Paul Tyler – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Paul Tyler, the then Liberal MP for Bodmin, on 12 March 1974.

I am grateful and honoured to have been successful in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker.

I hope that the House will not think it excessively precocious of me to leap in so early in a parliamentary career. I have two motives. One is that I suspect that this Parliament may not last all that long, so I want to take advantage of my presence here as quickly as possible. More seriously, there seems to be no opportunity later in the debate on the Gracious Speech to discuss housing, so I was compelled to try to catch your eye today.

My predecessor as Member for Bodmin was a devoted and diligent constituency Member. We admired him for that and were grateful to him for the hard work he put in on behalf of the division. He will be missed, I fear, from the House for an additional reason: I understand that he had the best batting average of any hon. Member. I must confess that cricket is not my game and that even if the House manages to stay together until the cricket season, I shall not be performing in that way.

The constituency that I have the honour and privilege to represent may be known to many right hon. and hon. Members. I hope that it is known to you, Mr. Speaker. I know that it is an old parliamentary game to try to lure the Prime Minister into one’s constituency, but I should be much more glad to lure you into mine. The Prime Minister, I understand, frequently travels through my constituency at speed by railway. I would far rather have your presence, Mr. Speaker, so that I could demonstrate to you that it is the most beautiful constituency in the United Kingdom.

More than that—it is at the moment a comparatively prosperous part of Cornwall. I say “comparatively” because the Duchy of Cornwall has not found it easy to keep pace with the rising cost of living in the rest of the country and we have consistently lagged behind in terms of incomes under successive Governments in the last 25 to 30 years. However, for a short time there was a more positive approach to the problems of low income areas and my constituency was fortunate enough to obtain new industry, particularly light engineering. As a result, small market towns have been enabled to expand.

Unfortunately, in the last three-and-a-half to four years, this expansion has slowed up—not just because of a lack of interest among potential industrialists, but because of the housing situation. On this subject, I have considerable sympathy with the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Robertson). The housing shortage is now a major social evil again. Perhaps for the first time, it is not just the central urban areas that are feeling the effect of the housing crisis. Certainly a rural area with comparatively small towns, such as South-East Cornwall, feels this now excessively, so much so that it is having a major impact on our whole economy.

Although five or six years ago, young people often had to leave the area because of lack of jobs, the reason now all too often is the complete lack of any suitable accommodation. Any hon. Member representing a large constituency must receive in his postbag details of many sad, unfortunate housing problems. On reaching this place, I certainly found myself engulfed in such a postbag. I know that the previous Member did a great deal of valuable work, but I suspect that my postbag is that much greater as a result of what has happened in comparatively recent months.

The sad fact is that the national and the local housing programmes have collapsed. The former Minister for Housing and Construction announced at the end of January that the figures for completions in the private sector had fallen to 186,100 and in the public sector to 107,500—decreases of 10,200 and 15,400 respectively, giving a total of 293,600 in 1973 compared with 319,100 in 1972. These are alarming figures.

The Natonal House-Building Council has already announced that in the first month of this year there has been a further drop in the private sector of 40 per cent. compared with the previous year. Judging from our own local experience, we in South-East Cornwall are experiencing this situation with the same gravity as that with which we meet all major economic, social and housing problems in the country. When the country gets a cold, we in Cornwall, I fear, seem to catch double pneumonia.

In the West Country in 1973 council housing completions were down by some 75 per cent. on the preceding 12 months. In East Cornwall the council house building programme is almost at a standstill. Very few family houses are being built. Only a handful of old peoples’ dwellings are being built. At the same time, the private sector is finding that it has no purchasers for the houses that it completes.

There are two or three immediate steps which the new Government could take. I think that I have my right hon. and hon. Friends with me in suggesting that this is something which the new Government should look at as a matter of urgency. First, it is now possible to give more responsibility to the local housing authority. Some of us had grave misgivings about the passage of the Local Government Act 1972, but its one merit was that in giving additional size and status to the new district councils, the new housing authorities, it should have been possible to trust them a little more. The first way in which I would seek to trust them a little more, to decide what their local needs are and then to meet them, would be to abolish the housing cost yardsticks.

As the House will remember, the housing cost yardsticks were introduced by a previous Labour Government in 1967. They tie down the local housing authority to an immense degree and to minute detail. They have all sorts of unfortunate side effects. Much of the condensation problem in recent council house building has been caused by the fact that the housing cost yardsticks provide for only partial home heating. The result has been that in the long term a great deal of remedial work has had to be undertaken, costing thousands or millions of pounds. The first step would be to abolish the housing cost yardsticks and to lay the responsibility fairly and squarely on the housing authority to undertake the sort of building that it needs for its own purposes.

Secondly, on the mortgages situation the Gracious Speech contains a splendid non sequitur. It states that Urgent measures will be taken to reverse the fall in house-building”. and goes on to elaborate other policies which are totally unrelated to that objective. Certainly at present the mortgage situation should be a cause for grave alarm on the Treasury Bench.

The Liberal Party has promoted for some years the idea of low-start mortgages. It is nothing new. Many hon. Members in all parts of the House now support that concept. But why is it that, when we have had an official report making it quite evident that it is possible to run such a scheme, it takes this country two or even three years to put it into operation? The National Economic Development Council produced a report at least two years ago, setting out in detail the financial implications of a low-start mortgage scheme, but it is still not fully operational.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant), who has now left the Chamber, referred to the role of building societies. I believe that building societies are too cautious. The Government should be in a position to encourage them to be much more open-minded and much more liberal with their funds. At the same time, the building societies should be encouraged actually to build. In the Scandinavian countries and in West Germany the building societies build houses. That is a role which would do a great deal for the societies and for the whole question of the finance of housing in Britain.

Thirdly, and very importantly, I believe that there should be immediate action to channel public funds to those most in need when it comes to buying a house. We must now wait for the Budget. It would be fair to say, however, that my right hon. and hon. Friends will be looking to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for some explicit statement or action to try to make sure that the tax allowances for house purchase go to those who are most in need of help.

The time has certainly come when we must regard housing as one of our biggest social problems. From this problem derive so many of our social difficulties. At the same time, we must not forget that it is a question of quality as well as quantity. We must be building to last. We must not be building the slums of tomorrow. The cost yardstick, sadly, has done a great deal to produce substandard homes in the longer term.

But the financial system which ensures that loans are raised for a period of 60 years, and then after that period we forget about the structure of the buildings, has also ensured that we have moved inevitably towards more and more throw-away building in the last 20 to 30 years. That process must now be reversed, because the energy crisis and the material crisis mean that a house or any building today must be built to last if we are to get good value from the public money which we invest in them. Buildings must be built to last at least 100 years, if not 150 years.

We must hope that the new Government will look again at the subject of housing. I fear that the brief reference in the Gracious Speech does not encourage me to think that the Government will approach this subject with a freshness which will enable them to insist that the particular representatives of our community, who are responsible for planning the shelter of our citizens, should look at the subject in the interests of all future generations. It is not good enough to build just for here and now. We must be building for a generation after the next generation. If we are to do that, we certainly cannot continue with the present hand-to-mouth financial restrictions which prevent local housing authorities from doing a good job for their community.

The time has come to trust the people and the representatives of the people. That must mean less Whitehall interference, rather than more.

Malcolm Rifkind – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Malcolm Rifkind, the then Conservative MP for Edinburgh, Pentlands, on 19 March 1974.

It gives me great pleasure to participate in this debate, but as a new Member I feel that, both of necessity and through pleasure, I should make some observations on my constituency and on my predecessor. I have the pleasure of representing the Pentlands division of Edinburgh, a city that returns some seven Members to this Parliament, thus ensuring that all the deadly sins are well represented on both sides of the Chamber; I leave it to hon. Members to decide for themselves which should be attributed to whom.

