here in a in Wales, so I think


it is a very positive step that in Scotland they are equally committed


to equality, but I think the lesson to be learned there, Madame Deputy


Speaker, is how the updating of our laws, the improvement of rights for


the LGBT community, has not always progressed at the same pace in all


nations of the United Kingdom, and it is a good signal to us all that


we need to ensure that the work of this House, we are leading, and we


are when it comes to make a United Kingdom law, we are at the forefront


of developments across the nations and regions of the United Kingdom,


and I will also add is afoot to that, it was only very recently that


the people who were persecuted and prosecuted prior to 1967 actually


received pardons for those convictions, it has taken around 30


years for that to happen, so you can't take the brunt of the freedoms


and the equality and the rights that the LGBT community enjoys, but you


have to always be looking out for ways to improve that and make sure


there is equality at every stage of the legislative process. I would


also contain speaking in support of today's Bill for my honourable


friend the member of Salisbury, because it fits very well both from


a political, legislative and conceptual perspective with the UK's


rich and proud tapestry of human rights and progressive legislation.


It very much builds on the social progress we have seen in Britain as


we have become a wealthier and more prosperous and more progressive


nation. Of course we begin from 1215 when the Magna Carta was agreed, and


it protected the rights of citizens, and that travels through the Bill of


Rights which honourable members will no did a number of things, but


certainly ensured there could be no suspension of laws without the


agreement of Parliament, which is obviously a very positive step. In


the 19th century, the terrible conditions but children faced lead


to the factory act, the Beveridge report, the signing of the


declaration of the universal human rights in 1968, and in 85 race


relations act which bans discrimination on the grounds of


race, further, limited by the 2010 Equality Act 2010 whole range of


anti-discrimination legislation under a single act and added further


protections. Madam Speaker, my honourable friend's Bill sits very


cocked Dibley within that progressive pro-rights tradition


that stretches back all the way to 1215 and which I hope in this New


Year, as we move from the first decade of the 21st-century into a


new, more progressive regime, his bill sits very comfortably with all


the successes we have had in being pioneering and securing liberty,


equality and the acceptance of others, and making sure that human


rights is embedded alongside human responsibilities. I am proud that


our country has not only been strong here at home in passing legislation,


but also has been a leader at the forefront of developments on these


matters abroad. It was my honourable friend the Member for North Devon


who rightly said that in the Commonwealth we can take a


leadership role, there is more to do through the work of the


Commonwealth, and our leading role there, and also in the UN and other


international forums. We can make sure that the values that we


strongly adhere to in this House this country which are further today


by this bill, the Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill, actually


affected in the legislation at culture of other countries,


particularly of the Commonwealth, particularly as we seek to reach out


to those countries through free trade agreements and through other


cooperation in international fora, we complain important role in making


sure we don't just further our commercial and political interests


but also try to change the cultures of those countries which are part of


the Commonwealth family of nations. Where injustice is committed, the UK


will be a strong voice for equality, especially on the grounds of


sexuality and race. At the same time the UK continues to be a promoter of


the quality on the international stage, in public forums, I know my


honourable friends in the Foreign Office, the Department of


International trade and other departments nurture relationships


across the globe and in private conversations make the same case. As


a nation we must continue to be the beacon of progress on LGBT matters


and the bill today is the next stage in all of that hard work. I believe


our approach appeals to other countries, sensitive to culture and


history in the same way that this bill is sensitive to ours, for the


reasons I said I'd be for. We must make clear the LGBT rights are a key


part of building a level playing field and progress as a society and


economy appearance for square on making sure everyone can play an


important and equal role in society, community and the economy, the


defence of the nation, work interests, through the Merchant


Navy, regardless of gender, sexuality, or any other


characteristic, there must be a level playing field for all. As part


of a country that works for everyone. Madam Deputy Speaker, in


closing I would ask as we entered the second decade of the


21st-century, equality and freedom and non-discrimination must sit at


the heart of the political agenda in the United Kingdom. I believe this


bill will help stamp out any remaining instances of homophobia,


by phobia or trans phobia and I thought it was important to speak in


this debate today, it has a strong resin -- resonance in my


constituency which has a long history as a seafaring community on


the south coast of England, but it will feel national debate as we


recast our country in light of Brexit and I feel we must actually


continue the work that the House has done over many decades and centuries


to make sure Britain is a country of freedom and opportunity and we are


an international beacon of equality for the LGBT community who can and


should be safe and valued whatever job they do, particularly in the


Merchant Navy, forever they do it. This bill as my honourable friend


for Bury North says, has no cost indications, no visible on preceding


consequences, is long overdue, is very welcome and actually requires


removal of just a few phrases. I want to congratulate my honourable


friend for once again bringing this very short but effective Bill to the


floor of the House, it has my full support,, it has my support if it


progresses and comes back to this has, for its remaining stages, as I


said in my own remarks, this country has come a long way in the course of


equality and freedom but there is more work to do and I stand for


scrub behind that as somebody who understands the racial issues that


this country faces. I am very much mindful of the other challenges we


face as a nation, whether it's on gender equality, regional equality,


income equality or other types of equality, we must be a country that


has equality of opportunity but also non-discrimination at the heart of


our political conduct, the national discourse, whether in the workplace,


the Armed Forces, the classroom or in this House. I expressed my


fulsome support for my honourable friend is built today, I hope other


members across the House will join me in supporting it, I look forward


to supporting it as it comes back to this House. Wendy Morton. Thank you


Madam Deputy Speaker. It's an absolute pleasure to be here today.


For many of us, this is often a constituency Friday, but I speak in


support of this bill, the merchant shipping, sexual conduct bill. I


would like to start by congratulating my honourable friend


for Salisbury. -- the merchant shipping, sexual conduct Bill. He


has a history of being able to bring this bill for it to the chamber. As


we heard, this is his second Private Members' Bill. So he does understand


the amount of work that goes in behind-the-scenes and as someone who


is also trying to get a second Private Members' Bill through this


place, during this Parliament, perhaps we are in a little bit of


competition but fear not! I will be doing all I can to make sure his


bill has a safe passage through this place. Because it really is an


important piece of legislation. I'd also like to pay tribute to all


those members who contributed to the debate today, in particular, I was


struck by the comments made I my honourable friend the Member for


Milton Keynes who brought a great personal insight into this bill,


something that I think has really added to the debate today. I think


we should thank him for that. I'd also like to thank my honourable


friend the Member for Havant who spoke just before me, he's clearly


put a lot of work into his research in this bill and he made reference


to not just the shipping heritage within his own constituency, but the


Armed Forces Parliamentary scheme which I myself have been involved in


and other members across this House. I would now like to turn my


attention to the build that we have in front of us today. And I wanted


to start with a little background to the bill because after all, this is


a bill that is specific to the Merchant Navy. So often in this


place, we are talking about the Armed Forces, and I think maybe we


are all a little guilty of forgetting that we have a Merchant


Navy in this country as well. I'm also speaking as the wife of the


former seafarer though from the Royal Navy, not the Merchant Navy


and it was good to hear members bring experiences from their own


families with connections in the Merchant Navy. I think it's


important we don't forget that in wartime, Britain depended upon


civilian cargo ships to import food and wrong materials as well as


transport soldiers overseas and keep them supplied. The title Merchant


Navy was granted by King George V after the First World War to


recognise the contribution made by merchant sailors. The Merchant Navy


has long played a part in the heritage and history of our country,


playing its part in shaping the nation that we have today. Written's


merchant fleet was the largest in the world during both world wars. In


1939, a third of the world's merchant ships were British and


there were some 200,000 sailors. Many emergency men came from parts


of the British Empire, such as India, Hong Kong and West African


countries. And women also sometimes served at sea in the Merchant Navy.


