Michael Havers – 1970 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Michael Havers, the then Conservative MP for Wimbledon, on 16 July 1970.

I observe with pleasure the conventions of a maiden speech. I should like to speak briefly of my constituency, famous as the home of one of the greatest sports enjoyed by so many and host to so many of the finest tennis players in the world. It is also one of the most beautiful boroughs in London, where even the smallest garden is attractively kept. It is a friendly and hospitable constituency which has made available some of its loveliest land to neighbouring councils for old people’s homes. I am proud to be its representative here.

The second convention which I observe with pleasure is to refer to my predecessor, Sir Cyril Black. Sir Cyril will always be remembered in the House for his qualities of courage and total integrity. He was always prepared fearlessly to support minority views, and the yardstick of his reputation and character may be demonstrated by the fact that he numbered among his many friends those who opposed many of his campaigns. I feel a sense of inadequacy as his successor, but I shall always be grateful for the kindness and support which he has given to me since I was chosen to replace him. He was, I am told, a good House of Commons man, and his retirement will be a great loss to the House, and we wish him well for the future.

In a maiden speech, I should not spend a great deal of time on the Bill, but there are two Clauses which as a matter of principle I do not like in their present form. Clause 28 shifts the burden of proof in certain cases. There seems to be no reason why the rule which has existed for so many centuries should be changed. It is a good rule. It is a rule of which every jury is reminded—”He who brings the charge must prove it”. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to reconsider whether this change should be maintained.

My principal objection to the Bill concerns Clause 25 where one finds yet again the provision that no prosecution shall be taken before quarter sessions or assizes except at the election of the defendant, or if the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been obtained. I do not know why that provision is included. With practically every ordinary criminal offence carrying sufficient sentence if necessary to justify the matter going to a higher court, the prosecution has the right to elect to ask for the case to be tried by a higher court. As the Bill stands, a case may go to a higher court only at the election of the defendant.

That means that a man may be charged with a number of serious criminal offences under the Bill carrying as much as 14 years apiece and yet only by his choice can he be put at risk for them. Otherwise, he remains in the magistrates’ court where the total maximum sentence which may be imposed is 12 months. Even if in the course of the hearing, as may happen in a number of cases, the magistrates take the view that it is more serious than they had originally understood it to be and ought to go to assizes or quarter sessions, they will have no power to order it to do so.

The ordinary rule should apply. Over the past few years too much of the discretion of magistrates has been taken from them as to the way in which they conduct their courts and the sentences they give. This begins to be yet another example of that and I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider this matter when the Bill goes into Committee.

I thank the House for its indulgence.

Alan Haselhurst – 1970 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Alan Haselhurst, the then Conservative MP for Middleton and Prestwich, on 22 July 1970.

I am grateful for this opportunity to make my maiden speech, and I recognise that there are many conventions surrounding maiden speeches in this House. The first is to seek the indulgence of the House, which I do most earnestly—the more so since I realise the subject matter which the House is debating. I assure the House that I am not deliberately trying to find shelter behind the courtesies normally shown a maiden speaker in order to make speaking on a controversial subject more easy. I speak from a genuine and close interest in these matters, which goes back many years and to which many of my hon. Friends and at least one right hon. Member on the Opposition Front Bench can testify.

Another convention of the House is to pay some words of respect and tribute to one’s predecessor, and for me this is no formalistic ritual. Denis Coe was, I believe, a valued Member of the House and a great respecter of it. He took considerable interest in the workings of the House and was tireless in his efforts to improve the conditions of hon. Members—a subject in which his successor also takes an interest. He was also highly regarded in his constituency. On all sides he was found to be friendly, helpful and hard-working, and he was a very active and conscientious constituency Member, with an enviable reputation. I have before me a formidable standard, I frankly own, by which to judge my own efforts and to be judged.

The third convention is to say something of one’s constituency. Its name is not an adequate description, because, apart from the boroughs of Middleton and Prestwich, it also contains the urban district of Whitefield. Although all three towns lie in Lancashire, I can speak of them with pride and affection, even though I am a Yorkshireman—although it is not unkown in this House for a Yorkshireman to represent a Lancashire seat. I should like to say more about these towns, but, following the last speaker, it would be improper of me, in view of the time allowed for this debate, to go into detail. I would just add that I am stimulated by the thought of representing their needs in this Parliament. If I am found wanting, there are at least four of my constituents in the House to see that I come up to standard, which is unusual for a constituency so far from London.

The convention that I have difficulty in following is to link the subject matter of the debate with my constituency, but all I can say is that my constituents’ interest in overseas matters is very much alive, and I have had a great deal of correspondence on this question. Much as I have reservations on the general question of arms sales to South Africa, I cannot agree with the terms or spirit of the Opposition Motion.

The yardstick commonly used in discussion of arms sales is how far British actions are propping up a Government whose policies, based on race, are universally detested, and how far we are thought to be doing that. Just as a distinction can be made between trade in general and trade in arms, so I believe a distinction—I admit that it is more difficult—can be made between arms for internal purposes and those for external defence. It is not reasonable to make that distinction on what a weapon is theortically capable of: one should question the true purpose of the weapon, for which it is intended and for which it is reasonably certain to be used.

I do not believe, but it is only a judgment, that South Africa, whatever her faults, intends to wage an aggressive war or is likely to be involved in the foreseeable future in a defensive intra-continental struggle for which marine armaments would be a factor. If one is prepared to stretch the theories to the opposite judgment that I have made, then of course ordinary trade can be seen to bolster the South African Government—and right hon. Members opposite do not call for a cessation of all trade.

The policies which are being operated by the whole world in arms and other things towards South Africa are aimed at isolating that country. Their effects should be considered carefully. I cannot see one respect in which the system of apartheid has been eased in the time that these pressures have been applied. Rather, it has become more rigidly enforced. The traditional rift between the Dutch- and the English-descended South Africans, which used to carry over into party divisions, has been overcome significantly, and, as the pressure on South Africa mounted, the English-speaking people, for patriotic motives which seemed honourable to them, rallied to the Nationalist Government. The task for liberal or progressive critics such as Mrs. Suzmann has been made more difficult, because talk against the system has become, instead of just unfashionable, unpatriotic.

I must question what this policy of less contact and no arms for external defence has achieved. What is to be the consequence of this policy of isolation of South Africa if carried to its ultimate conclusion? The people who support its maintenance or intensification should consider what conclusion it will lead to.

I fear, knowing on the one hand the laager-type mentality of the Afrikaaner and on the other the relentlessness of many anti-racialists, that the conclusion will be violent. It may be that apartheid can only be overcome by a wave of bloodshed. That would be a dreadful conclusion to which to reconcile oneself.

South Africa is not a country of a few thousand whites or with a primitive industrial economy. A violent upheaval in South Africa would have appalling consequences. However senseless and immoral I might consider apartheid to be—and I so regard it—I would like to think that there is another way of its coming to an end.

I believe that there is another way through economic pressures. They are remorselessly and inevitably building up, and I suggest that they are no more slow in achieving a result than might be the processes leading towards violent revolution. They are more likely to take effect if some countries will deal with South Africa on a less restrictive basis.

Sensing that they are under attack, South African leaders feel more nervous and act more repressively. The natural economic forces and progressive political thought would stand more chance of doing their work if South Africa had a wider political relationship with the outside world. I know that it may not be in vogue to say this, but I believe it to be true, and I would wish at all costs to avoid the violent alternative which seems to be the other likely course.

I believe that we must say to our Commonwealth friends—because it is true—that we are resolutely against racialism and that the Government’s intention in no way implies support of racialism. We have a right to be believed in this respect. Our desire to see the passing of the apartheid system is as sincere as that of other members of the Commonwealth. It is because I do not think that the statement by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was founded in either racialism or hypocrisy that I shall vote against the Opposition Motion.

John Prescott – 1970 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by John Prescott, the then Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull East, in the House of Commons on 14 July 1970.

I crave the indulgence of the House so that I may embark on the ritualistic ordeal associated with maiden speeches which I hope will be neither too lengthy nor too boring.

