The Rt Hon Lord Patrick McLoughlin's commendation video transcript

The Rt Hon Lord Patrick McLoughlin

PROFESSOR KEITH MCLAY: Okay, now we come to our Honorary Award. These are awarded by the University in recognition of somebody who has made a very significant contribution in their particular field. I now have great pleasure in inviting Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, to give the commendation for the conferment of an Honorary Doctor of the University to The Right Honourable Lord Patrick McLoughlin.

PROFESSOR KATHRYN MITCHELL: Lieutenant, High Sheriff, the Mayor of High Peak Borough Council, Honoured guests, graduates of 2023 and all of our guests here today. It gives me great pleasure to be presenting today The Right Honourable Lord Patrick McLoughlin, Companion of Honour, for the award of Honorary Doctor of the University.

Patrick is one of the UK's foremost Parliamentarians, having held ministerial office under four Prime Ministers. His extensive career in politics includes 33 years as the Member of Parliament for Derbyshire Dales and four years as Secretary of State for Transport. Throughout his career, he has had a significant impact on our region, not least as champion of the rail industry.

Patrick was born in Cannock in Staffordshire. He left school at 16 and worked in catering and agriculture before following his father and grandfather to work underground in the Staffordshire coalfields.

After becoming involved in local politics, Patrick was appointed the MP for Derbyshire Dales in 1986, a constituency which lies mostly within the Peak District National Park. He held various ministerial posts at the Departments of Transport, Employment and Trade and Industry and became the Opposition Chief Whip in 2005, then Government Chief Whip in the Coalition government from 2010 to 2012. He was Chairman of the Conservative Party and Chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster for two years from 2016.

As Secretary of State for Transport between 2012 and 2016, Patrick oversaw several key investments and major work programmes for road and rail including the Road Investment Strategy and the high-speed railway, HS2. Recently, he has appeared on transport select committees detailing the issues facing the railways. He is currently looking to work with government to fully understand the implications for the North after the decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2.

Patrick was knighted in 2016, became a Companion of Honour in 2019 and joined the House of Lords in 2020.

In November 2019, Patrick decided not to seek re-election as MP for Derbyshire Dales. On stepping down, he said it had been an honour to represent "one of the most beautiful constituencies in the country".

Since then, Patrick spent 18 months as Chair of Visit Britain and is now Chair of Transport for the North. Patrick's passion for reliable, cost effective, and sustainable transport aligns with the University's ambitions to encourage innovation and collaboration within the local rail supply chains. With Derby now named as the national headquarters for Great British Railways, the region is even more relevant to the sector to which Patrick has dedicated much of his career and much of his life.

Patrick lives locally with his wife Lynn who is celebrating with him here today. 

Chancellor, in recognition of his significant achievements in public service and his dedication to the rail industry in the region, and nationally, we are delighted to award The Right Honourable Lord Patrick McLoughlin the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University.

THE RT HON LORD PATRICK MCLOUGHLIN CH: Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff, Mayor of High Peak, honoured guests and graduates of 2023, and all other guests here today. I think I've just mentioned most of them! I'd like to say what a great honour it is to accept this degree. It is also my first degree as was mentioned earlier on. I left school at 16 and didn't go to university, much more common in the 70s than today I'm very pleased to say. But in my four years as Secretary of State for Transport I came to appreciate how important transport communications are and look in awe at the wonderment of what engineers can do. 

Engineers can solve almost any problems that are put before them, sometimes at a cost. Just look at this fantastic building we're in today, designed by engineers. I was privileged enough to attend when Her Majesty the late Queen Elizabeth went to visit Crossrail to name it the Elizabeth Line. I saw there fantastic engineering to an incredibly high standard and today we see that particular line running with trains from Bombardier, Alstom now, across London making a fantastic difference on a line that we just look in awe and say, "why wasn't this done many years ago?" We're always a bit bad at doing infrastructure projects in this country sometimes but once we do them we look and say, "why didn't we do them a long time before?" 

I also remember one of the most memorable highlights of being Secretary of State was I think to be part of the celebrations of Derby's 175 year connection with the railway industry. We had a special service at Derby Cathedral and I, along with the then Lord Lieutenant and then High Sheriff, were ferried down the aisle of the cathedral on a mini train which had been specially constructed for us. It was quite a memorable occasion at the time. I then had to deliver a speech from the pulpit in Derby Cathedral, something which I'd never done before. So I've had many fascinating experiences by being given the opportunity to be Secretary of State for Transport, one of the most enjoyable jobs I had during my political career.

Reflecting on it, one often looks back to the people you helped in your constituency and the opportunities that you managed to achieve for other people. I remember when I was at school the local Member of Parliament came to visit the school and invited us down to the House of Commons and thinking to myself one day I want to be a Member of Parliament. I remember telling my best friend who said to me privately, "Patrick, if I was you I'd keep that a secret." I did keep it as a secret until I actually managed to achieve it.

One of my political heroes was uh Winston Churchill. I've got a couple of things in common with Winston Churchill. We were both born on the 30th of November, although he was born 83 years before me. Neither of us excelled at school. Recently I came across, before I knew about this awarding of this degree, I came across a speech which he'd made in Copenhagen when he was given an honorary degree and I think it's just worth quoting a bit of that speech where he said that he was very proud and very grateful to receive the Degree of Philosophy from the famous University of Copenhagen. He went on to say, "As life unfolds, I have been astonished to find how many more degrees I have received than have passed examinations. I was never very good at those, but I'm now treated as if I was quite a learned man. This is a good argument for not being discouraged by the failures or the shortcomings of youth, but to persevere and go on trying to learn all your life." 

One thing I've learned is experience is one of the hardest teachers. It gives its exams first and its lessons afterwards, but we can all learn and we all need to carry on learning. Chancellor, I'd like to congratulate the University for the tremendous role that it is now playing in the life of Derbyshire and the life of all the people who have graduated over the years. I know from my own son, you will always feel part of the university that you went to, so I wish all those who have been successful today great success in the future. I thank the University for the honour they've given me, and I look forward to continuing working with the University over the years to come. 

Thank you very much indeed.

The Rt Hon Lord Patrick McLoughlin's commendation video

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