I think we can see how important the Merchant Navy is and to me, this


gives greater emphasis as to the importance of the bill that we are


debating today. During both world wars, Germany operated a policy of


unrestricted submarine warfare are sinking merchant vessels on site and


by the end of the First World War, more than 3000 British flagged


shipping and fishing vessels had been sunk and 15,000 emergency men


had died and during the Second World War, with thousand 700 British


flagships were some, more than 29,000 urgent seamen died. In


putting together my contribution, I tried to put this into perspective,


what contribution as urgent Navy made to our country over the course


of the years and when I look at that figure of 29,000 seamen who lost


their lives, that's almost half the electorate of my constituency, so


that's not an insignificant number of people. And in more recent times,


1982, some of us will remember the Falklands War. And the merchant ship


the Atlantic and they are, which sank whilst undertow after being hit


by Exocet missiles. The conveyor was registered in Liverpool, but by Swan


Hunter and requisitioned during the Falklands War and the wreck site is


designated under the protection of military remains act 1986. The 12


men who died, the ship's master Captain Ian North was posthumous


award at the distinguished service Cross and the Atlantic conveyor was


the first British merchant vessel lost at sea to enemy fire since


World War II. So Madam Deputy Speaker, again, this shows the


importance of the Merchant Navy and that's why it's really important


that we do all we can to seek the safe passage of this bill through


this place so that members of the Merchant Navy or put on an equal


footing to those in the Royal Navy. In this regard. In honour of the


sacrifices made in the two world wars, the Merchant Navy lay wreaths


of remembrance alongside the Armed Forces in the annual Remembrance Day


service and following many years of lobbying to bring about official


recognition of the sacrifices made I merchant seafarers in two world wars


and since, Merchant Navy Day became an official day of remembrance.


Today's Merchant Navy is understandably much smaller than in


the days of World War I and World War II. And according to the


statistics that I found in the CIA world fact book, there are now just


over 500 UK registered ships in the Merchant Navy but that is still a


significant number of ships, it is still a significant number of


seafarers who potentially will be affected and will benefit from this


bill which, she did receive Royal Assent. In my research I also found


a number of notable Merchant Navy personnel. Looting, sexuality aside,


I've found that Joseph Conrad joined the Merchant Navy in 1874, rising


through the ranks of second made and first mate to master in 1886. He


left in order to write as many of us know professionally, becoming one of


the 20th centuries greatest novelist. James Cook, the British


explorer, another member of the Merchant Navy. Victoria Drummond


MBE, written's first -- Britain's first woman engineer in the Merchant


Navy. John Masefield, who served in the Merchant Navy in the 1890s, he


later became poet Laureate. And the Right Honourable John Prescott, a


member of the opposition, I believe served in the Merchant Navy as a


steward, then join this place and became Deputy Prime Minister under


the Blair administration. What I am in Defraine to do, Madam Deputy


Speaker, is set out how important the Merchant Navy is. Members of the


UK Merchant Navy have been awarded that the Tory across, George Cross,


George medal, distinguished service order and distinguished service


Cross for their actions while serving in the Merchant Navy and


members of the Merchant Navy who served in either world war received


relevant to campaign medals. I would now like to turn to the issue of


homosexuality in the Merchant Navy. Between 1950 and the 1980s, life at


sea was one of the few opportunities for gay men to be themselves. They


were able to embrace life at sea with enthusiasm and often more


confidence than at home on land, often taking part in performances,


crew shows, being members of the catering staff, and so on. And


although men could no longer be prosecuted for gay acts after 1967


when homosexuality was legalised, persecution in everyday life did not


end. During this era, many gay men chose a career in the Merchant Navy


because, hard to believe in many ways, it was more tolerant than in


other professions. Madam Deputy Speaker, in many ways, it's also


hard to believe that it was 1967 when the sexual offences received


Royal Assent, amending the law in England and Wales, decriminalising


homosexual acts in private between two men and here we are, almost 50


years later, many of us only just, were not even born when that piece


of legislation came through this place. Much has been said today


about today's bill from the Member for Salisbury, being a tidy up


legislation and being symbolic but I think we've also today, really


started to understand that it's much more than symbolism, it's more than


just tidying up registration. I believe it will mean much more to


those men and women who serve in the Merchant Navy and it's about making


sure that the commitment given during the Armed Forces act in 2016


to address this issue, making sure that commitment is followed through.


I also believe that this bill will go a long way to preventing any


misunderstanding or ambiguity that may still exist. Madam Deputy


Speaker, documents released by the Public Record Office reveal


commanders buried a series of scandals including homosexual


affairs on an aircraft carrier, transsexual prostitutes in the Far


East and hundreds of men using a male brothel in Bermuda and even


today, without this bill, as the law stands, I do wonder what's to stop


someone investigating employment rights and coming up with the view


that LGBT people are not welcome in the Merchant Navy and that's why


this is really important because it will put that beyond doubt. To show


that we are continuing to take this issue very seriously. The Armed


Forces act 2016 and ended the Criminal Justice and Public Order


Act 1994. So that a member of the Armed Forces could not be discharged


or being, sexual. The MoD have insisted that they are


to recruit people to level potential, irrespective of sexual


orientation, and Stonewall's top 100 list of employers features are Armed


Forces. The Navy followed in 2006 by the royal air force and in 2008 by


the British Army. This was to promote good working conditions for


all existing and potential employees and to ensure equal treatment. At


London pride in 2008, all three armed services marched in uniform


for the first time, but whilst the Armed Forces act 2016 addressed this


historical and outstanding issue for the Armed Forces, as we have heard


today, it didn't cover the Merchant Navy, which is why we are here today


debating this private members bill. Madam Deputy Speaker, I now want to


move on a little and touch on homosexuality in the Armed Forces


just to highlight the differences between the Merchant Navy, the Royal


Navy, and why this bill today really does matter, and to build on some of


the points that have been made by some of my honourable friends during


the course of this debate. Before 2000, openly gay people were banned


from service, and those who suspected personnel of being gay had


a duty to report them to the authorities. In 1999, DCH found that


the Armed Forces had breached the rights of LGBT personnel by firing


after discovering their personality, and the then Labour government led


by Tony Blair announced that Government will reply with the


ruling and would immediately lift the ban. Changes to the law came


into effect from January 12 2000, and so since 2000, gay men and


lesbians have been allowed to serve openly in the Armed Forces, and the


UK's policy change has meant that personnel could no longer be fired


me because of their sexuality. In fact, this came years before the US


did the same when it repealed don't ask, don't tell in 2011. What is


interesting is that back in 2008, it emerged that 58 former military


staff had been paid ?3.7 million in compensation as the Armed Forces


agreed that their human rights had been violated. It is also worth


noticing that the Royal Navy was gripped by security panic in the


60s, admirals believing that half of their forces had concealed,


sexuality. As I said earlier, we talk so much more about the Royal


Navy and the services in this place, so I just wanted to share one or two


more facts and figures that I have managed to an Earth, which I believe


further reinforce the need for us to give my honourable friend the Member


for Salisbury all our support today to make sure this bill has a safe


passage through the House and add all remaining stages of its journey


hopefully through this place and the Other Place until it receives royal


assent. Evidence shows, Madame Deputy Speaker, that as many as 1000


gay men serving in the Merchant Navy supported the British effort in the


Falklands War. This is no insignificant amount of people,


amount of individuals, who gave of their time to serve our country. Do


we not owe it, is it not uncommon -- incumbent upon us to give something


back, be it symbolic, be it deeper than that. I shan't be dwelling


further on the Falklands War except to say that this bill gives us the


opportunity to put the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy on an equal


footing in relation to homosexuality. Thomas Cromwell,


believe it or not, piloted through Parliament and act for the


punishment of the vice of buggery, which doesn't seem like a


Parliamentary word, but it is the correct term. In 1533, that was in


the reign of Henry VIII, this was the first act of our secular law to


punish, sexuality. The sentence back then was death, with the state


confiscation of property, goods and chattels. Prior to this, matters


concerning suddenly were dealt with by ecclesiastical law in a similarly


harsh way. Then there was the offence against the Person act,


which continued with the death sentence until its revision in 1831,


when it was replaced with ten year life imprisonment. As I have said


earlier, here we are, 50 years on from the sexual offences act, still


trying to I suppose ensure an amount of equality is restored to these


individuals, and to make sure that we continue as a country to move


forward in terms of reducing and addressing discrimination. But in


starting to draw my contribution to a close, idea to just want to turn


to very briefly at the Bill itself. This is a bill to repeal section 146


and 147 of the Criminal Justice Act Public Order Act 1984, a bill which


would mean that someone could no longer be dismissed from a merchant


ship for being gay. I believe it is a good bill. It is needed because UK


merchant ships are classified as residences as well as workplaces,


meaning ship owners have been able to make their own rules about what


is as isn't allowed to happen on board, and I know during his


contribution to the debate, my honourable friend the Member for


Shipley raised this point, and so I did just want to say, as have others


about this, because much has been made about the fact that merchant


ships are classified as residences, but I recall when my husband is in


the Royal Navy, men and women work in close confinement as well, sorry


think it is right and proper that we deal with this, call it an anomaly


even through this bill. This bill would mean that they could no longer


include, no longer dismiss someone for being gay, and would bring the


laws affecting merchant shipping in line with modern equality laws.


