Paul Tyler – 1992 Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the speech made by Paul Tyler, the then Liberal Democrat MP for Cornwall, North, in the House of Commons on 6 May 1992. Tyler had briefly been an MP in 1974 and had made his maiden speech then, but this was a similar style of speech to that.

May I be the first Liberal Democrat Member to congratulate you, Madam Deputy Speaker, on your elevation to your new post. I hope that I shall be forgiven by other right hon. and hon. Members from the south-west for congratulating you on your new position on behalf of the south-west Now that we have no Minister representing a constituency west of Bristol, we must look to you as our principal guide and mentor, and I hope that you will ensure that those from the south-west—the wild west—are given the opportunity to speak. I hope that we shall have the opportunity to catch your eye on future occasions.

I have heard six excellent maiden speeches in today’s debate. The last one—from the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton)—was particularly adroit and adept. It was also succinct—an especially admirable virtue to those of us who have been waiting to speak. The hon. Gentleman gave particular emphasis to employment—a matter to which I should like to return—and no doubt the points that he made about his constituents’ employment difficulties would be echoed in many hon. Members’ constituencies.

It is 18 years since I made my maiden speech from this Bench. It was a long time ago, and a number of right hon. and hon. Members were not even Members of the House at that stage. I well remember the difficulty that I experienced in catching the eye of the Deputy Speaker on that occasion, waiting throughout a long debate and trying to make the right speech for the occasion. Today, we have been admirably well served by the six hon. Members who have broken the ice.

When I made my speech all those years ago, I had the misfortune to be serving in one of the shortest Sessions of Parliament and to have one of the most minuscule majorities—a majority of only nine. I hope that, in this Parliament, I shall have improved on both. Several changes have taken place. Then, I represented the now defunct constituency of Bodmin. I now represent the constituency of Cornwall, North, which you, Madam Deputy Speaker, know well. It is a glorious constituency renowned for the character both of its people and of its places. It has been the popular holiday haunt of many famous Members of Parliament, including one very distinguished former Member of the House, the previous Prime Minister, who I suppose is now caught in limbo somewhere between this House and the other place, although I forget how we properly describe the purgatory between the two.

Sadly, when I spoke on that occasion 18 years ago, the situation was rather more propitious than it is today. As hon. Members on both sides of the House have remarked, the word “employment”—or “unemployment”—does not appear in the Gracious Speech. There are many hon. Members on both sides of the House who, while accepting the special requirements of inner cities, to which the Prime Minister referred in his speech, and which will be reflected in and addressed by the urban regeneration agency, are nevertheless concerned that concentration on the problems of inner cities may mean that insufficient attention is paid to the deep-seated economic problems of the more rural areas of England, Wales, Scotland and Cornwall. I suggest that the hidden needs of many of those communities, rarely as newsworthy as those of the inner cities, also deserve special attention.

I will illustrate that point by referring to some of the circumstances which have changed since, as a very new Member of Parliament, I made my maiden speech just over 18 years ago. I referred then to housing waiting lists and to the homeless in my constituency. Today, repossessions stand at 16 times their 1974 level. In Devon and Cornwall there are more families in bed-and-breakfast accommodation than ever before, and the waiting lists for rented accommodation are simply impossible. Another change is that the mainstay of the local rural economy—the small family farm consisting mostly of livestock—has worse income levels today than it did before the war. That is not a political point—it is a point that has been intelligently and well argued by the special unit at Exeter university.

Thirdly, small businesses, which in comparative terms were thriving those years ago, are now in considerable difficulties. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway) referred to the difficulty with the uniform business rate. We very much regret that the uniform business rate has not been pegged at last year’s level and is still edging its way up. In parts of Cornwall, 50 per cent. of holiday businesses are up for sale. That represents a vote of no confidence in what for them has been the last straw—the level and valuation level of the uniform business rate.

As I said, the starkest indicator of change in those 18 years has been the change in the employment pattern. This afternoon I asked the Library to give me the figures for North Cornwall 18 years ago and today. In 1974, a total of 800 people were on the unemployment register—2.5 per cent. of the population. That figure has risen more than sevenfold, to 5,621—nearly 17 per cent. of the total work force in the North Cornwall constituency. More than 3,900 men, or 23 per cent., and 1,600 women, or 9 per cent., are unemployed. Our problem is comparable with some of the worst problems of the inner cities to which the Prime Minister referred. That is a rise of more than 50 per cent. in the last six months, seasonally adjusted. In some journey-to-work areas in the constituency, up to one in three employable men are now without a job. Many of them are young and many of them are long-term unemployed. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) said, rural areas are suffering deprivation—often hidden but nevertheless real—in terms of public services and opportunities for their citizens. While we recognise the case and welcome the special attention for the inner cities that will be effected by the new agency, we believe that in the far-flung areas of Britain which require special attention because of deep-seated economic problems and structural changes in the employment pattern we must have regionally based development agencies.

We take some comfort from the fact that the new Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who served his political apprenticeship close to your constituency, Madam Deputy Speaker, and to mine, is well known to be enthusiastic for the concept of locally generated development agencies. We hope that he will carry forward that enthusiasm in his new Department and use it to set up agencies that will be effective in turning the tide of unemployment in areas such as yours, Madam Deputy Speaker, and mine.

We must have areas with integrity and clear identities and with clear similarities of economic problems, opportunities and characteristics. They must have cohesion and a manageable size. They must also have a sense of identity. I hope that some guidance may be provided by the existing agency, the Rural Development Commission, which I had the privilege and pleasure to advise when I was not a Member of this place. The new agency must be deeply rooted in the local community.

My right hon. and hon. Friends and I welcome the tone of constructive intervention which we believe may well be personified in the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. That is surely a far cry from the high tide and heyday of high Thatcherism. We want to ensure that the tone which has crept into ministerial voices is now carried through into action. Words are not enough.

John Whittingdale – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP for Colchester South and Maldon, in the House of Commons on 6 July 1992.

It is with great pleasure that, in this my maiden speech, I follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen), whose views I have long held in great regard. It is also a pleasure to follow my hon. Friends the Members for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Hawksley) and for Milton Keynes, South-West (Mr. Legg) and the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Keen), all of whom made excellent maiden speeches and made my task considerably more difficult.

As this is the first time that I have spoken in the Chamber it is only right that my first act should be to pay tribute to my predecessor, Lord Wakeham. For 17 years John Wakeham represented, first, the constituency of Maldon and Rochford, and then my constituency of Colchester, South and Maldon. He did so with enormous distinction in a way that won him friends throughout the area. I have lost count of the number of people who have come up to me in the past year and told me that I have a hard act to follow. But I have never doubted that they were absolutely right.

In this place, John Wakeham was perhaps better known for his role in Government. He is one of that dwindling band who joined the Government in May 1979 and has remained a member of it ever since. In that time, he has held an enormous variety of positions, but he will be best remembered for his time as Chief Whip when he set a standard against which all his successors are likely to be judged. He once described himself as the Minister for stopping the Government doing silly things. It is a cause of great pleasure to my constituents and all Government supporters that he is still in the Cabinet and still fulfilling that role.

In 1984 John Wakeham suffered severe injuries in the bombing of the Grand hotel at Brighton, which also caused the death of his first wife. I am sure that no one in the House who witnessed it will forget the moment when a few months later he walked back into the Chamber unaided. I remember listening to that event on the radio, and in particular the reception that he was given by hon. Members. It was a tribute to his remarkable courage—a courage that he has displayed every day since that terrible event.

I should also like to mention some of my other predecessors. Before 1983, the Colchester part of my constituency was ably represented by Sir Antony Buck and, before him, by Lord Alport, to both of whom my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) paid deserved tribute. Previous Members of Parliament for Maldon include Brian Harrison, who now lives in Australia but is still a regular visitor to the district. It was also once represented by Tom Driberg, who will be remembered as one of the more colourful Members of Parliament. Earlier still the constituency was represented by Mr. Quintin Dick, who is said to have spent more than any other hon. Member on bribery at parliamentary elections. I shall not follow his example, even if we do receive increased allowances for our office expenses.

My constituency stretches from the southern part of Colchester to take in the whole of the Maldon district. It is an area rich in history. Colchester was the first Roman capital of England and is Britain’s oldest recorded town. At the end of the Dengie peninsula, at Bradwell, is the chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall—one of the first Christian churches in England. It is just a short distance from Bradwell power station—the first Magnox nuclear power station to be built in Britain.

