John Redwood – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by John Redwood, the Conservative MP, in the House of Commons on 29 June 1987.

Sir William van Straubenzee represented the Wokingham constituency for almost 28 years, and during that time he showed himself to be a tireless correspondent and letter writer, a doughty debater and an elegant and witty speaker. In representing all of the people of Wokingham, I shall do well if I live up to his high standards as a parliamentarian and a fine constituency Member of Parliament. During his career he served in the Department of Education and Science and in the Northern Ireland Office, and in later years in the House he intervened frequently on education matters when his wisdom and knowledge were highly prized. Recently he gained the affectionate nickname of “The Bishop” for his role in trying to sell the mysterious ways of the Church to those here on earth gracing these Benches. It is with great affection that I step into his shoes, with the hope that I can live up to his high standards.
The constituency that Bill van Straubenzee won in 1959 was a very different place from the one that I have inherited. Geographically it was much broader, and in tone and style much more rural. So much so, as the new Member in 1959, one of Bill’s first and most important tasks was to go and meet the local farmers. He equipped himself with a strong stick, and with not a little apprehension, because he knew nothing whatsoever of farming. He went to the occasion and confined himself to nodding wisely, making a few encouraging noises and from time to time tapping his stick. He subsequently learnt that this had been a great triumph—the farmers said to each other, “Well, you know, our new Member doesn’t say much, but he can certainly recognise a good cow when he sees one.” That is a skill that I need much less.

The Wokingham constituency now comprises the three large and important settlements of Wokingham town, Woodley and Earley, where recently has been constructed one of the largest new private housing developments anywhere in Europe. To the north of those three big settlements lie the delightful villages of Twyford, Ruscombe, the Remenham, Wargrave, Sonning and some of the other smaller settlements. To the south lie the villages of Winnersh and northern Crowthorne, the village I share with my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay).

The main problem we face is the tremendous success of the enterprise economy in the Thames valley. The pace of growth and development has been such that it begins to produce strains on roads, hospitals and education facilities. I should like to say how much I welcome the initiative to be launched by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services to cut the waiting lists. I remind him that high growth areas of the country need that additional resource to take care of population growth as well as the advance in medical treatments, which we all welcome.

In the Wokingham constituency we also experience the problems that the area of the Thames valley to the east of Reading into London is now really a unified labour market where wages are high and where there are many attractive job offers available. Whereas places a little further east than my constituency enjoy the benefits of London weighting or outer London allowances for housing and for the competitive forces in the labour market, Wokingham has no such luxury. I urge the Government to look carefully at the possibility not of introducing complete regional pay, but of re-examining the geographical confines of London weighting and outer London weighting and also the amounts involved because we have difficulties in recruiting people of the right skills. If we can find them in other parts of the country, we have problems in housing them because of the high cost of housing.

Above all, the success of embracing an enterprise culture and the success of the Government in lowering taxes and getting growth and prosperity running again in so many parts of the country is more than relevant to those hon. Members representing inner urban constituencies that still suffer dereliction or poverty. There is common ground between us, because many of us representing vast growing areas would dearly love to see some element of that growth passing instead to those inner city areas where there is already public infrastructure and the need for more jobs and development. Therefore, we particularly welcome the Government’s concentration in the Queen’s Speech on setting forth a series of bold measures to tackle the problem of inner city decay.

It cannot be right that there are people in council blocks, tower blocks or medium rise blocks without hope of an improvement in their housing conditions. It cannot be right that there are acres near the heart of Manchester, Newcastle or in some of the less advantaged London boroughs crying out for commercial or industrial development that, for some reason or another, has been blocked when opportunities have arisen to return prosperity to those once great city areas.

The Government are right to put forward two particular proposals. The first is to give tenants the right to choose different styles of housing and to set up tenants’ co-operatives. That should improve the lot of those in inner city housing. It is also right that urban development corporations should take on the task of rebuilding and restructuring industry and commerce by facilitating the massive influx of private capital that those derelict areas so clearly need.

I hope that hon. Members believe in the United Kingdom and understand that the debate in the House is to try to better conditions in all towns, villages, regions and nations within the United Kingdom. I hope that hon. Members will accept that there are many of us on the Government side of the House who, with good will, say that we wish to see those areas of poverty and dereliction cleared and improved. We invite Labour Members to study the reasons why the south-east is so prosperous and why it has embraced the enterprise economy with such success. I hope that they will ask whether, together with some public money and a lot of private initiative, we can kindle exactly the same kind of success in those inner city areas where the prosperity has not yet reached.

Ken Livingstone – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Ken Livingstone in the House of Commons on 7 July 1987.

I shall start by praising my predecessor, Mr. Reg Freeson. There are some who may he surprised at that. Our differences were political and I do not think that anyone would suggest that he did not serve his constituency as well and as excellently as any other hon. Member. Therefore, I praise his record in this place, although I played some part in ending his presence here. Given how bad the post is currently, I cannot report that I have had a letter of congratulations from him yet. I shall notify the House when t do. I would not urge right hon. and hon. Members to hold their breath.

I want to thank all the officials of the House, including the police, for their assistance. I cannot recall anywhere that I have been where there is such a degree of helpfulness, general good humour and pleasantness. I am certain that other new Members think the same. I do not know why that should be. Perhaps close proximity to 649 fellow politicians induces this state of good humour, or perhaps there are those who have a private joke that they are not telling the rest of us.

I wish to start by making clear my position on violence. I condemn without equivocation all acts of violence, but I am not prepared to be uneven-handed. I do not believe that we should condemn the violence of the IRA and produce a less strident condemnation of the violence of other extra-legal organisations. Nor do I believe that we should be any the less outraged when those who operate on behalf of the British state and security forces go beyond the law or the conventions of decency, as has occasionally happened. Either we condemn all violence or we are not placed to condemn any of it.

Like many others, I do not believe that direct rule is a workable option for Ireland. I believe that nothing short of a united Ireland will bring about an end to the troubles that have assailed our involvement with that island over hundreds of years, with an especial viciousness over the past two decades. Throughout my parliamentary career I shall continue to press at every opportunity for a withdrawal of Britain from Ireland and the opening to a united Ireland in which the Irish people can decide how best to govern themselves.

There are many inevitable contradictions—I am sure that many right hon. and hon. Members will not share this view—in what I perceive as a colonial situation. As in the past, it is inevitable that problems will arise when one power occupies wholly or in part another nation with a separate culture and identity. With the best intentions in the world, the occupying power is led into abuse of its authority, and in so doing alienates key sections of the community.
I should imagine that much the most effective method of recruitment into the IRA has been the consistent abuse of power over decades by those who held the whip hand while Stormont existed through 50 years of misrule. The only thing that is remarkable is that it took 50 years before the present violence erupted. That suggests a degree of patience and tolerance on the part of the minority of Northern Ireland that I do not think many other peoples around the world would necessarily have been prepared to equal.

There have been many instances when the present Government’s policies and their agents have been ideal recruiting agents for the IRA. The attitude of the Government towards the hunger strike did more to boost support for those pursuing a violent solution for Northern Ireland than anything that they could have done themselves.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Royal Ulster Constabulary had a shoot-to-kill policy. That has been successfully covered up, but it came close to exposure when Mr. John Stalker was set to investigate it. When it became clear that he was not prepared to be corrupt and that he would not do a whitewash job to let the RUC off the hook, the British establishment, through all its usual means, ensured that he was removed from his task. I wish that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would pursue the inquiry with the same vigour that he condemns the terrorists and ensure that the results of it are brought to the Floor of the House as rapidly as possible as a matter of public debate. As long as the minority in Northern Ireland believes that there is one law and one tone of condemnation of violence for one section of the community but not the other, we shall not be able to achieve any real progress towards peace.

Representatives of the unionist parties have talked about double standards, and these cannot be denied. We have heard since the Gracious Speech that the British Government intend to continue with the policies that they have been pursuing in the north and possibly to sharpen them to end discrimination against the minority in employment. I welcome that, but if it is good enough for Northern Ireland, why do the British Government do everything possible to prevent Labour councils in Britain that wish to adopt similar policies from ending discrimination against minorities in Britain? We shall not be able to unite the people of Northern Ireland while we have a policy stance for them that is different from that for the rest of the United Kingdom. That makes a mockery of the idea that this is a united kingdom.

One of the greatest problems to arise during the present troubles has been the backlash against the Irish community in Britain, which my constituents in Brent have suffered. Far too many innocent people are subject to harassment by the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It has been used in a way which was never intended. Still today not 1 per cent. of those detained and harassed by the security forces—I am talking about individual ​ Irish women and men making their way backwards and forwards between the two countries—is ever convicted of any form of crime. The Prevention of Terrorism Act is being used by agents of the British state to harass those who actively campaign for a united Ireland. Every time they do it a nail is driven further into the concept of our remaining with any hold in Ireland.

As many other nations have found—for example, the French in Algeria—it is inevitable that if we set out to hold a nation against its will, however good our intentions, abuses of power will occur. I wish to draw attention to that by referring to one specific instance.

During my election campaign in Brent, East, there was an unusual public meeting. An individual was invited to it who has never been a Socialist, who will never be prepared to vote Labour and who thinks that the Tory party is the natural governing party of Britain. He was invited to share a platform with myself and some of the relatives of those who have been subject to miscarriages of justice by the British courts over issues of bombing here in Britain. We invited Mr. Fred Holroyd. For those who do not know, Mr. Holroyd served in Northern Ireland with distinction. As I said, he is no Socialist. He comes from a military family. He went to a Yorkshire grammar school. His whole objective in life was to serve in the British Army. He believed in it totally. He enlisted as a private in the gunners, and three years later he was commissioned into the Royal Corps of Transport. He volunteered for the Special Military Intelligence unit in Northern Ireland when the present troubles began, and he was trained at the Joint Services School of Intelligence. Once his training was finished, he was stationed in Portadown, where, for two and a half years, he ran a series of intelligence operations. I quote him so that there can be no suspicion that he might be a secret member of the Militant Tendency or a secret republican. At the public meeting, his words were that he believed that the Army officers and men with whom he worked were
“genuinely honest men trying to do the best job in the circumstances. They were in a no-win situation.”

