3 Lord Desai debates involving the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Data Strategy

Lord Desai Excerpts
Wednesday 24th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran
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There is obviously a lot of debate already in the public domain about the use of data. We have a number of examples, driven, sadly, by the Covid-19 pandemic, where data has been used to great effect and which I think the public are aware of. The Government have no plans beyond those I have mentioned to reopen the debate formally before the strategy is published.

Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, data is supposed to be the new source of wealth—the new oil. Last time around, we wasted the North Sea oil money on propping up the unemployment created by Mrs Thatcher. Do the Government have any plan to harness the wealth creation capacity of the data? Will they set up a proper sovereign wealth fund, which could harness the money raised by the data under the nation’s control?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran
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Our plans for our data strategy are extremely ambitious. We see it as a crucial part of driving economic prosperity and social good. We believe that we have laid the foundations for that already and will announce more detail in due course.

Covid-19: Vulnerable People

Lord Desai Excerpts
Tuesday 12th May 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran
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The noble Baroness touches on an important area. The lead here is the Home Office, which has been working through the modern slavery victim care contract to make sure that government-funded safe accommodation and ongoing support are made available to victims of modern slavery as quickly as possible.

Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Lab)
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Will the Minister bear in mind that asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable groups in society? They currently receive only £37 per person per week, which is 72% below the poverty line. Will the Government do something for asylum seekers in these very difficult times?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran
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The Government are very aware that particular groups, including asylum seekers, are especially vulnerable. We have a voluntary and community sector emergency partnership involving organisations such as the British Red Cross, and we are getting regular intelligence, feedback and advice on how to respond to those particular needs.

First World War: Empire and Commonwealth Troops

Lord Desai Excerpts
Monday 4th June 2018

(5 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Lab)
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My Lords, I join the noble Lord, Lord Goodlad, in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, on securing the debate and introducing it in a fine manner.

I will confine myself to India, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Lexden. As he said, the army originally had about 115,000 people. Eventually, 2 million Indian soldiers fought in the First World War. To begin with, the recruitment that took place in Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province was very successful. Later on, things got harsher and the bitterness in Punjab, which resulted in the firing into the Jallianwala Bagh on 13 April 1919, was very much due to the pains of false recruitment in Punjab.

On a more normal note, India gave £100 million to Britain as part of its contribution to the war. That money was 30% of its debt, which was added to the burden. Of course, the Indian army was always maintained from Indian taxpayers’ contributions; every year, it cost between £20 million and £30 million to maintain the Indian army at war in Europe and elsewhere. In addition, £75 million was raised through private contributions alone in India to provide food for the Indian army and all the combatants from India. Silver coins were cast to pay the farmers, and that silver came from the US Treasury. India made a lot of effort to ensure that, whatever else it did, it came to the help of the Empire in its time of trouble.

Of course, in 1917, for the first time an Imperial War Cabinet was formed, by Lloyd George, in which India had its place. It was Lord Sinha, the first and only hereditary Peer of the British Empire, who became the Minister of State in the India Office. He also accompanied the Maharajah of Bikaner to the Versailles Peace Conference.

Apart from the Indian army, a lot of native kings joined the war on their own: Bikaner, Jodhpur, Patiala and Kishangarh all contributed their own armies—and themselves—to fight the war. It was a willing, total effort, and it needs to be remembered. Of course, we have the gates that the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, had constructed on Constitution Hill, but we need a proper remembrance of the First World War. Gallipoli, for example, is remembered for Australians and New Zealanders but a lot of Indians died there as well. As I said when we had a debate on the Commonwealth, if, in the post-Brexit era, we need friends and we look to the Commonwealth for friends, we ought to be friendlier towards the Commonwealth.