Maldon itself was made a royal borough in 1171, and almost 200 years earlier was the subject of repeated assaults by invading Danes. The battle of Maldon in 991, in which the great Saxon leader Bryhtnoth was slain, inspired a famous Anglo-Saxon poem. Last year, the battle was re-enacted as part of the millennium celebrations. The House will be glad to learn that my constituents now regard the Danes in a much friendlier light.

The recession has hit my constituents hard. The Colchester Lathe Company has announced its intention to cease production, light industrial companies throughout Essex have shed labour, and retailers, small business men, and the construction industry continue to suffer from lack of demand.

Confidence among Essex business men remains low. I am frequently asked what are the Government doing to bring about an upturn. I have always replied that it is not in the Government’s power to conjure up recovery. Only business can create lasting jobs, and it is the Government’s duty to create the right climate in which enterprise can flourish.

Having spent almost three years as special adviser to three of my right hon. Friend’s predecessors as President of the Board of Trade, I read with interest his proposals to reorganise the Department of Trade and Industry. I welcome in particular his efforts to improve communications between that Department and industry and to reduce further the regulatory burdens on business.

However, the key to recovery lies more with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As I said, it is primarily for the Government to create the economic conditions in which recovery can take place. In the words of my right hon. Friend’s amendment, that can best be done by controlling public spending, reducing taxation, relieving business of burdens, and, above all, getting inflation down. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Chancellor on his success in achieving that aim, and agree that nothing must be done to jeopardise the progress made so far. I hope, however, that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will take the earliest possible opportunity to reduce interest rates again. With inflation falling, the real level of interest rates is actually rising, which is adding to the difficulties facing my constituents.

I hope also that when interest rates fall again, that will be reflected in the rates charged by banks to small business men. I am concerned that too often they tell me that, despite the nine reductions in interest rates, the interest on their loans has not fallen accordingly—or that they have had to pay more in other charges.

The other essential requirement for recovery is continued control of public expenditure. In that, I agree absolutely with my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West. It is understandable at a time of recession that the public sector borrowing requirement will increase. Although it is higher than I would like, I am reassured that it is less than the average under the last Government, and that it is this Government’s intention to restore it to balance in the medium term. That will not be easy. It will require my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, like Ulysses, to lash himself to the mast and to fill his colleagues’ ears with wax so that they do not succumb to the siren voices in favour of higher public spending.

If my right hon. Friend does that, and if the proportion of our gross domestic product taken by public expenditure can once again be reduced, allowing industry and the public to keep still more of the wealth that they create, then I am confident that, as the recovery gathers pace, the future for commerce and industry in my constituency and throughout the country will be bright.

Eric Pickles – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the speech made by Eric Pickles, the then Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar, in the House of Commons on 5 June 1992.

thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for this opportunity to address the House for the first time. It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Raynsford). I have read many of his articles, always with pleasure. However, having reached the end of an article, I have often, regretfully, had to disagree with him.

I pay tribute to my predecessor, Sir Robert McCrindle, who served with great distinction the people of Brentwood and Ongar, and its predecessor constituencies, in the House. He was rightly regarded by his constituents with great affection. He spoke with great authority in many debates, particularly those on financial services and aviation. His first speech was typically a battle on behalf of his constituents with regard to compulsory purchase. His last speech was, again typically, a battle on behalf of Brentwood and Ongar. He told the Government in no uncertain terms that the people of Brentwood and Ongar do not want the M12, which is blighting my constituency. As you may know, Madam Deputy Speaker, Sir Robert did not enjoy the best of health during his last few years as a Member of Parliament. Therefore, I am sure that the whole House will be pleased to know that Sir Robert is now in very good health. I am confident that both he and his wife Myra will enjoy many happy and healthy years of retirement from politics.

Brentwood and Ongar is situated about 20 miles to the north-east of this House, in the county of Essex. Since my adoption of Essex, it has become clear to me that the people of the country are divided into two—those who come from Essex and those who wish they came from Essex. For a Yorkshireman to say that is true praise indeed.

My constituency straddles the two main conurbations of Abridge and West Horndon. It has played a curious and significant part in the nation’s history. According to Robert Graves, it was the scene where a singular battle over sovereignty was fought—not over the treaty of Rome but over the treaty of the Roman legions. It was the place where the Emperor Claudius met the ancient Britons. The residents of Brentwood and Ongar were the first to see elephants on these shores. Our association with elephants continued for 2,000 years. The East India Company decided to set up its training school for elephants in Brentwood. It was there that the first, second or even third sons of the landed gentry met those huge quadrupeds for the first time. Stories still abound among my constituents about these bewildered members of the aristocracy losing themselves in Brentwood and Ongar.

The site of that elephant training school is now the headquarters of Ford UK and Ford Europe. Many international and national companies are to be found in my constituency. Rhone Poulenc, a French pharmaceutical company, has based its research facility in Brentwood and Ongar. It is also the headquarters of Amstrad, the computer company which has done so much to ensure that ordinary people have the opportunity to own personal computers. While retaining its traditions, therefore, Brentwood and Ongar is a constituency which looks to the future. I am proud to represent it here.

About 80 per cent. of Brentwood and Ongar’s housing stock is now in owner-occupation. The two district councils are the largest providers of rented housing for the remaining 20 per cent. In Brentwood there has been a decline of about 3 per cent. a year in the public rented sector, largely as a result of right-to-buy. There have been more than 2,000 sales since the scheme began. That is a remarkable achievement.

Public housing was largely responsible for the forming of my own political views, contrary to the political tradition of my family. I was brought up on a council estate in the West Riding of Yorkshire where my parents ran a small corner shop. As I looked at the style and condition of the houses occupied by my friends and neighbours, my conviction grew that they deserved a better landlord. I served for many years on a local authority and do not want to paint all local authorities black, but, even when they are at their most benign, they do not make good landlords. They are cumbersome and bureaucratic. Pavements remain cracked for want of inspection; window frames remain unpainted for want of a form. Brave is a tenant who decides to take matters into his own hands. To me, there is no such thing as a golden age of public housing.

Any reasonable housing policy must be based on quality, diversity and choice. Above all, it must be based on what people want. People simply want to own their own homes. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders and a recent BBC survey, 77 per cent. of the population believe that to own their own homes is the ideal tenure. I have heard hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber argue that the British obsession with wanting to own one’s home is wrong. That message is particularly hard to swallow when it is given by people who come from families who are second, third or even fourth generation owner-occupiers. Perhaps my socialist ancestors would approve of what I think about those sentiments: what is good enough for the toffs is good enough for the workers. People have the right to own their own homes. We have an obligation to ensure that they can do so.

I welcome the Minister’s reference to the rents-to-mortgages scheme. I understand and fully appreciate that it will not have the same impact as right-to-buy, but it will enable people, just one or two steps down the housing ladder, to own their own homes. I expect more people thereby to achieve their goal of home ownership. Nevertheless, I recognise that, for reasons of mobility and disposable income, some people may not want to buy. To offer diversity and choice represents a great challenge to both the Government and local government. It is a reflection of the greater challenge that faces the Government, which is to ensure that choice, freedom and opportunity are taken further down the social and economic ladder.

I am especially pleased that my hon. Friend the Minister mentioned the concept of empowerment, which is the key to tenants’ rights. We need to ensure that there are methods other than purchase by which tenants can exercise choice and enjoy freedom.

The more tenants are involved in the running of estates, the better those estates will be. And the more officials are removed from their air-conditioned towers and work and manage from estates, the better the estates will be. When I talk to housing officials, I sometimes feel that they regard estates as distant colonies—that there is a new form of colonialism, with the inspector going round once a month. If people have to drive past graffiti, cracked paving stones and holes in the road, those problems suddenly assume the importance that they should and suddenly the council gets round to doing something about them. I believe that the area management of estates is vital—just as important as the tenants charter.

I welcome the promise that, in the autumn, the right to repair will be improved, because at present the provisions are a little cumbersome and difficult to understand. Will my hon. Friend the Minister give his attention to, and perhaps also give us some further details on, the right of improvement? If people are to have the opportunity to use their own homes as their own homes, we must ensure that, when they decide to leave them, they are financially compensated for the improvements that they have made. If anything, the present right of improvement poses more difficulties than the right of repair and I should welcome a commitment to improve that right in the legislation.