While it is fair to say that the current sections of the 1994 act are


no longer of any legal effect due to other legislation, as we have heard


earlier, the Equality Act 2010, I don't think that is an excuse for


not bringing forward this bill. As I keep reiterating, this bill is


important, it matters and it is time we did something, it is long


overdue, actually, dealing with this piece of legislation, repealing the


act is symbolic, it prevents any misunderstanding, and I think it


goes a long way to starting to redress this issue of inequality. I


just wanted to touch, I'm very conscious that time is marching on,


Madame Deputy Speaker, but I did just want to touch on the issue of


LGBT equality very briefly, because the UK has a proud record in this


area of promoting equality for LGBT people, including introducing


marriage for same-sex people. The UK continues to be recognised as one of


the most progressive in Europe for LGBT writes, and the UK has one of


the world's strongest legislative frameworks to prevent and tackle


discrimination. This bill builds on all that we have done through


Parliament over the years, and therefore, as other members have


explained, particularly the Member for Milton Keynes, so eloquently,


let us get on and do all we can to make sure that we give this the safe


passage that it deserves, thank you. Thank you, Madame Deputy Speaker. It


seems to be becoming a habit of time following on from my honourable


friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills who gave a very


strong hand thorough background to this bill, I thought, and I want to


start my remarks by congratulating the honourable member for Salisbury


who is a diligent and hard-working member of this House, and we have


seen demonstrated in his speech today, in the work in preparation


that he has done on this bill, and I thought that he set out the case in


accurately as to why this House should support the second reading of


this bill this afternoon, and I come at this debate from a generation


that find it very difficult to comprehend why we are in this


position, why we are needing to debate a bill such as this this


afternoon, because I think we are very lucky, the generation that I'm


from, to have grown up in this country at a time when we have seen


increasing tolerance, when we have seen increasingly cohesive


communities, where we respect differences and embrace that, and we


look out for one another, and we appreciate and value that in our


society, and it does seem very difficult that the Criminal Justice


Act Public Order Act of 1994 would CAC 40 dismissed from a Merchant


Navy vessel dismissed for an actor, sexuality. -- Woodsy a -- we could


see a seafarer dismissed from a Merchant Navy vessel. The equalities


act means that the sections in question no longer apply in reality.


One point but I thought really got to the heart of this was the point


that my honourable friend the Member for Salisbury made very early on in


his remarks when he said that actually, we shouldn't worry about


any of those things when it comes to who we ploy. What we


the best person for the job, and I think that should apply to every


single walk of life, every single job that is going in this country,


we should employ the best person for the job. I think my honourable


friend wants to intervene. I absolutely appreciate both points


that he made about how his generation cannot comprehend about


some of the things that have happened in the past, and how we


employ people. Would my honourable friend agree with me that we are in


a very dangerous situation in our country at present when we see hate


crime on the increase, we see anti-Semitism on the increase,


particularly in our universities, and we have to make sure that we do


everything we can to make sure that we are stamping down on those types


of behaviours? I think that my honourable friend is absolutely


right, this is the most tolerant country in the world. I think it


must absolutely remain the most tolerant country in the world. I


grew up in Northamptonshire, and in Wellingborough, where I grew up, we


have cohesive communities, and people from all different


backgrounds, all come together call all rub along well and look out for


one another. I want to see every single community in this country


like that, because where there are those differences, we need to work


on that and make sure that barriers are swept away. We should stamp down


on hate crime. In no walk of life in any community is that acceptable,


and I think he is right to raise that issue. Having done some


research, it is clear that the law is messy, and essentially, sections


146 and 173 are now superfluous because of the equality at coming


into force in 2010, as I alluded to earlier on, so I think where we can


in this House, we should clarify the law, and we should remove any


superfluous elements of it where we can. And that is where I think the


Bill's explanatory notes and the policy background section is


particularly effective, because what that says is that it says even


though it is of no effect, the policy implication of the sections


is ambiguous, and might be seen as a statement that homosexual conduct


per se is incompatible with employment on merchant vessels. Such


a statement is not compatible with current values and should be


removed. There is also a risk that a person investigating the employment


rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Navy might


come across those sections and understandably but incorrectly think


that that meant that those people were not welcome in the Merchant


Navy. Finally, removing the section as a general utility to tidy up the


statute book. A similar approach to this bill was taken by the


Government in the Armed Forces act 2016 which removed the parts of the


sections which referred to the Armed Forces. During the passage of the


act, the relevant Minister made the following statement. The Department


of Transport has made it clear it intends to deal with the Merchant


Navy aspect of the Criminal Justice Act Public Order Act as soon as


possible, and they were the words of the Member for Milton Keynes North,


and it goes on to say that the differing variations of this


statement also made in the Lords when the issue was raised there, so


I think that is effective in setting out the entire scope of this bill.


Why it is required, some of the difficulties there are in relation


to the current legislation, the Government's commitment to this on


this previously, and what needs to be done to put that right.


The build-up we help before us neatly achieves that, it is a short


role but the provisions are clear. I minister plus rack remarks indicate


strong government support for sentiments in this bill expressed


today. I am happy for my honourable friend to intervene or the Minister


to address this in his remarks later, relates to the commencement


aspect of this bill, should it successfully complete all the stages


and pass into law. In section 2.1, it says this act comes into force at


the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which it


is past. I am interested in this. In that I don't think we should waste a


moment. If this bill is passed into law and I sincerely hope that it


will be, I think we should get on with it, enact these provisions as


quickly as possible. It may well be there are good constitutional


reasons why we can't do that immediately. But I think we should


perhaps look at that and perhaps this is something that will be


addressed in Bill committee to mean that the first opportunity to


implement the provisions of this bill, should be seized and we should


make it happen and we should lay down a marker and not waste any


time. Of course. I'm extremely grateful and I'd be happy to look at


that occur fully in Bill committee and I'd be happy if my honourable


friend would wish to join me on that committee. I am very grateful to my


honourable friend for that offer and I'd be delighted to join him on his


Bill committee because I think it's important that we have members from


across the House on it. I was pleased to see a number of


contributions in intervention terms from members opposite earlier in


this debate, in fact I thought the Member for Alan and Dean side was


right to say this is a symbolic bill and perhaps he join us on the bill


committee as well? I think we should look at this issue of commencement,


I think that's one of the first things we should look at because as


we say, I don't want to waste any time at all in resolving this issue


and ironing out some of the ambiguities there are in the


existing law. I'm pleased also that the honourable member for Salisbury


has addressed why this matter couldn't be addressed through the


Armed Forces act. I thought he said that I very clearly, it was one of


the things that flagged up in my mind early on when I was beginning


to do my research, why this happened been addressed as part of the Armed


Forces act but I was appreciative of him setting out those very good


reasons and clarifying that for the benefit of the House. And I'm also


pleased to see that the industry itself has come a long way since


1994. And in the course of my research, I found that a number of


steps have been taken since the legalisation of the Criminal Justice


and Public Order Act 1994 was drafted. I think it further evidence


is why this piece of legislation that is before us today by it is


required and some example is of work that had been done include the UK


National Maritime occupational health and safety committee


producing guidelines on preventing bullying and harassment which were


adopted by the European social partners and subsequently


internationally. We've also seen the Maritime and Coastguard Agency


guidance, out on seafaring employment agreements which


recommend including references to bullying and harassment. I think all


members of this House would welcome those steps that have been taken.