Commander Pursey, whom I have the honour to succeed, made a distinct impression during his 25 years’ service in the House. He was an orphan who joined the Royal Navy as a rating where his ability was quickly recognised. He was promoted eventually to the rank of commander—a considerable achievement in those days. This experience, combined with a period in journalism when he wrote on naval affairs, gave him an unparalleled range of experience and detailed knowledge of naval matters, from anchors and chains to the broader philosophy of naval policy. He was able to use this to great effect in debates in the House on naval matters. Divorced of personal ambition, he sought to use his skill and energy to improve the lot of those less fortunate. Many will remember his efforts on behalf of orphans in the debates on the Royal Naval School for orphans at Greenwich.

The House may not fully appreciate the extent of Commander Pursey’s constituency work, which included his efforts, against tremendous opposition, in bringing about the raising of the banks of the River Hull, whose continual flooding caused a great deal of anxiety and misery to people in the East Hull constituency. He was both colourful and controversial, and his presence will be sorely missed in the House.

Kingston upon Hull is the home of Britain’s largest port. It is third in the value of tonnage handled and is surrounded by a diversity of industries of national and international repute. Their importance has been recognised by the number of awards which have recently been made to them for their export performance.

Hull is equally renowned for its advance health and welfare services, well-established comprehensive education and architecturally-awarded council housing estates built by its own direct-labour department. They are the evidence of the foresight and planning of a post-war Labour local authority.

However, Hull’s greatest asset is its people whose warm Yorkshire hospitality and generosity and shrewd judgment of character and appreciation of value are universally renowned. Never was this so amply demonstrated than in the recent General Election when the Labour candidate was elected with no evidence of the national swing against the Labour Party. I like to think that this was due to the personal qualities of the candidate, although I am prepared to accept that the advent of Hull’s first 12 months of rule by a Tory council since before the war in which rents were raised from £3 to £9 a week played no small part.

Kingston upon Hull has a consistent record of electing Members with seagoing experience and understanding. As long ago as 1890, it offered Samuel Plimsoll the opportunity to represent it in this House. Commander Pursey served his period in the Royal Navy, whereas I served for 10 years as a seaman rating in the Merchant Service. In fact, I am the first seaman sponsored by the National Union of Seamen to be elected to the House. Of that I am particularly proud. I will endeavour to put the point of view of the British seafarer and that of the East Hull constituents, many of whom are seamen, particularly on legislation affecting the welfare of seafarers and the shipping industry. Indeed, I shall be pressing the Government to implement legislation to correct many of the faults which have been made obvious in the recent Reports of the Rochdale Committee of Inquiry into shipping, the Pearson Inquiry and the more recent safety report.

May I also advise the Government that the seamen sincerely hope that they will honour the promise of the previous Government, who in their much-awaited reform of the Merchant Shipping Acts promised to review the penal clauses within a three-year period. The seamen will not tolerate those penal clauses remaining in the Acts. I hope that the Government will take due note of this, particularly as this was the running sore which led to the problem of the 1966 strike.

It is fortunate and appropriate that I have been given the opportunity to make my maiden speech on a Bill directly affecting the future of Hull. No constituency is so dependent on the future growth and development of its port. Much of the local industry is in some way or other, directly or indirectly, associated with the development of a transport economy and the port of Hull.

The port covers seven miles of river bank, 12 miles of quays and 11 docks. The new £7 million container berth, which is evidence of its desire for greater trade, was recently opened by Her Majesty the Queen. It is situated on a major undeveloped estuary, recommended for consideration as a maritime industrial development area, ideally suited as the gateway to Europe and serviced by canals which transport over 50 per cent. of its exports and imports to the industrial heart of the Midlands and Yorkshire. It enjoys a potential not unlike that of Rotterdam 10 years ago. The Port of Hull has all the assets but is prevented from success, like Cinderella, by her ugly sisters, represented in this case by the lack of capital and imaginative co-ordinated planning.

The Government could go some way in using their powers to raise the loans referred to in the Bill to correct some of the glaring examples of the failure to co-ordinate the overall planning of a port system and an overall transport network. Ports are purely the links between internal transport systems and sea transport systems. These sectors are part of a vertically integrated industrial system in which each part is vital to the operation of the whole.

Failure to appreciate that important principle has led to the building in Hull of a container berth which is required to pay for itself without the essential requirement of a container crane. Indeed, the Rochdale inquiry into the docks, reporting in 1962, pointed out in paragraph 280 of its Report that the ports of railway origin, of which Hull is one, should provide a choice of transport. Those who have taken the decisions concerning the development of Hull’s port have taken this extremely literally and have proceeded to rip up all the railway lines on the dock, losing the vital traffic of coal and timber and providing no rail line on the new container port, which is one of the essentials of a container transportation system, resulting in the rundown of the railway and the shutting of workshops. The excuse which is continually given for these activities is a rundown of traffic, which is the direct result of faulty planning decisions. We have recently heard that a restriction is to be placed upon the freightliner centre, which is situated on the wrong side of the city. We are now, apparently, to lose or to have the freightliner services very much restricted. We shall certainly be saying something about this to the Minister.

The Port of Hull is serviced by, possibly, one of the worst road systems facing any port in the country. We will be pressing to have something done about the infrastructure, which includes the roads, on which the Government were elected. We hope to enjoy the benefit of road works. It is essential that we have immediate access to the industrial hinterland, from where we must draw the cargoes for the very survival and expansion of the port.

In 1962, Lord Rochdale recommended the provision of a bridge crossing the river and said that this should be provided if the Midlands continued to expand and exports to Europe continued to develop. Both these things have happened. We therefore look to the Government to make a definite statement about a Humber bridge, which is essential to regional development and to the port.

In giving the Minister that advice, however, I must confess that it would fail to meet the essential ingredient which has been so lacking in the past: that is, developed, co-ordinated planning, which could be envisaged only by a National Ports Authority with executive powers. In presenting the Bill, the Government have made it clear that, as they promised, they intend to reject the essential provisions that were embodied in the previous Government’s Bill and were designed to tackle the fundamental problems facing port development.

I should, therefore, like to point out to the Government that in their consideration of the alternatives, they should give due weight to the innate conservatism which bolsters traditional attitudes with little prospect of change among those who have mismanaged this vital sector of our economy. To my mind, this can be changed only by a fundamental reorganisation of the industry, beginning with public ownership and accompanied by the implementation of industrial democracy, so that the vast knowledge and experience of the port workers are fully utilised and there is a breaking-down of authoritarian management’s attitude which is typical of both ports and shipping industries.

It is no coincidence that the criticisms made of the port industry by Lord Rochdale in his 1962 Report on the ports were followed and repeated almost word for word by the recent Rochdale Inquiry on shipping. Both industries are fragmented by both growth rates and the multiplicity of ownership, documents and procedures, contributing to their visible decline, and accompanied by bad industrial relations and low wages for dock workers until they were recently changed by a Labour Government.

It is not my intention to discuss the present dispute, which is a further manifestation of the organisation of these industries. It should be noted by the Government that almost exactly the same problems are peculiar to both docks and shipping and, I suggest, for exactly the same reason. Both have a history of casual labour, controlled in the supply by the employer, disciplined by means of fines and penalties, plagued by a higher record of occupational accidents and deaths and further soured by the lack of welfare facilities and amenities. The means of trade union representation through shop stewards, so fiercely resisted by both these industries, has only recently been implemented.

As labour has become less cheap, both industries have found means of securing cheaper labour, with the exploitation of Asiatic seamen for shipping and, in the case of the Port of Hull, by the diversion of cargoes to fly-by-night non-registered ports such as Flixborough, Howden Dyke, New Holland and Whitby, using cheap labour, unsafe working practices and little capital investment which is required by the major ports to develop.

The Rochdale Inquiries on both ports and shipping found that one of the cardinal reasons explaining the failure of both these industries could be traced to the general low quality of management in those sectors. This has recently been confirmed ten years later in the Report on shipping. Private management has visibly failed in both these important sectors of our economy.