Pentlands is somewhat unusual for an urban constituency in that almost half its area consists of the impressive hills that give it its name. In addition, within the boundaries of the constituency there are three thriving villages, and at least one full-time shepherd, which ensures that the agricultural interest cannot be ignored. The bulk of the electorate, however, live in the gracious houses of Colinton and Merchiston, the new massive council estates of Wester Hailes, the older estates of Sighthill, and the new private housing estates of Bonaly, Buckstone and Baberton.

My predecessor was a man whom the House held in high regard—a former Lord Advocate, Norman Wylie. He had the somewhat unusual distinction of having Front Bench responsibilities not only from the very day on which he entered this Chamber but as Solicitor-General for Scotland for some months before that. I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House will have been delighted to hear of his elevation to the Scottish Bench as a Senator of the College of Justice.

I, too, am an advocate, and I am sure that the House will be glad that the quota of lawyers in this place has not been diminished by Norman Wylie’s departure. However, I can sympathise—if not agree—with those who, like Burke, believe that the country should be governed by law but not by lawyers.

I am particularly delighted to be able to speak in a debate on foreign affairs. It has been one of the sadder features of recent election campaigns that our overriding infatuation with economic statistics and the cost of living has driven considerations of Britain’s international rôle into forgotten corners.

Perhaps the only issue which came to the forefront in the election campaign was our relationship with the European Economic Community. It was sad that, for the bulk of the electorate, that was largely a matter of domestic significance, concerned only with the price of butter and eggs. We are in danger of becoming morbidly introspective and insular, forgetting that, while we do not have an imperial tradition to continue, we have a vital contribution to make towards the solution of international problems.

I hope that I am not being unduly optimistic. I accept that we cannot look back on a world that has left us for ever. I know that we cannot emulate the naïve innocence of Canning, who, having sent British troops to Portugal in 1822, was able to remark that the British flag now flies from the heights above Lisbon, and where the British flag flies no foreign domination shall come.

However, Britain—as, indeed, does France—has a strength which cannot be matched by the super-Powers. We share parliamentary, historical and linguistic links with the great majority of the nations of Africa and Asia. We are part of their history, and they are part of ours. More importantly, we are no longer a threat to their independence or to their security. At such a time as this, Britain and France have the potential to bridge the awful and depressing gulf between the rich nations and the poor nations, which happen also to be the white and the coloured nations. It is a terrible responsibility upon us, and it would be tragic if at such a time we were to retreat into being a small island off the western coast of Europe, concerned only with our domestic problems and whether we should sub-divide ourselves even further, like some schizophrenic amoeba.

I wish to speak specifically about Southern Africa. I believe that Britain has a rôle, through both history and inclination, of vital importance to that area. I speak with a little knowledge, having spent almost two years working at the University of Rhodesia in Salisbury. That university was multi-racial in character, which is very unusual for that country. Indeed, it was its multi-racial character which caused some of the Rhodesian Front members to describe it affectionately as the “Kremlin on the Hill”.

Despite that, Rhodesia is of considerable importance. It has, perhaps, been one of the more endearing features of the activities of this House that successive Governments have produced what can only be called a bi-partisan policy on the problem of Rhodesia. I, for one, welcome that fact. Few who have been to Rhodesia, whether to visit or to live there, cannot but be aware of the grave injustices that one finds in Rhodesian society. One cannot but be aware of the deep division in Rhodesian society between white and black, and of the great gulf that separates the two halves of the population.

There is one aspect of the present Government’s policy towards Rhodesia which I cannot but regret. As I see it, there are two schools of thought in Southern Africa. There are those who, on the one hand, however optimistically, however naïvely, believe passionately in the possibility of a multi-racial society in that unhappy country. There are, however, on the other hand, those who, equally sincerely and perhaps equally passionately, believe that the only alternative to European domination is African domination. Adherants to the latter view can be found both in the Rhodesian Front and in the African Nationalist Parties.

While I clearly and willingly accept that the Government in their policy support the former view that we must work towards a multi-racial society, there is one aspect of their approach which belittled that. We saw how, in the Queen’s Speech, it was stated that the Government would accept only a settlement that was supported not by the majority of the population but by the African majority.

Likewise, the concept of NIBMR is often referred to as “no independence before” not “majority rule,” but “majority African rule.” That is not simply a matter of linguistic importance. It is of great importance, because it suggests that the Government of our country are moving towards a situation where they believe that the only alternative to European domination is African domination. Indeed, it confirms the belief of the Europeans in Rhodesia that Britain in general, and the Labour Party in particular, does not care for the interests of the European community in Rhodesia with regard to their long term future. It is terribly important that at every available opportunity we should make it abundantly clear that we believe that there is a long-term future for the European community in Rhodesia, albeit in a very different Rhodesia from that in which they are living today. But it is vital that we should put that point.

There is one final matter concerning Southern Africa to which I should like to refer. Many arguments are made about the rights and wrongs, the pros and cons, of economic or diplomatic boycott. I should not wish to enter into those arguments at present, save only to say that the arguments have force on both sides. But there is one passionate plea that I would make, and that is to dissuade as far as I am able those who would argue for a cultural and academic boycott of Southern Africa. I do not, for one moment, doubt the sincerity of their motives, but I know from the people, both black and white, who are fighting against apartheid—not in Trafalgar Square, but in Southern Africa itself—that this sort of approach creates the greatest of anguish.

There is little enough originality, creativity or progressive ideas in the Southern part of the African continent, and it would be singularly unfortunate were we to support those who suggest that what little originality, what little cultural creation there is in that part of the world should be stifled from it. I say instead that we should encourage all forms of cultural and academic contact with Southern Africa, not because it will turn the Europeans into the great believers in a multi-racial ideal—I am not sufficiently naive to believe that to be likely—but I believe that where there are whites and blacks in Southern Africa fighting for contacts with the finest parts of Western European civilisation we should maximise their opportunities and not minimise them.

I have said what I wished to say. A former resident of my constituency—Robert Louis Stevenson—once remarked that politics is perhaps the only profession for which a training was not thought necessary. I thank the House for listening to me, and I hope that I have not confirmed that observation.

Walter Clegg – 1974 Speech on Fleetwood

Below is the text of the speech made by Walter Clegg, the then Conservative MP for North Fylde, in the House of Commons on 1 April 1974.

The last Parliament had one distinct advantage over the present Parliament, in that the hon. Member for North Fylde, being then a Government Whip, was unable to speak except to move the Adjournment of the House. Alas, those halcyon days are past.

Other hon. Members left the Chamber swiftly as soon as I rose to make what is virtually a maiden speech after four years of silence. But I propose to bear in mind what I call Clegg’s Laws of Listening, which I formulated after sitting for many a weary hour on the Government Front Bench and keeping silent, as you have to do in your Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The first of those laws is that the second half of any speech appears to be twice as long as the first, and the second law is that the enjoyment of a speech is in inverse proportion to its length. I shall try my best to bear those two laws in mind when I speak.

The problems I have chosen to raise in the debate affect the port and town of Fleetwood in my constituency. They are very much the problems of success and not of failure. Not many years ago many people said that the port of Fleetwood was finished and that Fleetwood as a town was on the way down. That is quite contrary to what has happened over the past few years. From about 1970 onwards the port and the town have flourished.

The change started with the reinstatement of the Isle of Man steamer service for summer travellers to the Isle of Man from the port. Then we had the expansion of industry on the town’s estate, after the adoption of Fylde as an assisted area, and next we had remarkable development in the port itself.

First, we had the new Jubilee Quay for the inshore fishermen, and in the space of one year alone the inshore fleet doubled. We have also embarked on the modernisation of the fish dock. Work on that has just about started, and it will mean a much better dock for the use of the fishing fleet in future.

In addition, we have had a development of the dry cargo side of Fleetwood, which has been remarkable. I pay tribute to the British Transport Docks Board, and particularly to our local manager, who has played such a great part in the operation. From being a port that handled comparatively little dry cargo, we are now handling more and more through lift-off facilities. Roll-on, roll-off facilities are being made available. A Private Bill has come to Parliament from the board to provide even more facilities in the port. This is very good for the town and the port of Fleetwood. We have very good labour relations.