We've seen organically steps taken within the merchant shipping


industry to put right some of the challenges and problems that there's


been in the past, but that legislation in this House but I


think tidying up the log will do much to add to that as well. I very


much welcome this bill and I think it's fitting that we are debating


this in the same week that the Speaker made his statement


yesterday, in relation to the Stonewall recognition that


Parliament has received as an employer. We take these matters


extremely seriously in this House, I think it's important that in the


paid service of this House, as well, these matters are taken seriously. I


think we should set an example in the House of Commons but also in the


House of Lords and across the parliamentary estate as a whole,


that the country should follow and to be in the top 30, I thought was a


very commendable achievement and I would congratulate everybody who's


been involved in that work and it sets down an example for all of us


as individual members, I think, to follow in the work that we do in our


constituencies, in our parliamentary offices but also the work we do in


this House and in scrutinising this legislation to make sure we get it


right. There is undoubtedly recognition required for the fact


that this country has come a long way in recent years and I think this


is another step in the right direction. And as we've been told,


by numerous speakers this afternoon, this is a step that will tidy up the


lot, it will sort of complete this element of work and so it should be


wholesomely welcomed. Because, as I say, for my generation, we simply do


not comprehend in many respects, the sort of discrimination that this


bill seeks to address. We haven't grown up in a society for that has


been the case, for a we've seen that sort of discrimination happening and


finally putting some of that away, putting a stop to it, is a good


thing in its own right. Because I wouldn't want to see any young


person in this country or anybody in this country or territory from


seeking employment in the Merchant Navy on the grounds of fearing that


they are going to be discriminated against or somehow treated as being


different. That is totally unacceptable and doesn't sitcom to


be with me at all, it wouldn't sitcom to be with any member of this


House and I don't think it would sit comfortably with our constituents


either. I believe that not only is this bill symbolic but I also


believe it has a real purpose. As has been said previously, there are


lots of bills coming forward with where the sentiment but I think this


is a bill that has worried the centre and, it has a realistic


purpose, and the aims of it can be achieved. -- and I hope it will


command the support of the House supplement. -- and it wouldn't sit


comfortably. I am happy to speak in this debate. There are a few things


that I want to say that our pertinent to my honourable friend


Rick Valiant and impressive attempt to bring this much-needed change in


the lawn to the statute. -- my honourable friend's Valiant. He is


going to bring forward a Private Members' Bill and I hope this meets


with the same success that he met with on an earlier occasion and I


would like to say also, I think it's particularly impressive record for


one who has been in Parliament for a relatively short time to be able to


introduce the sort of ground-breaking legislation onto the


statute book. I wanted to just touch on a few things which many of my


colleagues, my honourable friends, as mentioned in connection with


homosexuality, in connection with the Merchant Navy, I think it's


important to get on the record, some of the misconceptions perhaps, and


also to try and move forward in a spirit of tolerance and diversity


which we've all celebrated. The first thing I'd like to say is that


it's not true to say that before 1533 people were being executed for


homosexuality. In fact, the 1533 act which my honourable friend the


Member for Aldridge and Brownhills referred to, the buggery act, was


passed through this act and pioneered by Thomas Cromwell, a


particular act was the first time in British history that there was a


discriminatory and penal legislation, if you like, against


homosexuality. And I think this is important that we get that on the


record because before that date, my honourable friend suggested that


matters to do with sexuality were in the jurisdiction of the


ecclesiastical courts and that was broadly true. But the fact is that


about 20,000 cases that people lived that, in 100 years before 1533, I


think only one was relating to the crime, if you like, of sodomy and


this was not something that homosexuality and issues of that


kind or not something which Parliament's legislation, the law,


in fact, had much to do with, before 1533. With respect to the 1533


overreact, the first time this House legislated against homosexuality,


this was part of Henry VIII policy, as I said Thomas Cromwell through


and the fact we have to mention it through and the fact we have to


mention that today is very relevant because it was actually used not


simply to attack on practice in Britain, it was also used to


monasteries. In fact, the buggery monasteries. In fact, the buggery


act was the main vehicle if you like, through which many monks


many of the abbots who were many of the abbots who were


disenfranchised, this was the way in disenfranchised, this was the way


which the Crown actually managed to which the Crown


appropriate the monasteries and we appropriate the monasteries and we


have got to bear that in mind. The point I am trying to make, a Lord of


often just about discriminating often just about


against minorities, it's often used against minorities, it's often


as a pretext and excuse to indulge as a pretext and excuse to indulge


in other forms of oppression and in fact throughout the 16th century,


abbots were condemned under the abbots were


buggery act. As my honourable friend buggery act. As my honourable


through the centuries were executed mentioned, it a number of


through the centuries were executed under this act and this


the 16th century. There was a famous necessarily


case in 15 31, the Earl of case in 15 31, the Earl


Castlehaven was executed and all his Castlehaven was executed and all


lands were confiscated by the lands were confiscated by the


government of the day. It was an extraordinary case of judicial


oppression and not just the Scriven nation. We wind the clock forward.


But show-macro just discrimination. Many people were condemned under the


buggery act which stayed on the statute right through until 1828 and


I think it's fitting, many people talked about Alan Turing and others


who suffered discrimination under the legal conditions of their time


but it's fitting, I think, here, to I think that showed due respect to


the memory of James Pratt and John Smith, who in 1835, were the last


people in Britain actually to be executed for homosexuality. And it


seems like a very long time ago, 182 years, but they were in fact hanged


for this crime. And I think, members want to see and demonstrate the


length of time and the kind of distance that we've travelled, I


think it's only fitting that we pay a short tribute to people who


actually lost their lives under very, very repressive legislation.


Now we know that in the 19th century, the situation evolves, we


had a situation particularly towards the end of the 19th century, where


attitudes were changing. So in fact, in relation to homosexuality, as my


honourable friend suggested, the death penalty was abolished in 1861.


But that didn't actually lead onto much of an evolution in the way of


attitudes. In fact, in many cases, homosexuality was seen as a kitten,


on the same level as murder and other grave crimes because it was


seen, the logic was seen, to be that homosexuality was a crime against


nature and God, and that was where this very penal approach, very


restrictive, took only an approach emerged. In fact, when you look at


the provisions of the buggery act in 1533, the monks and people who had


benefit of the clergy, were actually exempted from the death penalty for


murder, if you were a priest and you committed murder, by mere virtue of


the fact that you had benefit of the clergy you could actually avoid the


death penalty for murder but under the provisions of the buggery act,


if you were convicted, you could not get anything of the clergy so we


were in this crazy situation, if you were a priest, you could be executed


for homosexual acts, for you were exempt from execution indeed, with


respect to murder. This was an entirely crazy situation. The many


members have mentioned discrimination in the modern era.


And the name of Alan Turing comes up a lot. The other name probably even


more famous, more widely celebrated across the world and Alan Turing,


that suffered under our code, if you like, was Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde


was convicted in 1895 and served two years, I believe, in Reading jail


because he had infringed the law in respect to the criminal law


amendment act of 1885. That replaced, as we should know, and


many of you do know, many people here know, this replaced the


original, the old buggery act but also the amendments to it and the


offences against the Person act of 1861 and in 1885, and amendments to


this criminal law act, the criminal law amendment act, there were very


stringent penalties imposed on homosexual behaviour. The real


innovation in this particular piece of legislation was that it actually


prohibited acts between males and it wasn't just confined to the sexual


act. The buggery act is very specific in its focus on actual sex,


the act of sex, whereas the amendment law of criminal, 1885 was


brought in its scope and this was the act, if you like, which many


people here will have read about in terms of all the famous 20th-century


cases relating to homosexuality, all the crazy, to us, the crazy


judgements that my honourable friend the Member for Corby, alluded to.