The only solution is to take both industries into public ownership in the interests of the nation. As a first step in regard to the docks, I suggest that the Government should implement Sir Arthur Kirby’s recent suggestion to rid the docks of the private employers and go on further, I hope, to take the docks into public ownership. Those are the only sort of actions that will solve the major problems in both docks and shipping.

John Gummer – 1970 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by John Gummer in the House of Commons on 30 November 1970.

I should like to thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech. I wish to ask the House for its customary indulgence, even though on this occasion it will be particularly difficult to speak in an uncontroversial way.

I represent a constituency that is particularly affected by the matters raised by the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris). West Lewisham is largely a residential area with a higher than average population of older people and, therefore, the concerns of the cost of living hit them perhaps more directly than they hit other kinds of communities.

This Motion begs a major question, a question to which the hon. Gentleman did not fully address himself, namely how a Government should protect the consumer. This is a basic question, the kind of question to which my predecessor as Member for Lewisham, West, Mr. James Dickens, would have addressed himself with a sturdy independence irrespective of the views of this side of the House or, indeed, of his own Front Bench. I hope that sturdy independence which he represented in West Lewisham will not disappear with the change of regime.

There is implicit in the Motion not only the question, but the answer that the hon. Gentleman would like us to give. Unfortunately, it seems to me that that answer is precisely that which was attempted for over six years by the Labour Government and which was attended by a conspicuous lack of success. Therefore, in addressing ourselves to this Motion it would seem more reasonable not to make apologies for past history, but to try to find a new way of solving the problems which, quite rightly, were highlighted by the hon. Gentleman.

The hon. Gentleman’s reference to the National Board for Prices and Incomes reinforces what I have said about his remarks. If we become mesmerised by the easy answer which is very popular with the country on the lines of, “Let us have some kind of automatic panacea; let us have a prices and incomes policy”, we know that, after six years, such a policy very soon becomes only an incomes policy; there is no real effect except to raise prices, and the incomes policy very soon can be proved to increase rather than decrease the way in which incomes rise with the consequent effect on the price spiral.

I notice that there has been a great deal of quoting from the Grocer, a magazine not often quoted by the Labour Party before 18th June. I believe the hon. Gentleman now quotes it to suggest that if only we were to use the same methods as had been used then we will have a great deal of success, though this has not been the case over the past six years. I agree that if the present Government were to use the same methods as were used by the previous Government in the last six years, the present Government containing the sort of people it does, would achieve greater success. But what we need is a different method from that set out in the Motion.

Is it reasonable to suggest that we can protect the consumer unless we are prepared to do something about the reasons why prices rise unnecessarily? One of those reasons is the way in which our industrial situation has caused overmanning in industry so as to make us uncompetitive. I must declare an interest since I am connected with the printing industry, and it is surely unreasonable to have a situation in which every printing press in Britain has more men working on it than is the case on the Continent. Until we solve that sort of problem we will be able to do nothing for the old-age pensioners of West Lewisham, or of anywhere else.

On the matter of social welfare the attitude behind the Motion is that all is well and that we should merely stay in the same place. That is what worries me. The situation is not solved merely by saying, “How appalling it is to change the social welfare system.” That is the burden of what is proposed in the Motion. When I go round my constituency I see hundreds of people in private tenancies who need help, and I do not believe that they will regard a change in the system of housing subsidies as being to their disadvantage.

When we find references made to Professor Townsend and the Child Poverty Action Group, we must remember that, even in every one of six years of Labour Government, child poverty got worse and worse year by year. Nor do I believe it necessary to talk of school milk in the terms used by the hon. Gentleman in moving this Motion when one remembers that school milk was introduced at a time when the major health problem for children in Britain was rickets. Indeed, the major problem today is that of obesity. We have only to look at the evidence to see that that is the case. It has recently been said that nearly one-third of the children of London are overfed. We might well look at that situation in the light of what is said in this Motion.

To go back to housing policy, it would be wrong to face a situation in which we are not prepared to say that, in order to solve the problems which face the nation, in order to do something about the rising cost of living, we should not ask those who are able to do so to stand on their own feet, simply because there are some—and there are certainly some people in this category—who cannot do so.

On the matter of consumer choice, it is curious that we should not allow people to make choices in housing and education, which are important, and then complain when people make trivial choices. This takes away the right of a person to make a meaningful choice.

This Motion not only contains a major question, which it begs, but it gives the wrong answer. Our only choice in solving the problems which face us today is to change the whole nature of our competitiveness. I do not see how the system will work without changing the taxation system to make it possible for companies to improve their liquidity, or to alter the system in such a way as to encourage people by changes in their personal tax situation. Without changing those sorts of things, I do not see how we will avoid the hand-to-mouth system which exists at the moment merely by putting a new subsidy in place of the old. Subsidy is merely a redistribution of present wealth. We want to see an increase in our wealth. This Government have put that matter first and I believe that is the successful answer to our situation.

The hon. Gentleman spent a good deal of his time sniping at the possibility of Britain entering the Common Market. This was all of a piece with the same argument. He was saying, “Let us stay in the same place. Let us make no major changes. Let us go on like we have always done. Let us not solve the basic problems first.” I feel that unless we enter the Common Market on suitable terms, we will be unable to bring about a change in the continuing costs and wages spiral and that this will go on until we find ourselves unable to operate in the world in which we live. The whole proposition in the Motion seems to demand a return to a world of what one might call Socialist myth, a world which may have existed but does not today—a world which can exist only if Governments are not prepared to make fundamental changes in our society.

I believe that the Conservative Party was elected to make these fundamental changes in our society. That means changes, and not just tinkering about with and replacing old ideas that have failed over six years of Labour Government. This can be done only by restoring national competitiveness, by changing the taxation system and by being prepared to provide aid for those who need it—and there are many who do—and, above all, by seeking a new place for Britain in the world by finding an accommodation with Europe so that we can play our full role.

Queen Elizabeth II – 1970 Queen’s Speech

queenelizabethii

Below is the text of the speech made by HM Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Lords on 2 July 1970.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

My husband and I look forward to our visit to Canada on the occasion of the centenaries of the Northwest Territories and of the Province of Manitoba.

The major international interests of Britain are the maintenance of peace, the promotion of prosperity, the settlement of disputes by conciliation and agreement, and the encouragement of trade and peaceful exchanges between nations.

My Government have welcomed the opening on the 30th of June of negotiations for membership of the European Communities. In these negotiations they will seek to reach agreement on terms fair to all concerned and will remain in close consultation with our Commonwealth and EFTA partners and with the Irish Republic.

My Government will work for the maintenance of the defensive strength of the North Atlantic Alliance and for a genuine reduction of tension in relations between East and West in Europe.

My Ministers will take a full part in the meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Singapore in January 1971. They will co-operate with our Commonwealth friends in measures aimed at maintaining peace and stability in Commonwealth countries in South-East Asia.

My Government will work for a fair and lasting peace in the Middle East and for a settlement of the conflict in Indo-China. They will consult with leaders in the Gulf on how our common interests in that area may best be served.

My Government will make a further effort to find a sensible and just solution of the Rhodesian problem in accordance with the five principles.

In this 25th Anniversary year of the United Nations, which opens the Second Development Decade, My Government will lend their full support to international efforts to strengthen peace, to promote disarmament and to further world economic development. They will pursue an expanding aid programme and will seek agreement on tariff preferences for developing countries.

My Government will work for the development and progress of Britain’s dependent territories.

A Bill will be placed before you to provide for the independence of Fiji.

My Government will review the role and size of the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.

My Ministers will support the Northern Ireland Government in their efforts to promote peace and harmony among all communities on the basis of equality and freedom from discrimination, and to further the prosperity of the Province. I have noted with pride the patience, skill and fortitude with which My Armed Forces are carrying out their difficult task.

Members of the House of Commons:

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

At home My Government’s first concern will be to strengthen the economy and curb the inflation. Rising production and a steadily growing national income must provide the resources for improving the social services and the environment in which we live. The energy and enterprise needed to achieve this will be encouraged by reforming and reducing the burden of taxation, providing new incentives to saving and liberating industry from unnecessary intervention by Government.