I am pleased that the board has made an effort to develop our port, but it produces problems, as success often does. One problem is the flow of traffic to the port, which has to come through some winding country lanes from the present M6. When the Blackpool spur of the M6 is built, it will still have to come through country lanes. The part I am concerned with is a stretch between the end of Amounderness Way and the boundaries of Fleetwood.

I have been given figures by the board of the flow of traffic along the stretch of road which goes through Thornton Cleveleys in my constituency, quite a heavily populated area. In 1973 the estimated number of road vehicle journeys—vehicles using the port, and not light traffic—was 61,630. This year that figure will increase to about 73,000. but I am told that in 1975—and this is a revised figure I received over the weekend—the estimated number of road vehicle journeys is about 200,000.

All this is in addition to the normal traffic to the port, which includes holiday traffic going to Fleetwood itself and to Thornton Cleveleys—both holiday resorts —private motorists going to the Isle of Man steamer and other heavy vehicles which use the same route for the factories that ICI has in the area and for the power station. It is true that we have a railway system for freight which still goes to part of Fleetwood but it does not go into the port itself. It stops short at the power station and the ICI sidings. One can see little hope of relief in that respect.

The impact upon Thornton Cleveleys already is quite intense. I want to quote what the local newspaper had to say about the stretch of the Fleetwood Road which is now used by these heavy vehicles. I travel along it frequently and it looks something like the Menin Road in the First World War—as though it had been shelled—because, in addition to all the problems of traffic, we have had the construction of a major sewerage scheme and a drainage scheme, and the road is upset.

The Thornton Cleveleys Times of 22nd March had the headline: ‘It’s Murder’, says traffic sufferers and it went on: Walls and chimneys cracking, tins of food jumping off shop shelves, beds shaking and pictures moving on the walls were just a few complaints from up-in-arms residents this week complaining about heavy traffic using the Fleetwood Road, Thornton. One of my constituents said that it was almost like living in a house with a poltergeist, because everything was always on the move.

There is also the problem of safety—of heavy vehicles using a narrow road lined for the most part on both sides with houses.

The Minister is probably well aware of this problem because it has been put to the Ministry before. What is needed most of all to effect relief is the completion of the Thornton Cleveleys bypass, which would take traffic from the end of Amounderness Way and take it through Copse Road, Fleetwood. This would have an immediate effect if it were constructed as quickly as possible. I have been in touch with the Lancashire County Council—the road authority—and with the new Wyre District Council, which was inaugurated today, and to which I wish the best of good will. Both councils give very high priority to this project.

I ask the Minister two specific questions: first, has there been any delay in letting the Lancashire County Council know the full material it needs for its transport policies and programmes, and, secondly, when will it be possible for the Department to let the county council know how much money it will have available?—because I understand that in this case these priorities are set more by the Lancashire County Council than by the Department itself.

The key factor for the county council is: when will it know how much money is available so that it can allocate priority to this road? The needs for this road are incontestable. They are two-fold. First, there is the need to look after the safety of the people using the road at the moment and to look after the lives of the people living along the road, in the environmental sense, and, secondly, the need for new communications, especially with the new spur of the M6, which is essential if the port of Fleetwood is to develop, remain properous, and become more prosperous. I press the urgency of these items on the Minister and his Department. I urge them to do all they can to give us this relief road as soon as possible.

I now turn to some other problems of the port which are not the direct responsibility of the hon. Member—I have informed him of these—but which he could well pass on particularly to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The Fleetwood fishing fleet is under some difficulty in that it must be kept fully modernised. It is easy for ports that do not have modernised fishing fleets to fall by the wayside. For example, Milford Haven is now virtually finished as a fishing port. That leaves Fleetwood as the major deep-sea port on the west of the country, including Wales and Scotland.

Fleetwood has a strong desire to keep its fishing fleet up to date. It has that desire for more than one reason. Deep-sea fishing is a highly dangerous, skilled and arduous job. If any job was referable as a special case involving hardship at work, the trawlermen’s job would surely come into that category. Fleetwood wants to send its men to sea in the best equipped ships that it is possible to have. I ask that consideration be given to reinstating the grant which was obtainable for the building of fishing vessels.

At the same time I ask that consideration be given to the impact of oil fuel costs on the fishing industry. If it were possible to get back such costs from the market there would be little or no problem, but I doubt whether that is possible. I am not asking specifically for the refunding of such costs, but I ask that the matter be kept under surveillance. At one time there was an operational subsidy, but that is no longer in force. Fuel costs are having an impact on the fishing industry, and I ask that the matter be kept under review. Unless there is a proper return from the market or some sort of subsidy it is possible that fishing will become unprofitable. That would be a dangerous situation.

Finally, I draw attention to the problem of fishing limits. Fleetwood vessels are still fishing around Iceland, but that fishing will come to an end. The Law of the Sea Conference at Caracas will take place this year, and many countries are saying that they are determined to obtain wider fishing limits. If that is so, the fishermen of Fleetwood will want their share of any new limits that the conference hands out. We must have fishing grounds to enable the fleet to live.

The fishermen have suggested a limit of 200 miles. If other countries get wider limits, that is what Fleetwood will want. We shall have to bear in mind the points of view which are expressed at the conference, but if other countries leave the conference with wider limits there will be a tremendous reaction in this country right around the coast if similar limits are not granted to our fishermen.

I have referred to some of the problems in the port and town of Fleetwood. Happily, they are problems which arise from success and not from failure.

Merlyn Rees – 1974 Statement on Belfast Bomb

Below is the text of the statement made by Merlyn Rees, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 1 April 1974.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will make a statement about events in Northern Ireland in the last few days. I do so in the full realisation of the weight of my responsibility to this House.

On Thursday 28th March a bomb of between 500 and 600 lb. exploded outside a hotel in the centre of Belfast which is at present an Army headquarters. On the following day there were more bombs outside Catholic bars in Belfast, and on Saturday 30th March the level of violence was further stepped up, with bomb and incendiary attacks in Armagh, Lisburn and Bangor as well as more incidents in Belfast, and the violence continued on Sunday 31st March.

In these four days six civilians were killed and 65 injured. The Army had eight casualties and the RUC two, fortunately not serious. The pattern of these incidents shows a succession of acts of retaliation and revenge between one community and another.

On Friday morning I visited the city centre and in the afternoon had an urgent discussion on the security situation with the GOC and the chief constable. On Saturday I visited other areas of Belfast in company with the brigade commander, meeting some of his local commanders and troops responsible for security in the area. My hon. Friend the Minister of State had discussions in Belfast on Sunday morning with the GOC and the deputy chief constable. Later on Sunday afternoon, in company with local representatives, he visited Lisburn and Bangor. He reported to the Prime Minister and to me last night by telephone. After further consultation this morning, he returned to Northern Ireland.

In the course of our visits, both my hon. Friend and myself have talked to many members of the public and are in no doubt about the strength of their feelings at these latest outrages. I am sure that the whole House will join me in condemning these senseless and vicious attacks which cause so much distress and damage and, I say again, will achieve nothing. I find it impossible to understand the motivation of those, from whichever side they come, who believe that political ends can be achieved by violence or who seek to destroy the Constitution Act and power sharing not by political action but by bombing and killing.

It was a bad weekend, and it has led—and I fully understand this—to demands for increased action by the security forces. If violence on this scale occurred in cities in Great Britain hon. Members would rightly be demanding that all available resources should be thrown against those responsible. As hon. Members will know, I have since I came into office four weeks ago been reviewing with the GOC and the chief constable the security situation. I can already say quite clearly that no increase in the number of troops in Northern Ireland would eliminate the sorts of incident which happened last weekend. For example, I was told on Saturday in Belfast by Army commanders that the security forces are making about 100,000 searches a day at the Segment.

