IWA Par­lia­men­tar­ian of the Year, Lord Ger­man, and his love of the Mon & Brec

Canal Boat - - This Month -

1 What first at­tracted you to the wa­ter­ways? The joy of walk­ing along­side calm wa­ters in beau­ti­ful coun­try­side and watch­ing the magic of lock gate ma­noeu­vres – havens of calm in a hec­tic life.

2 Which is your favourite canal or river? The Mon & Brec, of course – a splen­did ex­am­ple of a mainly con­tour canal, and a wealth of in­dus­trial his­tory.

3 What do the wa­ter­ways have to of­fer the coun­try? A whole host of ben­e­fits – recre­ational, ed­u­ca­tional, his­tor­i­cal, tourism and broad eco­nomic po­ten­tial.

4 What do the wa­ter­ways need most? Main­te­nance, re­fur­bish­ment and re­con­struc­tion. We now see the ben­e­fits of a work­ing canal on lo­cal economies. So we need to make all our canals fit for boat­ing.

5 Tell us about your boat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. From the age of 11 un­til my early 20s I spent a huge amount of time mess­ing around in boats with the Sea Scouts. Sail boats, row­ing boats and mo­tor boats filled much of my hol­i­days and week­ends. I am the proud owner of an Ad­mi­ralty cer­tifi­cate which per­mits me to take charge of a row­ing boat with up to six crew. And I am very proud that I am able to scull.

7 What made you want to be­come an MP? I have never been an MP – though I stood four times. I have been an elected Coun­cil­lor, and in 1999 was elected to the first Na­tional Assem­bly for Wales, and as my party leader. I went to the House of Lords in 2010. I de­cided to seek elected of­fice as a young man when try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with my lo­cal coun­cil. I re­alised that to make a real dif­fer­ence to peo­ple’s lives, you have to be on the other side of the ta­ble.

8 What is your proud­est achieve­ment? As a Min­is­ter, in­tro­duc­ing a new ru­ral eco­nomic pro­gramme for Wales, giv­ing ac­cess to fund­ing for many worth­while pro­jects, eco­nomic devel­op­ments and tourism en­ter­prises.

6 Have you ever fallen in? Never in a canal – but sev­eral times as a lad from boats in Cardiff Dock, and off the South Wales coast.

9 How long have you been in­volved with the Monmouthshire, Brecon & Aber­gavenny Canals Trust I got my first in­ter­est as a mem­ber of the All-Party Wa­ter­ways group at the Na­tional Assem­bly for Wales dur­ing the early 2000s, and lat­terly as Hon Pres­i­dent of the Mon & Brec Canals trust. I am pas­sion­ate about our canal.

10 What would you like to see hap­pen to the wa­ter­ways in your life­time? I would like to see the eco­nomic value of vi­brant, work­ing canals widely recog­nised for their po­ten­tial and thereby se­cur­ing the needed in­vest­ment to re­store and re­fur­bish the many locks and canals await­ing re­pair.

11 How did you feel when you won the IWA award? As­ton­ished and hum­bled. I un­der­stand that the award has never been given to a Mem­ber of the House of Lords, so it was a real sur­prise and an hon­our. I was host­ing the award cer­e­mony in par­lia­ment, and win­ning it never crossed my mind. I was lost for words (nearly!). Above all it made me in­debted to the great team of vol­un­teers on the Mon & Brec, and par­tic­u­larly the out­stand­ing Richard Dom­mett who has given his all to the canals and has just won the IWA Christo­pher Pow­ell award. They do all the work, and I do all the talk.

12 And how did that com­pare to be­ing made an OBE? Noth­ing can com­pare to the priv­i­lege of re­ceiv­ing an hon­our at Buck­ing­ham

Palace, though both the IWA award and the OBE an­nounce­ment were both a great sur­prise to me.

13 What do you think of peo­ple on the canals? Wonderful peo­ple and I am so en­vi­ous of their be­ing able to take the gen­tler way of life.

14 What is the best time of day to be on the wa­ter­ways? In the late af­ter­noon sun­shine when the re­flec­tions on the wa­ter are at their long­est and gen­tlest.

15 What are you read­ing at present? Eng­land’s Mistress by Kate Williams. The in­cred­i­ble story of Emma Hamil­ton – who is gen­er­ally known for her re­la­tion­ship with Ad­mi­ral Lord Nel­son. But her story is much broader than just this one part of her life. A real rags to riches, and then al­most to rags again true story.

16 Who would be your ideal cruis­ing com­pan­ion? My wife, of course.

17 What did you want to be aged 12? A fire­man.

18 Tell us about your spare time in­ter­ests. Mu­sic is an­other of my pas­sions. I am a mem­ber of he 140-strong Par­lia­ment Choir. We re­hearse in the Palace of West­min­ster, and of­ten have to leave re­hearsals to go and vote. I am also a keen car­a­van­ner. We also reg­u­larly walk and cy­cle – along­side the Mon & Brec Canal ( of course).

19 Where would you like to go for a dream cruise? The Canal du Midi from Bordeaux to Nar­bonne. It’s a long cruise but you pass through some in­cred­i­ble scenery, and vine­yards.

20 What su­per­power would you like to pos­sess? To be able to read to­mor­row’s rac­ing re­sults to­day.

‘Tosee the eco­nomic value of the canals recog­nised’ LORD GER­MAN, OBE IWA Par­lia­men­tar­ian of the Year 2016

Favourite? It has to be the Mon & Brec

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