The criminal law Amendment act was in fact the piece of legislation


under which many people were condemned, most notably as we all


know Alan Turing. I think the problem that we had in this criminal


Law Amendment act was that shortly after the Second World War, there


were, as I think my honourable friend who isn't in his place, the


member Fathauer -- the Member for Havant, there were a thousand people


incarcerated solely for being gay, if you consider that the prison


population today is about 90,000, it seems an extraordinary waste, and I


should remind the House that the prison population in the 1950s was


much lower, probably about half the number. It seems extraordinary to us


that as late as 1954, as many as 1000 men should have been


incarcerated on the basis purely of their sexuality, and this was to us,


I think rightly, an outrage. And even at the time, we have to


mention, even at the time, it was sufficiently controversial and


sufficiently absurd to many people but the Government of the day, the


Conservative government initiated the Wolfenden report which has been


long famous and did so much to change not only Government attitudes


with relation to, sexuality and with relation to the criminalisation or


decriminalisation of homosexual acts, it not only changed Government


attitudes, it also managed to shift very considerably society's


attitudes to these issues. And it was only really as a consequence of


the Wolfenden report which was finally published in 1960 that I


think that a lot of the journey that members and honourable friends have


described, it was only then that I think much of the journey was


traversed, and of course in 1967, we had the sexual offences act, which


managed to decriminalise homosexuality for the first time


since 1533, a period of 430 odd years, and we roughly got to the


position we are in today, but there were exceptions, and this is where I


think my honourable friend's contribution is so important, and


what he has done effectively is introduced a bill which I think ties


up many of the anomalies that have been suggested that were thrown up


by this earlier history, and I only felt it necessary to touch upon


various details of this history because we have got


Period, and I cannot envisage further legislation going down the


road, I don't think we need to have further equality for a time, I think


we have reached a situation where we are well known through the world as


a country for being one of incredible tolerance, and I think


this marks the end is certainly of a chapter in the long evolution of


legislation and equality. Finally, I just want to make two remarks with


relation to the Bill and earlier remarks made by my own rubble friend


the Member for Shipley. I think it was ashamed equality act


did not manage to overturn the Justice and Public Order Act


provisions that we were discussing from the 1994 act, it is a shame it


didn't manage to address that. It was also a shame I think that the


Armed Forces act last year was similarly unable to close this wide


loophole in our legislation, and it is only really with the advent of my


honourable friend's bill that we are managing finally to bring an end to


these anomalies. Very lastly, I just want to suggest that I think it is a


fantastic thing that we have had the opportunity to debate widely the


circumstances of this bill, and also to pay homage to the invaluable work


that courageous see men and see women have carried out in our


Merchant Navy, and the Merchant Navy in the second and First World War is


where the unsung hero in our heroic efforts to defeat first the Kaiser


was my Germany and the Nazis in the Second World War. I think my


honourable friend for Aldridge-Brownhills mentioned this


in her remarks. I think the Merchant Navy has had an incredible impact,


not only on the culture of our country, but also on its very


livelihood, and the sacrifices that merchant seaman and women made


should never be forgotten by anyone in this House, and I wanted to use


the closing marks of my speech to play homage and respect to those


brave men and women who have contributed so much and in many


cases paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Thank you very


much, Madame Deputy Speaker. I would like to thank my honourable friend


for Salisbury for bringing forward a bill on this important issue, and


for beating us to it, and hopefully achieving a second change of the


law. I think we had a very positive debate here today, and I have been


struck by speeches from right across the House, from colleagues, they


have been considered, thoughtful, insightful, based upon experience,


and very powerful. This is a Bill which would remove wording from the


statute book which is obsolete, unnecessary and wrong, and as I


shall go on to explain, the wording currently on the statute book has no


effect, but it represents a historical hangover from when it was


possible that a seafarer, indeed any employee, could be dismissed for


being gay. That is no longer the case, however the laws that we pass


in this place and that form our statute book represent in a


practical way and in the signals that they send the established


morals and values of our country, and it is right, therefore, that


when the statute book has wording in it which is inconsistent with those


values, we should change that wording, and for that reason, the


Government is happy to state now formally that it supports this


measure. The sea and those who work in it, our maritime sector,


contribute around ?13.5 billion our economy, employ over 110,000 people,


that is significant our country but not just our economy, it is


important to what we are, who we are as a people, and Island race and the


maritime nation. Our UK maritime social partners who represent the


employers and workers are respected globally for their commitment and


their drive to improve the social, working and living conditions of


seafarers. Not just those of the UK, but worldwide. They work closely


with governments, and we have a powerful voice. I won't go into


every point of detail, but we agree on many and we listen to and respect


each other. The International Labour organisation is maritime labour


convention under which UK social partners were instrumental in


drafting has done much for improving the conditions for seafarers, but it


is not an end product, it will evolve and continue to evolve and


strengthen. It's sister instrument, the working and fishing convention,


will bring similar improvements for those working in the fishing sector,


and again, we can expect this to evolve. I mention our proud maritime


history, and I talk about these issues as being relevant to our


seafarers. We do not question how our bananas or new computer or even


just the bread-and-butter reaches the shelves of the shops, or how


goods arrive at distribution centres to have onward transit our homes. We


might not be aware of the product coming from other sides of the


world, but unless we live near the coast, any consideration of the


Merchant Navy or it seafarers may not be something which is top of


mind for us. It does matter, and that is why this Government


commissioned the Independent maritime growth study in 2014 to


consider the opportunities and challenges the UK faced in


maintaining its position as a leading maritime centre. It looked


at all aspects of the maritime sector, and identified where action


could be taken to generate growth. We have achieved much since the


publication of that maritime growth study. We have put in place a solid


set of structures within government, including a successful ministerial


working group raised upon constructive engagement with the


industry. The efforts from across the whole industry have been


impressive, bringing together so many organisations, so many


different bodies, offering with different objectives, many of which


can seem contradictory. Yet we are working under one promotional


umbrella to address all the major issues affecting the sector.


However, we cannot afford to relax. We must make the best of every


opportunity, and it is clear Britain's maritime sector has to be


as great as it can be, greater than we imagined possible over the years.


What might that mean? The Gateway to our exports and imports is through


our ports, so it is not good enough just to get them off the ships, we


have to get them to where they are needed, that is why the Government


is investing in road and rail. Transport is a network, a network


which includes the sea. Above all, we need to think about the


contribution, the essential contribution made by those who work


within the sector. One of the four major themes from our study is


skills, and the UK rightly prides itself on producing many of the best


trained officers and crew serving on ships around the world. As well as


those with expertise in areas such as law, insurance, finance and the


logistical skills from managing ships and ports. This is an


incredible skills base that supports our whole maritime sector. The


Government currently supports that with a budget for maritime training,


which we are taking the opportunity to review, and we also committed to


increasing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships, including within


the maritime sector. The sector has a strong record of apprenticeships,


and the opportunities are being developed all of the time. We want


to see the number of trainees, both ratings and officers, increase. We


are looking across the board of the skills and opportunities the sector


needs, but the image of that sector is let down by those clauses still


remaining on our statute book. What the sector needs is to create and


promote a bright, forward-looking, fully inclusive sector that provides


well paid, varied, fulfilling job opportunities, with real long-term


career prospects. Those seeking to fill vacancies should be able to do


so on merit, that is a point that has been made by several colleagues


this afternoon. They should not have to think that their sexuality might


be a factor. The UK has a proud record of promoting equality LGBT


people, including the introduction of marriage for same-sex couples,


and part of the image of the maritime sector, a sector which has


done so much for the LGBT movement, is tarnished with such ludicrous and


outdated clauses on the statute. We are recognised as one of the most


progressive countries in Europe for LGBT writes. We have one of the


world's strongest legislative frameworks to tackle discrimination,


we recognise that people who work in an inclusive environment, free from


discrimination, are far more likely to achieve their potential. The


Equality Act 2010 protects lesbian, Equality Act 2010 protects lesbian,


Gay, bisexual and transgender people and is given, harassment or


victimisation in the workplace. And I'm pleased to say that the UK


shipping industry is well ahead of us in discriminatory rules and


practices in regard to the Tabak one community. When talking about


repeal, the industry expressed surprise this hadn't happened years


ago, the UK Merchant Navy code of conduct which forms the basis for


disciplinary and grievance processes in many UK shipping companies has


not made use of the exception allowed to the Merchant Navy for


many years and uses entirely inclusive language, for example, in


the paragraphs prohibiting sexual harassment. UK's National Maritime


occupational health and safety committee produced guidelines on


preventing bullying and harassment which were adopted by European


social partners and subsequently internationally. These guidelines


define harassment in the same inclusive way as you would expect in


any company anywhere within our country. It has also published


guidance for shipping companies on HIV and aids, including guidance on


prevention -- on implementing policies. No doubt there is more to


do and both I and the Department are always happy to know what we can do,


we will do and that anyone who has any suggestions how we can make the


Merchant Navy a more rewarding and fulfilling career, open to all,


irrespective of sexual orientation, adorable always be open. But of


course the situation for LGBT people as not all we spin as fair as it is


now and given that, I would like to spend a moment detailing how it is


that current wording of the statute book came about and in particular,


colleagues may wish to have more information about the Criminal


Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which this bill would amend. The