My Ministers attach the greatest importance to promoting full employment and an effective regional development policy. They will stimulate long-term growth in the less prosperous areas by increasing their economic attractions and improving their amenities.

My Ministers will start discussions with a view to encouraging agricultural expansion by changes in the present system of financial support. They will promote the efficient development of the fishing industry.

The work of the Industrial Training Boards will be reviewed and the facilities for re-training and for management training improved and extended.

A Bill will be introduced to establish a framework of law within which improved industrial relations can develop and a code of practice will be prepared laying down standards for good management and trade union practice.

My Government believe that vigorous competition is the best safeguard for the consumer. They will carry out a review of company law.

My Ministers will pursue a vigorous housing policy with the principal aim of improving the position of the homeless and the badly housed. After consultations with local authorities, housing subsidies will be refashioned so as to give more help to those in greatest need. Home ownership will be encouraged.

My Government will expand educational opportunities as growing resources make this possible, with priority for the improvement of primary schools. An inquiry will be instituted into teacher training. Local authorities in Scotland, as in England and Wales, will be set free to take effective decisions on the organisation of their schools.

Responsibility for primary and secondary education in Wales will be assumed by the Secretary of State for Wales.

Legislation will be brought forward to provide pensions for persons now over 80 who were too old to enter the present insurance scheme and for certain younger widows and to provide a constant attendance allowance for the very seriously disabled.

Legislation will be introduced on Commonwealth immigration. More assistance will be provided for areas of special social need, especially those in which large numbers of immigrants have settled.

Effect will be given to the recommendations of the Boundary Commissions for the redistribution of Parliamentary seats.

Proposals will be worked out in full consultation with all concerned, for local government reform in England, Scotland and Wales, associated with a general devolution of power from the central Government. At a later stage plans will be laid before you for giving the Scottish people a greater say in their own affairs.

Proposals will be put forward for permitting commercial local radio stations under the general supervision of an independent broadcasting authority.

A Bill will be brought before you to abolish the Land Commission.

My Ministers will intensify the drive to remedy past damage to the environment and will seek to safeguard the beauty of the British countryside and seashore for the future.

Bills will be laid before you to improve the arrangements for the administration of justice in England and Wales in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Assizes and Quarter Sessions and to improve the organisation of the Sheriff Courts in Scotland.

My Government will make it their special duty to protect the freedom of the individual under the law and will examine ways in which this may be more effectively safeguarded.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

John Roper – 1970 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by John Roper in the House of Commons on 13 November 1970.

The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) now has behind him the ordeal which I face. He had a much more distinguished career than I as a debater at university and, to judge by his speech this morning, I am sure that he will have a distinguished career here, too. I was surprised by how much of what he said found my agreement.

I speak in the House for the first time mindful of the high standard set by my predecessors. Ernest Thornton, whom I follow, represented the constituency for 18 years and he was as widely liked in the division as, I am sure, he was in the House. His lifetime of experience in the cotton industry, including many years as a trade union official, and his experience in local government were a formidable background for his Parliamentary career. His integrity and kindness ensured that he was universally respected. I, personally, am most grateful to him for all the help and guidance which he has given me in recent years. I have learned greatly from him of the responsibilities and requirements for service in the House.

The Farnworth division of Lancashire is made up of four Lancashire local authorities. Three of them, the borough of Farnworth itself and the urban districts of Kearsley and Little Lever border the River Irwell. That river had a reputation for pollution. Indeed, there was an anonymous couple: ‘I’ stands for Irwell, for Irk and for Ink But none of those liquids is wholesome to drink”. This summed up the position at one time, but I am glad to say that the most recent report of the river authority said: the reputation of the river which was nationally, if not internationally, known for its grossly polluted condition, is now unjustified. The state of the river is still not satisfactory, but it can no longer be described as notorious. The fourth authority in the division, the Urban District of Worsley, in the eighteenth and nineteenth century was the hub of the canal network which James Brindley built for the Duke of Bridgewater. Today, the division is the hub of a motorway network which serves industrial Lancashire and links us to Yorkshire. We are proud to have one of the most complicated motorway junctions in Europe under construction which has gained locally the name “Spaghetti Junction”. One loop of that spaghetti, the M63, stretches from Worsley to the borders of Altrincham and Sale, the constituency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Thus it is perhaps not inappropriate that I should make my maiden speech in this debate. I do so with some trepidation, knowing the pitfalls facing Members dabbling in matters of finance.

In my constituency there will no doubt be some who will welcome the Bill, the wealthy, healthy bachelors who will gain substantial advantages from the tax reductions. There will be others who will welcome it in ignorance, ignoring the other part of the Chancellor’s package which will raise the charges for school meals, evening classes, council-house rents, drugs, spectacles and dental treatment. But I am sure the majority of my constituents, while welcoming the extra 4s. or 5s. a week it may bring them, will see that it does not go very far towards dealing with the extra expenditure their families will be involved in as a result of the package announced earlier.

The Measure is openly and avowedly redistributive. The bigger the income then the fewer the responsibilities and the greater the benefits. It compares very unfavourably with the Budget brought in by the noble Lord, Lord Butler, on the last occasion the Conservative Party returned to power after a period in opposition. In the 1952 Budget, which was bitterly attacked from the Opposition benches for the cuts in food subsidies, at least when it came to income tax the then Chancellor used such relief as was available to increase personal allowances and to widen the scope of the reduced rate bands. On that occasion the Chancellor concentrated relief, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne) suggested, at the bottom of the scale, and this had its effect throughout.

Apart from the social objections to the Bill, I am sceptical as to whether taxpayers will eventually benefit from it. If the economic situation deteriorates over the next four months as it has over the last five months, it will be difficult for the Chancellor to permit the inflationary injection of £300 million into the economy in the year beginning next April. I cannot see how this Measure can be compatible with any Budget strategy he may be planning. There is no evidence that the rate of increase of wage-earnings will decelerate in the next 12 months. It is now running at a rate of 14 per cent. or 15 per cent. a year and there is unfortunately very little evidence of any industrialised country which has reached this sort of level of wage inflation being able to return to more normal rates of wage inflation without a serious economic crisis. Such evidence as one can find is that prices will rise faster over the next 12 months. An estimate of 8 per cent. price inflation does not appear to be exaggerated at present. In those circumstances the additional reflationary measure which the Bill provides could only be harmful. I suggest that either this Measure will never be implemented or that the Government will have to eat their words and introduce an incomes policy. It is most likely that they will have to do both.

If the Chancellor had wanted to honour his election promise he would surely have done better to start with selective employment tax. I must declare that my association with the Co-operative Movement may colour my views in this regard, but the same sum as is being distributed through the reduction in the standard rate of tax could have been used to reduce selective employment tax by 50 per cent. I suggest this would have had a far less inflationary effect. I am certain that such a reduction would have had some effect in moderating the rise of retail prices and could have proved part of a strategy to deal with the problem of inflation.

I should apologise to the House if I have strayed from the convention of non-controversial maiden speeches in what I have said so far. The two final points I should like to make are, I hope, more in keeping with that tradition.

We have heard already a good deal about incentives and disincentives. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Lincoln has made considerable reference to them. As he said, the evidence is by no means clear. What is clear, however, is the extent to which people overestimate the rate of tax which they are paying. The pilot study by C. V. Brown reported in the Scottish Journal of Political Economy shows that this is largely due to a misunderstanding of the earned income allowances. Hon. Members on all sides of the House will have had the experience of being assured repeatedly by constituents that they are paying 8s. 3d. in the £ out of every extra £1 they earn.

In spite of the propaganda of the Revenue, as long as people are earning less than £80 a week, the fact that they are paying 6s. 5d. in the pound at the most just has not got across. Now we have a Bill which will make the marginal rate for wage-earners 30.138 recurring new pence in the pound. It is very unfortunate that the Chancellor did not include in the Bill provision to establish an earned income rate of 30 per cent., 6s in the pound, and in place of earned income relief an unearned income surcharge of two-sevenths. I know this would have had consequential problems about allowances and the particular problem of the advantage given to those with incomes beyond the present earned income limits, but those could perhaps have been ignored up to the level of surtax and included in an adjustment to surtax rates above that level. If there is anything in the incentive arguments, such a clear statement as to the rate—6s. in the £—would surely have an effect of stimulating effort. Perhaps the Bill is not the place for such a change, but I hope that the Chancellor will bear it in mind for the future.