When he was recruited as an M16 officer, he said of them that they were not disagreeable; their ethics were reasonable; they were seeking a political solution. His complaint, which eventually led to his removal from the Army and an attempt to discredit him, which has been largely successful, was made when the M16 operation was taken over by M15 in 1975—by many of the same people who are dealt with in Peter Wright’s book, and many of the same people who are alleged to have been practising treason against the elected Labour Government of the time. He said that once the M15 took over the reasonable ethics of M16 were pushed aside by operatives in the intelligence world who supported the views of Mr. Kitson and the policies and tactics of subverting the subverters. I recommend Brigadier Kitson’s words to those who are not aware of them. His attitude was to create a counter-terror group, to have agents provocateur, to infiltrate, and to run a dirty tricks campaign in an attempt to discredit the IRA.

Mr. Holroyd continued to believe that what he was doing was in the best interests of the British state until early in 1975, when Captain Robert Nairac, who, as many hon. Members will know, was later murdered by the IRA, went into his office, fresh from a cross-border operation ​ —something that of course is completely illegal—and showed him the colour photographs that had been taken by Captain Nairac’s team. Captain Nairac had crossed the border with some volunteers from the UDF. He had assassinated John Francis Green, an active member of the IRA who was living south of the border. As an agent of the British Government operating across the border as an assassin he had brought back photographs as proof of that operation. When Captain Nairac showed the photographs, Mr. Holroyd started to object, not because he objected to an active member of the IRA being assassinated in a highly illegal cross-border raid but because he realised that once the British state started to perpetrate such methods there was no way that eventually Britain would not alienate vast sections of the community and eventually lose the struggle for the hearts and minds of the Irish people.

Holroyd then started to object to the use of such illegal methods by M15 officers. He was immediately shuffled to one side by the expedient method of being taken to a mental hospital and being declared basically unfit for duty. During the month that he spent in the British mental hospital, the three tests that were administered to him were completely successfully passed. Certainly, over a decade later, having met him, I can see no evidence whatsoever that he was in some sense mentally unbalanced. He was a spy who realised that the operations of the British Government were counter-productive. He started to object, and was pushed to one side for his pains.

I raise the link with Captain Robert Nairac because, as I said, Fred Holroyd had qualms about this but was not particularly shocked; these things happen in a war. The matter needs to be investigated. I cannot prove the claims but allegations are being made extensively here in Britain, in republican circles and on Irish radio and television. A particularly horrifying incident that many hon. Members will remember was the murder of three members of the Miami showband—completely innocent musicians with no political affiliations whatsoever. It took place in the midst of the ceasefire that had been negotiated by the then Labour Government and the IRA. The right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) pushed it through and sustained it, although there was considerable opposition from within the security services and within many political parties. The Labour Government did everything possible to make the ceasefire work, but it was not wholly accepted within the apparatus of M15—our operatives who allegedly were working on behalf of the British state in Northern Ireland.

What is particularly disturbing is that what looked at the time like a random act of maniacal violence and sectarian killing now begins to take on a much more sinister stance. It has begun to emerge that Captain Robert Nairac is quite likely to have been the person who organised the killing of the three Miami showband musicians. The evidence for that allegation is forensic and members of the UDF are prepared to say that they were aware of the dealings between members of the UDF gang who actually undertook the murder of the Miami showband musicians. The evidence is quite clear. The same gun that was used by Captain Nairac on his cross-border trip to assassinate John Francis Green was used in the Miami showband massacre.

Earlier this year, the radio and television service of southern Ireland, RTE, showed a documentary in which the makers—not myself; no one could accuse RTE of ​ being pro-IRA—that allege they have now had contacts with members of the UDF in that area who say that Captain Nairac passed the explosives and the guns to the UDF and set up the killing of the Miami showband musicians. If that is true, it needs to be investigated. The allegation was made on the broadcasting networks of southern Ireland. It is supported by men who served on behalf of Britain as spies in the area at the time. It needs to be investigated and disproved, or the people behind it rooted out. If one wanted to find a way of ending the ceasefire that had been negotiated between the Labour Government and the IRA, what better way to do so than to encourage random sectarian killings? I believe that that was happening.

It is likely that many of the officers mentioned in Peter Wright’s book who were practising treason against the British Government at home were also practising treason against the British Government in Ireland. If the allegations are true, they were prepared to murder innocent Catholics to start a wave of sectarian killing which would bring to an end the truce that the Labour Government had negotiated with the IRA. No democratic society can allow that sort of allegation to go uninvestigated. It is made by people who served on our behalf as intelligence officers in the area.

We saw in last Sunday’s edition of The Observer that another intelligence officer, Colin Wallace, who was closely linked with Fred Holroyd in a campaign to expose what was going on, has been dismissed as irrelevant by the British Government. We see now that The Observer, using forensic tests, has been able to demonstrate that the notes that he wrote were not written in the past couple of years by somebody who is embittered and is trying to cash in on what has started to come out. A clear analysis of the ink that was used in the notes shows that they were written in the early 1970s. Slowly, it all begins to pull together.

The interesting thing about the Peter Wright case is that in his defence in court he said that he was a loyal servant of Britain, and that he sought only to expose corruption and spies in Britain and an establishment that covered them up. One of the arguments by which he demonstrated his loyalty to Britain was when he said in his book that he did not deal with what he knew about operations in Ireland because that could still be damaging to the British Government.

One needs to take together the accusations of Wallace and Holroyd and link them clearly to what is being said by Peter Wright. There was not just treason by some M15 officers in Britain. Treason was also taking place in Ireland. Those employed by the British state are alleged to have been responsible for killing innocent civilians in order to end a ceasefire with which they disagreed because their political objectives were different from those of the Labour Government of the day. That is a most horrifying crime.

Wallace and Holroyd are making these quite specific allegations. They are now drafting a book that will expose much more, and we need to ask why the British Government take no action to stop them or to silence them. They pursue Peter Wright, but they are terrified that if they take Wallace and Holroyd to court they will expose in court things that will shake the Government to its foundations.

A stupid thing happened when the British Army decided to get Holroyd out and discredit him. The officer put in as his replacement, and who was unaware of what had been going on, arrived in the office and assembled all ​ of Holroyd’s papers into a large container and dispatched them to his home. Before the British Government start rubbishing Holroyd too flamboyantly, they should be warned that he retains almost all the case papers that were in his control. They deal with his operations and his work and they are safely out of this country and beyond the reach of the Government.

We must have a full investigation. Before I could happily vote for this extension of direct rule, I want to see some evidence that the Government are prepared to ensure that these abuses are exposed. I want them to guarantee that similar abuses are not continuing. The whole series of events about which I have spoken must be investigated. Very soon we must have the full evidence about the shoot-to-kill policy of the RUC because I have no doubt that that is being covered up. It would have been most useful if John Stalker had been able to conclude his inquiry after the attempt to discredit him had been exposed and overturned by the local police authority.

We have to examine other allegations made on RTE that M15 officers were engaged in undermining the power sharing Executive set up by the Government of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath). We have to look again at the allegations by Colin Wallace about the Kincora boys’ home scandal. It has been suggested that young boys in a home effectively controlled by M15 were buggered so that Protestant politicians could be blackmailed and silenced by M15. ‘That allegation cannot continue to drift around. It must be investigated and the truth exposed. The longer the British Government cover up and deny all this and refuse to investigate, the more the impression will be created that they know full well what has been going on and that far too many members of the Government are the beneficiaries of these acts of treason by M15 officers in Britain and abroad.
I do not believe for a minute that these things could have been going on without members of the Conservative party being kept informed in the generality if not in specific details. It looks increasingly likely that Mr. Airey Neave was in touch with some of these officers, and it is certainly the case that Airey Neave delivered a speech that had been——

Mr. Gow On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is with very great reluctance that I intervene during the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), but will you please make it clear to him, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that references to Airey Neave of the kind that we have heard are deeply offensive?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker) Order. Hon. Members making their first speech in the House are usually heard without interruption. So far I have heard nothing in the speech of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) that is out of order.

Mr. Livingstone May I make it clear to the House that I am reporting allegations that hon. Members have read in newspapers and that are reported on radio and television both here and abroad. They are made by intelligence officers who served at the time in Ireland on behalf of the British Government. It may well be that the allegations are all a tissue of lies, but can we imagine any other Western Government who would allow such damaging allegations to circulate month after month and year after year and not move to lance the boil? They would either deal with the allegations or demonstrate that they ​ were untrue. The Prime Minister’s day-by-day refusal to investigate what was happening in M15 at that time can only lead a large number of reasonable people both here and abroad to believe that there is some element of truth in the allegations now circulating.

If Conservative Members are shocked that allegations are made about Airey Neave, they should join me in demanding a full investigation so that Airey Neave’s name can be cleared. Why just Airey Neave? The allegations that I have outlined to the House about Captain Robert Nairac should also be investigated, as should the allegations about the Kincora boys’ home. They should be investigated by a Committee of the House so that we can know the truth. As long as the Prime Minister continues to resist this, and as long as it is quite obvious that she was the main beneficiary of the work of these traitorous officers in M15, many reasonable people cannot avoid the conclusion that she was kept informed to some degree via Airey Neave who had close links with the intelligence services. He made a speech for which false information was provided by Colin Wallace, and Colin Wallace now admits that.