criminal Justice and Public order act was an act which took a


significant step forward in the gradual development of LGBT writes


in the UK but which still left much to be done. The act is the last act


in the UK to have a whole part entitled homosexuality and was


responsible for reducing the age of wonder sexual consent from 21 down


to 18. The background to the sections we are amending is as


follows, homosexual acts in private had been to criminalise by section


one of the sexual offences 1967 but that act left some areas in which


homosexual acts could still be an offence. In particular, the act


allowed that a homosexual act could still be an offence under the Army


act 1955, the force act 1955 and naval discipline act 1957. It also


remained it criminal to conduct a homosexual act on board and aircraft


ship. It didn't extend to Scotland or Northern Ireland but similar


provision was made in those jurisdictions by section 80 of the


criminal Justice act Scotland, 1980 the homosexual offences Northern


Ireland order, 1982. The criminal Justice and Public order act


contained provisions to remove this remaining criminal liability. The


government had already decided in 1993 that prosecutions should not be


brought under military law for homosexual acts per se. And


following this, the decision that homosexual acts in Merchant Navy


should be to criminalise to was given in a written answer in the


House of Commons in 1993. This appears to have been influenced by


the government understanding that the provision had been very little


used. These repeals were therefore accomplished by sections 146, one,


two and three for England and Wales,. But sections 140 six were


added following amendments in the other place. There appear to have


been concerns that making homosexual conduct legal in both Armed Forces


and the Merchant Navy might mean that homosexuals could not be


dismissed for engaging in at or that such conduct could not be used as


the basis for a prosecution under military discipline. The government


at the time thought the amendment was unnecessary. As a general


principle just because something is legal doesn't mean you can't be


fired from your job for doing it. It's an obvious point. If you decide


to watch television instead of going to work, but is not illegal but it


may well result in you being fired. The government considered it could


still continue to discharge people from the Armed Forces because they


were homosexual, irrespective of the wording of the criminal justice and


Public order act. And employers could continue to discharge on the


sexual is in the Merchant Navy. Both of these situations have of course


changed. And it's not possible to discharge someone because of the


sexual orientation but at that time, the amendments were unnecessary.


Even though this is of no current effect, we would prefer it that


legislation could give no such implications. And if honourable


members will allow me, I will spend a quick moment detailing how the


amendments have changed and why they have no legal application today. The


amendments had been progressively repealed over the years. Until the


current state for the only refer to the Merchant Navy. Many parts of


these, concerning military discipline were repealed by the


Armed Forces act 2006. And all references to Armed Forces were


removed in the Armed Forces act 2016 so what we have is a journey, a


story of progress, which has left the Merchant Navy despite all of its


historic achievements, for our country, as a historical hangover,


one we must correct. Whilst there are protections, it is not always


fair to say that the Merchant Navy's added should within themselves have


been ahead, I think of the legislative picture covering them.


The merchant Murphy as colleagues have said has a proud tradition of


respect for the individual and the seafaring culture has contributed to


the development of gay culture worldwide. Homosexuality was illegal


in Britain until 1967 but only that which, it could be a different


world. -- but on a voyage. Seafarers could convey insights back home. At


not to say life on board was a new world for all homosexuality is and


you could still lose your job and face hostility and bullying but


there was still greater freedom than on land and this provided a support


network. What we have before us is a bill which addresses a historic


wrong, it addresses the inadequacy of legislation to keep pace with


culture, the achievements and cultures within the Merchant Navy.


What we have at its heart is a skilled export workforce that makes


a significant contribution to our country and we need to maintain and


enhance that workforce, to celebrate and promote it, the maritime sector


as a whole. We can be confident of our maritime past and we should be


more confident again of what we can be in the future. The Equality Act


under the legislation tightly protects the rights of an


individual. This bill is therefore symbolic but it also serves to


remove clauses that are obsolete. Clauses that have no place to remain


on the statute and reflect the attitudes of a different time. It


sends a message and a message that has been so partly articulated by


colleagues within this debate. The government supports this bill. John


Glenn. With the leave of the House Madam Deputy Speaker I would like to


say some words and thank my nine colleagues on this side of the House


who have made such an effective contribution to a guy thing has been


a very useful and necessarily there debate on this bill. -- to what I


think. For many, it's a serious piece of legislation which completes


reform, much-needed reform, removes discrimination, from the statute


books. I do believe as the honourable member for Shipley said,


that it is important that all legislation should receive careful


and thorough scrutiny. I am grateful for the contributions of my


honourable friend the Member for spells for his deep historical


knowledge and also my friend, the Member for Milton Keynes Southee


made such a powerful contribution. But I do not wish to detain the


House any longer. And I beg to move. The question is that the bill we now


read a second time. As many as are of that opinion say aye. To the


contrary no. The ayes have it. The ayes have it. Personal social health


and economic statutory requirement Bill, second reading. Caroline


Lucas. Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker. I'm delighted to at least


start speaking in support of my bill to give children an entitlement to


the SHG including sex and relationship education and while I


support the bill preceding mine, there is an irony that has not gone


unnoticed, members have spent so many hours debating what is a wholly


uncontroversial bill and I supported, but nonetheless there is


an irony that my bill is about tackling discrimination and bullying


around LGBT issues. It's a bill with strong party support across the


House, members who have is long shown commitment and concern on this


issue, including from the right honourable member from Basingstoke


and the Member for Rotherham, both of him I would like to pay tribute


to for their ongoing cross-party work on this issue. And the reason


this bill has strong cross-party support is that people are calling


for it from all quarters. It is back why it is 7% of parents, 88% of


teachers, 85% of business leaders, you go you got and the PCHE


Association believes schools should teach about mental health and


emotional well-being, support from Royal Society is, five Select


Committee chairs, three of which are Conservative chairs, five teaching


unions, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Public Health


England, the Childrens Commissioner, Chief Medical Officer, the National


police lead for preventing child sexual exploitation, the UN


committee on the rights of the child, NSPCC, Barnardos, Stonewall,


end violence against women coalition, girl guiding, and many,


many more. And to expand on that latter example, the Association of


police... There is absolutely no way I am giving way to anyone on that


side of the House that has spent so many hours filibustering a perfectly


serious bill. There is no way. Thank you. To expand on the latter


example, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioner is tell us


that statutory status is needed because Police and Crime


Commissioner is across the country... Order, order. The


honourable lady must be heard. Caroline Lucas. Honourable members


will recall that requests done by the police from the honourable


member for Manchester last year showed 1200% increase of under 16 is


sharing explicit images or text and an increasing number using the


dating up tender. It's clear children are being pushed into adult


territory will be they are ready and some of the most powerful calls for


action, from young people themselves. The Terrence Higgins


Trust report surveying young people aged 16 to 24 said that SRE was


absent in many schools. Many thought it should be mandatory in all


schools and over 60% perceived SRE just once a year or less, three


quarters were not told about consent and half of the young people


surveyed rated the SRE they received in school as poor or terrible. What


we should take heart for young campaigners for statutory PCHE


because they are doing great work, tremendous support from groups like


girl guiding I've also had the privilege of forming links with an


exciting group in my own constituency called PCHE matters.


They are students from the Dorothy Stringer School in Brighton, got


together under the own scheme to campaign for PCHE to be mandatory.


They recognise the value of provision at school and want to


ensure all students across the country have access to similar


high-quality teaching and the work on PCHE is a testament to the


success of the subject and the call to action comes in a context when


one third of young people aged between 11 and 14 have watched


online porn on a tablet or mobile phone and half of all 11-14


-year-olds who had viewed pornography said it affected their


relationships. SRE is needed to offset these problems with


information about consent unhealthy relationships. Order, order. Debate


to be resumed, what day? Friday the 24th of March. Friday the 24th of


March. Railways Bill second reading. Objection taken, second reading,


what day? Friday the 24th of March adjourned debate on second reading.


Not moved. I beg to move this House do now adjourn. The question is that


this House do now adjourn. Maria Caulfield. Thank you, Madam Deputy


Speaker. I know today the world is watching political speeches of


historical significance, and I hope my adjournment debate does not


disappoint! I thank the House for once again allowing the issue of


Southern rail to be debated in the chamber, and while many of my


constituents and many people in the south-east region were pleased to


hear that strikes the next week by the Aslef union have been halted and


a normal service should start again on Tuesday, the fear of a normal


Southern experience is filling some people with trepidation, because I


normal service on the southern region for the last 18 months has


been extremely poor. At times, performance has gone down to less


than 40% of trains turning up in time, and the average is around 66%,


and this compares to over 90% of trains by other operators, so in the


southern region, we certainly suffer more than most, and it is not just


late trains and cancellations, but trains are often short formed from


12 carriages down to ten or eight, and there is poor customer service,


we have it even had our trolley service removed on our trains to add


insult to injury. Many constituents have been to see me, whether they


are individuals, to share their experience of getting to work late,


getting home late, risk of losing their jobs, or businesses, and I


recently attended a breakfast meeting where businesses told me


trade was down because no one could get to them to use their services.