I believe that council housing is now moving into a different age. Too much energy has been wasted on trying to find ways round regulations, on trying to prevent tenants from buying their own homes and on trying to stop housing action trusts coming into being. If just a quarter of that effort and vitality had been put into ensuring that tenants had a better deal and more opportunity to decide the way in which their homes, environment and estates were managed, the stock of public housing would be materially better than it is today.

Queen Elizabeth II – 1992 Queen’s Speech

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Below is the text of the speech made by HM Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Lords on 6 May 1992.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

I look forward with great pleasure to receiving the State Visits of His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei and Her Majesty the Raja Isteri in November, and His Excellency the President of the Portuguese Republic and Senhora Soares in 1993.

I look forward to my forthcoming visit to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, and to my visits to Malta later this month, France and Canada in June and Germany in October.

My Government attach the highest importance to national security. They will continue to give full support to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and will work with our allies to adapt it to changing risks. They will aim to develop the Western European Union as a means of strengthening the European pillar of the Alliance and the defence component of the European Union. The United Kingdom’s armed forces are being restructured to reflect these changes. Britain’s minimum nuclear deterrent will be maintained.

My Government will work for a comprehensive and verifiable ban on chemical weapons, to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and to encourage greater international responsibility in conventional arms transfers. They will help the Russian Federation in the task of dismantling surplus nuclear weapons.

My Government will work to strengthen the United Nations. They will require full Iraqi compliance with Security Council resolutions. They will work for a peaceful settlement in Yugoslavia. They will support moves to bring lasting peace to the middle east.

They will lay before Parliament the treaty of Maastricht and introduce a Bill to implement it.

My Government look forward to welcoming the European Council at our palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh towards the end of the United Kingdom’s Presidency of the Community in December. During the Presidency, my Government will attach particular priority to enlargement of the Community and completion of the single market. They will promote sound finance and budgetary discipline. With our Community partners they will continue to strive for a successful conclusion to the GATT trade negotiations, and to press for changes in the common agricultural policy.

My Government will encourage Community agreements with central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and will support democratic reform there.

They will maintain the fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

They will energetically pursue policies to combat the trafficking and misuse of drugs.

My Government will play an active part in the Commonwealth. They will support efforts to build a democratic society in South Africa.

My Government will maintain a substantial aid programme to reduce poverty in developing countries. Its objectives will include promoting good government, sensible economic policies and respect for human rights. They will continue to press creditor countries for a further reduction in the official debt of the poorest countries.

The United Kingdom will work for a successful outcome to the United Nations conference on environment and development.

My Government will continue to administer Hong Kong justly and efficiently, in the interests of its people, and to co-operate with China on the basis of the Sino-British joint declaration to promote the political and economic development of the territory.

Members of the House of Commons,

Estimates for the public service will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government will pursue, within the framework of the exchange rate mechanism, firm financial policies designed to achieve price stability and maintain the conditions necessary for sustained growth. They will set policy in the medium term to ensure that the United Kingdom meets the convergence criteria set out in the Maastricht treaty. They will reduce the share of national income taken by the public sector and balance the budget over the medium term, reducing taxes when it is prudent to do so. They will promote market mechanisms and incentives and improve the working of the economy. To help business, legislation will be introduced to amend the non-domestic rate transitional arrangements.

A Bill will be introduced to improve further the law on industrial relations.

My Government will pursue vigorously their programme of privatisation. Legislation will be introduced to return British Coal to the private sector.

My Government are committed to increasing the role of the railways in meeting the country’s transport needs. Legislation will be introduced to enable the private sector to operate rail services.

My Government will give priority to improving public services through the Citizen’s Charter which will be at the centre of decision-making. Steps will be taken to apply charter principles throughout the public service.

My Government will continue to work to raise standards at all levels of education, to promote vocational training for young people and adults, and to improve teacher training. A Bill will be introduced to extend choice and diversity in education.

Action will be taken to combat crime and promote law and order.

A Bill will be presented to enable applications for asylum in the United Kingdom to be determined quickly and effectively.

Legislation will be presented to facilitate the work of the Parliamentary Boundary Commissions.

My Government will work to enhance the quality of life provided by our nation’s cultural and sporting heritage. A Bill will be introduced to establish a national lottery to raise money for good causes.

My Government will continue to improve the quality of the national health service and community care and their responsiveness to patients’ needs.

My Government will work both at home and abroad to protect the environment. They will ensure that the environment remains a key issue in all policy-making and will continue to publish annual reports.

Measures will be introduced to enhance the rights of local authority tenants in England and Wales and in Scotland, to establish an urban regeneration agency, and to enable leaseholders either to acquire the freehold or to extend the lease.

My Government will continue to improve and modernise the social security system with sustained emphasis on those groups with the greatest need. Legislation will be introduced to maintain an additional rebate for holders of personal pensions aged 30 or over.

Legislation will be introduced to promote improvements in agricultural marketing.

A Bill will be presented to promote the Welsh language.

For Scotland, legislation will be introduced to amend the laws relating to bankruptcy and early release of prisoners.

In Northern Ireland, my Government will continue their efforts to eliminate terrorism through resolute enforcement of the law, combined with progressive economic, social and political policies. They, will promote the re-establishment of stable institutions of government, within a framework of positive relations with the Republic of Ireland.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

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

Iain Duncan Smith – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

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Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Iain Duncan Smith in the House of Commons on 20 May 1992.

I take this opportunity to congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on your election. As this is my maiden speech, I ask the House to bear with me if I make a series of mistakes.
Earlier, the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) reminded the House of the great honour that our electorate bestow upon us in permitting us to represent their views and interests in a sovereign Parliament. I may point out that Chingford is officially part of Greater London, not Essex. Having heard the recent results in Basildon, I am sad that it is not part of Essex.

The majority of the people who live in Chingford have striven for a long time to buy their own properties, take care of their own lives, and make the most that they can—to hand on to future generations—from hard work and the sweat of their own brows. Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends will immediately recognise those as key principles that have supported conservatism, and which my party promoted during the whole of the 1980s. Chingford represents those interests, and we represent Chingford’s interests.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Milligan) mentioned that there is a factory producing Mr. Kipling cakes in his constituency. I cannot boast of such a place, but we do have the London Rubber Company in the middle of my constituency. That company is heavily linked to today’s debate. The House may recall the little problem that existed with the Italian regulations, on the size or width of certain items that London Rubber produces—so it has a keen interest in what goes on here.

Few constituencies are so associated with a particular individual as Chingford. I refer of course to my predecessor, Norman Tebbit. Some may remember only the “Spitting Image” vision of a leather jacket, studs, and chains—but I am sure that all right hon. and hon. Members will keep in mind the image of a man of incisive wit, telling rebukes, and most of all, reforming zeal.

If it were only for his political achievements, Norman would be remembered as one of the most important figures in British political history—but he is remembered for much more than that. The House owes him a great debt. On that terrible night in Brighton, the lives of Norman, Margaret, and their family were devastatingly and treacherously changed for the worst—yet at no time has Norman or Margaret complained, and they consistently serve as a great inspiration to me and many others.

It is not overstating the case to say that Norman brought great honour to the House. I know that all right hon. and hon. Members will join me in wishing him great happiness in the future, in all that he does.

So often in the past when Europe has been debated, there has been a knee-jerk level to the debates. It is said that there are those who are pro-Europe—the Europhiles—and those who are anti-Europe—the Euro-sceptics. If the issue is always polarised in that way, it will be impossible to have a rational debate. The question is rather, whether we want to interrogate certain aspects and regulations or not, the public have a right to know the detail, and it is important that we examine the detail of the treaty and put it before them. I will attempt to do that this evening.

Let me begin by congratulating my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor on their great negotiating skills, which have produced the treaty that is now before us. Their achievements in securing our exclusion from the social chapter protocol, and in reserving Parliament’s right to decide whether to enter currency union, are greatly appreciated by hon. Members on both sides of the House.

As I read the treaty, however, I must confess to a growing disquiet. My chief worry is that, despite the Government’s considerable successes, we remain locked into what I see as a continuing progression towards a European super-state. I consider that neither necessary nor desirable.

Maastricht—following, as it does, from the Single European Act and the treaty of Rome—embodies that movement; perhaps it is proceeding at a slower rate in this context, but it is a movement none the less. Let me explain—echoing what was said earlier by the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies)—that my reasons for believing that are based fundamentally on the ethos that exists in the institutions that the Community now contains. I refer chiefly to the European Commission and the European Court.