There is something rotten at the heart of the British security services, and we will not have a safe democracy until it is exposed in its entirety and dealt with.

Peter Shore – 1987 Speech on the Economy

Below is the text of the speech made by Peter Shore in the House of Commons on 5 November 1987.

It falls to me to be the first speaker to be called after the hon. Member for Boothferry (Mr. Davis). I add my congratulations to those of Members who are sitting immediately around him on a distinguished maiden speech. It combined matters that we like to hear in a maiden speech. The hon. Gentleman talked about his constituency, which has obviously produced men of great character for many hundreds of years, and he paid tribute to his predecessor, Sir Paul Bryan, who many years ago won the affection of hon. Members. The hon. Gentleman made a valuable contribution to the debate. He warned that we will face tougher competition in world markets, which is indisputably true, as a consequence of the past three weeks. We shall look forward to future contributions from the hon. Gentleman.

I should like to say equally pleasant things about the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but they would not be true. He did not do himself any good in his speech, nor during his exchanges with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith). The right hon. Gentleman displayed a degree of oversensitiveness and irritability. For the first time, it made me wonder whether we are wise to press for the presence of television cameras in the Chamber. If world markets had be able to see the look on the Chancellor’s face—the clear state of anxiety and agitation—panic would have been conveyed to markets here and abroad.

It was not only the manner of the Chancellor’s speech that was worrying. My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) and others put their fingers on a central and worrying point in the right hon. Gentleman’s analysis. The Chancellor was challenged by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East as to what he would do if the United States Government followed his advice and cut their budget deficit, with the subsequent contraction of world demand, and what he and his colleagues in the G7 countries would do to expand demand to offset the deflationary influences of the American economy. His answer was one of the most negative and worrying statements that I have heard. He dismissed out of hand the possibility of using public expenditure and the public sector borrowing requirement or a range of direct measures that are available to the Government to compensate for a massive loss of demand elsewhere.

As we approach the end of the third week of disorder in the stock and currency markets, none of us can doubt the considerable dangers that face the western world. Thousands of millions of pounds of capital values have been wiped out, with all the effects that that will have on consumer demand, capital investment and commodity prices. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) for bringing the consequences for the Third world into the debate. It is difficult to quantify these matters, but the effects will be severe. The central task of the British Government and the other leading industrial nations is to prevent the current disorders in the money markets leading to a serious recession in the real economy. I hope that hon. Members can agree on that point.

The Chancellor has done all that he can by verbal reassurance to stabilise the market. Yet successive statements in the House over the past fortnight—following two successive 0.5 per cent. interest rate cuts—have been followed by further declines in the Financial Times index.

As to the current state of the British economy, I agree with the Chancellor that the stock exchange has overreacted to a ludicrous degree. Now that our own market, with the Government’s enthusiastic encouragement, has simply become a component in a global stock market, it is hardly surprising that our stock exchange is just as much, if not more, influenced by events in the world economy as it is by the fortunes of the British economy alone.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East was right to stress the fact that the basic imbalance between the current account deficits of the United States and the current account surpluses of Japan and Germany are a major source of instability. It is a mistake to have a one-sided view. The United States had a deficit of $140 billion in 1986, but Germany and Japan had a combined surplus of no less than $122 billion in the same year. This year the United States deficit will be $147 billion and the German and Japanese surplus will be no less than $132 billion. Next year, although the United States deficit is forecast to fall to $126 billion, the surplus of Germany and Japan is still estimated to be no less than $116 billion.

In my view, the failure of Germany and Japan to expand their internal demand is just as culpable as that of the United States in failing to bring its external account closer to balance. Indeed, I would say that it is more culpable. The United States deficits have been the only real engine of world economic growth in the past five years. If the United States market had failed to grow, and if exports from other countries, including the Third world debtor countries of Latin America, had been choked off by American deflationary measures, the world economy could just as easily have been plunged into recession and the world money markets disrupted by successive debtor defaults among the main debtor nations. By 1988 the United States is scheduled to have halved the deficit levels incurred in 1985. More rapid progress would give some benefit but, if it is not carefully judged, the American economy could easily tip over into recession. It is for that reason, and because I cannot believe that megaphone financial diplomacy makes sense, that I regret the overemphasis placed by the Chancellor in his Mansion house speech on the correction of the American budget deficit alone.

Two things are needed. First, we need steady opinion and clear evidence that the United Kingdom Government have recognised the threat to the British economy and are ready to take effective measures to counter the onset of recession. Secondly, we need support for essential international co-operation to bring some balance and stability back into world trade and exchange rates and to foster economic growth.

On United Kingdom internal action, I very much regret the fact that the Chancellor did not take the occasion of the Autumn Statement to announce substantial increases in public expenditure. If only a year ago, when presenting the 1986 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor was able to congratulate himself on his prudent management of the economy with a £7 billion PSBR—equivalent to 1.75 per cent. of GDP—surely a year later, and in the aftermath of the London stock exchange collapse, he could have announced measures to strengthen the British economy well within last year’s prudent PSBR target of £7 billion. That would not only have been extremely welcome to those who have pressed for so long for improvements in infrastructure and for better public services; it would have ensured an additional increase in GDP next year of about 1.5 per cent. I heard somebody say that that would be inflationary. Why should it be more inflationary this year than the £7 billion PSBR was last year when we were managing our affairs with prudence?

By limiting the increase to a mere 1.75 per cent. in real terms, the Chancellor has failed to use the main instruments of counter recession policy. He still has the fiscal judgment to make at Budget time, and I have no doubt that he will be looking for a cut in income and other taxes. There is no certainty that such increased purchasing power will lead to increased expenditure or that if such expenditure did take place it would not take the form of increasing imports rather than a stimulus to the British economy.

We must look to international co-operative action for the crucial decisions in the period ahead. The Louvre accord and the Plaza agreement have had great success achieving a managed realignment of currencies and a successful and major devaluation of the dollar against the Deutschmark and the yen. I am sure that the Chancellor will wish to sustain and reinforce those beneficial agreements. I hope that we shall hear confirmation of that from the Minister in his reply to the debate.

Exchange rate and interest rate policies, although extremely helpful, are not enough in themselves. It is essential that the economies of the Western world should better co-ordinate their policies of economic growth than they have in recent years. World economic expansion cannot now be left to the United States alone. The burden has to be taken up by other major industrial countries such as Britain and France, but most notably by Japan and Germany. I hope that the Government will put their full weight behind that essential aim.

David Davis – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by David Davis, the then Conservative MP for Boothferry, in the House of Commons on 5 November 1987.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech so early in the debate. I am also grateful for the compliments on my speech, however premature.

I pray the indulgence of the House to speak briefly about my constituency and to pay proper tribute to my predecessor in Boothferry. The constituency of Boothferry encompasses the Yorkshire wolds and extends down to the vale of York, across the Ouse and Humber to include the Isle of Axholme. It is a beautiful rural area and can claim to be one of the cradles of English individualism. Many of its people fought for their beliefs and for other people’s rights. Some died. Robert Aske, who led the pilgrimage of Grace, was hanged in chains in York castle. Others, such as William Wilberforce and John Wesley, have, by the force of their character, and their commitment to their ideas, changed the world in such a way that history will never forget them.

Today, individualism takes the form of enterprise and initiative on the part of the people I represent. That is why Yorkshire and Humberside has many more small businesses, private enterprise and self-employed people than most other areas of Britain.

My predecessor in Boothferry was Sir Paul Bryan. When Sir Paul entered the House as the Member for Howden 32 years ago, he was already distinguished by his war record. He was a holder of the Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order. I think that he was the last Member of the House to hold both those decorations. He was clearly a man of considerable courage and leadership Courage has been described as the quality of exhibiting grace under pressure. Sir Paul had the quality of exhibiting grace in all circumstances. He was greatly loved in my constituency for his dignified leadership, quiet compassion and calm wisdom. If I can do as much for my constituency and the House as Sir Paul did, I shall be justifiably proud.

Sir Paul had one other characteristic when he came to the House which helped him to stand out from the crowd. He had an entry in the “Guinness Book of Records”. He was and is a keen golfer and he achieved the feat of getting two holes in one, as some hon. Members will know. He tells the story of returning from that round, buying the traditional round of drinks in the club house and telling the barmaid about the fact that he had scored two holes in one. She asked him which holes he had scored them on and he said that it was the ninth and twelfth. “But, Mr. Bryan,” she said, “those are the two shortest holes in the club.” Such wry scepticism is often seen on the Opposition Benches today.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has scored hat trick after hat trick—in the Autumn Statement last year, the Budget this year and the Autumn Statement this year—when we had a higher growth record than any other Western nation, a faster fall in unemployment than any other country, and many other characteristics in our financial situation which stood out as being models for the rest of the world. However, the comments of the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) will not be the real test of the Government’s policy. The real test of the Government’s policy and our economy will be how it withstands the global adversity that we are seeing today.

I want to explore how that test will come about. I am not just talking about a slump or a potential slump. If we have a slump, everybody understands what that means as a test for our economy. If we avoid a slump, that, too, will be a test for our economy.

