Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP

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Parliamentary events and visits

Somme 100th Anniversary

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The public will be invited to the Thiepval Memorial in France on 1 July 2016 to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale announced today.

The joint Anglo-French commemoration of the Battle of the Somme is expected to attract great public interest, so tickets will be made available for the event. The 8,000 tickets will be allocated in pairs, free of charge, through a public online ballot. The ballot will be open to residents of the UK, France and Ireland on 28 September 2015. More details can be found on the Somme 2016 Ballot website at www.Somme2016.org The Somme was one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, resulting in over one million casualties. A commemorative event is held at the Thiepval Memorial every year, but the centenary event in 2016 will be on a larger scale, with some 10,000 people attending.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said:

The tragic events at the Battle of the Somme left a deep mark on a huge scale - nearly everyone in the UK will have an ancestor who fought or died at the Somme. It’s important that people across the UK have the chance to remember and honour these brave soldiers. The centenary event will be an opportunity to not only pay tribute to those that sacrificed so much but to ensure that their legacy continues for generations. I am grateful to our French partners for working with us to commemorate the extensive loss on all sides on what will be an incredibly important and deeply moving event. The event will include representatives from the battle’s combatant nations, organisations such as The Royal British Legion, and members of the public. Plans are being made to broadcast the ceremony live to large screens in towns across the Somme region and the UK. There will also be a wide programme of events taking place in the UK. Events will also take place in France to mark the 141 days of the battle.

 

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Beer Champion Award

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John, who champions Britain’s beer industry, has been honoured with a unique award in Parliament.

He was presented with a certificate and souvenir pump clip by the British Beer & Pub Association and SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers. The special award is a joint initiative from the BBPA and SIBA, who wanted to recognise the role of MPs who supported Britain’s national drink during the 2010-2015 Parliament. It recognises acts of advocacy in Parliament, in votes, supportive motions, and debates.

In particular, the award highlights John Whittingdale’s support in securing historic consecutive cuts in beer duty in the 2013 and 2014 Budgets, helping to safeguard jobs and investment, and keeping beer affordable for consumers.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “MPs of all parties made a huge difference in achieving the historic duty cuts in 2013 and 2014, and deserve our thanks and recognition. We are delighted to honour their contribution to this achievement.

Mike Benner, Managing Director of SIBA, comments: “We are enormously grateful to the MPs whose support for British beer over recent years has created a far more optimistic outlook for our industry. As a result of the consecutive beer duty cuts, our members feel more confident about the future of British brewing and are investing in their business and creating local employment, with an estimated 1,600 new jobs in SIBA breweries last year. “With at least one independent brewery now operating in almost every parliamentary constituency, the Beer Champions announced today will I’m sure be invited to celebrate their success in their home town, with a pint of great, locally brewed beer.”

 

Ukraine - John Whittingdale’s interview to “Evropeiska Pravda”

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“Evropeiska Pravda” met with John Whittingdale at a panel discussion focusing on Ukraine which took place this Tuesday at the House of Commons. Being Chairman of the British-Ukraine All-Party Parliamentary Group, Mr Whittingdale co-organised that panel discussion. He was very open and honest in this interview taken just before the start of the event.

While some of Mr Whittingdale’s comments might not be received well by many readers in Ukraine, his views apparently reflect the general mood among pro-Ukrainian politicians in the EU, and particularly in London. For instance, he stated Ukrainians should not expect liberalisation of the visa regime with the UK in the foreseeable future.

We also discussed the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. While Mr Whittingdale admitted that Russian army invaded Ukraine and called the pro-Russian militants ‘terrorists’, he also noted that ‘Kyiv should not expect significant military support from the West.’

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NSPCC Share Aware campaign

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John Whittingdale attended the NSPCC’s Parliamentary Reception on Online Safety to support the charity’s new ‘Share Aware’ campaign which aims to get families talking about socialising safely online. The NSPCC has created a new online guide to help inform parents about the risks of different social networking sites used by children. This comes after an NSPCC survey revealed that three quarters of parents surveyed found sexual, violent, or other inappropriate content on SickipediaOmegleDeviant Art, and F my Life within half an hour of logging into the sites.

An NSPCC panel of more than 500 parents from Mumsnet reviewed 48 social networking sites and said all those aimed at adults and teenagers were too easy for children under 13 to sign-up to. On more than 40 per cent of the sites, the panel struggled to locate privacy, reporting and safety information. Those aimed at younger children, like Club PenguinMoshi MonstersPopjam and Bearville, fared better and parents did not find any unsuitable content on them. The NSPCC also asked just under 2,000 children and young people which social networking sites they used. Talking to strangers or sexual content were the main concerns mentioned by children. But they also thought the minimum age limit for signing up to many sites should be higher, despite saying they’d used the sites when they were underage.John is pictured with Felix and Hassan who took part in the survey.

 

 

Prospects for Ukraine Post-Election

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On 28 October, a panel discussion was held at the House of Commons focused on prospects for Ukraine following the 26 October parliamentary elections in the country.

Chaired by John Whittingdale MP, Director of the British Ukrainian Society and Chairman of the British-Ukraine All-Party Parliamentary Group, the panel discussion was jointly organised by the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre and the Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society.

The panel examining the outcomes of the parliamentary elections included Nataliya Popovych, Co-Founder and Board Member of Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Dr. Olga Onuch, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester, Dr. Andrew Wilson, a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, Sergiy Sydorenko, Editor-in-Chief of ‘European Pravda’, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Director and Head of the Ukrainian office of the Ukrainian-British City Club, and Dr. Andrew Foxall, Director of the Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society.

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