The small incendiary bombs which wrecked the stores in Bangor are easily made from commonplace materials, secreted in books or cornflake packets, and placed by apparently innocent shoppers. They cannot always be detected by security forces; their placing can be prevented only by the vigilance of other shoppers, and by effective security arrangements for which the stores them selves must be responsible.

Much the same is true of city centre car bombs. Hon. Members will probably have heard that a huge but selective anti-terrorist operation involving sealing off a complete area near the city centre and conducting a thorough search began this morning. It would be feasible completely to close off city centres to cars and lorries; it would cause massive congestion and bring the commercial life of the Province to a virtual standstill. It would not prevent the placing of devices of the type which were used in Bangor.

I want to make it absolutely clear that, important as the role of the security forces is and will continue to be, much of the sort of violence which happened last weekend can effectively be prevented only by the actions of ordinary citizens, who have a plain duty to report to the police suspicious activities which they see or information they have about those who plan or carry out destruction and violence. I know that the terrorists try to prevent this by intimidation; the more people who come forward to help the security forces, the more difficult it will be for them. The security forces will continue to do their utmost to arrest them from whichever section of the community they come, and to remove them from the society which they are poisoning. Some of them are even prepared to give interviews to the Press about their crimes.

There is no question whatsoever of the security forces being prevented by political directives from taking any necessary action against terrorists; the forces have always to bear in mind the consequences of their actions on the commercial and social life of the community which they are protecting. At the end of the day, it is for the community and the police in close co-operation to bear the main responsibility for law and order in Northern Ireland. I can assure the House that I will do everything practicable to support them in this; and to any of the terrorist organisations who, as I have heard suggested, have increased their acts of violence recently to test the present Government I can say quite clearly that I pledge this Government to act resolutely to deal with the terrorists from wherever they come. Nor will they deflect us from those political decisions and actions which this House has supported.

George Young – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by George Young, the then Conservative MP for Ealing Acton, in the House of Commons on 18 March 1974.

Due to the operations of the Boundary Commission, I have no fewer than three immediate predecessors to whom I must pay tribute in my maiden speech. One of them—Brian Batsford, the former Member for Ealing, South—did not seek re-election. The second—Nigel Spearing, the former Member for Acton—sought re-election and, after a vigorous contest with me at the hustings came second. The third—Mr. Molloy—sought re-election at a modified constituency, Ealing, North, and was duly returned. It does not need me to remind the House of his ceaseless efforts on behalf of those of his former constituents whom I now represent. He may not be very sorry to lose them, because he did not get many votes from that section of the constituency, but a lot of them are sorry to lose him, as he was a tireless and often pugnacious fighter on their behalf.

My predecessor in Acton—Nigel Spearing—earned the high regard and respect of his constituents in the three years in which he represented them. The closeness of the result doubtless reflected the local good will which he accumulated. He is by profession a school teacher, and in view of the current shortage of members of that profession in London, I hope that I have performed some small public service by enabling him to return to his previous vocation.

Brian Batsford represented Ealing, South for 16 years. He was a highly respected and much loved local Member who will be sadly missed. I am very grateful to him for the advice and encouragement which he gave me when I was a candidate.

I am honoured to tread in the collective footsteps of those three men.

I wish to speak briefly about my constituency. It is an amalgam of a highly industrialised area—Acton—with a large section of Ealing, a predominantly residential area with a major shopping centre at Ealing Broadway. Acton has the distinction of having more railway stations to its name than any other place in the country—North Acton, South Acton, East Acton, West Acton, Acton Central, Acton Main Line and Acton Town. It is, none the less, extraordinarily difficult to travel around it by public transport.

As with other industrial areas in London, Acton is suffering from the progressive rundown of industry. Successive Governments have taken the view that London has an inexhaustible supply of industrial firms which can be exported to other parts of the country. As a result, when firms in London wish to expand or modernise, they find that the planning and fiscal incentives to do so are almost irresistible. Consequently, there is a danger of London’s being left with the most inefficient and least modernised firms in the country. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, it will undermine the economic base of the capital and adversely affect the employment prospects of those who live and work in it.

The Ealing section of the constituency is a pleasant residential area. Its main problem is a disease called planning blight, for which there appears to be no known cure and which can last for 25 years. Indeed, I had some pleasure in tracing back one set of road proposals to the last Liberal Government.

I am honoured to represent this new constituency and hope that it will be many decades before the House has to listen to another maiden speech from the Member for Ealing, Acton.

I wish to speak briefly on one matter concerning the economy, namely, the role of the public sector. Until recently I was an economic adviser in one of the largest nationalised industries—the Post Office Corporation. I was able to observe at first hand the effects of price restraint in this section of the economy. At a time of rising prices any Government will seek to use its influence to keep down prices, and it always does so in the nationalised sector because that is where it has most influence.

Historically, the nationalised industries have been the first to respond—not always willingly—to the call for price restraint. However, we should be under no illusion about the danger of this course of action if allowed to go on for long. First, many of the nationalised industries supply energy—the Central Electricity Generating Board, the National Coal Board and the Gas Council. At a time when the country must economise in its consumption of energy, it is indefensible that energy should be available to private consumer and industry alike at a price which is less than its true cost.

Secondly, pegging prices at low levels artificially increases demand, and in response to this the nationalised industries have put forward ambitious investment programmes. Many of the nationalised industries are capital-intensive and large sums of capital money are needed to increase their output. The two largest nationalised industries plan to spend £8,000 million in the next five years. If their investment plans are based on incorrect assessments of demand there will be a serious misuse of this country’s investment resources.

Morale in the nationalised industries falls if there is continued price restraint leading to substantial losses. Most of the nationalised industries are, in the normal sense, technically bankrupt and it is somewhat dispiriting for management in the nationalised industries to know this and to have to put up with it. Furthermore, the knowledge that the taxpayer will always foot the bill deprives management of the commercial criteria it needs to make sensible decisions.

Finally, price restraint in the nationalised industries has meant that they have had to have recourse to the Treasury for funds in order to keep going and to finance their investments. Not only is continuous Treasury interference in the affairs of the nationalised industries not always a good thing; it has pushed up the borrowing requirement of the Treasury and added to inflationary pressures. The Economist estimated last Friday that current subsidies to the nationalised industries were running at £1,100 million per year. In other words, twice the sum that is apparently available to subsidise food is currently being used to subsidise goods and services because they happen to be produced by the nationalised industries. I see little economic or social logic in this. It will always be difficult to get back to sensible pricing policies for the nationalised industries, but the later we leave it, the more difficult it will become, and in the meantime the greater will be the distortions in our economy.

It is probably too late to influence the Chancellor’s Budget next week, if, indeed, he would welcome any influence from the Conservative benches. But before the right hon. Gentleman commits himself to large increases in personal taxation, perhaps lie will look at the public sector deficits caused by the nationalised industries. If he were to remove these subsidies, the money he would get in would be equivalent to a 15 per cent. increase in personal taxation. Most people would maintain that it is much fairer to remove those subsidies than to put up personal taxation by that amount.

Nigel Lawson – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Nigel Lawson, the then Conservative MP for Blaby, in the House of Commons on 1 April 1974.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye for the first time, on All Fool’s Day, too—a date whose appropriateness to the occasion of a maiden speech needs no underlining.

This has been a wide-ranging debate, and I could not pretend to be able to follow all its twists and turns, but I am particularly glad to have had the opportunity of speaking after the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne), whose presence here is a symbol of a form of security of tenure which all of us have deeply at heart, although he has perhaps caused a lot of trouble at the United Nations.

The new constituency of Blaby, which I have the honour to represent, is in South Leicestershire. It is roughly 60 per cent. of the old Harborough division, whose Member, happily, continues to serve here as Member for the new Harborough division. Therefore, for me to pay the customary tribute to my predecessor would in the circumstances perhaps be in questionable taste—rather like publishing an obituary of the living. Therefore, I shall simply say that it is my ambition to serve my constituents as well as my hon. Friend did when they were his constituents.