Let us examine what has been said about what is needed to avoid a slump. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan) basically described five different points. Two of them are American. There is obviously the need to cut the budget deficit and the Americans must abandon protectionism. Three other things have to be done. First, we must maintain the liquidity of the financial markets, and that has already been done. Secondly, we probably have to see some fiscal relaxation in Germany and Japan. Thirdly, we must see a modification of the Louvre accord to allow the dollar to devalue to a proper level against the deutschmark. If that goes ahead and is successful in preventing a global slump, there will be a continuation of growth in global demand—it will not be as high as in recent years but it will continue. However, the structure of that global demand will change.

Labour Members like to talk about the real economy, but what will happen in real terms? The American market will suffer deflationary effects. The policy change and the consumption effects of the Wall street crash will have deflationary effects. American industry and employment will be protected from that, to some extent, by the dollar-deutschmark parity change. British industry will not be protected. Some £12 billion worth of exports will be going into the dollar area markets. We will have a smaller, more difficult market for our high-tech and high-value items—typically the items that we sell to the United States—and we will face tougher competition from American producers with that dollar advantage.

We will have to look elsewhere for outlets. If the global economy is growing, by definition there will be expansion elsewhere. When we look elsewhere we will run head on into Japanese competition and Japanese products that have been displaced from the United States market. We will also face German and American competition, which will be tougher because of that dollar parity change. We will have to battle hard for our market share. That market will not necessarily be in the same products—it certainly will not be in the same place—and we will have to fight for every percentage point of share.

How will Britain’s industry cope? The transformation of British industry in the past eight years will ensure that we will win enough battles to maintain our growth rate. How would we have done eight or ten years ago if we had taken on the Japanese or tried to sell Jaguars to Germany? That is the acid test of Government policy. That is the test that will apply if the global market does not crash. The previous Labour Government would have failed that test. Their policies would not have coped because of the lack of competitiveness that they brought about in British industry.

That is the successful scenario, but in the unsuccessful scenario the other side of the Government’s balance sheet takes effect. Clearly competition and competitiveness still matter. However, the Government’s ability to inject more demand into the economy—this is a common sense approach, not a Keynesian one—is a function of its creditworthiness. Any company chairman will know that creditworthiness dictates how one copes. The United States’ problem is that it has run out of creditworthiness.

The Government’s balance sheet is as good as it has ever been, but it is not the only important balance sheet. Over the past few years it has become fashionable to criticise the bull market. However, one of its side effects is that British industry has been able to obtain lower borrowing levels, better equity funding and a lower risk base than ever before. Thus, it is better equipped to deal with stronger competition and higher margins.

Our policies stand up, on any scenario, in comparison with anybody else’s. We have the flexibility to move with the world markets. We have the capacity to cope with a drop in world demand. In the final analysis, whatever the outcome, the British economy has the equipment to harness the wind or weather the storm.

Jim Paice – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Jim Paice, the then Conservative MP for Cambridgeshire South-East, on 3 November 1987.

In rising to address the House for the first time I am mindful of the honour and privilege of being a Member of it. The trepidation with which I make my first speech is tempered only by the knowledge that even the greatest statesmen who have served the country have had at some stage in their careers to rise and address the House for the first time.

Indeed, I follow in the footsteps of a great statesman: Francis Pym represented the old constituency of Cambridgeshire and, more recently, Cambridgeshire, South-East, for some 26 years. During that time he occupied many of the highest offices in the land, and for all that time he served both his constituency and country to the very best of his ability. He did so in a way which is an example to us all, and which I shall find it very difficult to emulate over the years in which I hope to represent my constituency. It is only right and proper that Francis Pym has now taken his place in the Upper House, where his counsel can still be heard.

The constituency that I am proud to represent includes many of the features that are at the forefront of Britain’s revival. In it have taken place, and are taking place, many of the technological developments and the advances in research that are at the forefront of our economic recovery. The enterprise culture has blossomed and boomed there perhaps more than in any other part of the country. The very atmosphere seems to breathe and encourage success. However, it is a very large constituency and, geographically, a very rural one—stretching from the Essex-Suffolk border to around Newmarket and taking in the vast majority of that great centre of the British bloodstock industry, and extending upwards into the Fens and the city of Ely, including the magnificent cathedral that makes it the centre of tourism in that part of Britain.

However, the area has its problems. Fortunately. they are the problems of success. The pressures of development. if not handled properly, threaten to destroy the very fabric of our community. There is a further problem: the businesses that are currently booming, expanding constantly and providing massive numbers of extra jobs face an even greater threat to their continued development. The great perversity of our current economic scene is the shortage of skilled staff. That is why I am addressing myself to the Bill, and particularly to part II, which deals with training. I am sorry that much of the vehemence of the Opposition is concentrated on part I. I can only assume that they support most of the section on training, which, in my view, is of much longer-term importance to the country. I welcome the clauses on training and the greater emphasis placed on it by my right hon Friend in appointing a Training Commission.

Before I was elected, I was general manager of a company specialising in training and management development. My duties included running a substantial youth training scheme and many other MSC schemes. I also served for a time as a member of an area manpower board, and I have seen many of the MSC schemes from different perspectives. In my view, the youth training scheme that my right hon. Friend has already developed is one of the Government’s greatest achievements over the years since they were elected in 1979. However, I have a few caveats.

First, and probably most important, if, as we all hope, the number of young people in strict unemployment is coming down, partly because of the improving employment picture and partly because there are slightly fewer school leavers, the challenge to us all to ensure that the youth training scheme continues to develop is even greater as the necessity for it appears to diminish. The YTS is not concerned merely with keeping people out of the dole queue, which is the accusation thrown at it by those who wish it ill. More important, it is a means of ensuring that all young people who leave school at the age of 16—or, now, at 17—whatever their level of academic ability or achievement, can go into work and gain the skills that are necessary for work. That does not mean only the manual and practical skills, essential though they are. It also means the skills of working discipline—personal skills, which are equally important to holding down a job and doing it well. All those skills are vital if young people are not only to obtain jobs in the future, but to play a full and lasting role in Britain’s economy.

Many firms and businesses with which I have been associated understand that and use YTS as the normal route of entry for 16-year-olds, not simply as a means of paying only £28.50 a week. It is, of course, open to an employer to pay any figure above that minimum, and, in my experience, many do so. The framework of YTS provides an opportunity of training in a combined programme lasting for up to two years, to ensure that when young people reach the age of 18 they have learnt many of the basic skills that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their working career. That is a good basis on which to build, and I hope that in the next few years the Training Commission will take steps to develop it into a three-year scheme. It would then compare favourably with the apprenticeship schemes that it is now replacing in many industries. It is a pity that only about 10 per cent. of trainees have formal employee status, as opposed to trainee status, and I hope that the commission will set an increase in that figure as one of its chief targets over the next few years.

My second caveat is that we must ensure that industry takes up its own responsibilities for training. One of the sadnesses that I faced in my career, until my election, was the low level of importance attached by some industries to training. They pay considerable lip service to it, but when it is time to come up with the goods they are found wanting. That is their loss and the loss of the country and the economy.

It is no use threatening to institute massive levies on every business so that the Government, through some different arm, can redistribute and dispense those levies as they see fit. Contrary to what we have hard, and no doubt will hear again, it just does not work. Seen from the grass roots, it is not a good use of resources. What we have to do is to encourage, persuade and cajole industry to recognise its own responsibilities for the development of its staff — to recognise that it must make a major investment, which is worth every penny. The most important investment that a company can make is in training its staff for the future.

As the number of people on the youth training scheme declines, the Government and the Training Commission will be tempted to begin to reduce the financial input. I know that it is the Government’s policy to move the burden of training more to the employers. That is right, and is as it should be, but we must be careful to ensure that we do not go too fast too soon. We must make sure that the slack is gradually taken up by industry so that the developments that have been at the forefront of the advances in the youth training scheme in the last few years are not lost.

Even with inflation down to its present highly satisfactory level, the costs of training, especially in rural areas, where YTS trainees can be spread over many square miles, are considerable. Like everything else, the costs keep rising and I hope that my right hon. Friend will recognise the great cost and only gradually shift the burden to the employers. The burden should be shifted, but we must not do it too quickly, because if we do something will be lost in the middle.

My final caveat is that the development of YTS in the last few years has spawned a number of private training operators. I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), who has left the Chamber, and noted the cynical way in which he spoke about privatised training. One of the major factors in the success of the scheme has been the development of private training operators, often in competition with established colleges of further education. Many colleges succumbed to the temptation of simply tacking the YTS on to their existing courses of study. Over and over again that failed miserably, because the very ethos of YTS and its concepts of integrating work and training into a combined package and of appraisal and assessment were new and could not simply be tacked on to existing programmes.

Fortunately, professional trainers were there, as opposed to professional educators. They were able to take up the opportunities offered and in many cases they forced colleges of further education to recognise the great differences. The colleges now understand that if they are to run the youth training scheme and provide the level of service that young people deserve and require, a rethink is necessary. The results of that rethink are now beginning to show in the efforts of many of those traditional providers.

In the proper shifting of the burden that is bound to come, I urge my right hon. Friend to make sure that private providers are not put at risk. We have already heard expressed the great antipathy of the area manpower boards, the trade unions and the established institutional providers against the private sector. It would be a great shame if private sector competition were lost. The private sector has taken great steps towards moving the whole ethos and understanding of the skills of training forward into the future. It is not good enough for the Opposition to say that we should hark back to 1974 when the Manpower Services Commission was first developed. Today, everything to do with training is totally different, because training is a different ball game. The skill training profession has moved a whole street ahead of where it was in 1974. We must recognise that. There is no point in looking back, because in those days training did not do half the job that it professed to do.