In my view, successive Governments have failed fully to understand the way in which the Commission seeks constantly to advance its competence. In so doing, it will be supported by the European Court. The Commission is not just a bureaucratic body, as so many people seem to think; it has substantial law-making powers—very excutive powers. Beyond those powers, it exists as much to propose legislation to the Council of Ministers. Through its performance of both those roles, constant pressure will continue to extend the process of European integration.

All too often, press and politicians talk about Delors as though he were an expletive. His role is quite clear to him; I believe that it is our understanding of that role that is unclear. Obviously, the European institutions hold the key to the concern that I feel over Maastricht—the Single European Act and, originally, the treaty of Rome.

The European Court of Justice has the role of interpreting and applying Community law. Through the interpretation that it gives the treaties within the Community, it can and does fundamentally affect the balance between nation states and the Community. The Court, through its judgments, cannot be considered neutral by any means: it is part of those key institutions that consider it their duty constantly to push forward the concept of the Community, ultimately at the expense of the nation state.

An example of that is provided by a judgment in a case brought by the Netherlands against the high authority. The power of the Court was defined by the Court as the ultima ratio enabling the Community interest enshrined in the Treaty to prevail over inertia and resistance of member states. Many other judgments also illustrate the point.

The history of the European Court clearly shows, time and again, that it will be far from impartial, invariably finding in favour of what it perceives as the interest of the Community. Furthermore, the difference between the tradition of common law that exists in this country and the tradition of Continental law—based, as it is, so fundamentally on the code Napoleon—means, essentially, that the European Court will regularly fall back on the preambles to treaties, and will use them to interpret points, as it sees them, within the spirit of the agreement—the members. Every treaty that we have ever signed has given the Court greater scope to interpret.

The preamble to the treaty of Rome raises general provisions urging member states to attain ever closer union with general objectives. To most common law lawyers, that might appear fairly general on the surface. However, it is a major signpost in continental law. The preamble to the Single European Act is full of references to the states implementing a union. Article I clearly refers to progress towards European unity—a major signpost for the European Court.

Here we seem constantly to have disregarded the general wording of the preambles to the treaties. Under common law, they are not part of any agreement, but in the code Napoleon and continental law, they form a major part of any agreement. The treaty on European union sets out no less clearly in its preamble that defence, foreign policy, economic and social policies and the free movement of people are all set to converge in ways which on the surface may appear rather general but which will be critical to the functioning of the treaty. Therefore, across a full range of matters the Maastricht treaty extends further the areas to which Community law applies.

Given the natural desire to the Community institutions constantly to push forward with closer ties and greater compliance, it is natural that they will seek to find areas that are open to extensive secondary legislation affecting our national life that have not yet been affected.

That can be clearly seen in the proposals for a 48-hour working week. We never perceived under the Single European Act that that would necessarily be the case, but the Community—in the shape of the Commission, ultimately supported by the European court—pushes for that extra bit to be brought to the Commission, under majority voting. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is doing all she can to sort this out, and I wish her the very best of luck. However, I remain a touch pessimistic about the outcome.

Both sides of the House have made much of subsidiarity, probably because most people do not have a clue what the heck it means. I suspect that some hon. Members on both sides of the House also fall into that category. It is the devolving of power to a lower level, as perceived by the treaty—that of nation states. As a means of trying to retain control over our national identity, it should be given some approval, but if we look back we see that it is a two-edged sword. It very much cuts both ways.

Originally it was a papal concept. That concept was about power that could flow downwards to the constituent parts of the papal dominion. The key factor was that that power had to be given, as judged by the central authority. In line with that, if we come forward to Maastricht again, we see that it could imply that anything that cannot be justified at national level should, therefore, be taken to the European level. That is the other edge of the cutting sword: that the Community could easily turn round and say, “Justify the fact that you have the right to retain control over that area; otherwise, we shall take it under our powers and competence.” It therefore follows that the European Court would ultimately find in favour of the Community. That is part of its ethos.

Therefore, I propose some measure of reform which I believe we must undertake if we are to make sure that the sort of Europe that we want to see is the one that goes through and that we can control. First, I propose that we should repeal sections 1 and 2 of the European Community Act 1972 and replace them with clear statements about this Parliament’s supremacy over all European Community activities that affect the relationship between this House and the courts—and, in fact, all other constitutional matters.

Secondly, we should set about reforming the Commission, starting with the European Court. We should position a constitutional court over the Community, I stress, to take an impartial position on questions which affect the competence of nation states.

Thirdly, the Commission should be slimmed down, losing many of its existing portfolios. We should get rid of the position of the President and make the Commission more of a non-executive body. Those moderate suggestions are offered, Mr. Deputy Speaker, with some deference to your position.

Most of all, we must therefore seek to refocus the Community as one of a group of nation states determined to seek co-operation on a defined but limited number of areas. That would greatly assist the inclusion of other states, which is proposed and with which I thoroughly agree, while keeping the flow of trade as free as possible through co-operation not coercion.

From successive treaties, we have seen a growing erosion of the powers of the House to legislate, not to be overruled by the European Court. Much has been made about the exclusion of the word “federalism”. Having read the treaty time and again, I have to say that, even if we exclude it, the obvious signs are there for all to see—that is, that that is the inevitable march. After all, a bite from a rottweiler hurts just as much even if we insist on calling it a pekinese.

We are asked to support the Government. There is no doubt in my mind of the Government’s intentions, and those I support. However, the problem is that far too much trust is expected of us in this House to be vested in the institutions in the Community. I do not believe that, if we notice how the general tendency is to move towards greater integration, that trust will be well placed.

It has been ably pointed out several times that we have seen the Government and previous Governments fight rearguard actions to prevent the growing power of the Commission from encroaching. Those rearguard actions have been fought in the knowledge that we have signed up to something which has given the Commission powers to get in and take control of certain aspects of our lives.

The treaty is therefore somewhat out of date. It reflects, sadly, concerns from the past which are no longer relevant. I hope that, if we consider the problems and changes that are going on in the Community, hon. Members will agree with me. The treaty keeps the door open to a federalist, centralist and uncompetitive Europe which is clearly moving us in the wrong direction from the rest of the world.

I am not by any means anti-European. After all, Europe is a geographical expression. Therefore, being in the centre of Europe or supporting Europe is neither here nor there. The key is a European Community of nations trading and co-operating through sovereign Parliaments. There is no other time but now. I have talked to many hon. Members who have said, “Don’t worry, this matter will ultimately collapse; things will change and we will not have the problems.”

If now is not the time to put the line in the sand and say, “Thus far and no further,” when are we to say that? This matter has caused me great concern and problems early in the Parliament, but I hope in the next 24 hours to show where my true attitudes lie.

Alan Duncan – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Alan Duncan on 2 June 1992.

I am obliged to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to utter my first words in the House.
I am pleased to speak in the same debate as my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen), whom I have watched for many years with great respect. Even though he has momentarily left the Chamber, I am also glad to follow my constituency neighbour, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who I am pleased to see so happily installed in his new job. I congratulate the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Purchase) on his maiden speech, and I look forward to sparring with him across the Chamber on many future occasions.

Rutland and Melton is an oasis of traditional England between the M1 and the A1. It is surrounded by towns such as Leicester, Nottingham, Grantham—perhaps not so much a town as a shrine—Stamford and Corby. The agricultural interest remains important and, although it may not please some hon. Members, hunting remains not only popular, but a living force for the interests of conservation.

The constituency also has light industry. Indeed, if one owns a pet, the chances are that one will have fed it with a brand name from Europe’s largest canning factory in Melton Mowbray. The constituency also includes Syston and Thurmaston on the edge of Leicester, and the spectacular vale of Belvoir.

Perhaps the constituency is best known for containing the valiant county of Rutland. I took a look at the history books, one of which says: although Rutland had a distinct status in the Anglo-Saxon period, its rise to the status of shire and the dignity of a sheriff was the product of a confused process in the twelfth century”. That same book states that the 1974 local reforms removed elements of disorder on the map, such as the foolish county of Rutland. I say of that author, the more fool him.

Those local government reforms created a hateful mix of the urban and the rural. They trampled over traditional boundaries and ignored community identities. Feeling in Rutland still runs very high indeed and most people want the return of unitary status for the county. And why not? If the cost is not punitive, they should be entitled to the status for which they are asking. I am pleased to say that, thanks to legislation passed by my party, including the Local Government Act 1992, and with the Royal Commission just starting its work, Rutland is given a chance. I implore hon. Members to take Rutland’s case seriously and not to dismiss it as a quixotic campaign or to disqualify Rutland simply on the grounds of its size.

