Dominic Raab – 2010 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, in the House of Commons on 6 July 2010.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me at this point in the debate. I beg the patience of the House in making my maiden speech, and pay tribute to and commend the maiden speeches made by hon. Members on both sides of the House.

For new Members such as me, this is a humbling experience. For me, it is especially daunting, as my predecessor, Ian Taylor, did such a good job over the past 23 years that when he announced his retirement last year, The Times described the constituency as

“the closest thing to paradise in the UK”.

Ian set the bar high. He promoted our diverse local enterprise. He fought for our community hospitals, which are cherished in Walton, Molesey and Cobham, ​and he promoted local charities, from the inspiring philanthropic legacy at Whiteley retirement village to more modest but no less vital groups such as Lower Green Community Association—the “little platoons” that define our local civic spirit, which we must revive and empower across Britain today.

Ian Taylor’s contribution to national life was no less important, particularly as Science and Technology Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry from 1994 to 1997. He pioneered free trade, leading a business delegation to Cuba in 1994. He was the first British Minister to visit Cuba in 20 years—the only one to return with cigars from El Presidente. Ian’s immense contribution to science and technology will be sorely missed as we seek to diversify and reinvigorate our economic base.

The history of Esher and Walton counsels against taking anything for granted. The constituency was once home to the Diggers—agrarian communists during the civil war—but later to US President Herbert Hoover, the intellectual architect of “rugged individualism”, which inspired the economic liberalism of Thatcher and Reagan, but also the aspirations of a certain Derek Trotter from the TV series “Only Fools and Horses”. When Rodney asks where the tenants will live if all the council homes in Peckham are sold off, Derek shrugs and, unblinking, replies, “Esher, or somewhere like that.”

My constituency is an aspirational place, and generally my constituents enjoy a high quality of life—generally, but not uniformly. Last year, the “Hidden Surrey” report for Surrey Community Foundation found that child poverty in Walton Ambleside was double the national average, and that poverty among the elderly in Walton North was two thirds above the national average.

No county pays more to the Treasury than Surrey’s taxpayers, yet we get back just one third of the national average level of funding for local services, resulting in the neglect that I have mentioned. The “Hidden Surrey” report concludes that the previous Government had choked money for local services in the area because there was “no electoral cost”. I hope that in the forthcoming spending reviews we can ensure that the funding formula reflects a truly objective, and less political, assessment of local needs.

Turning to the national picture, there is much to cheer in the coalition Government’s programme, and in particular the commitment to defend our freedoms by scrapping identity cards and by enacting a freedom Bill to restore our proud tradition of liberty in this country—eroded after 13 years of legislative hyperactivity and government by press release.

In particular, the coalition programme pledges to defend trial by jury—that ancient bulwark of British justice, dating back to Magna Carta. Steeped in our history, it was a jury that acquitted William Cobbett when he was prosecuted for campaigning for social and political reforms in the 1830s. But that is also relevant today, and not just to whistleblowers and political activists. Take the vindictive prosecution of Janet Devers, the east end market trader prosecuted for selling vegetables in pounds and ounces. She was convicted in the magistrates court of a string of petty offences, but the additional prosecution in the Crown court collapsed on day one when faced with the prospect of trying to convince a jury.​

Juries are the reality check on bad law and abuse of state power. Lord Devlin famously described trial by jury as

“the lamp that shows that freedom lives”.

That light has flickered of late. In 2003, the previous Government tried to remove juries from complex fraud cases, and in 2008 an attempt was made to remove juries from coroners’ inquests—both with scant justification. Parliament defeated or diluted both those attempts, but a third attempt landed a more telling blow.

The Government enacted part 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, allowing for removal of juries where there is a risk of or actual tampering with a jury. In January, we had under those provisions the first criminal trial in 400 years to dispense with a jury. Four men stood charged with armed robbery of a Heathrow warehouse. Three previous trials had collapsed, at a cost of £22 million to the taxpayer, with evidence of jury tampering. The High Court refused on application to dispense with the jury, but was overturned on appeal. The four men were found guilty in March, and in the process we junked a fundamental safeguard of fair trial in this country. Immediately after that case, prosecutors lodged a string of applications to dispense with juries in further cases.