I welcome the clauses in the Bill to ensure that every young person will have the opportunity to train and to make a responsible choice. They will be able to go into the planned programme of training and work provided by the Government, or choose to be unemployed. The social security changes that were given their Second Reading yesterday are welcome. It is estimated that about 6 per cent. of young people refuse YTS and that about 7 per cent. pull out of the scheme because they believe that it is doing them no good. That is about 40,000 people a year, and we must try to reduce that figure. If the young people who dither and wander, or who become sceptical or disenchanted with YTS, are to be persuaded that the scheme has something to offer, we must make sure that the developments that have taken place in the last four or five years continue at the same pace.

The opportunities are there and the importance of the YTS has not diminished even though, perhaps, its original purpose begins to fade. We must ensure that industry takes up the challenge of using YTS as the normal route for training and accepts the responsibility for gradually paying a greater share of the costs. We must ensure that young people will accept the concept of YTS as being in their best interests. We are already moving fast down those roads. If we can do those things we will have taken the first step towards ensuring that the successful, booming industries and businesses in constituencies such as mine are not continually faced with the problem of a shortage of skilled staff. Sadly, such shortages are even now beginning to hamper development. That is not in Britain’s interests, and I urge my right hon. Friend to ensure that the skills are available for the future.

Michael Colvin – 1987 Speech on GP Training

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Colvin, the then Conservative MP for Romsey and Waterside, in the House of Commons on 27 October 1987.

I wish to raise the problems of the funding of general practice training for medical students. We all accept that primary health care is the foundation of the National Health Service, yet it is the one aspect that we need to take more seriously when medical students enter their clinical courses. It is an issue with which I came face to face when visiting the Aldermoor health centre on the edge of my constituency last summer. I wish to thank the head of that facility, Professor John Bain, for having sparked off the inquiry that led me to ask parliamentary questions on this subject and also to introduce this debate.

Everyone knows that there have been remarkable technical advances in medical care during the past three decades, and more can be expected. At the same time, there has been a matching growth in awareness of the importance of the social and psychological implications of being ill. General practice in this country must respond to both developments. Teaching medical undergraduates about medicine in the setting of the family and community and about how patients should be most sympathetically and effectively cared for outside the hospital is a special responsibility of all departments of general practice which have been created in the 31 medical schools in this country.

Such new departments face important problems. Most are understaffed and all are under-resourced. They practise, teach and research a discipline which attracts high public demand but which does not enjoy the drama of acute hospital services to catch the public eye or perhaps the public purse. Their teaching is necessarily based on small groups and clinical experience on one-doctor to one-student attachments. We accept that such methods are expensive of the time which would otherwise be given to patient care.

The shortage of university funding also puts pressure on medical school budgets. Although NHS funding may be well ahead of the rate of inflation, it is not ahead of public wants and expectations, and the ability of the NHS to supplement the shortfall in medical school budgets has been exhausted. One good way to guard against the misuse of high cost specialist services in the NHS is to promote their more sensitive use through more teaching of medicine in the setting of general practice, but this comes at a time when the NHS and medical schools are finding it difficult to fund this new and major academic discipline.

I shall say a little about the background to the debate. Just over a year ago, the Mackenzie report, which is entitled “General Practice in Medical Schools of the United Kingdom”, described the achievements of the departments of general practice in the years since the first chair was established in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the first chair anywhere in the world was established in Edinburgh in 1963. The report also described the problems that are faced by the discipline in the immediate period ahead, and referred to the need for simple and relatively inexpensive measures to be taken to allow proper growth to take place.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of Professor John Howie, head of the department of general practice at Edinburgh university. As one of the main architects of the Mackenzie report, he is a leading campaigner for the implementation of its recommendations.

The interdependence of the links between the DHSS and the DES in the funding of medical education is well known. The DHSS contribution to undergraduate education, which is required under section 51 of the National Health Service Act 1977 for England and Wales and section 47 of the parallel 1978 Scottish Act, is recognised, or perhaps rationalised, in what is known as SIFT, the service increment for teaching element in the teaching hospital funding, and ACT, the additional for clinical teaching in Scotland.

It is difficult to quantify how much money this involves and what proportions represent the tertiary health care service, and the teaching and research functions of teaching hospitals, but the total sum involved is now between £20,000 and £30,000 per clinical student year, which, for 4,000 students in each of three clinical years, represents between £240 million and £360 million annually.

Alas, by a series of mischances—mainly historical—departments of general practice do not benefit from the notional budget, although their present and potential contribution to medical practice, medical thinking and medical education is considerable. Their need for service increment is as great as that of any of the hospital components of medical education. Their request for new investment to correct that anomaly is modest — £4 million a year. That is only a little more than 1 per cent. of the NHS contribution to teaching research in hospital specialties.

That raises three questions: first, is the cause a good one and does it attract widespread support; secondly, is it affordable and will it create benefit; thirdly, is there a mechanism for meeting the request or, if not, can one be found, and found quickly? On the first question, there seems no doubt that the cause of providing proper resources to allow properly supported departments of general practice to make a proper contribution to medical school and medical education is a good one. In the Green Paper on the future development of primary health care, Cmnd. 9771, the Government stated: However, the undergraduate course content varies widely between medical schools, and in some general practice still forms only a relatively small part of the curriculum. There is scope for greater emphasis on the role of primary care and its interface with the hospital and specialist services. This would benefit not only those who then decide to seek entry to a general practice vocational training scheme, but also those students wishing to pursue a career in a hospital speciality since they would carry with them a greater understanding of the central role primary health care plays in the health of the nation. No one argued with that during the consultation period on the Green Paper. When the Social Services Select Committee discussed it during the 1986–87 Session and published its report entitled “Primary Health Care”, it specifically requested investment in that area. Paragraph 25 states:

The case for introducing all undergraduates to primary health care is surely overwhelming and we suggest that University Departments of General Practice should be expanded to become Departments of Primary Health Care, not only to allow future general practitioners to be introduced at an early stage to medicine in the community but, perhaps more importantly, to introduce doctors who will spend their careers in hospital to an area of health care responsible for the majority of episodes of illness and which, to be successful, must integrate closely with the secondary care provided in hospital. Furthermore, the education sub-committee of the General Medical Council has now joined in calling for proper investment, which it sees as an essential prerequisite to the basic medical education of the nation’s future doctors. The responses to the Green Paper from the GMSC and the Royal College of General Practitioners, which are sometimes seen as representing the “political” and “educational” wings of general practice, are also agreed that the case presented in the Mackenzie report needs to be met urgently. The medical sub-committees of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom and the University Grants Committee have been equally wholehearted in their support.

Only today I received a letter from the British Medical Association, which sent me a copy of the resolution that was passed by the Conference of Medical Academic Representatives in 1987, which states: That this Conference supports the Mackenzie report and is disturbed by the low level of government funding which is available to academic departments of general practice. Hearts and minds seem to have been won across a remarkable and probably unique width of political, medical and educational opinion.

What about the cost? Of course, the £4 million for which the departments of general practice are asking is either a lot of money or not much money, depending on how it is viewed. Compared with the £1.5 billion that was the cost of the general practice prescriptions issued in England in 1985–86, or with the sum of about £10 billion that was spent on the acute hospital services that are used when patients are referred to hospital for investigation and treatment, the sum is negligible. However, for hospital doctors and future general practitioners, attitudes to the prescribing of drugs, the investigation of patients and the use of hospital services are learnt early in medical training. A more broadly based early undergraduate teaching with greater emphasis on the role of good general practice will produce a more balanced use of services, which will be better for the patient and less expensive for the nation. The investment of £4 million, representing 1 p in £50 of NHS resourcing, will be recouped many times over. It is good value for money.

On the mechanism, I am aware that active discussions are in hand involving, among others, representatives of the heads of departments of general practice and senior officials at the DHSS. Those discussions are mentioned in the recent GMC report. But similar discussions have fallen in the past because of legal advice to the DHSS that no mechanism existed to allow a payment giving the same benefits as SIFT to be paid by the NHS to ensure adequate base line funding of departments of general practice.

The purposes of the debate are, first, to hear confirmed the Government’s acceptance of the merit of the case being argued by departments of general practice; secondly, to hear from the Government that they accept the need to allocate an annual figure equivalent to £4 million at current prices to be paid through DHSS channels; and, thirdly, to ask whether a mechanism has been found to allow such funds to be administered, or whether such legislation is needed and, if so, when it can be expected. To work equitably and efficiently, the mechanism will need to reflect medical student numbers and to be available through the regional health authority budgets, or their equivalents in Scotland, where our 31 medical schools are sited. The distribution will need to reflect the different legal arrangements which apply and will thus need to be apportioned on the advice of the head of the department of general practice in each medical school.

My hon. Friend the Minister has a reputation for getting things done, so I should be grateful if she would reassure the House of effective progress on all three fronts. May we be told how soon the discussions, which in one form or another have occupied the time of three Administrations, can be satisfactorily completed? In short, will the DHSS and the Department of Education and Science acknowledge that they have a joint responsibility for funding medical education and get their act together rather than continuing to pass the buck to and fro?

Ann Widdecombe – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Ann Widdecombe in the House of Commons on 28 October 1987.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my first speech in the House in this important debate. In doing so, I pay tribute to my distinguished predecessor, Sir John Wells, who served the constituency with dedication and distinction for 28 years. His period of service will be remembered by his former constituents with respect and affection, as I am sure it will also be remembered by Members of the House. He earned respect for his exemplary chairmanship of many important parliamentary Committees and affection for the colourful way in which he sometimes drew attention to the needs of his constituents. On one occasion, he arrived for the day’s business on a horse. On another, he enlivened proceedings in the Chamber by eating an apple—a Kentish apple, of course—during the debate. I hope to follow his example in dedicating myself to the service of my constituents, but I shall not be eating any apples in the Chamber, as history attests rather strongly to the unfortunate results of ladies eating apples where they should not.