I take up the cudgels for Rutland and Melton behind a line of distinguished parlimentarians. For a long time, Rutland was represented by Sir Kenneth Lewis. He still lives in the constituency, and I sometimes think that he has as many friends as there are people in the county. He is a popular figure, always ready with some fatherly advice and a good yarn to tell.

But for 18 years Melton, and then Rutland and Melton, were served by Michael Latham. From a personal point of view, I could not have been more fortunate in the person I shadowed for two years as prospective candidate. All in the area talk of the diligent and conscientious manner in which Michael Latham handled constituency problems. He entered the House with a particular expertise in housing, and Ministers came to value his advice. He developed a reputation for being independent-minded. He was not one to seek office at all costs.

His religious views, and his opinions on the state of Israel particularly, are well known, and it is appropriate that he should have moved on from here to run the Council of Christians and Jews. Contrary to reports, I do not believe that he intends to take holy orders. I hope that that will mean that Michael will not be entirely lost to politics in the years ahead. I am sure that hon. Members join me in wishing him and his wife Caroline every good fortune.

My purpose in speaking today is to welcome the measures in the Finance Bill. The measure marks the continuation of the economic progress that we have made since 1979. Indeed, the determination to tackle economic collapse spurred me above all to enter political activity in the first place.

Particularly welcome are the inheritance tax proposals. They are based on the belief that the successful accumulation of wealth should be allowed to be passed on. Why—as it appears many Opposition Members would have it—should every generation be required to go back to square one, based on some misplaced understanding of what equality of ‘opportunity involves? The Bill will benefit family farms and family businesses, and I welcome the measures so well defended by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend).

Any Bill designed to alter the rules of taxation inevitably provokes a litany of special pleading, and it is the unenviable task of the Chancellor and his team to distinguish naked self-interest from a good case. In his original Budget statement, the Chancellor referred to surplus advanced corporation tax—to some, perhaps, a rather abtruse matter. Some companies are taxed in the United Kingdom on estimates of their earnings overseas. Indeed, they are overtaxed, but they are stuck with the position.

The effect is to reduce the research and development that such companies would carry out in this country, and it works against their wishing to set up their headquarters in the United Kingdom. That was not intended to flow from the imputation tax system that developed in the 1970s, and I hope that the Chancellor will reconsider in the years ahead the effects of the measure.

The Bill contains many welcome measures affecting the operation of VAT, especially the removal of fiscal frontier controls. But there remain some simple, practical difficulties in the administration of VAT that should be addressed particularly as no cost would be involved.

I could cite the example of a haulage contractor based in Melton Mowbray who pays VAT on his fuel purchases in other EC member countries. As a business, he is entitled to reclaim it, but he does not get it back, as least not for months and sometimes even years. We decent Brits repay overseas claimants quickly, but that efficiency is not reciprocated. So again, our comparative sense of fair play works more to the benefit of our competitors than to that of our exporting businesses. I urge the Revenue to take a good look at the fair working of the refunding of VAT elsewhere in the Community.

I hope that the Finance Bill is but a prelude to our addressing certain long-term objectives for the economy. Some of the nastier consequences of the recession flow from the extent to which the fortunes of businesses and individuals are critically affected by changes in interest rates. We have a structural problem, in part a cultural one. Far too much of our investment funding in based on debt rather than on equity. It should become one of the major challenges of this Parliament to address the question of how to shift investment from debt to equity, because part of the problem arises from the simple fact that debt servicing is tax-deductible, while the cost of equity servicing is not.

Hand in hand with that is the objective of overseeing recovery without massive house price inflation. As many of my hon. Friends know, wary though I am of taking further steps towards monetary union, I believe that the ERM might yet prove a blessing, in that its effect will be to iron out the peaks and troughs which in the past have been damagingly extreme.

I am all for people owning their homes, but we do better to persuade them not to look on their houses as a tax-free source of easy riches on which they can regularly draw. I would rather we promoted a savings culture in which individuals increasingly had a genuine stake in the economy, and the key to that is pensions.

At present, our pensions rules are unfathomable. A personal pension attaching unequivocally to the person who has invested in it will lead to private capital accumulation in areas other than housing. Why cannot employees in the public sector pay their contributions into private schemes? We should take a long-term view, for the time has come when people should be allowed to do that.

By tackling such structural deficiencies in the economy, we could provoke a major change in the economic fortunes of individuals. I share the Chancellor’s vision of a capital-owning democracy. I hope that we can see an economy in which individuals increasingly build their own stake in it. I hope that we can promote a savings culture out of which dependency on the state will be reduced and self-reliance increased. If, to set the tone, a strict settlement of our public expenditure commitments is demanded, the Chancellor and his team will have vigorous support in their efforts from this quarter.

Geoff Hoon – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Geoff Hoon on 20 May 1992.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Duncan-Smith) on his maiden speech. I hope that he will take it as a compliment when I say that he looked and sounded as though he had been here for years. I am sure that he will soon be fitted with his own leather jacket.

Perhaps I have the easiest task of any new hon. Member in paying proper tribute to my predecessor. Frank Haynes was popular in all parts of the House because of his genuine friendliness and good humour, his commitment to a range of good causes—from local hospitals to the fortunes of Sutton Town football club. He was popular with political friends and opponents alike.

Had I needed any convincing of that, it was confirmed recently when, with characteristic generosity, he agreed to help me to show a constituency school party round the Palace of Westminster. He has a formidable reputation as a tour guide and the Kirkby Woodhouse school party was not disappointed. As we made our way round the Palace it was clear that we were in the presence of a star. Wherever we went we met people who would stop and congratulate Frank and wish him well for the future. Everyone from police officers to Members of the House of Lords had a good word for him.

Frank’s popularity is reflected in the constituency of Ashfield. There cannot be an organisation, group, club or society of which Frank is not a member or which he has not helped in some way over the years. I say that with some confidence as, since my election, representatives from them have all written to me asking me to carry on the traditions that Frank established. Frank’s talent and obvious popularity are based on the sheer force of his personality and the sheer volume of his voice.

Frank had one quality that I believe has not been given proper attention: his considerable political skills which have perhaps been overlooked. He won Ashfield after arguably one of the worst by-elections in Labour party history. He held Ashfield for the Labour party in some extraordinarily difficult circumstances in Nottingham. He was greatly assisted in that by the wisdom and experience of his agents, Clarrie Booler and Bryan Denham.

In 1979, Frank replaced the current hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith), who might like to know that he still has at least one supporter in Ashfield. In the dying days of the general election campaign, I knocked on the door of the house of an elderly lady, who kindly invited me in and asked why I had taken so long to get round to see her. Like any candidate anxious to win votes and influence people, I politely explained that it was a big constituency and it took a little time to get around. “Tim Smith,” she said, “called on everyone.” In my candidate’s mode, I still more politely pointed out that there were 75,000 electors in Ashfield and I could not see how he could have met them all. “Of course he did,” she said, “regularly.”

My candidate’s charm school smile was wearing a little thin by the time she asked me what I had to say for myself. I launched into the two-minute version of the Labour party manifesto, trying to steer the conversation in the direction of her voting intentions. “Oh, don’t worry about that,” she said. “I have already voted by post.” I now know what is the political equivalent of the blind man in a dark room looking for a dark cat. It is a Labour candidate canvassing a Tory lady who has already voted by post.

In making my preparations for this speech, I realised that the last three people to represent Ashfield now belong to three different political parties. David Marquand left Ashfield for a career in the European Commission. By contrast, I shall be leaving the European Parliament to concentrate on the constituency of Ashfield. He made his maiden speech in 1966, when he was able to state that mining was the linchpin of the economy of Ashfield. He went on to say, however: the coal mining industry of Nottinghamshire faces a grave crisis of confidence.”—[Official Report, 5 May 1966; Vol. 727, c. 1965] He argued that it was urgently necessary to work out a comprehensive fuel programme in order to be able to assure the miners of the east midlands about their future for a long time to come.

These words have echoed down the years. There has been a massive reduction in the number of local collieries. I expect to represent Ashfield when its last colliery closes. That will be a sad day for the local community and it presents a bleak prospect for young people, who will also face difficulties finding work in Ashfield’s other great industry, the textile trade.