Blaby is in a real sense the centre and heart of England. It is there that those two great Roman roads, Watling Street and the Fosse Way, cross. To come to the present day, it is in Blaby that the M6 meets the M1. As hon. Members of a monetarist persuasion will instantly recognise, that leads me logically to the subject of the Budget.

As a former professional Budget-watcher it was easy for me to recognise the parentage of this beast. It is by the TUC cart horse out of the Treasury grey mare. Therefore, I was not in the least surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that later in the year he intends to introduce a Budget of his own. In view of the speeches made earlier today, many of us on the Opposition side of the House would rather it was the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who introduced the subsequent Budget. However, I have always believed that every Chancellor should be allowed at least one Budget of his own. I am sure that will be the case on this occasion.

In his Budget speech the Chancellor said: Unless we can somehow halt the accelerating inflationary trends in our economy, the resulting political and social strains may be too violent for the fabric of our democratic institutions to withstand.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March 1974; Vol. 871, c. 290.] Those were sombre words, but I fear that the right hon. Gentleman did not exaggerate. Yet there was nothing in that long and complex Budget which did anything to halt the Gadarene stampede to which he referred. Indeed, some measures in it may actively make matters worse. It seems that everything has been staked, indeed gambled, on the success or failure of the so-called social contract between the Government and the trade unions—the philosophy, we are told, on which the Budget has been based.

A social contract is all very well, but, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), I found it difficult, in looking at the Budget in detail, not to be a trifle sceptical about it. Are we supposed to believe that the stony heart of the militant shop steward will melt at the thought of paying more for his cigarettes, petrol and beer in order to allow his wife to pay a little less for bread and milk? Perhaps this rather touching picture of male altruism is well founded, but I doubt it. It seems to me more likely that the Labour Party, which has always had a strange predilection for sacred cows, has gone one step further and now believes in sacred milk, too. Are we to believe that the great mass of trade unionists will suddenly be reconciled to the paths of moderation in wage claims by the knowledge that in future 33 per cent., and not 30 per cent., of any wage increase will be taken from them in tax? That applies to a married man, with two small children, earning as little as £25 a week. If hon. Gentlemen do not believe it, they should look at Table 17 in the Red Book.

Are we meant to suppose that trade union activists will feel that an extra 2½ per cent. rise in the cost of living imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer “at a stroke” is a small price to pay for the promise that one day there will be a wealth tax?

The social psychology of clobbering the rich is a subject deserving of study. As one close student has written, there is a curious tendency within the Labour Party towards a suspicious, militant, class-conscious Leftism. That is the observation of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Environment in that classic work, “The Future of Socialism”. Can it be that fostering this suspicious, militant, class-conscious Leftism is compatible with the stirring cry for national unity which the Chancellor made the theme of his peroration in his Budget speech?

Perhaps, after all that, it is not to the Budget that we should look for the key to the so-called social contract, the sop to the trade unions. Perhaps, instead, that key, that sop, is to be found elsewhere—in the repeal of the Industrial Relations Act and the “Footwork” that we are told will replace it. At first sight, that seems to be a more plausible candidate, but, even so, there is something curious about it.

When I was listening recently to the eloquent oration of the Secretary of State for Employment, I was struck by the passage in his speech in which he accused the previous Conservative Government of having conceived of the statutory incomes policy as a kind of blunderbuss to brandish in the face of the Trades Union Congress and say to it ‘Stand and deliver’.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March 1974; Vol. 870, c. 697.] Most people in the country, and certainly the great majority of my constituents in Blaby, would say that if there is anyone these days who is inclined to say “Stand and deliver”, it is the big trade unions. One of the more endearing characteristics of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) is that he is inclined to live in the past. No doubt he imagines, even today, that he is marching alongside the Tolpuddle Martyrs or fighting the Taff Vale decision. But the rest of us know that times have changed and with them the balance of industrial power—and the balance of weaponry, as some of his right hon. Friends can testify. Some of us recall, during the celebrated “In Place of Strife” saga, the plaintive cry addressed by the Prime Minister to Mr. Scanlon, “Get your tanks off my lawn, Hughie”. I am afraid that Hughie’s tanks are still on the Prime Minister’s lawn and, in the light of that, the present Government’s intentions towards trade union law in general and picketing in particularly are thoroughly alarming.

If I may draw an analogy following the “blunderbuss” of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, there is in the United States considerable concern over the constitutional right of every citizen to bear firearms and the violence and bloodshed that result from it. Sensible people there are campaigning to try to get the right limited by law. The position of the Government in a similar situation boils down to saying, “Of course people will be frustrated if they have only rifles, and this will lead to violence. For real peace and good order you should let them have machine-guns, or even bazookas.” That is a serious point. The central problem of our time, however much hon. Members on the Government benches may try to hide away from it, is the problem of the abuse of trade union power. If a social contract is to mean anything, it must mean that that power has to be used responsibly, but we will not ensure that by enlarging that power, or making its abuse still easier.

The link between trade union power and wage inflation sheds a spotlight on the basic fallacy that underlies the social contract/egalitarian approach. The mechanism of wage inflation rests on two simple and unequivocal facts. First, there are more groups of workers who feel strongly that their relative pay in relation to that of other groups of workers should be improved than there are groups who feel that their relative position should be allowed to deteriorate. Secondly, many of these groups—not all—have the economic and industrial power to be able, at least in the short term, to force the relative improvement they seek.

No amount of egalitarianism—of clobbering the so-called rich in the sacred name of the social contract—can make the slightest difference to this central issue. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer can have Mr. Harry Hyams hanged in public—and drawn and quartered, if he so wishes—but it will not make a jot of difference to the differing views of ASLEF and the NUR on the relative standing of their respective members. Why should it? Again, the right hon. Gentleman can, if he likes, impose a 90 per cent. capital levy on second, third, fourth or even fifth homes, but it will not make the slightest difference to the view taken by mineworkers about their position in the industrial league table. Again, why should it?

Let us suppose that it made sense for the Government to base all their hopes on the all-important struggle against inflation on the social contract. The crucial fact remains that there can be no such thing as a contract, social or otherwise, unless there are sanctions against those who break it. The question is—and this is the crux of the matter—what are the sanctions to be against the TUC or its member unions if they break the social contract which the Government are currently endeavouring to negotiate?

There are three, and only three, possible answers. The first is that the Government could stand by and allow the strongest groups to grab what they can, but refuse to increase the money supply accordingly. They could let events take their course so that there are bankruptcies, falling real wages and large scale unemployment among the groups which are less strong. The second possible sanction is to take the “free” out of free collective bargaining, which would envisage a return to the statutory incomes policy and all that—assuming we ever leave it. The third possibility is to take the “collective” out of free collective bargaining, and move to curb trade union monopoly power—which sooner or later is bound to happen.

The question to which we want an answer is which of those three possibilities is to be chosen by the Government. It must be one of those three choices. What is to be the sanction against breach of the social contract? Trade union members have a right to know the small print of the contract which they are being asked to enter into. But, above all, we in this House and the country have a right to know, and I trust that we shall be given the answer before this debate draws to a close tonight.

Before entering the Chamber tonight, I took the trouble to read an essay which appeared in the Spectator on the subject of maiden speeches. It was written by my predecessor as editor—Iain Macleod, whose loss to this House, to the Conservative Party and to the country is still deeply felt by all of us. His principal piece of advice—indeed his only practical advice—was that a maiden speech should on no account exceed 15 minutes. I apologise to the House, for I fear that I may have transgressed that advice, but I shall try to do better next time.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East) The conventions of the House require that I congratulate the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) on his maiden speech. He delivered it very well and was rather witty at the expense of trade unions. He talked about militant shop stewards. But his view of the trade union movement is as inaccurate as his recollection of the figures contained in my right hon. Friend’s Budget speech. I do not recognise the trade unionist whom the hon. Gentleman described as being the militant trade unionist who would not be prepared to sit back while some of the lower paid and weaker elements in our society got a rather better deal such as that which my right hon. Friend has offered them. Nor do I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the accuracy of the figures which he quoted. He said that a married man with two children and an income of about £30 a week would pay more in income tax. He is wrong—

Mr. Lawson rose—

Mrs. Short I am not giving way.