The other omission from the Bill is that there is no Clause modifying the claw-back provision. There would have to be such a Clause if the Government had honoured their pledge to raise family allowances. We have heard in other debates a number of reasons why such action was not taken. I believe that one reason is that claw-back is unpopular, and that it has the reputation with the Revenue and Treasury for being unpopular. This is because of the administratively clumsy way it was handled when initially introduced in 1968. People suffered increased claw-back or deductions from tax in July of 1968 in anticipation of getting increased family allowances in September 1968. They had no explanation of what was happening at the time and therefore claw-back became undeservedly unpopular. It was not properly explained to taxpayers. I hope that in any future use of family allowances and claw-back from the better-off this administrative clumsiness will not be repeated.

It is as easy to suggest modifications to income tax law and practice as it is for the Revenue to reply that they are too overworked at the moment to take them into account. I think that there is a vicious circle about tax reforms. There is never time to make a substantial reform to the system, and a succession of modifications is made which result in the situation becoming worse.

The Bill does nothing about improving the structure of the tax system, and as I have suggested, it is socially and economically mistaken. I thank the House for its indulgence.

Jack Cunningham – 1970 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Jack Cunningham to the House of Commons on 7 July 1970.

Mr. Speaker, may I begin by expressing my thanks and appreciation to my predecessor, Mr. J. B. Symonds, for the tremendous job that he did at Westminster during the last eleven years? He worked diligently for the constituency as a whole and on behalf of many individual constituents. Latterly, as many hon. Members know, he has been troubled by ill-health. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides will join me in wishing him well in his retirement. After 50 years in public service at all levels he thoroughly deserves it.

Whitehaven is in the south and west of Cumberland and is quite diverse in nature. It covers an area of 350 sq. miles comprising agricultural land with small industrial communities based mainly on coal and iron-ore mining. It has, for the last six years, been almost wholly a special development area. As its representative I shall be concerned principally with scrutinising the future regional policies of Her Majesty’s Government. Indeed, as a special development area it has had preferential Government aid for six years. No one will suggest that in this time the many problems of areas like Millam, Cleator Moor, Whitehaven and Frizington have been solved, but whilst we had a Labour Government the foundations for progress were effectively laid.

Many of the small industrial communities are still fighting for survival, lacking many of the basic facilities of some of the more prosperous areas of Britain. I want the Government to give a vigorous commitment to even greater assistance for areas like my constituency, because it is only through the policies of the central Government that the problems will be solved.

Last year the northern region as a whole enjoyed the fastest rate of growth in public expenditure in Britain, but still the problems remain. So it is nonsense for hon. Gentlemen opposite to suggest that we will solve regional problems by reductions in public expenditure. This just is not possible.

People might ask—I can understand this—why the regions have a right to preferential Government aid. One of the principal reasons for the present plight of various regions is that historically their natural assets—coal and steel—have been taken away in a major contribution to the last economic and industrial revolution. But—this is the important point—the money made at that time was never reinvested in the regions. There has been a total neglect for decades in terms of public and private investment.

To add insult to injury, local people have been left surrounded by industrial waste and dereliction and they are now presented with the Bill for clearing up the mess. I suggest that the Government should give a commitment to providing the whole of the cost involved in the removal of industrial dereliction.

I must also express grave concern at the apparent lack of interest instanced by the failure to provide a Minister of State for Regional Development. Apparently, there was indecision yesterday at Question Time concerning Government control of industrial development certificates. We heard some equivocal replies this afternoon on investment grants. Hon. Members representing constituencies affected by regional development have pointed out that this has been one of the major reasons for new industries moving to the regions. It is obvious that the Government cannot appreciate this point, because they have virtually no representatives from the areas affected.

I should also like to see a firm commitment to the continuation of the regional employment premium. This measure has enabled industries in the regions to reduce their costs and to become more competitive. Any Government which believes in the slogan “one nation”, as we understand the present Government do, will give us these commitments to help solve the regional problems not only in terms of industrial development, but also in terms of education, housing, health and urban renewal.

We ask not only for more industries and jobs, but also for a better share of the jobs which will provide higher incomes to families living in the regions. One of the major problems facing local authorities is that, because of low family incomes, there is no local impetus for the growth of amenities.

I remind the House that Government policies between 1951 and 1964 had a remarkably similar effect—in the Northern Region, at any rate—to the policies employed there by William the Conqueror. At the end of 1964 Government spending on regional policies as a whole totalled approximately £19 million. In 1969 this had risen to £285 million, but still the problems remain and many more problems need to be tackled more vigorously.

Can we believe, in view of this, that a commitment to reducing public expenditure will give us the results that we desire? To be more specific, we have not seen enlightened capitalism, about which we heard so much, rushing to help communities like Millam. They just do not want to know. It is only through a vigorous Government policy of inducements that we shall achieve industrial development in these areas.

As a scientist, I am sure that the new technologies which are coming will exacerbate these problems in the regions. Many of the difficulties that we already know will get worse. A more balanced economic development will not only aid regions like West Cumberland, but will also aid Britain as a whole. It is no accident that the community problems in the South-East and the West Midlands exist because people are afraid of overcrowding and of uncontrolled urban development. It is these very problems which, on the one hand, give the South-East a kind of pot-bellied economic affluence, whilst, on the other hand, the Northern Region in particular goes through a kind of economic Biafra. We shall be looking to this Government to reverse these policies.

I believe, as has already been said this afternoon, that in a rapidly changing industrial democracy it will be essential for any Government to intervene in industrial development and to give a commitment to ensure that we have a more even development in future than we have enjoyed hitherto.

I appreciate the traditional reception of a maiden speech from both sides of the House. I look forward in future to speaking on regional matters, on education, in which I have some experience, and also on science and technology.

Neil Kinnock – 1970 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Neil Kinnock in the House of Commons on 13th July 1970.

I rise to make my maiden speech. I am particularly happy to make it on the subject of health and social security because the House will know that Socialists in my part of the country, South Wales, have made a unique contribution to the design and development of our National Health Service. Though I cannot hope to rival the talents and vision of Jim Griffiths or Aneurin Bevan, I can bring to this House some zeal for social justice and provide a continuity of interest in this subject.

My predecessor, Mr. Harold Finch, also belonged to this generation of giants, was an expert not only in social welfare but also in miners’ compensation, and it earned him respect in this House, and, indeed throughout the country, and, so I am informed, throughout the world. Because of the way in which he applied his knowledge I can certainly testify to the genuine affection which it earned him in the constituency. I am sure that his dear wife is a familiar figure in this building and that the House will want to join with me in wishing them a long and active retirement. Mr. Finch’s retirement is likely to be marred by only one single fact, which is that, for the early years of it, at least, it will be under a Conservative régime, something which does not commend itself very easily to his palate.

We have a Tory Government, a Government which, on the basis of the pronouncements since 1st July, the election manifesto and even the compassionate speech of the Secretary of State for Social Services, not only economically but socially are prepared to stampede back to the barren prairie lands of laisser-faire. The Government, who are seeking to please all the people all the time and will succeed in pleasing only a tiny élite few have produced two glorious non sequiturs.

First, there has been a lot of talk about compassion, and this from a party whose very existence is an illustration of rapacity and selfishness. To me and to the people of South Wales that is what Conservatism means. I make no apology for giving their definition, because they are the people whom I represent.

Secondly, we have had the pious palava of creating “one nation”, and this from a Government that is prepared in the name of the god “choice” to encourage the development of private alternatives in education, welfare, insurance and health—[Interruption.] There is no order of the House that demands that I make a non-controversial speech. I am talking about a controversial subject, a matter of life and death, and nothing is more controversial than that. There will be the same old formula of privilege, selectivity take the hindmost, which will neither give success to the Conservatives nor, more important, ameliorate the distress of the people seeking assistance from the health services, national insurance and other benefits of the Welfare State.

