Richard Harrington

Watford

Conservative

AQA has taken a unilateral decision to scrap the A-level in Polish from 2018. Are you going to lobby the AQA to reverse their decision? If yes, are there any other actions which you would undertake in order to preserve the Polish A-level?

I would like to address the issue of the discontinuation of the Polish language at A-Level. It is a shame that due to the Government reforms, many A-Level and GSCE subjects are being cut from school curriculums. This is not just Polish, but also other languages such as Bengali, Modern Hebrew and Panjabi. Other subjects such as Electronics, Human Biology and Anthropology will also be discontinued in 2018, so it is by no means discriminatory towards the Polish language. However, the decisions by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation to end this languages were on the basis that these subjects were an ‘inappropriate level of academic demand’. AQA claims that the numbers of students who actually choose to study Polish at A-level and sit the exam are relatively low and that a shortage of examiners in the subject made them choose to end the qualification in 2018.

 

I understand that this must be very disappointing for you, however, Polish is still offered by AQA at GCSE and as I understand, there are over 150 Saturday Schools for teaching Polish with over 16,000 attendees. I hope that this means that learning the Polish language is continued at a high level, and I believe these platforms still aid in doing so. We are such a multi-cultural society and should value those who can speak other languages as well as English.

 

Poland was the most loyal ally of Britain in the Second World War and the Polish army contributed to the defeat of Nazi Germany. Would you therefore challenge some of the British media falsely labelling the German concentration and death camps as being “Polish” e.g. Polish ghetto, death camps of Poland, or, Poland’s Auschwitz?

Also, answering your question regarding the media labelling German concentration camps as Polish, I am a trustee of the Holocaust Education Trust and am fully aware of the hardships that the Polish people endured during the Second World War and the sacrifice they made at the time. Therefore, I am saddened and can understand that it must be difficult to hear that the British media may falsely label German concentration and death camps as being Polish. If there are specific articles or programmes that may depict Poland in this way, then I can support and advise that you write directly to the broadcasting channel or media outlet and demand that they rightly refer to the Nazi occupation of Poland and the horror that ensued there.

Do you support promoting information about the positive contribution of Polish immigrants to the economy of the UK?

In terms of the economy, I am very pleased with the positive contribution of Polish immigrants have had on the UK. Although there are no official statistics of contribution by nationality, it is clear to see that 84 per cent of Polish nationals in the UK between the ages of 16 and 64 are in employment which is a fantastic statistic. I am also aware that up until the year 2011, EU migrants added an extra £5bn into the UK economy and have since added more, no doubt. I think this is extremely positive and in this case, I support promoting the information about the positive contribution of Polish immigrants to the economy of the UK as it is clear to see the hardworking nature of the Polish people and the encouraging influence that they have on British working life.

We live in such a varied and multicultural society and the Polish people and other EU migrants are integral to that. It is clear that Polish immigrants have been making a significant contribution to the UK for centuries but particularly since the Second World War and since 2004 not only economically, but also socially. I will continue to support the British Polish people and the positive impact they make both nationally and in Watford.

 

In the event of Brexit, would you support granting an unconditional Indefinite Leave To Remain to the EU citizens who have lived and worked in Britain under the freedom of movement rules?

I understand your concerns about the effects of a potential ‘Brexit’ and its consequences for EU migrants, however it is difficult to determine a response to your specified question when as this is still quite far in the future. However I can tell you that I fully support the freedom of movement across the EU which has allowed so many Polish people to come to the UK but also thousands of British people go to Poland. I can also say that in general, I am very much in favour of staying in the EU and will be campaigning to stay in the EU during the referendum. Our membership of the EU is important for jobs, business, and so our aforementioned economy, as well as strategic action on issues such as climate change and terrorism. Therefore I can only answer your question with reference to the fact that I am hoping that there will not be a ‘Brexit’ and this will never become an issue but also fully support the residency of EU citizens living in the UK currently.

Would you consider joining the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland and finding out about its activities and initiatives?

Regarding joining an All-Parliamentary Group for Poland, I have been committed to various All-Party Parliamentary Groups in the past such as the group for Kashmir. However as I have just been appointed as the new Apprentices advisor to the Prime Minister, unfortunately I do not have time to join any new groups, however I would certainly encourage other MPs to do so.


Questions were sent out after the elections.