Mr. Lawson The hon. Lady is wrong—

Mrs. Short I repeat, I have not given way to the hon. Gentleman. A married man with two children earning that sum will pay £47 per annum less in income tax. In fact, he can earn £3,000 a year and still pay less tax—

Mr. Lawson rose—

Mrs. Short No. I will not give way.

Mr. Peter Rees Give way to a maiden.

Mrs. Short I hope that the hon. Member for Blaby will be a little more accurate in future when he quotes figures—

Mr. Lawson rose—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. George Thomas) Order. If the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) does not give way, the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) must himself give way.

Michael Ancram – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Michael Ancram, the then Conservative MP for Berwick and East Lothian, in the House of Commons on 14 March 1974.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to make my maiden speech at such an early stage in this Parliament. It is with a great respect and awe for the traditions and history of this House that I do so. I am grateful, also, for the opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr. John P. Mackintosh. He is a man of great ability, with a great knowledge of the democratic institutions of this country. He will long be remembered in the constituency which I now represent for the hard, diligent and conscientious way in which he attended to his constituents for the eight years that he represented them. He is also well-remembered and well-liked by hon. Members. I hope that they will all join me in wishing him well in the future.

I have the honour to represent a constituency which could well be described as a microcosm of the country. It contains 56,000 electors and comprises a majority of the facets of Scottish life. Although it has no coal mines, it contains several mining communities, which reflect well the problems and aspirations of the coal mining industry. It has a thriving fishing industry, but one very conscious of and sensitive to rising costs, especially the rising costs of fuel. As a vital part of our food industry it rightly looks to the Government for assistance.

Berwickshire and East Lothian has also a growing tourist industry with a great potential for increasing the prosperity of the area, consisting as it does of some of the most beautiful countryside and coastline in the Scottish Lowlands and the borders. I sincerely hope that the commercial value of the environment in my constituency will be kept firmly in mind by the Secretary of State for Scotland when he has to decide upon detailed planning applications for the construction of nuclear power stations within the constituency.

Over the past few years Berwickshire and East Lothian has developed industrially, mainly in terms of light and specialised industries, which have been successful in reversing the previous trends of depopulation and unemployment. There has been created over the past few years—I say this without complacency—the basis for a stable local economy but, at a time of economic difficulty as there is at present, such industries are the most vulnerable, and I hope that the Government will make strenuous efforts to cushion them from any stringent policies that they may adopt.

The constituency is also a rural and agricultural one, and it is on that subject that, with the House’s indulgence, I shall speak. Before I do so there is one matter on which I hope to receive an assurance from the Minister. On Tuesday the Prime Minister while speaking on the Government’s plans for oil referred to assisting passenger transport services within rural areas through adjusted selling prices for petrol and diesel oils. Be that as it may, having recognised the particular needs for such areas and the disadvantages under which they exist in terms of transport, would it be possible for the Government immediately to give financial support towards improving the public transport system in such areas, at least to meet the present needs?

I come now to the question of agriculture. It appears that hon. Members on both sides of the House are concerned about the position of low-wage groups, among whom farm workers must be a comparative example. Their position needs to be improved, and I had hoped—and still hope—that they might be assisted by the relativities machinery of the Pay Board. But farm workers work in a fractionalised industry, where each man ultimately depends on the viability of the farm on which he works. Their relatively low position is now threatening a shortage of such labour, which in turn could severely threaten home food production unless the relative position of farm workers is recognised immediately. Of one thing we can be certain: the betterment of a farm worker’s income ultimately depends on the economic viability of the farm on which he works, and many sectors of the farming industry, certainly in Scotland, are facing severe economic difficulties.

We have heard in the debate that horticulturists, and especially those in the glasshouse sector of the industry, are threatened and are already suffering from unpredictable rises in the price of fuel. I was grateful to hear from the Minister that the Government intend to take speedy action on this matter, and I hope that action will indeed be speedy, for the situation is urgent.

Pig producers, too, are facing an impossible position. During the election campaign the previous Government announced that they had placed the problem of pig farmers under urgent review. I urge the new Government to complete this review with all possible speed before this sector of the industry severely cuts back on production. Pig farmers simply cannot go on producing at a loss. In my area that loss is recognised to be about £5 per pig. No producer can carry on in this way. If pig producers are driven to cut production that must inevitably increase our national import bill.

Urgent measures are also needed to assist beef producers. They are getting between £2 and £3 per cwt. less than the suggested price last year. Apart from any question of end price support, there are more immediate ways in which help can be given to mitigate some of the producers’ costs.

Despite any difficulties arising from our membership of the EEC, I hope that the Government will review the position of subsidies on fertilisers and lime, as suggested by the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells). Retention of these subsidies—in particular, the subsidy on lime—would be of general assistance to most of the farmers in Scotland. It would help them to restrict their costs to a level at which they could hope to see a reasonable return on their farming operations.

I also urge the Government to consider the possibility of making cheap money available to farmers for expansion projects. It appears to be generally agreed by hon. Members that expansion in the agricultural industry is necessary and, indeed, that is made clear in the Gracious Speech. But that can be achieved only by providing incentives to farmers to expand their production. Although it involves an apparently debased word, that can be done only by encouraging farmers’ profits. I hope that the Government, in the national interest, will now determine to ensure the profitability and the security of the agriculture industry as a whole.

Queen Elizabeth II – 1974 Queen’s Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by HM Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Lords on 29 October 1974.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My Husband and I look forward with pleasure to our visits to Bermuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Mexico, Hong Kong, Japan; and to the meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in Jamaica.

My Government will give their full support to international efforts to solve the world-wide problem of inflation and will play a full part in international discussions to solve the problems created by higher oil prices. They will continue the policy of strengthening the United Nations, its agencies and other international institutions dedicated to the peaceful settlement of disputes, the promotion of human rights, the rule of law and the improvement of the quality of life. In the effort needed to deal with world problems, they attach high importance to the Commonwealth association.

My Government will energetically continue their renegotiation of the terms of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Economic Community. Within twelve months the British people will be given the opportunity to decide whether, in the light of the outcome of the negotiations, this country should retain its membership.

My Government recognise the economic problems confronting developing countries, and will seek to increase the provision of aid. They will promote international efforts to establish a more liberal pattern of trade.

My Ministers will continue to support the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and to work for a satisfactory solution to the problems of Cyprus.

My Government will oppose racial discrimination at home and abroad. In Rhodesia, they will agree to no settlement which is not supported by the African people of that country.

My Government will continue to give full support to the maintenance of the North Atlantic Alliance. They will regard the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as an instrument of détente as well as of defence. In consultation with their allies and in the light of a searching review of our defence commitments and forces they will ensure the maintenance of a modern and effective defence system while reducing its cost as a proportion of our national resources.

My Ministers will support the policy of détente between East and West. They will continue to play a full part in international efforts to achieve general disarmament and to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. They will participate fully in the negotiations for force reductions in Central Europe and in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

My Ministers will continue to work for a political solution in Northern Ireland. The proposed Constitutional Convention will provide a means by which those elected to it can consider what provision for the government of Northern Ireland is likely to command the most widespread acceptance throughout the community; any solution must, if it is to work, provide for some form of genuine power-sharing and participation by both communities in the direction of affairs in Northern Ireland. My Ministers will continue to act decisively against terrorism and lawlessness. They attach particular importance to co-operation with the Government of the Republic of Ireland in the field of security and in other matters of mutual interest.

Members of the House of Commons,

Estimates for the public service will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

At home, My Government, in view of the gravity of the economic situation, will as its most urgent task seek the fulfilment of the social contract as an essential element in its strategy for curbing inflation, reducing the balance of payments deficit, encouraging industrial investment, maintaining employment, particularly in the older industrial areas, and promoting social and economic justice.