From 1955, Ashfield was represented by Will Warbey. He had first been elected to the House to represent Luton in 1945. On 23 August 1945, in his maiden speech, he used words which are of particular relevance to today’s debate: absolute national sovereignty is now an out-dated factor in international affairs. He quoted the right hon. Member for Woodford, Winston Churchill, who had talked of the mixing of the nations, and went on: I believe there is a great opportunity in the future for nation States to get more mixed together, especially in their economic functions. We have a particularly excellent opportunity in the case of those nations in the north and west of Europe, and I include our own, which, I am glad to say, have now very largely a common political outlook, and which are intending to pursue similar policies of planning for full employment and for raising standards of living. We can get together and plan very largely in common in order to achieve those objectives.”—[Official Report, 23 August 1945; Vol. 413, c. 898] That was what the House was discussing in August 1945, and in essence it is what this debate should be about.

The Members meeting in Parliament in 1945 were determined to end the divisions of Europe based on the extreme nationalism that had caused two catastrophic world wars. Like many others in a similar situation, my father volunteered to fight in the second world war on his 18th birthday. When he came to Strasbourg shortly after my election to the European Parliament, he said how much better what I was doing was than what he and millions of others had had to do in the second world war.

We now have to build on the European foundations established by previous generations. Although the Maastricht treaty is a far from perfect addition to the European building, it contains much that will contribute to the mixing of nations. Others have already criticised Britain’s opt-out on economic and monetary union and on the social chapter. Since I am still a member of the European Parliament I want to concentrate my remarks on the institutional aspects of the treaty and to express my regret at the timid steps taken towards real democracy in the decision-making processes of the European Community.

Too often we have heard Ministers complain about decisions taken in Brussels as if they had played no part in the process or had no responsibility for the failure to hold the European Commission properly to account. The same Ministers were responsible for the intergovernmental negotiations that led to the treaty. If Brussels is to blame, so are the Ministers who have failed to reform the treaty to control the Commission and to make it answerable to those who have been directly elected to represent the people of Europe. Those representatives sit in national Parliaments and in the European Parliament.

Members of all the Parliaments of Europe should be working together more closely to improve the democracy of the European Community. We could start by considering how to improve the working relationship between Members of this House and British Members of the European Parliament. There remains an uneasy tension between those two democratically elected institutions which, in a European context, should be following a common purpose—the proposing, amending and approving of European legislation as well as holding the European Executive to account.

The uneasy relationship exists in spite of the fact that in the present House of Commons, 62 hon. Members have experience of one or more of the European institutions. Thirty of my new colleagues have been members of the European Parliament, directly elected or appointed like our Speaker, and 32 have been members of the Council of Europe.

The uneasy relationship allows the European Commission—the least democratic of the Community’s institutions—to assert a disproportionate influence over legislation. During the debate on the Single European Act, it was suggested in Britain that the treaty changes then being debated marked a final shift of power from Westminster to the European Parliament.

In practice, the European Commission has significantly increased its power over legislation because of its ability to determine which amendments to propose during the various stages of the legislative process. In effect, it has been able to play off the European Parliament against the Council of Ministers, telling the Council that the European Parliament would not accept certain amendments and, in turn, telling the Parliament that it could not propose Parliament’s amendments to the Council because they would be rejected. As a result, the Commission’s policy line has been strengthened at the expense of the democratically elected Parliament and Council.

Certain measures in the Maastricht treaty will undoubtedly tilt the institutional balance slightly in the direction of the European Parliament. It will do little, however, to make the European Commission subject to democratic control. Similarly, the decisions of the Council of Ministers, meeting in secret, are rarely subject to democratic scrutiny. The Maastricht treaty will do little to improve the ability of elected Members of national Parliaments to oversee the activities of Ministers meeting in council.

Much of the debate so far has concentrated on criticisms of the present operation of the European Community. I share some of the criticisms, but I disagree strongly about the appropriate solutions. If the European Community overrides democracy, the solution is to make it more democratic.

I am grateful for the House’s attention.

John Denham – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by John Denham on 20 May 1992.

While offering you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my congratulations on your new post, may I also thank you for the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this historic debate? Looking around the Chamber, I suspect that I will set a record as the new Labour Member to have sat the longest time in one sitting before making a maiden speech. I only hope that, by the end of it, no one will feel that few have sat for so long to say so little.

We have heard some good maiden speeches tonight. I was especially interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Milligan), who represents the constituency next door to mine. Last week, he wrote to the Boundary Commission suggesting that the ward of Woolston in Southampton be transferred from the Eastleigh constituency to my constituency. It is an extremely strongly Labour-voting ward. Whilst the transfer would therefore have the deplorable effect of ensuring that the hon. Member for Eastleigh remains the Member for that constituency for as long as his party selects him to do so, it would also have the admirable effect of achieving the same result for me in my constituency. That seems to provide a basis for a long-lasting partnership between the two of us.

I am interested in election results. My majority might be described as wafer-thin. I replace the only person to break Labour’s line of electoral successes in the constituency since the second world war. Chris Chope was above all a conviction Thatcherite politician. When he told the press that he cried when Margaret Thatcher lost the leadership of the Conservative party, he restated his political position in a memorable way. He also confounded some of us by finally revealing the issue on which he could show such deep human emotion.

It is debatable whether Chris Chope’s resolve to drive a six-lane motorway deep through a beautiful Hampshire down finally cost him his seat, but the determination with which he set about the task was certainly typical of him. I do not want to seem ungenerous. In the constituency, Chris Chope will be thanked by many hundreds of families for his work on the Housing Defects Act 1984. There are many pre-cast reinforced concrete homes in the constituency. Secondly, although a member of the Tory Right, he never attempted to play what is euphemistically known as the race card in my constituency. By refusing to use poison for political advantage he contributed to the fact that, although racism is definitely serious and present in the constituency, it is by no means as bad as it is in many other multiracial parts of the country.

Thirdly, from the moment that Chris Chope entered the House to the moment he left it he was a politician who stood up consistently and forthrightly for the values in which he believed. As far as I know, he never tried to shift with the tides of changing public opinion. That is probably what he would most like me to say about his time in the House.

While waiting to make my maiden speech, I could hardly say that I felt at home, but at times I felt a sense of deja vu. As far as I can remember, my first involvement in a national political campaign was during the referendum on Europe. I voted no, but as time went by, as transnational companies came to dominate our economy more than ever before, as the financial system was deregulated more than we had ever thought possible in the 1970s, and as our economy became more integrated with that of Europe, as Europe became real and inevitable, there were times when I wondered what had happened to the ghost of the “no” campaign of the 1970s. Had it, like a traditional ghost, been doomed to wander the corridors and rooms of a venerable palace? Sitting here tonight, while my eyes closed occasionally and while I listened to the voices around me, I could hear the ghosts of that campaign. I believe that such ghosts are better exorcised than reincarnated.

I represent a large part of the great city of Southampton. There are few cities in this country which have been so shaped by the world at large and which have done so much to shape the world at large. My city’s history is international, cosmopolitan, ambitious and courageous. The banks of the Rivers Itchen and Test, which flow through and past my constituency, have over the centuries been invaded, raided and bombed. Troops have left the port of Southampton to go to many conflicts—English archers to Agincourt and allied troops to the Normandy beaches among them.

In its time, the Saxon port of Hamwic was a rival to Viking York in the wealth and extent of its trade links, even then reaching deep into the heart of modern Russia. The Pilgrim Fathers left from Southampton—not Plymouth, as Plymouth’s tourist board sometimes claims—on their historic voyage to America.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the development of the modern port once again put Southampton at the heart of an international network of trade and of people. From the Huguenot weavers onwards, people have come to my city from all parts of the world and all parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to make Southampton the place that it is today. Because of that history, the international world and the European world hold few fears for Southampton today. It is a great European city and will grow as a great European city. A city council report, which was debated today while I was here, stated: Southampton must stand for quality, equality and opportunity as a leading cosmopolitan city in Europe. If any right hon. or hon. Members are at a loose end in the recess next week. I invite them to Southampton and to the international trade fair which opens next week. Visitors will be struck by the commitment, vision, participation and strong partnerships for success in Europe which exist in the city.

After all, what is the significance of hundreds of schoolchildren and older students participating in educational exchanges, or of pensioners attending the recent European pensioners’ parliament in Strasbourg? What is the significance of a chamber of commerce forging strong links with other chambers of commerce in Rouen, Le Havre, Barcelona and elsewhere, or of trade unions regularly meeting their colleagues in Germany, France and Spain?