A dangerous precedent has been set. A slippery slope beckons. So I wish to put the question why, for the first time in our history, are we now uniquely incapable of protecting the integrity of our justice system? Why, after the billions invested and the enormous legal powers bestowed on our police are they today, in 2010, incapable of shielding juries in criminal trials? Let no one be in any doubt. This development is no sign of strength in law enforcement, but rather the most feeble weakness, and it is not a resource issue, given the huge amounts squandered on the previous trials that collapsed.

British justice should be firm but fair, two sides of the same coin. So I urge Ministers to review and consider the case for repeal of part 7 of the 2003 Act, in the forthcoming freedom Bill. The light that shows that freedom lives is flickering, but we have an opportunity to restore it. I hope we can take it.

Tristram Hunt – 2010 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Tristram Hunt, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, in the House of Commons on 6 July 2010.

It is a great privilege to be called in this important debate to make my maiden speech and to be the first to congratulate the hon. Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) on his wonderful maiden speech, his description of the multicultural Mecca of Harrow and his generous comments about his predecessor, Tony McNulty, which many Labour Members share. Let me pay my tribute to my esteemed predecessor, Mark Fisher, who sat in the House for 27 years and conscientiously, effectively and passionately represented the interests of Stoke-on-Trent Central.

Mark’s connections to the Potteries began, improbably enough, when he was writing film scripts in Staffordshire Moorlands—an ambitious venture at the best of times in California, even more so in the Roaches of north Staffordshire. He then stood for Staffordshire Moorlands ​and was selected to succeed Bob Cant in Stoke-on-Trent—all the while as an old Etonian son of a Tory MP. People in the Potteries are, as I have discovered, enormously forgiving of one’s past.

Mark’s maiden speech to the House in 1983 was a heartfelt lament at the state of the national health service in north Staffordshire owing to sustained underfunding. He spoke of old buildings, outdated operating theatres, waiting lists for general and orthopaedic surgery of more than 12 months. Now, after 13 years of good Labour Government, that decline has been reversed and Stoke-on-Trent has a brand new £370 million university teaching hospital, springing up around the old City General—it is the first new hospital for 130 years. In addition, we have new GP surgeries, walk-in centres and marked improvements in public health.

Mark was also highly active in the House, working closely with Tony Wright on reforms to the workings of Parliament, the all-party parliamentary history group, which, in a different incarnation, I once had the pleasure to address and was mildly surprised at the intimate knowledge of the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley) of dialectical materialism and the life of Friedrich Engels.

Mark also made a contribution to the management of the art collection in the palace. He was, indeed, an Arts Minister in 1997 and formed part of the heroic team in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that delivered a great Labour pledge of free entry to Britain’s museums for the people of Britain. As his successor, I will be watching closely the incoming Administration’s commitment to honour that pledge. It is now my great privilege to take up his place in Parliament.

In an excellent maiden speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Derby North (Chris Williamson) made an ambitious play for his city being the birthplace of the industrial revolution. While I am a deep admirer of the Derby silk mill and the Derby arboretum, and even the Derwent valley, we all know that the historic, earth-shattering event—the dawn of modernity, the dawn of industrialisation—began in my constituency with the opening of Josiah Wedgwood’s factory in Etruria, near Shelton, in 1769. Since the 1770s, Stoke-on-Trent has become the premier global brand-name for ceramics.

In a recent programme of his excellent series “A History of the World in 100 Objects”, British Museum director Neil MacGregor described the fact that

“human history is told and written in pots… more than in anything else.”

He went on to quote Robert Browning:

“Time’s wheel runs back or stops; potter and clay endure.”