The use of subsidies to keep down prices of certain foods will be continued. Further measures for the protection of consumers will be brought forward.

My Ministers will pursue their aim of achieving a fair redistribution of income and wealth. A measure will be brought before you for the introduction of a tax on capital transfers. My Ministers will propose the establishment of a Select Committee to examine the form which a wealth tax might take.

Measures will be placed before you to amend the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974; and to establish the Conciliation and Arbitration Service on a statutory basis and to protect and improve working conditions generally. Proposals will be brought forward to tackle the abuses of the lump as a step towards creating a stable workforce in the construction industry. My Ministers will publish proposals to ensure comprehensive safeguards for employment in the docks.

My Government attach major importance to a general improvement in social security benefits in the interests of social justice. Measures will be introduced to increase existing social security benefits, including family allowances; to make additional provision for the disabled; to pay a Christmas bonus; and to set up a new earnings-related pension scheme.

Within available resources, My Government will continue to maintain and improve the National Health Service and, following consultations, will introduce proposals on democracy in the Service.

My Government’s education policy will continue to give priority to areas of greatest need and to children with special difficulties. Particular attention will be given to the development of a fully comprehensive system of secondary education and to nursery education. A Bill will be introduced to provide Public Lending Rights for authors.

My Ministers will energetically pursue their policies for encouraging local authorities and housing associations to provide more homes to rent and to develop their programmes for improving existing homes, particularly in the areas of greatest stress. They will take action to secure a stable and adequate flow of mortgages. Bills will be laid before you to reform the law relating to rents and housing subsidies in England and Wales and in Scotland.

Legislation will be introduced to enable land required for development to be taken into community ownership and to tax realisations of development value.

My Ministers recognise the value to the nation of expanding domestic food production economically and efficiently, and will continue their discussions with the farming industry to this end.

My Government will continue to pursue a comprehensive energy policy which makes the fullest economic use of United Kingdom coal, oil and natural gas and experience in nuclear technology, and to encourage energy conservation. Legislation will be introduced to regulate further the development of off-shore petroleum; to establish a British National Oil Corporation with rights to participate in this development; to ensure that the community receives a fair share of the profits: and to provide for the acquisition of oil sites in Scotland.

My Ministers wish to encourage industrial investment and expansion within vigorous and profitable public and private sectors of industry. For this purpose, legislation will be introduced to provide for the establishment of planning agreements and a National Enterprise Board; and to enable the shipbuilding and aircraft industries to be taken into public ownership.

Legislation will be introduced to provide additional protection for policy-holders of insurance companies, and for people booking overseas holidays and travel who suffer loss as a result of the failure of travel organisers.

My Government will urgently prepare for the implementation of the decision to set up directly elected assemblies in Scotland and Wales.

Bills will be introduced to provide for the establishment of Development Agencies in Scotland and in Wales. Other proposals relating to Scotland will include measures on local government and summary jurisdiction.

Legislation will be brought before you with the aim of ending sex discrimination.

A Bill will be introduced to reform the law relating to the adoption, guardianship and fostering of children.

Measures will be introduced to improve the law and the administration of justice.

An early opportunity will be given for you to consider whether your proceedings should be broadcast.

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.

Douglas Hurd – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

It is a great honour to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and to ask indulgence as a new Member speaking for a new constituency.

Mid-Oxfordshire includes part of the old Banbury division, and part of the old Henley division. It would be impertinent to comment on my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), as he is very much with us, but it is right that I should say something about Mr. John Hay, who represented Henley for 24 years before standing down at the last election. He very kindly came to support me during the campaign, and it was immediately clear how much respect he enjoyed among the people in Wheatley and the surrounding areas, whom he represented so well for so long.

Mid-Oxfordshire is one of those constituencies which look a good deal more rural than they really are. It contains a successful farming industry, but it also includes many thousands of people who go to work in the city of Oxford every day. It has a good deal of industry tucked away in rather improbable places behind old Cotswold facades. For example, the town of Witney has made itself famous for one industry. It is no good talking to my constituents about an energy policy which is based just on coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy. No energy policy will satisfy the people of Witney unless it includes maximum support and encouragement for the manufacture and use of blankets.

My constituency also includes the town of Burford. I was reminded of the town when the Secretary of State for Employment was fascinating us yesterday with his description of Cromwell as one of the great forerunners of Socialism. It is true that in the seventeenth century there were in this country Socialists, or Levellers. On Burford Church can still be seen the bullet marks where Cromwell lined up the Levellers against the wall and shot them. The Secretary of State for Employment is lucky to be separated by several centuries from his hero, the Lord Protector.

In the two years I have known them the constituents whom I represent have shown a keen interest in the affairs of the outside world. That is particularly seen in the degree of support which now exists for a foreign aid programme—something that has impressed me very much.

Before I say something about that, I should like to deal with a matter of great personal interest to me. I shall try to do so in an uncontroversial manner. As you may remember, Mr. Speaker, I spent four years in a humble capacity in the British Mission to the United Nations in New York. I should like to say a few words about the appointment of the British representative there in the past two weeks. During the four years that I was there under the late Sir Pierson Dixon—the father of my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Dixon)—I came strongly to the conclusion that the top permanent job there was one for a professional diplomat. The reason is simple. He does not have to deal with just one Government, with one set of Ministers or officials. He now has to deal with a hundred missions almost in perpetual motion, as well as with the Secretary-General and his staff. If the skills of professional diplomacy are needed anywhere, they are needed in New York.

That is borne out by the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, who went there with a great reputation, which he still enjoys, great eloquence and great experience of the United Nations. Yet I wonder whether that experiment was a success. It seemed to me that Lord Caradon was constantly arousing, through no fault of his own, expectations which the Government at home were not always able to fulfil. Now the experiment has been repeated in different, and perhaps less promising, circumstances. The new representative will replace a respected professional diplomat who has been there for a few months and who has worked himself into the job. He will go as the political appointment of a minority Government, with all the uncertainty which that involves. I wonder whether, through no fault of his own—this is no criticism of the distinguished person who has been appointed—he may find himself in a rather difficult and sad position.

The decision to hive off the Ministry of Overseas Development from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is a repetition of what was done in 1964. I am a little puzzled why this should be done again. It seemed to me that the foreign aid programme fared pretty well under the guidance of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) and also under my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir A. Douglas-Home). Indeed, it survived, better than had been usual in the past, the attacks of those wishing to economise in public expenditure. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the head of the Department was a member of the Cabinet, whereas in future that will not be the case.

The argument has been that one needs a separate Department so that one can have a consistent long-term aid programme which is not bedevilled by the short-term comings and goings of foreign policy. That is an essential part of the case. Yet immediately we are up against a controversy over technical assistance to Chile and the suggestion that we should cut off that programme for short-term political reasons. This is the real problem, and it also affected the Conservative Government in respect of Pakistan and Uganda. This is what happens when one comes up against Governments whose actions are in some respects offensive to public opinion in this country. However, aid programmes are supposed to benefit people, not Governments. They are long term, and must be left to the long term if they are to be successful. If they are constantly messed about because of changes in political opinions in this country or in the receiving country, they are not likely to succeed. This is a genuine problem which has faced Labour and Conservative Governments, and I am sure that it is a topic which the Minister for Overseas Development would like to consider.

I make one final point about the aid programme. It is common ground that most Government expenditure programmes depend on public support. It is also true that in terms of the British foreign aid programme a good deal of progress has been made in recent years, thanks to the efforts of all parties—but support arises only if the programmes, as part of the foreign aid effort, are based on the real world and on what is happening in it. There have been massive changes in the real world in recent months. We now have before us a group of newly-rich States in oil-producing countries. Some, like Iran and Nigeria, have large populations on which to spend their money, but there are others which do not have large populations and which will face difficult problems when dealing with the resources to which they have suddenly become heir. Their decisions have sharply affected the prospects for developing countries, particularly those with no resources of their own. Therefore, it is reasonable that these newly-rich States should be encouraged to share the burden now borne by the aid-giving countries—a burden which we have been carrying for so long. I hope that the Government, either alone or through the EEC, in the dialogue with the Arabs to which the Foreign Secretary referred this afternoon, will make this point to them as strongly as they can. The oil-producing countries should be brought to recognise that with their new riches they carry new responsibilities. This is an important point if we are to continue to maintain progress in this country in persuading our fellow citizens to continue to bear part of the burden.