My constituency has suffered badly from the recent wind storms. As a horticulturist, Sir John Wells would have understood all too well the misery and devastation suffered by many farmers, expecially the fruit farmers whose industry takes up such a large part of the constituency that I have the honour to serve. I hope that the Government will see fit to provide some compensation, in however cautious and measured a way, to those who have lost their livelihood not just in the immediate term but for years to come, because it will be some time before replanted trees can be expected to produce crops which will generate income.

Leaving the country areas for the town of Maidstone, I am proud to have in that town concrete and tangible evidence of the Government’s firm commitment to the National Health Service in the shape of a large new modern hospital. I regret to tell the House, however, that, due to inequitable distribution of funds by the South East Thames regional health authority, that hospital is not being used as fully or as beneficially as it should be. On an appropriate future occasion, I hope to draw attention to the difficulties experienced by my constituents as a result of that inequitable distribution of funds.

I address myself to the debate and to the Opposition amendments in the sure knowledge that I address myself to a subject of the utmost importance and interest to my constituents. I begin by congratulating the Government on the Defence Estimates and particularly on the sound basis on which they have drawn up plans for the nation’s security. I believe that the people of Britain will draw great comfort and reassurance from the fact that they are governed by a party which is wholly committed to an effective nuclear deterrent.

I spent many hours yesterday and some today listening to Opposition Members decrying the Trident programme. I thought that they had been sufficiently effectively answered yesterday, but today we have heard the same tired arguments, based on the same flawed logic. Both in their amendments and in the many distinguished speeches that we have heard, the Opposition have claimed that the Trident programme is undesirable because it eats into conventional defence expenditure. There is a severe absence of logic in that statement. It is true that if we did not spend the money on Trident we could use it to purchase conventional weapons or, indeed, anything we liked — sacks of potatoes, biros, pounds of butter, or whatever. If we are to spend Trident money on something other than Trident, we must ask ourselves whether the optional thing that we are purchasing is capable of doing the job of Trident. If it is not capable of doing that job and fulfilling the aims of Trident, it does not matter that we could buy it with Trident money. It is totally irrelevant.

The sole objective of Trident is to deter a potentially hostile force from launching a nuclear attack on this country, or to deter a hostile force with overwhelmingly superior conventional forces from attempting to use that superiority to launch a conventional attack. Therefore, if we are to give up Trident to buy conventional weapons, we must demand that those weapons are an equally effective deterrent.

The statement on the Defence Estimates suggests that, if we devote all the Trident money to conventional weapons, we might be able to buy and maintain 300 tanks for an armoured division. I am sure that it is very laudable and worthy to buy 300 tanks for an armoured division but, when the Warsaw pact countries have a superiority of 30,000 tanks, it will not be a very effective deterrent. We can do the same arithmetical exercise for artillery, where we are outnumbered by 3:1, and in anti-tank guided weapons by 1.6:1. We can continue that exercise, but we shall not end up with a replacement that serves the same aim as Trident. We shall simply replace something designed to do one job with something designed to do a totally different job.

Opposition Members were not terribly kind to the Government last night when summing up. The hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. Hughes) said that he would not award a CSE pass to the Government for the reasoning behind their Defence Estimates but, after listening yesterday and for several hours today to the Opposition, I do not believe that they have reached a standard of elementary logic which would get them through the 11-plus. Perhaps that is why they have such an antipathy towards that examination. My nephews and nieces at the age of eight or nine, let alone 11, could have told Opposition Members that, if they are given the bus fare to get home and they spend it on a taxi ride, they will not get the same value because the bus will take them only a few yards.

If we spend the Trident money on 300 tanks or whatever—frigates are much beloved of the Opposition —we shall find that we have gone not even a few yards or feet but only a few inches towards an effective deterrent, whereas Trident would do the entire job, so the logic is flawed. If we all took to the hills—as the Opposition came perilously close to suggesting not long ago—and invested our Trident money in bows and arrows, those bows and arrows might outnumber those of the Warsaw pact countries and would be about as useful as some of the arguments put forward by the Opposition.

Opposition Members are trying to have it all ways when they argue that, if we are to have an independent deterrent, it must be truly independent. I am not quite sure what Opposition Members stand for. The distinguished and right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said that we do not have a truly independent deterrent because the Americans will do the servicing. We said very clearly—I am sorry that the Opposition did not understand the point—that we shall always have control over some of the missiles. Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously believe that, when he sends a suit to the cleaners, he has no clothes at all and must come into the Chamber in a state of sartorial dilapidation because he has no suit?

Finally, in desperation, Opposition Members decided to try to claim that the conventional imbalance was a figment of the Government’s imagination, that it did not exist, and in support of that they triumphantly produced a document brought out by the International Institute for Strategic Studies and quoted it with the reverence normally reserved for Holy Writ. They said, “Look, this says something entirely different.” I have read that document and I find that within its figures there is ample evidence, which is clearly set out and not at all disguised, that the Warsaw pact enjoys an overwhelming numerical superiority of conventional weapons. I commend page 226 to the Opposition for further study. They may not have got that far.

The amendment submitted in the name of the Leader of the Opposition is serious, because it exhorts the Government to take a headlong flight to abandon and abolish all battlefield nuclear weapons simultaneously with reductions on the conventional side. That is simply and solely the wrong timing. There must be no further reductions beyond the INF treaty agreements. There must be no further reductions in nuclear weapons until such time as the conventional imbalance — whether one believes the Government’s document or the IISS document—is eliminated.

In that context, I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Minister for reassurance later. It is said that the statement on the Defence Estimates was drawn up at a time when the finer ramifications of the INF proposals, particularly the inclusion of shorter-range intermediate missiles, had riot been fully understood. Such are the massive implications for our conventional spending, not only for Britain, which already spends the third highest percentage of gross domestic product in NATO on defence, but for all our NATO partners, that we should be assured that not only will there be no simultaneous negotiations for the reduction of battlefield nuclear weapons, but that there will be a good long cool gap before any agreement that we may reach on conventional weapons while we assess the implications.

So desperate were the anti-Trident Opposition that they said that there was supposed to be an escalation of the arms race. One sees such words in the amendments. That is interesting. An arms race implies that each side is trying to keep up with the other, but as I read it, the number of warheads on Trident is a lower proportion of Warsaw pact warheads than Polaris was when we first had it. So that is not an escalation.

The Opposition used the worn-out argument that because the warheads were independently targeted, we had increased our numbers. However, if one is talking about an arms race, one must also look at what the other side is doing. Surely it is only prudent, when designing a system, to say that if one ever reached the highly undesirable state when one needed to increase one’s warheads, one should have the system to make that possible. The cost of the Chevaline operation that was forced upon the Labour Government can be interpreted as the cost of not having sufficient forward defence planning at the time of procurement.

I regret that in this, my first speech in the House, I have had to devote so much time to the wild and woolly arguments of the Opposition. I am also rather surprised that they are still putting forward in the House the Alice-in-Wonderland reasoning that lost them the June election. I say to them: Come back from Wonderland. Do not go through the looking glass with Alice. Instead, stay in front of the looking glass and take a good long look. Do the Opposition’s policies reflect public opinion? No. But more importantly, do their policies have any bearing on the real world? Surely the answer must still be no. Thus the Opposition should stand at that looking glass and look in. But my belief is that the general public, as exhibited in poll after poll, have reason to be thankful and grateful to the Government who have drawn up their plans on a sound and effective deterrent rather than being able to offer no strategy and no alternative.

Gillian Shephard – 1987 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Gillian Shephard in the House of Commons on 23 October 1987.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me to make my first speech in this House during a debate on health matters which are of prime concern to my constituents in south-west Norfolk.
I am privileged to represent one of the most beautiful and certainly one of the most diverse of rural constituencies in my native county. I am no less privileged to follow in the footsteps of my distinguished predecessor, Sir Paul Hawkins, who won the seat in 1964 and whose wisdom, quiet courtesy and deep knowledge of all constituency and farming matters will be as much missed in Norfolk, South-West as in this House. In his maiden speech he described Norfolk, South-West as one of the finest farming contituencies, and, despite the many developments and changes since then, not least in boundaries, that fact remains true today.

The constituency covers more than 1,000 square miles of varied countryside. It stretches from productive fen land west of Downham Market, where crops include fruit and vegetables, where profitable holdings on the Norfolk county council smallholdings estate can be as small as 30 acres and whose inhabitants are extremely proud to be known as fen tigers, through the large Thetford forest to the unique area of Breckland, which was recently designated as an environmentally sensitive area. In the east of the constituency the farming pattern changes to large arable undertakings.

Such a large and diverse constituency is bound to have its problems, some of which I hope in due course to help solve. Obviously, there are current problems in agriculture: and there can be no part of my constituency which will be unaffected by policy changes. Indeed, the percentage of people statistically described as directly employed in agriculture masks a much larger number involved in haulage, mechanical and agricultural engineering, food processing and cider making. Their livelihoods depend on a prosperous agricultural sector.

My constituents are not afraid of hard work, nor are they unrealistic, but they will look to the Government to provide a clear framework for agricultural policy within which to work and plan. They want that framework soon in a year which has seen the worst harvest weather for decades, the threat of rhizomania, flooding and a hurricane.

The economy of my constituency is not now uniquely agricultural. Thanks to a productive partnership between English Estates and the relevant local authorities we have flourishing industries in our market towns; notably Thetford, where several large industrial companies are based.