What is the significance of traffic engineers collaborating with colleagues in Greece and Germany on the problems of urban congestion, or of the university, the institute of higher education and the technical college with literally hundreds of academic and training links? What is the significance of a city council whose ties with Le Havre and Rems-Muir-Kreiss are not tea parties but the real basis of economic collaboration and of co-operation in training, research and culture?

I suggest that the significance is that Europe, in a city such as Southampton, is not an abstract entity to be dissected in an academic way as some hon. Members have done today. Instead, it is a living reality. All the links that I have mentioned, and many others, are part of a real commitment on the part of the city to make Europe work.

My city has a breadth of vision of Europe. It is a vision that includes the understanding that Europe, above all, must be for people. Those of us who live in a great European city, one that is already organically tied to Europe in every part of its daily economic life, know that economic success is only half the challenge.

I have constituents who ask questions about Europe. Pensioners ask whether there will be a European future for them or whether they will always be the most shabbily treated pensioners in Europe. Parents ask whether their children have a European children’s future or whether they will always have less chance of child care and nursery education than children in most other European countries. Young people ask whether they will have a European future here or on the continent without the quality of education and training that other young Europeans enjoy.

Those who ask those questions do not do so because they do not want to be part of Europe. They want to be full partners in Europe in every way, in a Europe for people and not in a Europe with 11 players and the United Kingdom on the substitutes’ bench. In Southampton there is participation, commitment, vision and partnership.

Yesterday, the director of the chamber of commerce wrote to me as follows: A significant ingredient in our future economic development is the close partnership existing between the Chamber and the City Council. It is a Labour city council that is at the heart of Southampton’s European drive. It is not doing everything and controlling everything, but it is shaping, guiding, focusing, supporting, providing an infrastructure, opening up the waterfront, investing in science parks and providing services which are at the core of a successful united effort in Europe. As I have said, it is a Labour city council.

I must contrast the mood and achievement in Southampton with much of what I have heard in the House and with the Government’s record. The Government’s commitment is shallow. The bottom line is that nothing shall be done to promote Britain’s interests in Europe which can possibly conflict with the interests of the Conservative party in Britain.

There is narrow participation in a Europe for business perhaps, but not for a Europe for people. There is myopic vision in which the options seem to be, “Take it if you like it; leave it if you don’t.” There is no understanding of grasping Europe and using it as the opportunity that it really is. There has been a rejection of partnership. The Government have turned their back on the proper role of elected government at local, national, regional and European levels in shaping a Europe for all their people.

There is not time to dwell on the details of the many Divisions which lie ahead, tomorrow and in the coming weeks, and it might not be proper to do so in a maiden speech. I know, however, that the message which goes from the House must be that what Southampton is doing is right. Any message going from the House which questions what a city like Southampton is doing to be a great European city will be a great and bitter disappointment to the thousands of my constituents who are building a new Europe and a great European city.

Alan Milburn – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Alan Milburn in the House of Commons on 11th May 1992.

It is with a great sense of pride that I rise to make my maiden speech—in, appropriately enough, a debate about the future of British Rail. As hon. Members will know, the railways and the town of Darlington, which I am proud to represent, are virtually synonymous. Darlington, however, has another reputation, of which hon. Members are probably aware: its reputation as a barometer marginal seat.

It is my pleasure to say a word or two about my predecessors. My immediate predecessor, Michael Fallon, was a man of impeccably right-wing views. Indeed, he remained a devoted follower of Mrs. Thatcher even when that fell somewhat out of fashion on the Conservative Benches. He was, none the less, a hard-working Member of Parliament who rose to junior ministerial rank, and I wish him well in his new career outside Parliament.

I also pay tribute to my two immediate Labour predecessors, Ossie O’Brien and Ted Fletcher. Ossie had the misfortune to serve in the House for only six weeks after his splendid victory in the 1983 by-election; Ted, by contrast, sat for nearly 19 years, often bucking the national trend by dint of his diligence and personal popularity in the town of Darlington. Like those hon. Members, I will always put Darlington’s interests first, and will do my utmost to maintain their record of service to the town’s residents.

As hon. Members will know, Darlington gave birth to the railways, and so helped to spawn the first industrial revolution. Happily, that spirit of engineering enterprise and skill remains alive today in the string of top international companies for which Darlington is home: Cummins, Bowaters, Torringtons, Rothmans, and Cleveland Structural Engineering, to name but a few. One of those companies, Cleveland Structural Engineering, beat off international competition last week to win the contract to build the Tsing Ma bridge in Hong Kong. The bridge will be the largest structure of its kind in the world, and, like the Sydney harbour bridge, the Tyne bridge and the Humber bridge, it will be built in my constituency. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will join me in congratulating both the work force and the management of CSE on their well-earned success. Whenever I have visited the Yarm road factory, I have been immensely impressed by the skills and commitment that I have seen there; now, they have obtained their just reward.

Although I am delighted by Cleveland’s success, after hearing the Gracious Speech I am less optimistic about the future for British industry as a whole. The speech was virtually silent about the economy, which remains in such dire straits. That the word “unemployment” did not even earn a mention is an insult to the 4,740 people in the Darlington district who remain without work. The recession has already cost 1,300 manufacturing jobs in my constituency, but all the major forecasts suggest that unemployment is set to go on rising.

Last year’s record fall in industrial investment risks plunging the country into a repeat of the economic mistakes of the mid-1980s—capacity failing to meet demand, thus forcing up imports and prices and lea ding inevitably to a Government-engineered slowdown. Companies such as CSE deserve better than that. They should be able to rely on the same support as is available to their foreign competitors from their home Governments: measures to stimulate investment in training, transport and technology. Yet here, in the middle of the longest recession since the war, we have the spectacle of the Durham training and enterprise council being forced to cut adult training by more than 20 per cent. in Darlington because its budget has been squeezed dry once again. It is a scandal that those offering youth training will have to provide more for less. Funding for non-endorsed training weeks has fallen from £31 to £28. What was training on the cheap is rapidly becoming training for a pittance.

These cheap and nasty cuts are pouring Darlington’s future down the drain. I fear that, without a change in policy, Darlington’s very real potential for economic take-off will be grounded, even before it has started. That would be a tragedy because, as Cleveland’s success amply shows, we have much to be proud of in the town of Darlington. The town is ideally placed to be at the core of a new industrial revolution that will bring more high-quality, high-skilled, high-tech, and high-paid employment.

Darlington’s fortunes, however, depend upon the Government removing the ideological blinkers that so restrict their vision and rethinking their hostility to manufacturing and their indifference to the north. The Government’s preoccupation with the privatisation of the railways is, classically, a triumph of ideological hope over the experience of those countries who owe their fast, efficient and safe railway systems to Government policies on planning and investment. The dictum that the market, and nothing but the market, can bring prosperity to areas like the north has proved disastrously wrong. After 13 years, unemployment is higher, the number of people in work lower and the gap between the rich and the poor ever wider.

Last week I listened with great interest to the Prime Minister’s promise to open up the powers of Government to public scrutiny. I hope that he will go one stage further and devolve power out from Whitehall to the regions and nations of our land. If the Prime Minister is serious about breaking down concentrations of unaccountable power, he will begin by reversing that process of creeping centralisation that has so characterised Conservative party policies since 1979. The north not only needs restoration of regional policy and proper investment in our transport infrastructure to allow us to compete against better placed regions and nations at the core of the single European market, but we need the right to determine our own future through a new structure of regional government that will take power from the centre.

Any process of devolution should include giving towns such as Darlington the right to run all their own services. In 1974, Darlington lost its county borough status because of the last Conservative reorganisation of local government. Ministers now have an oppportunity to put matters right by returning to the people of Darlington the powers that are rightfully theirs. I am looking not for any special favours for Darlington, but for policies that will rightly reward the vigour, loyalty and skill of its people. Too many of my constituents have paid the price for the records that the Government have set in the town in recent years—record bankruptcies, record mortgage repossessions and record hospital waiting lists.

I fear that the policies in the Gracious Speech mean yet more of the same. Darlington deserves a new spirit that forsakes the short term, the quick fix, the “me at the expense of the rest”—a spirit that says that all of us rely on common services because we are all part of the same community.