Perhaps I have a suspicious mind, but the South Wales valleys breed suspicious minds, and I have reason to believe that the “one nation” party is conducting a survey of the Welfare State system and the National Health Service with a view to undertaking extensive mining operations. Doctors and nurses who are so desperately needed in the public health system will be sucked out of the pool of medical manpower into private medicine, where they will be available to few people. New developments in medical technology will become available in the first instance and for some time to come only to people who can afford to pay either through heavy insurance premiums or directly. Public confidence in the National Health Service will be eroded by governmental neglect and by the garish shop window of private health schemes. In the words of Aneurin Bevan, we shall have a nation divided by the salt, some above, some below. I am in this House, and I hope that other hon. Members on this side are, to knock the salt off the table so that there is universal provision of the best regardless of a person’s background or income. Only in this way can we afford to hold up our heads when we talk about a health service.

There are probably people on the other side of the House who are very nice—[Laughter.]—perhaps most of them are out of the Chamber at the moment, but there probably are some nice people. The nice, kind people have confused their niceness and kindness with the idea of compassion. I am not saying that there are no compassionate people, but what I have read in the Conservative Party manifesto, what I have heard so far today and suspect I shall hear for the rest of the day has little to do with compassion. Compassion is not a sloppy, sentimental feeling for people who are underprivileged or sick, to be used as a tearjerker or as an expedient at the time of an election. It is an absolutely practical belief that, regardless of a person’s background, ability or ability to pay, he should be provided with the best that society has to offer. That is compassion in practice; anything less than that is sheer sentimentality. It is impossible to be compassionate while at the same time promising to cut public consumption for the sake of buttressing-up private choice.

Illustrations of this non sequitur, this paradox, that runs right through the policy are many. The manifesto refers to the contribution made by voluntary services to the National Health Service. No one appreciates more than I do, as a member of a regional hospital board, that this is an excellent way of providing State care with a human face. I support the development of voluntary systems, but if increasing voluntary activity means going beyond youngsters and citizens being involved in the running of hospitals and caring for the aged, the sick and the weak, and results in transforming half the Health Service into dependence on voluntary donation and philanthropic management, that will be a different matter altogether. We did away with a “flag day” health service many years ago. The slightest step in that direction will earn the fury of the people of this country, and I shall be in the van of that fury.

We are told that the development of the Health Service will be financed only out of economic growth and not through the reallocation of resources from other Departments. That leads to two questions. Will the families who do not have immediate access to universally available health facilities feel secure and serene enough to bring about the increased productivity we require for economic growth? I do not think they will, not because they are selfish people, but because they cannot connect their standard of living with a vague and incomprehensible national growth target.

Secondly, if the Government are concerned about out-dated hospitals, the efficiency of community services and the lack of co-ordination between the three branches of the Health Service, why was so little done about it in the last Conservative Administration? We allegedly had the growth rate then, and we certainly had the problems, but little or nothing was done about them.

I am pleased to know that an undertaking has been given that there will be more health centres. We shall be particularly glad in Wales, because we understand what a blessing they are. We now have 13, and 14 are in process of construction. They are a novelty to us. All of them have been built since 1964. Before then for 13 years not one was built.

We are told that we have had a “programme for Parliament”. After all the answers I have heard during Question Time and the statements which have been made during debates, I am beginning to wonder which Parliament we have a programme for. We have been told nothing. We have not even had a gratuitous promise. We have had no statement about the Green Papers on reorganisation, and we have had no commitment to a reorganisation of the Health Service. There has been no mention whether the Government are now to extend the practice of screening which involves the application of modern medical technology and could save countless lives since it diagnoses disease at an early stage. It is a natural extension of the National Health Service and we should like to know whether the Government intend to adopt screening on a widespread basis.

What have the Government to say about giving universal application of dramatic technological advances so that they may be available to ordinary people? Suspicions are bound to arise when we read that the Conservatives believe that people should provide for themselves. Does this mean that people will have access to heart, lung and kidney machines only if they can afford to pay for them? One cannot blame people for being suspicious when they have no ground to believe otherwise.

My constituency of Bedwellty is situated in the coalfields and has a consciousness that is shared by people in similarly situated communities. In those communities we have a preoccupation with community help. We have more than our share of old people, we have a much higher than average rate of infant mortality and juvenile morbidity. These are the main problems to be tackled.

There is no major general hospital available to people in the constituency and we do not enjoy the immediate services of any of the primary specialists, such as gynaecologists and obstetricians. Access to the surrounding hospitals is limited by preposterously high bus fares. The cheapest fare to get to any hospital within my constituency is 5s. 2d. and the most expensive runs up to 12s. Looking at the party opposite, I cannot see that this situation will be bettered within the life of this Parliament.

The Secretary of State said in rather unkind terms that he likened the commitment of the Labour Party to social security to the worship of a sacred cow. My attitude and that of the people in my constituency, and indeed that of all hon. Members on this side of the House, to social security and health matters is that there should be an opportunity for fair treatment for everyone. This is not an attitude of the sacred cow but an elementary characteristic of our claim to be a civilized nation.

Ian Paisley – 1970 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Ian Paisley to the House of Commons on 3rd July 1970.

Mr. Speaker, when I came into this House on Monday last and heard you elected to your high office, you said: At the heart of all the tensions that exist, rightly, between free citizens and which rightly divide them, we meet to resolve those tensions by free and fair debate, respecting not only one’s own right to hold an opinion but equally the right of the other man to hold diametrically opposed opinions and to express them equally freely …. And at the heart of that heart sits a neutral chairman, favouring neither side, except for his sworn duty to protect minorities”.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th June, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 7–8.] The views which I shall be putting to this honourable House from time to time will be the views of a minority, and probably views which have never been expressed in this House before, concerning the situation in my homeland of Northern Ireland. I take your words, Mr. Speaker, as a charter for my individual right and freedom to express those sentiments.

There is another great principle which I believe lies at the very heart of democracy. It can be set forth in a question: Does our law judge a man before it heareth him? I am extremely happy that I am able to answer both for the people I represent and for myself in this House today.

I should like to make it perfectly clear that, although I sit on the Government back benches, I came to this House having smashed the 23,000 majority of a sitting Unionist Member of this House. Therefore, I am expressing the viewpoint of those Protestants who are against the present policies of the Ulster Unionist Party, and I shall from time to time take the opportunity of putting as forthrightly as I can the views of the people who have sent me here to speak for them.

I have just come from Northern Ireland and from those very areas which suffered through the disturbances of last weekend. I have also come from another place where there has been a long and protracted debate on these matters and where contributions were made by every politician in that place concerning these very serious and tragic happenings. What is more, the main substance of the facts of the situation as I know them and as I would put them in this speech can be confirmed by the Army authorities in Northern Ireland. I use the phrase “main substance of the facts” deliberately, for it is a tragedy that when gunfire was being heard in the streets of the City of Belfast, and when people were being mown down by that gunfire, no personnel of the British Army were available to give the people who were being slaughtered any protection whatsoever. The police authorities who were there can confirm the facts of which the Army was not cognisant.

I noticed that yesterday the Leader of the Opposition mentioned that a solemn promise was given to people in every section of the community in Northern Ireland, irrespective of their political views and religious beliefs, that they were entitled to the same equality of treatment. It is a tragedy that the Protestant people of East Belfast should have to suffer gunfire in the early hours of last Lord’s Day morning and that for two hours they were given no protection whatsoever. When I describe the scene which took place it will be clear to hon. Members—and if they want to confirm it they can do so with the Government of Northern Ireland—that no troops were available to give the necessary defence to these people who were being attacked.