There is no shortage of enterprise in the area, but if our companies are to compete on equal terms with those elsewhere we need improved road and rail links. The completion of the dualling of the A11 and A47 and the electrification of the Liverpool Street to Kings Lynn line is essential. I hope that it will not be too long before Norwich ceases to be the only connurbation of its size— 250,000 people — that is approached by a medieval network of single track roads. I shall continue to campaign for improvements, some of which are now in hand.

Much attention will rightly be paid in this Parliament, and no doubt in this debate, to the problems of the inner cities. No doubt we shall be hearing much of Watford and what lies to the north and south of it. From time to time, I shall remind the House that there are areas of the United Kingdom that lie to the east of it and that the particular concerns of scattered rural communities such as my constituency also merit attention. In an area such as Norfolk, South-West the delivery of services such as education and health requires a degree of ingenuity that is not needed in Bromley or Bradford.

Norfolk, South-West is served by three health authorities that have so far benefited tremendously from the recent RAWP allocations, which took account of our growing population and increasing numbers of elderly.

With regard to health promotion, I am delighted that East Anglia has experienced a 26 per cent. reduction in perinatal mortality since 1978 and a large increase in the numbers of children who have been vaccinated against whooping cough and measles. It is excellent that last July Norwich health authority introduced its computerised recall system for cervical cancer tests. The West Norfolk and Wisbech health authority is ready to start its breast screening programme. All those developments are particularly welcome to women of all social classes.

The delivery aspect of health education and promotion is all-important. Unless health promotion messages are comprehensible to the individual, acceptable and workable for the health professional and affordable for the public purse they are worthless. I am delighted that the point about the delivery of the health promotion message has already been raised in the debate.

I should like to commend to the House a scheme that has been devised by the Norwich health authority for localised community health care. Its main merit is the getting across to all sections of the community of the message of health promotion. The scheme is based on GPs’ practices or groups of practices and it serves population groups of 25,000. It is therefore comprehensible to patients, because in Norfolk, South-West, as in other parts of the country, almost everybody is registered with a GP. Each population group is served by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and that team includes the GP, thus spanning the somewhat artificial divide that is not perceived by the patient between health authority and family practitioner committee provided services. The team includes community and psychiatric nurses, midwives, health visitors, a speech therapist, a physiotherapist, a clinical psychologist, dietician and occupational therapist. It fosters links with social services and the voluntary sector. The contribution that such a group can make to health promotion within the community on diet, exercise and looking after one’s heart can have an impact at local level, where it matters, by involving schools, adult education, commerce and industry, voluntary groups and the local media. It involves a group of health professionals as professional equals, so it can exploit and use to the full, in a way that amounts to more than the sum of the parts, the skills and knowledge of all members of that team to the enormous benefit of the community.

I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on her enthusiastic and successful support of health promotion at national level. At the same time, I emphasise that it is the delivery at local level that will ensure that her policies reach people.

Cecil Parkinson – 1987 Speech on the City and Industry

Below is the text of the speech made by Cecil Parkinson in the House of Commons on 28 January 1987.

I have listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) and his discussion on the big bang and the City revolution. Last week, we heard the speeches of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and today from the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Wrigglesworth) which seemed to imply that the whole City revolution was started by the Conservative Government as a way of creating a sort of free-and-easy in the City.

I wish to remind the House that the rule book of the stock exchange was referred to the restrictive practices court in February 1979 by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. It was the Labour party that decided that the stock exchange. in its old form, was guilty of unacceptable restrictive practices and set out to make sure that the stock exchange rules were changed.

In 1983, the Conservative Government, after four wasted years on the legal case, sought to get the equivalent of an out-of-court settlement and we obtained from the stock exchange all the concessions that were sought by the Office of Fair Trading when it started its action. Indeed, the Director General of Fair Trading, who initially resisted the actions that I took, later admitted that the reforms that had been agreed were the ones he and the Labour Government had had in mind. Therefore, the notion that the free and easy City was started by the Conservative Government and that all troubles such as Guinness flow from it does not stand up to examination. The truth of the matter is that — perhaps the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook is ashamed of it and perhaps he did not realise what he was doing — that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook set the changes in train.

It is a mistake to think that the big bang was somehow connected with the Guinness and Distillers affair. That wrong thinking argues that, because of the big bang and the resultant changes, affairs such as that of Guinness have become possible. The Guinness affair was concluded in March but the changes to the City took place on 27 October.

The hon. Member for Stockton, South spoke about the absence of a regulatory system after the big bang but the troubles of which he complained took place before the big bang under the old system. The other fallacy is that because of the big bang and the Guinness affair the new system of regulation has been discredited and there is convincing evidence that what we now need is a statutory system of regulations. It is argued that because of the existence of the Securities and Exchange Commission, insider trading and the Guinness affair came to light.

Mr. Boesky’s activities came to the attention of the SEC because someone wrote an anonymous letter to it about Mr. Levene and his insider trading. Mr. Levene then talked about Mr. Boesky and Mr. Boesky talked about Guinness. It was not because of the magical powers of the SEC that Mr. Boesky’s activities came to light; it was because of an anonymous letter. I would have thought that the Securities and Investments Board is just as capable as the SEC of receiving an anonymous letter.

Mr. Nelson Although I accept that the SIB is capable of receiving such a letter, there is nothing that the SIB can do about it.

Mr. Parkinson I appreciate that, on the Conservative Benches, my hon. Friend is almost a lone devotee of the SEC. The Opposition have argued that there is a need for a body such as the SEC but nothing that has happened justifies that argument. The fact is that Mr. Boesky prospered for four years under the SEC. He made hundreds of millions of dollars and he was discovered only by accident. There is no argument for trying to impose on Britain the system that failed in America.

Opposition Members make a big mistake by arguing that statutory somehow means certain. The impression is that if one has statutory regulations it is bound to work.

Mr. Allan Rogers rose—

Mr. Parkinson I shall give way in a moment.

Allow me to offer to the House the experience that I gained when I was Trade Minister. We were having trouble with the Americans who were trying to extend their market regulations into our commodity markets. I invited the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission—that is another statutory body—to come over and see how we regulated our markets. At the end of the week, he admitted that our system of self-regulation was better than theirs. Unfortunately, he had to leave early because Hunts had cornered the silver market — his statutory system had failed. Therefore, to believe that somehow statutory means certain and that, as a result a statutory system, discovering people is inevitable has no basis when one considers the experience of the American or other markets overseas.

Mr. Rogers If we accepted the logic of the right hon. Gentleman’s argument we would not need statutory regulations to catch criminals. The process that led to the apprehension of the criminals in this case is exactly the same that pertains in many instances, for example, in America, when one canary sings and the rest of the Mafia are pulled in. American crooks are just the same as British crooks.

Mr. Parkinson The hon. Gentleman is implying that we will have a system that is voluntary and, in some way, unenforceable. That is the big difference between the two sides of the House.
We do not know whether the SIB will work as it is not fully in place and, therefore, to argue its failure before it is in operation is to overstate one’s prejudices.

The SIB is not a voluntary body exercising, if it wishes, powers. It is a body made up of practitioners in the market who understand how the system works but who have imposed upon them, by law, statutory duties that they must carry out. We have a system that is based on the law but run by people who understand the market.

I believe that our system is imaginative and that it will work. It is quite wrong for Opposition Members to argue in favour of the SEC, a system that has patently failed, and to dismiss the SIB which is not yet in operation and which we have every reason to believe will be a success.

The hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch congratulated one of his hon. Friends because he tripped up the Secretary of State by asking him why investment was not bigger than it was in 1979. Today’s debate is on the City and I would argue that it was not a shortage of funds that caused a shortage of investment. That is the implication of the Opposition’s motion.

When I first went into the City as a chartered accountant more than 20 years ago there were few sources of capital. One could get short-term money from the joint stock banks, the ICFC that took minority stakes in medium-sized businesses, the merchant banks—but they wanted a substantial stake in the company if they agreed to be involved — and the stock exchange. Therefore, many companies went to the stock exchange far earlier than they should have done. That was the only way to get the necessary money.

Now everything is different. There are venture capital organisations, the joint stock banks have their own merchant banks, business expansion schemes have been introduced and the banks are more ready to lend money. There is, in fact, a proliferation of sources of capital. There is no shortage of money for a good proposition. To criticise the City because the figures show that investment has not increased is to misunderstand the fact that the money is available, but the demand for it has not been there. That is hardly the City’s fault, and the demand is growing.

It is wrong to argue that the City has failed in its job of providing capital. There is growing demand for investment capital, and I am pleased about that. However, it is wrong to imply as the Opposition motion does, that the cause of our less than desired investment is shortage of money. It has been shortage of good propositions.

When the Labour Government were in power we had low company profitability and high rates of yield on gilts, and the stock exchange was used by the Government as a way to fund their ever increasing debt. It is outrageous of the Labour party to criticise the stock exchange because it does not provide enough capital when it was creating an economic climate in which business could not make the profits that justified further investment. We do not want any nonsense from the Labour party about the stock exchange. Nobody used the stock exchange more actively than the Labour Government, to raise money at high yields that were beyond the reach of industry, thus pricing industry out of the investment business.

There is a notion that the British investment institutions take a short-term view. This morning, I was at a meeting of the board of a unit trust group that handles £4 billion of savers’ money. We have over 400,000 investors. When Labour Members talk about City institutions and how they are investing money, they talk as if they are the private property of the people who are running the organisations. We are investing the savings of 400,000 people, and it is no part of our business to experiment with them. We have to invest them soundly so that we can give a proper return to those who save with us.