For those of us who grew up in the north-east, the past few years have seen a loss of that sense of community which used to characterise life there. When the Conservative party declared that there was no such thing as society, it acknowledged that, by its policies, people had been cut adrift from their communities, and as community has been denied so hope has been smothered. Hope can return to the communities of the north-east, but it needs policies that put talents to use rather than allow them to go to waste; policies that will reduce crime by putting sufficient police officers on our streets. It means policies that will restore pride by cleaning up our environment. It means tackling the obscenity of homelessness and investing in our hospitals and schools. It means, above all, giving regions such as the north-east and towns such as Darlington the chance to compete. It will be my privilige to fight for those policies in the House, I hope for many years to come. I shall do so in order to benefit the whole community of Darlington.

Peter Mandelson – 1992 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Peter Mandelson in the House of Commons on 14th May 1992.

It is my pleasure to commend my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Austin-Walker) on an excellent maiden speech. He demonstrated tremendous experience and knowledge, qualities that will enable him to make many more valued contributions to the House in the future. I only hope that I am able to acquit myself as ably as he has done.

In representing Hartlepool, I have the honour of succeeding Ted Leadbitter, who was as popular in the House as he was admired in his constituency. Ted Leadbitter was first elected in 1964. Supported by his wife Irene and his indomitable agent, Mrs. Elsie Reed, he lost no time in demonstrating his diligence and, equally, his independence.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who was Postmaster-General at the time, describes in his ministerial diaries for 10 February 1965—when the Labour Government had a majority of only three—how a new hon. Member, Ted Leadbitter from West Hartlepool, had written to complain about a telegraph pole being put up in front of a constituent’s home. Refusing to be fobbed off with some bureaucratic response, the MP of three months’ standing rang up my right hon. Friend’s office with the message: Mr. Leadbitter regards the Postmaster-General’s reply as so rude and evasive that he does not propose to come to the House or to accept the Labour whip until the answer is withdrawn and the pole is removed. The pole was duly removed. I am sure that hon. Members can agree that in such important matters—to parody Edmund Burke—I, too, should be a representative of my constituents, not a delegate of my party. I can reassure the Whips, however, that I am not aware—at present at any rate—of any misplaced telephone poles in Hartlepool.

Ted Leadbitter’s predecessor, the first Labour Member to be elected for the constituency, in 1945, was David Jones. A man who knew poverty and unemployment at first hand, Mr. Jones dedicated himself to freeing his constituents from the appalling social conditions of the time, “the evil days”, as he called them, of ill-health, poor housing and insecurity in old age. David Jones’ memory is particularly special to me because he was a friend of my grandfather when he was a Member of this House, and he spoke for David Jones at several elections.

When they took their seats, my predecessors took pride in representing the two Hartlepools. While I represent only one in name, I am conscious of the fierce community loyalties in both Hartlepool and West Hartlepool. Even before the two Hartlepools were each denied their own borough status, music hall references celebrated the local demand for home rule. In the review of local government to which the Conservative party is committed, the minimum that would be acceptable to current residents is the restoration of full unitary authority status to Hartlepool. I shall continue the work of my predecessor in supporting that change.

Hartlepool’s great strength is that it rightly sees itself as a community, with shared needs, strongly felt local loyalties and a sense of common purpose and civic pride. That pride is especially strong now. Our football team, Hartlepool United, is at its highest ever league position in the history of the club; the West Hartlepool Rugby Football Club has gained promotion this season to national division one; and first-class cricket has arrived in the town, with the selection of the town’s club as a venue for Durham county cricket.

However, there are serious challenges to be faced by my town. Fifty years ago, Hartlepool, like other towns, even with its social problems, was at least more industrially secure because of the success of its shipyards, engineering, steel-making and manufacturing. The task of the coming decade, as we approach the 21st century, is to transform a now industrially poorer and less confident Hartlepool into the thriving industrial community of the future that it can become. That is why the people of Hartlepool are now embarking on an era of change. They do so in the knowledge that it is not possible for any community or town—or, indeed, political party—to try to recreate the future in the image of the past.

For the first time, in the general election, the Labour party in Hartlepool received more than 50 per cent. of the popular vote. It was a vote to embrace change but it is still change for the same purpose now as it was 50 years ago: to use the power of the community, acting together, to improve the individual circumstances of all. Central to that process is a modern economic policy; new ways of revitalising industry; innovative solutions to the problems created by social change; and sustaining economic growth in ways that are friendly to the environment.

My aim is to see new opportunities created for my constituents so that the confidence and optimism experienced in former times can be enjoyed once again by old and young alike. New opportunities do not mean opt-out schools and opt-out hospitals. When the services of thousands of patients opt out and the local hospital ceases to feel like the local community hospital, when thousands opt out of schools and the local schools cease to be like local community schools, the foundation on which the community is based is being removed.

What is true for our public services is also true, although in a different way, for industry. We cannot rebuild the industrial strength of our nation when manufacturing investment fell by 13 per cent. last year and is still falling now. When apprenticeships are axed and young school leavers fail to find training places, when firms are denied the chance to adapt to new skills and technology, we are eliminating the means by which depleted communities can become strong again.

The local training and enterprise council has seen a 20 per cent. Government cut in its training budget this year. At a time of rising unemployment, is that any way to restore industrial strength to our country? The result of that short-termism is both to deprive our young people of the opportunity that they need to get on in life and to deprive the nation of talent and ability of its people, which is critical to its future success.

When the Conservative party changed its leader and softened its rhetoric, the promise was of a classless society, a nation at ease with itself and opportunity for all. But what hope is there for the young person without a job due to the recession, without training due to cuts in funding, and without benefit due to the actions of a Social Security Minister who is now Prime Minister?

What opportunity is there for the thousands in my constituency and the millions in this country, struggling in poverty and living on the margins of our society? What ease is there in the mind of anyone, in or out of work, if our industrial base, and, therefore, our economic future, lies untended and in neglect?

In truth, there cannot be hope, or opportunity or ease unless we all accept our responsibility to help create them and, in doing so, realise that this benefits us all. Yet when we examine the Government’s economic policy we find that urgency and responsibility absent. In large part, that is because the Government cannot break free from their past. The days of reliance on some invisible hand of the market are as discredited as those of centralised planning and the command economy. We need a new partnership between the public sector, the business community and the Government, based not on dogma but on co-operation to secure objectives in the interests of the economy as a whole. The principle of co-operation is more relevant than ever, even if we must look to different ways and new methods to fulfill that principle.

Let me stress that the townspeople whom I represent are looking for neither handouts nor subsidies from Government. They have never deluded themselves that the man in Whitehall knows best. In the absence of a Government willing to back the scale of investment in new skills and technology which we need in Hartlepool, the town has not sat back. Over the past decade, the local authority has worked tirelessly to bring in new employment, in both the service and industrial sectors. Indeed, even with the drastically reduced help available from central Government, the partnership between public and private sector has achieved much.

The new marina, being built with the backing of Teesside development corporation and the borough council, is a symbol of the town’s efforts at recovery, even if it has not brought the employment that many hoped for. It has, however, helped to draw to the town the new Imperial War Museum located in the north, and I hope that that exciting project will receive the Government’s full support. The marina will also enable the town to play host to the Round Britain yacht race this summer.

Hartlepool has made a powerful bid for the Department of the Environment’s city challenge programme, and if it is successful, as I earnestly hope it will be, it will further help to transform the appearance and economic potential of Hartlepool’s central locations.

All those initiatives show how willing we and similar communities are to work with any opportunities opened up to us. But imagine how much more successful the industrious people of Hartlepool would be with a Government committed to re-skilling the work force and actively supporting our local industrial effort. That co-operation is needed now.

Hartlepool and the whole of the north face immense competitive challenges: the savage nature of the current recession; the creation this year of the single European market; and the completion, in a few years, of the channel tunnel. If we fail to invest now, we cannot meet those future challenges.

In rhetoric, the Government accept that case. But they should also realise that to will the ends without willing the means is, as Tawney said, akin to inviting unwelcome guests to dinner in the certain knowledge that circumstances will prevent them from being able to attend. What Hartlepool and the north-east desperately need is not another cynical invitation to share in the nation’s fortune, only to find that no place is set for it at the table. In the 1990s we need a decade of regeneration—in industry, our public services and our social cohesion. We can achieve that, but only if we recognise the size of the task to be done and the utter necessity of working together as a nation to achieve it.

Those values of partnership, co-operation and social justice represent all that is best in the Labour party, as true today as ever. It will be my privilege to advance those values on behalf of my constituents and my party throughout my time in this House.