What is meant by freedom under the law? It needs to be made perfectly clear to all citizens of Northern Ireland what that really means. Does it mean that there is freedom to throw stones, to use petrol bombs and to use guns, and to know that the more stones you throw, the more petrol bombs you use, the more people are slaughtered, the more you will be heeded and hearkened to and the more the concessions which you want will be given to you? It is this pernicious principle which has bedevilled the scene in Northern Ireland. There are people who think that the more they agitate and the more they march and cause confusion, riot and anarchy, the more they will get from the Government of Northern Ireland and from the Government here in Westminster.

I will tell hon. Members of the type of speech which sets out the point which I am making. I refer to a speech made by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) reported on 22nd July two years ago. It sets the pattern for the Northern Ireland theme.

It was reported that the hon. Member for Belfast, West said that nothing could be gained from speeches at Stormont and Westminster. The time for action had arrived. By changing the situation in Derry, change would follow not only in the North but in the rest of Ireland as well.” Mr. Fitt declared that it was not possible to get reform by constitutional methods. “People in Derry and all over Northern Ireland who are victims of this system will have to end these wrongs by any means at their disposal. I may not have a great deal of time to stay on the political scene in Northern Ireland,” Mr. Fitt continued. “If constitutional methods do not bring social justice, if they do not bring democracy to Northern Ireland, then I am quite prepared to go outside constitutional methods”. It is in going outside constitutional methods that the scene at the weekend has been enacted.

Three points have been made concerning the reasons for the outrages at the weekend. One is the imprisonment of the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin). The second is the Orange processions—should they go on and should they be continued? The third is the particular procession which took place on Saturday of last week. I will first apply myself to the first of those reasons.

If any Members, no matter what their privileges may be in the community, set themselves out on a career of attack on the forces of the Crown, then, when they are apprehended, brought before the courts, tried and found guilty, no matter who they are, they must bear the full rigour of the law.

Here I take issue with the members of the official Unionist Party: for too long the citizens of Northern Ireland have been brought to the courts not as citizens of Northern Ireland but in regard to their particular political affiliations and their relationships to the controlling Unionist Party. It is not only Roman Catholics who have felt aggrieved concerning injustice in Northern Ireland but also many Protestant people who refused to go by the dictates of the Unionist Party and who set themselves up in opposition, constitutionally, against the Unionist Party. These people, too, have suffered from the same thing. I need not remind this House, for this House very well knows, that twice I have been behind prison bars. When I listened to what was said by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland at the Dispatch Box the other evening I felt that it would not be very long before I, too, would be back behind prison bars.

The time has clearly come when every citizen in Northern Ireland, whether he be an Orangeman or a Hibernian, a Jew or a Hindu, or anyone else, should know that before the law he stands not as a person with certain religious affiliations or political affiliations but as a citizen of the country. No matter what his faith may be or his pedigree may be, no matter what the blood that flows in his veins may be, he should be treated equally in the eyes of the law. I have been in court cases in Northern Ireland in which certain citizens were summoned to appear as witnesses and in which the magistrates refused to allow them to come because those people who had been summoned had special privileges in the Unionist Party. Those things ought not to be.

I should like to make it clear to the House that, no matter what the Press may say and no matter what image may be painted of me, in my constituency both Roman Catholics and Protestants receive equal treatment from me as a Member of Parliament. It is because of this that the Unionist Party fear the Protestant Unionists more than they fear anyone else at the present time in the Province.

It is the duty—I need not tell hon. Members—of every Member of Parliament to treat all his constituents equally. That is something which the Unionist Party dread, for they would dread it if the Roman Catholics of the Province in a marginal constituency found out that a representative such as myself would give them the equal treatment which they ought to receive. I make this clear not only here today but also in the constituency.

I want to talk about the imprisonment of the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster. If the law had been kept in the way in which it has been kept at other times, the hon. Lady would never have left the court. Her bail was up and it was a wrong move to give her the privilege even to leave the court where she had been sentenced. Other persons who have been sentenced in a court of law have been held there, some of them for six hours.

Mr. Speaker Order. I hesitate to do what is most unusual—to interrupt a maiden speaker. But it is not in order to criticise by implication the special magistrates—unless by putting a Motion on the Order Paper.

Mr. Paisley Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If anything in my remarks tended to criticise the decision of the magistrates, I make it clear that that was not the intention which I was seeking. I was seeking to criticise the police authorities, who should have held the prisoner in the court, as they have others, until the warrant arrived for arrest. But I will leave that aspect.

The second aspect is that of processions. Both the Home Secretary and the former Home Secretary talked of the rerouting of processions. Let me say that the Orangemen who marched last Saturday accepted every ruling and re-routing required of them, and every proposal made by the Security Committee, by the Army authorities and by the police authorities. All those rulings were accepted, and the parade marched in a roadway agreed by the security forces. Let it not be said that these men refused to accept the rulings of the authorities.

So this was a legally constituted parade, but at Mayo Street, where it comes out to Springfield Road, for two hours before that parade reached the mouth of that road, preparations were being made to attack it. I must criticise here today, on behalf of those who suffered as the result of that attack, the Army authorities for not taking the necessary steps to ensure that stones, and potatoes in which were inserted razor blades, were not gathered for an attack upon that parade. When that parade was at the mouth of Mayo Street it was savagely attacked, and the Army personnel there stood with their backs to those who assaulted the parade, and facing the Orangemen as they marched, and eventually they released tear smoke at those who were marching, many of whom were injured as a result of the release of the tear smoke upon them.

These are the facts. These facts have been put in another place and have been admitted by the Government in another place.

It has been said that this procession sparked off the trouble in the City of Belfast. Anyone knowing the geography of the City of Belfast will know that Springfield Road and the Whiterock Orange Hall are many miles away from the centre of the city. In the centre of the city there was a carefully connived scheme to cause explosions and burnings, and many of the large stores in the centre of the city, including Burton’s, Woolworth’s and Trueform, were set on fire, and this was going on at a time when the procession was not anywhere near the vicinity, where, within those buildings, the people were carrying on their legitimate occupations.

Let me say today that in East Belfast there was a very serious riot, as everyone is now aware. This happened because a tricolour was brought out of Seaforde Street and used to provoke the Protestants on the other side of the road, which happens to be the Protestant side of the road. When the people on the other side moved towards this tricolour, gunfire came from Seaforde Street, and many of the people were shot. At the same time two policemen were fired on further up the road as they attempted to control the crowd of people coming down to join in the fray, and, almost at the same time, from the Roman Catholic chapel on that road there came a burst of gunfire and it was as a result of this gunfire that almost 30 people were injured, and as a result of this gunfire a very serious situation arose on that road.

People came to my home on a deputation, and they said, “What can we do? The Army are not there. The police have had to withdraw.” Because the police are a civilian force now there they must be withdrawn when there is gunfire. I got in touch with the Prime Minister’s secretary, and after listening to me he told me to get in touch with the British Army authorities, and after I got in touch with them they said they were sorry but the lines of communication were so far stretched they were not able to give protection to those people who were under gunfire at that particular time. The facts of this are already available to the Home Secretary if he will make himself available to the Government of Northern Ireland—these facts as I put them here today.

So here we have a situation in which the citizens of Northern Ireland—and it does not matter what religion they may belong to—should be given equal treatment. What matters is that they should be given equal treatment. I come back to what the former Prime Minister said, that every citizen is entitled to equality of treatment. At the very same time as the Protestant people were being slaughtered in other parts there were plenty of Army units to give protection to the Roman Catholic people who sought protection. The only thing that can bring peace in Northern Ireland is a sense of security, so that every citizen of Northern Ireland may feel perfectly secure.

Before I left my home I had a telephone call from a young lady who married a member of the British Army the other day. When she arrived at the church for her wedding she was attacked as she got out of the bridal car, and many of her friends were attacked and her guests were attacked and had eggs and tomatoes thrown at them, and someone called out “Orange b—” from the crowd which had gathered there. After the wedding was over her guests were again attacked.

It is this type of thing which is going on in Northern Ireland and which leads to the unrest and the troubles in the province. Every citizen is entitled to protection, and I want to say on behalf of the citizens of Northern Ireland that we demand that we get the protection which we need. Because of the arrangements between the Government of that day and the Government of Northern Ireland arms were taken from the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and the Ulster Special Constabulary—a very fine force of men, irrespective of what any Member of the House may think—were disbanded, and as a result of their disbanding and the disarming of the B Specials there are parts of Belfast today which have no protection whatsoever.