The House partly contributes to the problem of short-term thinking in the City and investing institutions because we have such relatively short parliamentary terms. We have to face the fact that the two sides of the House offer the electorate a different economic system. One of the reasons why our investors shorten their thinking is the uncertainty that could arise if we had a change of Government. Unlike other, successful capitalist countries, we have an Opposition who basically do not believe in private enterprise, so do not support the system.

I refer now to BTR and Pilkington. We have supported enthusiastically the privatisation of nationalised industries, because we believe that the Government are a bad commercial decision taker and should be taken out of commercial decision taking wherever possible. We have also supported the sales because we believe in wider share ownership and giving people a stake in the businesses in which they work and a say in how those businesses are run.

It struck me as absolutely unbelievable, when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State took the correct decision that the takeover was a matter for the shareholders of Pilkington, and that there should not be a reference, that that decision was criticised by people who have made speech after speech saying that Governments should not take commercial decisions, we should privatise and reduce the size of the public sector. It is wrong of the House to say that we want to take the Government out of commercial decision taking, we want to privatise and spread share ownership, but then to say that there are a range of decisions that are far too important to be left to people such as shareholders, and the Government should intervene and take those decisions.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is to be congratulated on resisting the pressure to refer the BTR bid. That pressure was not the result of a genuine desire to see the Monopolies and Mergers Commission do its job. The only reason why anybody wanted the reference was to delay the bid and to mess it about. It was not to allow the MMC the chance to decide whether the bid was in the public interest.

I have one thing to say to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about the review of mergers policy. We have broad criteria which my right hon. Friend uses in arriving at his decisions about whether to accept the advice of the OFT, and the principal criterion is that of national and public interest. My right hon. Friend has been urged to come forward with a series of very tightly drawn specific proposals. I hope that he will resist that advice, as he resisted the advice on Pilkington.

As an accountant, I found that the section of the tax law that was most effective was the general anti-avoidance provision. The more specific the provisions, the easier it was to get around them. The more specific the rules about takeovers and mergers, the easier it will be for people to work their way round them, and my right hon. Friend will be legislating continuously. With the national interest criteria applied sensibly and wisely, my right hon. Friend has the basis for good decision taking. I hope that he will not allow himself to pushed or cajoled into thinking that if he comes forward with specific and clear-cut rules he will be doing something worthwhile. The present rules, with the national and public interests, as the main criteria, are just what he needs.

I heard the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) quoting the theory that one of the problems is that a company that makes investments and does research makes itself vulnerable. The idea is that one can either be profitable or invest and do research. The best companies do both, and they do them in tandem. I know that Labour Members admire the SEC greatly, so I was interested to read a speech by the acting assistant Attorney General of the anti-trust division of the American Government. He said this about the argument that one makes oneself vulnerable if one does research: Finally, this argument is also contradicted by an SEC study that demonstrates firms that are subsquently takeover targets spend relatively less on research and development than firms in the same industry that are not takeover targets. The idea that one makes oneself vulnerable in this way is nonsense. Companies that are not doing research are shown, by the Labour party’s favourite, much admired organisation, the SEC, to he the vulnerable ones.

Andrew Mitchell – 1987 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Andrew Mitchell in the House of Commons on 20 July 1987.

I rise to address the House for the first time in a spirit of great humility—deeply honoured to represent my constituency in this place.

I am particularly pleased to have caught your eye relatively early in the Session, Madam Deputy Speaker, so that I may pay tribute to my predecessor, Sir Philip Holland. Philip’s love and knowledge of this place and his service to his constituency was well known and well respected—as much in Gedling as in this House.

I mean no disrespect to Acton when I say that Philip graduated from that seat, from 1959 to 1964, to Carlton, which he went on to represent for 21 years—latterly as the constituency of Gedling, following the Boundary Commission’s most recent review.

Any hon. Member who chairs the Committee of Selection and yet remains so well liked and respected by hon. Members on both sides of the House must be endowed with the greatest of skills. Only time will tell whether any of my hon. Friends will take up Sir Philip’s mantle as a great hunter of quangos. I have been left in no doubt over the past few weeks that Philip’s many friends on both sides of the House will join me in wishing him and Lady Jo Holland a long and happy retirement.

The House may be aware that I am not the first member of my family to have taken his seat in this House; indeed, I am at least the fourth to have done so. Nevertheless, over the past three weeks I have come to the confident conclusion that not since Lloyd George have so many people known my father.

I beg to suggest that the constituency of Gedling is insufficiently well known outside Nottinghamshire. The rural deanery of Gedling, which gave its name to the refashioned seat of Carlton in 1983, is far more compact than its predecessor, having lost all the land south of the River Trent. My constituency stands at the crossroads of England, with a foot in the north, a foot in the south, but its heart in the Midlands.

Many hon. Members wax lyrical about the rural or urban nature of their constituencies and their agricultural or commercial interests. The great delight and at traction of the Gedling constituency lies in the exciting cross-section of the great variety of our national life that it provides. From the rural beauty and farming lands at the northern end to the more industrial areas of Netherfield and Colwick, my constituency includes the prime residential areas of Carlton, Woodthorpe and Arnold, perched either side of a hilly ridge. It also contains the attractive villages of Gedling, Burton Joyce and Stoke Bardolph, which include two of the most beautiful churches in the country which date from Saxon times. The Gedling colliery is achieving record productivity. It has been recruiting new members to the industry over the past six months and is an important feature of my constituency.

The quality of life enjoyed by my constituents is, by and large, excellent. We are particularly well served by the fine health facilities in Nottinghamshire which have seen a 30 per cent. decrease in waiting lists over the past four years. My constituents profit from living under the benign sway of the Gedling borough council, which is continuously singled out for praise by the Audit Commission for its standards of efficiency and service provision. Indeed, the council had its own version of the right to buy before the Government introduced their Housing Bill in 1980. We receive national and international delegations to inspect our housing schemes for the elderly and the frail elderly.

Of great significance is the fact that Gedling lies alongside the city of Nottingham. We know only too well that what happens in Nottingham today affects us in Gedling tomorrow. Gedling’s wealth and success are inextricably linked to the future of Nottingham city. As I try to follow that rocky pathway which is the lot of a Government Back Bencher, travelling as it does between toadyism and revolt, I shall be hoping, Madam Deputy Speaker, to catch your eye in the future when the Government’s bold plans to tackle the problems of our inner city come under discussion. We have much to be proud of in Gedling, and I am pleased to have been able to tell the House briefly some of those things.

Many of my constituents have followed the passage of this Bill with keen interest. The measures which passed into law before the election were widely welcomed. The help for business in dealing with VAT and in reducing small companies’ corporation tax was warmly supported, as was the further help for the blind and the elderly. Above all, we have had the welcome reduction in income tax. Today we are asked to give a Third Reading to this Bill. the greater part of which reintroduces proposals for tax relief for profit-related pay, as well as extending the accessibility and flexibility of personal pension schemes. I warmly welcome both measures. As my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary said on Second Reading: The working of the labour market remains one of the greatest weaknesses in this country.” —[Official Report, 8 July 1987; Vol. 119, c. 356.] There is common cause on both sides of the House that the level of unemployment remains appallingly high.

I hope that I am being equally uncontroversial when I say that it is the supply side of our economy that must particularly command our attention and the Bill, with these two principal measures, makes a direct contribution on that front. In spite of significant progress on the supply side, there remain real restrictions on job mobility, occasioned by the lack of private rented accommodation and immobility within the council housing system.

The problems within education and training are well rehearsed, but the results are that we do not always turn out children equipped to compete in today’s industries or win tomorrow’s jobs. There are still problems within the labour market which hinder productivity along with our industrial performance. Above all, there is the absurdity of a system whose rigidities can attribute greater value to being unemployed than to working.

Tax relief for profit-related pay will ecourage the widespread adoption of such schemes and will help to dispel any vestige of that bizarre myth which was prevalent during the days of our economic decline in some parts of the private sector —that pay is somehow not in reality always directly linked to profitability.

These measures will help further to eradicate the them-and-us sentiments which for so long have dogged British industry. They will extend and enhance a community of interest between employee, employer and shareholder and secure a more motivated and committed work force. Above all, who can doubt that such measures, when implemented, will act to cut unemployment by ensuring less risk for an employer contemplating taking on labour as well as acting as an alternative to redundancy when times are bad?

I believe that the clauses which relate to private pensions will secure an equally warm welcome. They improve the lot of the early leaver, and perhaps I should declare an interest at this point. It is a sad fact that many who have changed careers during their working life are particularly disadvantaged in respect of their pension entitlements. The relevant clauses in the Bill will not only increase the freedom to choose in pension planning but free another rigidity in the labour market over the long term.

The Bill’s provisions join the many other economic measures taken by the Government to improve choice and freedom for millions of our fellow citizens. Such measures also extend personal responsibility greatly within society. It is the extent to which these opportunities and responsibilities have been grasped throughout society which is truly remarkable. Many of these measures have been practical methods to improve the commercial operation of our economy, but they are part of a shift in opinions and ideas, and expression of a new consensus which has sprung up. They mark a sea change in public opinion. It may be that the Falklands factor disguised the extent of support for this new reality, but the 1987 third election victory is a message which cannot be ignored on the Opposition Benches. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) acknowledges these truths in his books and in his more recent speech in the debate on the Loyal Address. I dare to suggest that even the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) has shown an awareness of these new realities and aspirations over the past few weeks.

It was a Conservative Prime Minister returning to office in 1951 who reflected in the House that the nation required time to allow certain Socialist legislation to reach its full fruition. Although the positions are not comparable, I hope that the Opposition will accept how great has been the revolution in the spread of choice and ownership within society as well as in personal responsibilities keenly grasped. It is time for the Opposition to embrace these verities.