My four towns of Lewis, Seaford, Tollgate and New Haven, the


experience is exactly the same. So my constituency more than most has


suffered, we are a ten pack three only constituency, we don't have


tens link or Gatwick Express, and we are raw, so there is little other


transport available. Not everyone has a GP or post office, not every


village has a school, so people use the trains to get to the main towns


or neighbouring villages to use those services, and when there is no


train, people are cut off literally from the rest of the world. I know


when people come to see me, they say there are three reasons why the


service has not been great. The first is the dispute, and as I said


at the beginning, this is hopefully on the way to being resolved, and we


are glad and praise all those involved in getting people back


around the table. The second issue is Network Rail, and I know that


over 50% of delays on the Southern rail network have been down to


infrastructure issues, it is an old line that we have in the


constituency, and across Surrey and London, and it has had lack of


investment for 10-20 years, leading to recurring signal problems, point


failures, track failures, and I was pleased that the Secretary of State,


one of his first tasks when he came into post was to outline some


initial investment into that track to deliver and hopefully stop... I


will give way. I thank my honourable friend, and she is making a


typically powerful case as a diligent constituency MP, but does


she agree with me that whilst passengers understand that there


will be service outages, what frustrates them is the lack of


information, and what we need is proper coordination between the


train operating companies and Network Rail in real time so that


people can make alternative arrangements. I absolutely agree


with my honourable friend, and that was going to be my very next point,


because as well as the investment, the Secretary of State has also


brought together the Rail Delivery Group to bring Network Rail and the


rail operator together so that when there are problems on the tracks, it


is a better experience for passengers, and they do have that


better customer service and no of alternative routes. Element we all


know when over nearing -- engineering works overrun, that


frustration that trains are cancelled because of poor


communication between Network Rail and the operator. But those two


points do not take away from the lack of performance of Southern


Rail, and as we move from the dispute into a normal rail services,


we absolutely want a good rail service in my constituency. I thank


her forgiving way of bringing this issue to the House. Her constituents


and mine suffer the daily misery of the failure of Southern Rail. Would


she agree with me that their performance has been so bad, they


should have been stripped of their franchise, and it is a problem of


the structure of the franchise but that is not been contractually


possible, and would she join me in calling on the Secretary of State


for Transport to look as a matter of urgency at ways in which the


franchise can be stripped of the operator and handed to transport


rail or another part of the public sector to run in the interim while


this service can be talked to -- sorted out at a matter of urgency. I


thank the Brobbel lady for her intervention, and I know the


Secretary of State has put on record that once this dispute is resolved,


performance has to be tackled, and I can only speak for myself personally


when I say I would look at all options to make that happen, because


it cannot be acceptable but going forward, 66% of train services being


on time is acceptable to my constituents or any constituents


across the country. I have got people who are losing their jobs or


who have lost their jobs, who are moving home because of the poor


performance. You have Gatwick Airport down the rail line, people


miss flights, I had a young couple missed their honeymoon because of


Southern Rail. And it is also getting home from work, that is also


the issue. Many parents have contacted me who had to have extra


childcare because they have been unable to get home in time to


collect their children from school. So I agree with the honourable


member opposite, because I would like the Minister to outline for me


the timescale that we are now expect the performance to improve. We


cannot be going on for months and months with poor performance. Before


the dispute, Southern were fined ?2 million as a result of the poor


performance, but even how much they earn in this contract, that is


actually a drop in the ocean, so it would be helpful if the Minister


could outline the timescale that he will be measuring Southern Rail in


their performance going forward, and what sanctions will be imposed on


them if they don't improve the service, because it isn't just about


how many trains are cancelled or delayed. I have a huge number of


constituents who contact me when trains failed to stop at stations,


and in rural constituencies such as mine, if you don't make your stop


and read the train just carries on, that is often a ten mile journey, a


taxi ride home. You are dropped off at an unmanned station with no


lighting, no taxi service, it is heartbreaking. So there are more


issues than just the sheer cancellations and delays. We often


have the experience, particularly in my constituency in Lewis, where in


Hayward Heath the train will terminate no reason. Normally it


would divide, if there isn't a driver or a guard, the train


terminates and you are left to try to home from there. We also have the


issue of short trains that are causing severe overcrowding. There


should be no reason why a 12 carriage train is suddenly cut short


a. And there are huge concerns about the timetable for 2018 going forward


as well, because certainly in my town of Seaford there are proposals


to cut the only direct services to London, and residents there are


deeply concerned about that. While I welcome the Secretary of State's


announcement of a month's refund on season tickets, can I highlight of


the Minister that it isn't working. Not one of my constituents, and I


would be surprised if anyone's, have actually heard from Southern rail.


They were supposed to be contacted in January to outline how they would


get their rebate, and not one of them has heard. But this goes


hand-in-hand with the everyday experience of delaying the pain. The


Government has tried to introduce instead of a 30 minute delay when


you can claim, to reduce that 15 minutes, but time and again I hear


from constituents saying that the service is not working, you have to


apply online or by post, your forms are often lost, they are often


challenged by Southern rail, and sewers to most do not bother doing


delayed pay, so the train operator is getting off scot-free. And there


is no compensation the taxes that you have to get when you're trained


to turn up or it terminates, there is no compensation for the extra


childcare that constituents are having to pay out for, just


compensating people for the rail fare that they paid does not seen to


be enough. Part of the issue is around the key card system, unlike


TfL and the London zones, there is no opportunity to use a contract is


-- contactless card system you have to have a key card which you can


preload, is you can't spontaneously get on a train. If you haven't left


enough time and the IT system hasn't coped, your ticket will not have


loaded on your key card so you can't get through the barrier. It is a


cumbersome, clumpy way of trying to get people to use a ticketless


system, and this is part of the reason that people are not able to


claim their refunds. We were promised flexible season tickets for


those people like myself who travel to or three times a week, with more


people working at home, the traditional season ticket is rapidly


becoming out of date. A flexible season ticket was promised, Southern


are still consulting on it and haven't updated on it, and I would


be keen to hear an update. One of the other key is to use that I would


like to outline is the experience of disabled passengers. It has been an


appalling service for those who have been on bus replacement services,


particularly in my towns of Seaford and Newhaven, where wheelchair


passengers, the buses that have been provided have not been wheelchair


accessible, and very often disabled passengers have been turned away


over the last few months, unable to get onto those. Taxes have been


ordered, but again, that has evolved long waits for disabled passengers,


unacceptable in my belief. And even when the rail services working, you


have to pre-book if you want to travel as a disabled are subject and


hope that the booking that you have made actually results in station


staff being there to help you. Many disabled passengers have contact me


to say that when they have booked assistants, it hasn't been there at


the station, and they were unable to get onto their train. And one final


point on the experience of disabled passengers is that of toilets. There


are no changing places toilet in my constituency. Hayward Heath, a big


junction for my constituents, has had a huge upgrade, new car park,


fantastic system of being able to get a lift straight onto the


platform, so if you use a wheelchair, you can get direct onto


the platform, but then you have no toilet facility, and that led to one


of my young constituent who goes to Chailey Heritage School having to be


changed on the platform because there was nowhere for her to be


changed at the new also need all dancing platform, and that in this


day and age is completely unacceptable. To conclude, Madame


Deputy Speaker, I welcome the announcement this week, and it is a


huge relief to all of us that the dispute seems to be coming to an


end, but for us, this is the first step in getting an improved rail


service. The experience over the last 18 months has been absolutely


dreadful, and we do dread returning to a normal Southern timetable, we


want a good Southern timetable, trains that turn up on time, that


are not cancelled, are not delayed, don't terminate early, are


accessible for all passengers, and if that doesn't happen, we want the


reassurance that Southern will be taken to task and dealt with,


financial penalties, or if it comes to it, a change in the franchise.


