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The Big Debate this week looks at the New Year's Honours system

PUBLISHED: 09:27 14 January 2013 | UPDATED: 10:40 15 January 2013

Tessa Sanderson

Tessa Sanderson

Archant

Big Debate on New Year's Honours

John Biggs, Labour Party candidate for City and East London Assembly MemberJohn Biggs, Labour Party candidate for City and East London Assembly Member

Big Debate on the New Year’s Honours System

FOR Tessa Sanderson

“I am in support of the Honours Awards I was delighted to have received the awards of MBE, OBE CBE and for each one it hold a different sentiment. The first time I was awarded with the MBE was in 1985 for wining my Olympic Gold medal it was a total surprise and it also added to the recognition of 12 years dedication and commitment of nothing but hard work overcoming injury for two years to beat all the best in the world when called upon and to my coach for his out of work commitment to me 6 days per week every month. All of this was funded by myself working in several jobs in order to travel for the best competitions I could find. (126)

“The second award was for my on gong working commitment to help sport and health in the country and for doing several Charity work with especially children’s Charities and especially The Variety Club of Great Britain who where the only charity who took pity on me to help me towards winning my first major title in 1977 and I promised to be total committed to helping and give back in return. This saw me raise over 300k for 9 different Children’s hospitals within one year before my career ended 26 years after I started competing. The third was for serving as Vice Chair to Sport England for three years. (108)

“The Honours system is a good idea because albeit one would say maybe someone is doing their daily job and they choose to take that pathway. However if someone has shown the people that they have made a significant difference which this country is proud of then it should be recognised. The Honours system is there to recognise someone who has gone over and beyond what would normally be expected for someone to do for example, our Unsung Heroes, people who work selflessly in a voluntary capacity who often would never look to be rewarded and often those are are the people who bring a nation together to appreciate as one and to make everyone feel proud to be British.”

AGAINST

John Biggs

“I am delighted for those who received honours in the New Year for their work in and for our community, and I would want nothing I write to detract from the glory felt by them and their families, and those who share in their delight. I am pretty sure that everyone in our community who gets them has done outstanding work, and deserves recognition. But I do have two problems with the honours system we have at present.

“The first is about transparency. Every time a list is announced, it comes with a few words for each person honoured but we are never sure who nominated them, or why, or why some people are nominated and receive honours whilst others do not. I know many people in the East End who I and others respect for doing great things in the community but who never receive that recognition. I don’t have a magic answer but maybe every council should have a panel of independent people who look for and encourage nominations from the community. I think that could be a good approach, not least because by being judged by our community it would help to emphasise how peoples work has benefitted us all.

“And the honours we seem to give to important people need to be particularly closely examined. I am not convinced that politicians, senior businessmen and public servants should receive honours, unless it is a reflection of some really great achievement. There needs to be far stronger examination of who deserves what at that level. Olympic athletes, yes, but bankers, maybe not!

“My other concern is about modernising the system. It is very old fashioned to receive an award that talks about the ‘empire’. That’s ancient history. Honours should live in the present, not the past. And we are unlikely to abolish it but I have long thought we should modernise our monarchy. A greater openness about how people are honoured in the name of our royal family would be a step towards that.”

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