I am speaking on behalf of those people. It is all right for the former Home Secretary to stand at the Despatch Box this day and say that now it is a matter of Catholics fighting Protestants. It is no such thing, for in Londonderry it is a matter of Roman Catholics fighting the Army at the present time, and there is no confrontation whatsoever at the moment between the Protestant people in Londonderry and the Roman Catholic community.

This House needs to hear first hand of these things. I know that there are others who take a view opposite from mine, and, no doubt, they will give their interpretation of what I see as certain facts, but what I want to say is that we should get away from mere academics today and realise that men and women are being slaughtered on the streets of Belfast and that this has resulted because adequate protection has not been given to the citizens of our province.

I want further to say in regard to processions that it seems strange to me that there is all the plea today that Orange processions should be put off. What about the processions—provocative processions—which took place at Easter? There was no clamour from the benches opposite then for these celebrations to be put off. What about the recent procession of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus) through the predominantly Unionist town of Enniskillen? That procession, carrying an Irish tricolour, marched through the area provocatively, broke the windows of the local Orange hall and pulled down the Union Jack from the masthead of the town hall. That is the sort of procession that leads to unrest. Yet the Protestant people of that town did not lift a stone or throw a petrol bomb at that procession.

These are some of the facts that I feel this House should hear. I know that many of them will be unheeded. I know that I shall stand alone in many of the views that I have preached, but I will still continue to do my best to bring to the attention of this House from time to time the needs not only of the Protestant people of Northern Ireland but of all citizens who deserve full protection and security from the forces of the Crown.

Ken Clarke – 1970 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

kenclarke

Below is the text of the maiden speech in the House of Commons made by Ken Clarke on 8th July 1970.

May I first of all thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye. May I also thank hon. Members in anticipation of the usual indulgence which I am sure they will show to a maiden speaker.

The first convention that I should like to follow, I follow not out of convention but quite sincerely, and that is to say a brief word or two about my predecessor, Mr. Tony Gardner, who represented the constituency of Rushcliffe in the last Parliament. Other hon. Members will know better than I the work that he did in this House. I can bear witness to the popularity in which he was held in his constituency and to the hard work that he did on behalf of his constituents of all parties. I am sure that in my constituency there is some regret at his absence from this House.

In that remark, I reveal that I represent the constituency of Rushcliffe which, like so many marginal seats, is not one entity at all but contains a number of areas which do not have a great deal in common. One part of the constituency is predominantly rural and agricultural. Another part is a collection of former mining villages which are slowly being rejuvenated, and the largest area is an urban district on the edge of the City of Nottingham.

One thing that those areas have in common, in so far as they have one local political problem in common at all, is the problem of education, which concerns parents throughout the constituency, and particularly the problems of secondary reorganisation. I should like to use the example of my constituency because the situation in the County of Nottingham, and in my constituency in particular, is not only of local interest but is of real relevance to the national debate. I think that the examples will illustrate how unreal this debate on secondary reorganisation can be if reduced simply to a contest, as it were, between those who are in favour of 11-plus selection and élitist education, on one side, and those who are against it, on the other. In my view, that would be a complete distortion of what ought to be the real debate on the ground in areas such at Nottinghamshire.

The first example I give is that the present Conservative local authority in the County of Nottingham is building purpose-built comprehensive schools without any local Conservative opposition whatever. A new school is being erected at Chilwell in my constituency, which will be a purpose-built comprehensive school having excellent educational amenities and will replace unsatisfactory earlier education buildings. It will be clear to all hon. Members who listened to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said today that that project will go ahead under the auspices of the Conservative-controlled authority and without the slightest hindrance or obstruction from her, either by way of her new circular or otherwise.

I contrast that with another example from my constituency, of a reorganisation which took place under the former Government and which was initiated when a different party was in control in the local authority. It was a reorganisation carried out following Circular 10/65, creating a school in West Bridgford known as the Rushcliffe Schools. As a result of that change, the present system is that three separate buildings are described as one school; they are 1½ miles apart, the pupils travel from one to another by bus, and the staff travel from one to another by car. That is called comprehensive education.

It goes further than that. Many hon. Members have examples of that sort of thing in their constituencies as a result of reorganisation, but few will have the additional problems affecting the Rushcliffe Schools. Part of the catchment area is genuinely comprehensive in its admissions policy and has all-ability entrance. But part of the catchment area lies within the constituency of Rushcliffe itself and comprises a number of villages in Nottinghamshire south of the River Trent. Pupils from that part have to sit the 11-plus examination, and those who are thought suitable for an academic education enter the grammar school stream of the comprehensive school while the others enter the local secondary modern schools. That was called a system of comprehensive education and was approved by the former Secretary of State.

I do not oppose such a system because I oppose any abolition of the 11-plus or because I believe in an élitist selective form of education, and nor do my right hon. and hon. Friends, but I should expect all hon. Members on both sides to oppose that sort of educational nonsense which results in such unfortunate effects on those villages where pupils either go or do not go into a school like the Rushcliffe Schools.

We have heard a good deal from the benches opposite, notably from the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) who moved the Amendment, about the need for central guidance from the Secretary of State in helping local authorities to deal with their problems. I look forward to central guidance from the present Secretary of State along the lines not of doctrine but of policy directed to avoiding the problems such as those which I have outlined in connection with the Rushcliffe Schools. That guidance should be based more on a concern for the best use of educational facilities in a particular area and should have more regard to parental wishes and the wishes of staff, having regard also to whether an existing school system in an area is in need of reform or is working properly. I dare say that if those criteria had been applied at an earlier stage to the reorganisation in my constituency, the present situation in the Rushcliffe Schools would not have materialised.

I make one more point in the same connection. That particular change-over was carried out and was approved by the then Secretary of State in the name of uniformity. Hon. Members opposite will understand how it happened, and may, perhaps, be able to think of some excuse when they learn that there was a purpose-built comprehensive school in the same district as the Rushcliffe Schools, it being argued on that ground – in terms familiar to those who have listened to the debate thus far – that because there was a purpose-built comprehensive school in the area, it was illogical not to have the whole area go comprehensive. On that ground, it was said that one should go in for the strange concoction which is now the Rushcliffe Schools.

Although, in the abstract, it may seem illogical to combine the two doctrines, on the ground, as soon as one looks at this particular problem one sees that it is quite illogical to say that because one purpose-built comprehensive school was built, one should totally disrupt the secondary education of pupils throughout the area. Uniformity introduced in that way will do great harm. Indeed, nothing will do more to discredit any move towards comprehensive education than to couple it with an insistence that the change-over must come as soon as any comprehensive school is built. If, whenever a comprehensive school is built, the result is that throughout the surrounding area schools in totally unsuitable buildings are brought into the change-over and are called comprehensive, the whole idea will be discredited and the pupils of the area will be adversely affected.

As I see it, the Government face two problems arising out of the change-over where it has taken place in the way which I have described. First, it will be necessary to reintroduce the flexibility and the common sense which, much to my reassurance, we heard the Secretary of State emphasise today. Although it may catch the notice of the education Press a little less often, it makes far more sense to look at individual cases and to consider them carefully before plunging into changes which may seem on the face of them to have some doctrinaire attractions.

Second, because of what has happened, I feel that the present Secretary of State should be generous in approving the building programmes and new resources in such areas – again, I have particularly in mind schools such as the Rushcliffe Schools – where the damage resulting from what has been done needs to be repaired. The only solution to that school is the necessary building of new premises to make sure that the schools can be put in one place and adequately provide for their area. I hope that the new Secretary of State will regard as one of her priorities in considering future building programmes the need to put right mistakes of this sort which have flowed from Circular 10/65 and the previous Government’s education policy.

I thank the House for its indulgence. I hope that the problems which I have outlined and the illustrations which I have given from my constituency will help to shed a little more light on what I feel should be the real issues in this debate on secondary education.