Robert Kilroy-Silk – 1974 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Robert Kilroy-Silk to the House of Commons on 27th March 1974.

It gives me great pleasure in making my maiden speech to follow the three distinguished previous speakers. I feel honoured to represent a constituency, Ormskirk, which has unfortunately been unrepresented by a Labour Member for the last 24 years. I must pay tribute to my predecessor in a large chunk of what is now my constituency — the present Prime Minister. Unfortunately, in the conscientious way in which he conducted his constituency matters and held his surgeries, as Prime Minister in the last Labour Government and as Leader of the Opposition, he has left me with a great burden as an example to emulate.

My constituency has a large number of problems, of unemployment and high rents. I know from my experience in the last two weeks that my constituents in Kirby have warmly welcomed the fulfilment of the Government’s pledge on the freezing of council house rents. The pensioners too in the rest of the constituency are greatly heartened by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State’s fulfilment of the Government’s pledge on pensions.

The major problem — it is a problem that has bedevilled the constituency and the new town of Kirkby for the past five years — has been the high level of unemployment. It is an area that is bedevilled especially by juvenile unemployment. My constituents expect from this Government the fulfilment of their public ownership programme.

It is an intolerable disgrace that the jobs of men can be destroyed by the caprice, the whim or the irresponsible decision of one man and that the lives of men, and the livelihoods of their families, can be sacrificed on the altar of private profit. That a factory can close down for no other reason than that higher profits are to be sought elsewhere, and often beyond the borders of the United Kingdom, is a matter which we cannot and will not tolerate. We expect to see the Government fulfilling their public ownership programme to ensure that work is directed to where people need it, so that industry serves people and people are not made to serve industry.

There are many problems within the constituency, but it has much to commend to the rest of the country. In the new West Lancashire District Council, which encompasses a large part of the northern end of my constituency, a series of policies have been implemented which show what Socialism in practice can achieve. We already have as a fact free television licences for old-age pensioners. We already have free school milk for the 7 to 11-year-olds. We have a 24-hour warden-operated system of sheltered housing for the elderly that is the envy of the rest of the country. These are not theories or ideas but facts which we shall extend to the rest of the constituency and which we commend to the country.

I ask the indulgence of the House to raise a matter that is only tangential to the debate but which raises important questions on priorities and resources. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made great play about an attack upon waste. I bring the attention of the House to the enormous waste of human lives, of lives that are blighted because of the gross and intolerable inadequacies of the services for children with congenital heart disorders. The deficiencies are most marked in the large conurbations such as Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. The deficiencies arise primarily from the fact that, although there has been rapid development in surgery techniques for the correction of the malformations of the heart in the past 10 years, central and local authorities have not been willing to provide the financial resources to back up the services that are now available to benefit the lives and the health of the children concerned.

This debate is about priorities and the allocation of resources. I believe that when people are made aware of the facts there will be no one, in the House or in the country, who will not support a demand for a massive injection of cash into the treatment of children with congenital heart disorders.

The facts tell their own story. The incidence of congenital heart disorders is estimated to be approximately six children per thousand live births a year. For example in 1972 when there were 685,000 live births, there were approximately 4,500 children born with congenital heart disorders. Some people estimate that the number is as high as 8,000. How many there are as an accumulated total is difficult to tell. They can be divided into three categories. One-third are so seriously affected that they died within several days of birth. Another one-third need an operation as soon as is practicable. If it is done quickly they can lead normal and healthy lives. The final third have far less serious defects and, therefore, there is more flexibility in the timing of the operation.

There are thousands of children who stand in a long queue for surgery. Recent inquiries have shown that in at least 12 centres providing services for children with congenital heart disorders the services are regarded by the cardiologists or paediatricians in charge as being seriously inadequate. For example, in Liverpool there are now 170 children waiting for cardiac catheterisation. Those children can wait for up to two years. There are a further 100-plus children who have already had that exploratory operation who are awaiting major surgery and will have to wait for up to a year. A child with a serious and important heart defect can wait in Liverpool up to three years before it is corrected by surgery.

In Birmingham there are approximately 250 children who are waiting for major surgery. Unfortunately more are being added to the waiting list than are being operated upon each week. The waiting list is growing rather than diminishing. If the problem is acute now, as I believe it to be, I hesitate to think what it will be like in a few years’ time if immediate and effective action is not taken. The longer the children have to wait for operations the more dangerous such operations become, the more likelihood there is of there being irreversible changes in their heart or in their lungs and the less likely they are to be able to lead a normal life. As a result they will be more likely to suffer permanent disability.

Even more scandalous is that on the authority of Professor Hay, professor of child health at Liverpool University and consultant paeditrician to the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital, occasionally patients die while on the waiting list. They die for no other reason than that services are not available in sufficient quantity to enable operations to be performed in time. Others are not put on the waiting list for the reason that the surgeons know that they will never be reached and they do not wish to arouse far more anxiety and anguish amongst the parents.

For those on the waiting list who do not die while waiting, the situation is paradoxically worsened by the fact that the advance of surgical technology and techniques in general makes treatment available for new-born babies, who are naturally treated immediately. The result is that those who are already on the waiting list get left even further back. That is a terrible problem that causes great distress and anxiety to the thousands of parents of children with congenital heart disorders. It is a problem that should not be allowed to continue.

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services will seriously consider allocating far more funds to this specialty. We need a boost now. Further plans for future investment, however necessary they may be and however grandiose their conception, will do nothing to alleviate the problems of those who are now on the waiting list, which grows longer every day. Each day that a child is on that list the more likely it is to suffer permanent disability.

We need an immediate injection of cash into this service. There is a need for more cardiologists and for more surgical time to be allocated in theatres. There is a need for far more trained nurses. The shortage of nurses appears to be the major bottleneck in the Birmingham area. The problem is not necessarily the lack of cardiologists or of theatre time but a lack of nurses who are trained in heart surgery. There need to be more posts for medical and surgical trainees.

I should also like to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services to consider the setting up of larger heart units. At present the tendency — frequently for very good reasons — is to try to locate hospitals and various services near to where the children live. This is counter-productive in this service. What is needed is a concentration of resources at a few large centres where the staff can specialise completely on this aspect of medical care.

As I said at the beginning, it is a question of priorities. I believe that this should be a top priority. We know that our resources are severely limited and that there is not much room for either manoeuvre or flexibility in the allocation of resources. However, this is an overriding problem the solution of which is of paramount importance and should be accorded the priority that it deserves.

What I do not want, however, is for there to be competition between the sick for available resources. I am not suggesting, nor would I support anyone who suggested, that resources should be redirected or reallocated from the disabled or the elderly to help the children with congenital heart disorders. I do not want, and I do not expect to see, a competition for resources between the sick.

A larger slice of the defence budget than the derisory sum which was offered yesterday would perhaps be far more appropriate and desirable. A greater rate of tax on the wealthy than that which was suggested by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday would be yet another means of raising the very necessary and crucial funds and resources for this service.

Perhaps even more important in many ways is a much more vigorous and dynamic attack upon private practice in the hospital service. We are talking about priorities and a situation in which the lives of these children are being lost or, if they remain alive, they are obliged to compete for resources. We should not allow a situation to exist where private practice within the National Health Service can slough off the resources which are necessary for this area.

The previous administration said that this problem was not of national importance. It is a problem of national importance and, as a start, perhaps the Secretary of State could help Liverpool by giving the £25,000 that was refused by the previous administration. The Governors of the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital have already allocated £100,000 to provide facilities. What is needed now from the Exchequer is direct financial support to maintain the services that those facilities will require.