Minister. Thank you very much, Madame Debbie G Speaker. I start by


congratulating my honourable friend the Member for Lewis, Seaford and


Newhaven on securing this debate. I know on this subject it is close to


heart and her constituents' hearts, we have had ministerial


correspondence on the matter, and as ever she is being a strong voice


speaking up for her area, whether it has been the services the Lewis's


famous Bonfire Night or replacement bus services. I understand the


frustration that she and her constituents have been experiencing


over the service that they have had, and I expect that GTR should be able


to run a reliable and predictable service for passengers, it is an


entirely reasonable expectation, so I can't imagine what it must be like


to have to rely on an unpredictable service as a commuter, or somebody


who needs to travel as part of their regular lives. There are two macro


elements to improving the service, we have industrial relations issues


and also the long-standing underlying service problem areas,


and I'm will go through each, if I may. As honourable members will be


away, trades unions and Southern Rail have been in dispute since


April last year. This has centred on driver operated doors, and has


caused significant disruption to passengers. However, moving to a way


of working in which the driver controls the train doors and the


second person on the train is focused upon customer service is


much more passenger friendly and will allow a higher performing, more


resilient rail service. The unjust industrial action arising from this


dispute has been holding back GTR from delivering a modern, save and


Passenger Focus railway. We want to see a railway that is fit for the


future. This dispute is getting in the way of that. And although this


dispute is a matter for the union and train operator to resolve, we


have been doing everything we can to try to limit the impact of the


strike on passengers. On strike days to cope with the


overtime ban measures have been put in place to cope. Discussions have


been going on behind-the-scenes. That is why I welcome the ASLEF


offered to suspend industrial action and allow a new round of industrial


talks taking place right now. I hope they ended success, allowing us to


get on with improving services and most importantly, ending the misery


that industrial action as inflict this on hundreds of thousands of


passengers. However the travelling public is still subject to strikes


by the RMT and I'd like to assure Honourable members here today that


the train operator has contingency plans in place. An RMT strike days


like next Monday the 23rd, tickets are accepted an alternative GTR


roots and on other operator services and bus replacement is in place, for


there is no alternative real option. In the meantime, GTR has trained a


large number of office staff as contingency conductors to provide


cover on non-driver only operation Southern roots and additional GTR


and agency staff have been deployed to stations to help passengers. Let


me turn to the issue on which the dispute is centred, driver


controlled operation of the doors. Essentially driving and controlling


the doors without the need for a guard. Drivers on southern have been


striking against what others in GTR have been doing for years. This way


of working is perfectly safe. The driver controlled operation has been


operating effectively add very busy stations on the third of the UK


network for more than 30 years. In fact, more than half of the trains


running in Britain including all of the trains on London Underground


operate with drivers in full control of the doors. Indeed more than 60%


of the current GT services operate without conductors. We are investing


around ?2 billion of public money in providing longer trains across the


GTR network to deliver extra capacity for the travelling public


to cope with increased demand for services. These trains are fully


equipped with the latest technology that allows the driver to fully


operate the train from the cab in line with modern practice and Ian


Cross who is Her Majesty is Chief Inspector of Railways published his


GTR inspection report recently and confirmed driver controlled


operations on Southern is safe. The office of a limbo can to did the


proposal fully meets legal requirements for safe operation so I


hope with those significant voices assessing the safety and with the


safe record we've had of operation of these services, the unions will


now acknowledge that they have no credible argument that TCO is an


unsafe method of operation. GTR has publicly stated to be no compulsory


job losses until the end of the franchise in 2021 as a result of


modernisation and affected conductor staff will have pay protected. The


Railways, are a success. Passenger numbers are growing. More than


doubling in fact, since privatisation, from 735 and in


1994-5, two 1.7 billion passenger journeys in 20 16. Fantastic record.


We will need more people, not fewer, to help passengers in future. These


changes are about freeing up staff time to focus on customer service


and helping the travelling public on board the trains. If unions insist


on retaining our database of working it will be impossible to deliver the


benefits or improved reliability that new technologies can bring. GTR


has been clearer there'll be more staff on board trains than there are


today. They are there to help passengers, to give customer


assistance to individuals at an staffed stations. 99% of on-board


supervisor contracts have unsigned, more than 80% of additional 100


on-board supervisor is recruited have started their roles. And we


hope the new talks will end months of misery and hardship that had been


faced by the travelling public and the problems they had been facing


articulated so powerfully by my honourable friend today. Let me


address some of the underlying service problems. I'm aware, my


right honourable friend the Secretary of State is acutely aware


that the performance in the past has not been good enough. And has


deteriorated again in recent weeks. We also need to be clear where the


failure is caused. And some of this has been more to do with figures of


infrastructure which is operated by Network Rail rather than failure is


at GTR. The instruction for drivers not to work non-contractual overtime


rest days has significantly impacted services. Nonetheless I would like


to assure the House here that the Department is determined to resolve


the issues as quickly as possible. Some of the issue should be


addressed by the work that Chris Gibb has done has head of a new


project board working with GTR, the Department for Transport and Network


Rail to explore how to achieve a rapid improvement services. My


honourable friend asked specifically about the timing of improvements. I


will check their work and write to my honourable friend with further


information on timing. It is also appropriate that GTR are held to


account for the quality of the product. And the government


continues to hold them to account but it's also clear that GTR


masterwork was Network Rail to deliver better passenger services as


soon as possible. We do monitor the performance of rail franchises


closely, all of them monitored, and the franchise agreement contains


clear penalties and incentives so operators are penalised for repeated


poor performance in the areas they can take direct responsibility for.


I will happily. I thank the Minister. It is straightforwardly


the case that the measures within the franchise covering Southern


Railway have not provided significant incentives or deterrents


for them to improve performance, it hasn't worked and I wonder if he


could provide some further comment on that. I would suggest that we


know there have been significant problems up on the line but the


biggest single blockage to progress and delivering them, is the gun that


is being held to the head of everybody by the industrial action.


The investment in new rolling stock is a huge investment which will


deliver a vastly improved service, improve capacity and improve comfort


on the trains. What we need to see is ?2 billion investment reaching


customers as fast as possible and that's why we want all of this work


to reach a resolution. Briefly. Extremely brief. I agree the


industrial dispute needs to be resolved but the fact remains


Southern Railway was failing long before the industrial dispute Gann.


-- began. I will agree there have been operational challenges, I said


that, those challenges resulted in poor performance and they predate


the strike, that is clearly correct. The strike has taken them much


further, compounding the underlying problems but I will go back to my


point, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has brought


in this team to head a new project board ringing all the different


parties together to explore how we can make a rapid improvement of


services at its furry hard to do all of these things when we are seeing


such huge operational, day-to-day challenges caused by strike action,


but I am happy to agree with the point that the underlying problems


predate, not without any doubt. In the performance monitoring of the


rail franchise, under the regime, penalties have been levied against


GTR and short formations and they will continue to be so. My


honourable friend mentioned compensation and it is important


given the current cost of rail travel and the disruption that has


been caused, that's quite last month, the government announced a


multi-million pound compensation package for seasonal ticket


passengers to recognise the hardship of those suffering long delays,


cancellations and disruption in recent months. My honourable friend


mentioned that not one person in her constituency had heard about this. I


understand that her constituents should have been hearing this week


and I'm grateful to her for that feedback and I will take it back to


the department. Could she make sure that the actual practical on the


ground experience is continually fed back to me and any of my ministerial


colleagues? But the point is chewed be happening and happening now. The


delay repaid 15 has been introduced for Southern Passengers making it


easier for them to claim compensation. The points made about


disabled services are quite frankly appalling. We have known for a while


that we are dealing with a Victoria and infrastructure and were trying


to retrospectively install accessible friendly services, and


this is work on by successive governments under all parties. The


work is urgent, progress has been made. But there is a long way to go.


And the experience that she mentioned someone having to be


changed on a platform is obviously utterly, utterly unacceptable. The


issue of improving public transport system for people with disabilities


is very, very important to the department, one of my personal


priorities. We will publish a six -- accessibility action plan shortly


about how to improve accessibility for people with disabilities on all


of public transport for first time we will include cognitive impairment


and dementia within that. I expect that to be published very soon. This


stretch of the network that we've been talking about today is one of


the most intensively used in our country. It's in a dramatic increase


in the number of journeys made over the past few years. I mentioned how


the passenger growth has been absolutely dramatic across the


network as a whole, this stretch has seen growth right at the top end of


that spectrum. There is no doubt we need to put capacity into the


services, we need to update and modernise the service. I fully


recognise that strikes have been causing disruption for passengers


and the current performance has been far from satisfactory, utterly not


good enough. Dazzler's offer to suspend industrial action has been a


step in the right direction and I hope these talks result is getting


on with improving services and importantly ending the misery this


industrial action has caused. -- ASLEF's. We need to get back to


improving the line, delivering service up my right honourable


friend and other colleagues from across the House have been right to


demand from their constituents. Rail is a critical and successful


industry for our country. It is a success by all measures, by growing


passenger numbers, by its safety record, by levels of investment


coming in from public and private. But it is also fair to say that when


it fails, it highlights just how critical it is and how people depend


upon it. But as white we need to work together to make the


improvements my honourable friend is right to demand for her


constituents. The question is that this House do not adjourn. As many


as are of that opinion say aye. To the contrary no. The ayes have it.


The ayes have it. Order, order!


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