At the heart of the English enlightenment, and indeed global civilisation, Stoke-on-Trent makes its place in history, but out of the six towns has emerged more than just pottery—from the rise of primitive Methodism to the works of Arnold Bennett, from the football of Stanley Matthews to the lyricism of Robbie Williams and the social justice politics of Jack Ashley.

The area has also faced profound challenges, and to be frank, globalisation has knocked the north Staffs economy sideways. Cheap labour in east Asia sparked a freefall in ceramics employment, the steel industry could not compete with China or India, and Michael Heseltine did for the last of our coal mines.​

This process of economic dislocation—when “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air”— has by no means ended, but there are signs of hope. A vibrant university quarter is springing up around Staffordshire university. Onshoring is seeing the return of ceramics jobs to Stoke-on-Trent, while a new generation of designer-makers, led by the likes of Emma Bridgewater, are creating high-value, high-design, locally rooted companies. The Portmeirion business, which produces the iconic Spode designs, is successfully growing from its Stoke base, exporting to Europe, America and South Korea.

However, we have much to do in rebuilding our engineering supply chain, raising skills levels across the constituency and exploiting the human capital of Stoke-on-Trent. While we welcome the Government’s commitment to rebalancing the British economy, perhaps the best way to do that is not to begin by cutting the regional development agency funds or the Building Schools for the Future programme.

My seat is an old if not ancient one. It has a proud pedigree. Born of the Great Reform Act of 1832, of which the Deputy Prime Minister is now such a student, it was first represented in this place by Josiah Wedgwood, the son of the potter. Wedgwood was a liberal—in the proper sense of the word. Like his father, he was committed to the abolitionist cause and was a stalwart of the anti-slavery movement. It was a great pleasure to have seen that spirit reawaken in the general election this year as my constituents sent the racist, reactionary and frequently criminal British National party packing.

However, Stoke-on-Trent also knows that change has to be matched with continuity, and my constituents share a deep apprehension over the Government’s ill-thought-out plans for constitutional reform. They want to know that when a Government fail to win a vote of confidence, Parliament can be dissolved by 50% plus one vote, rather than the absurdity of the 55% self-protecting ordinance.

Then we come to the five-year Parliament—again, a retrospective, constitutional fix to get this Government through some muddy waters, and that is before we get on to flooding of the House of Lords with new Members, redrawing the boundaries, leaving 3.2 million voters off the register and underfunding the individual registration scheme. However, my hon. Friends and I will come back to those issues in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I simply thank the House for the indulgence of this, my maiden speech, on the Gracious Speech.

Matt Hancock – 2010 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Matt Hancock, the Conservative MP for West Suffolk, in the House of Commons on 7 June 2010.

It is an honour to be called to speak and to follow the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford), who spoke so passionately about her new constituency. She also spoke about a subject to do with the constitution that I, too, wish to address-the devolution of power to people more locally. That is a thread that binds together all of us on this side of the House. We believe that the constitution has become too centralised and that local people should be given more of a say. That is certainly true in West Suffolk.

West Suffolk has been represented for the past 18 years by Richard Spring, who was well loved in the constituency, worked tirelessly for it and was admired and respected in all parts of the House. I cannot recall the number of times that, during the election campaign, I knocked on a door and the person who answered said, “Oh, you are following Richard Spring. Well, you’ve got big shoes to fill.” If I can manage to fill those shoes and do as good a job for West Suffolk as he did over the past 18 years, I will have done a very good job indeed. I say from the bottom of my heart that that is what I intend to do.

Richard Spring made the decision early on in his time as an MP to, as he put it, “out-liberal the Liberals” in local campaigning. Now that I find myself on the same Benches as that party, perhaps it is appropriate that I have learned a trick or two from the campaigning that he undertook locally to ensure that West Suffolk was well represented in the House. His biggest impact on the constituency was undoubtedly in the town of Haverhill, which is the largest in the constituency. It has a long history and was in the Domesday Book. It is now a town on the up, largely thanks to his work and that of St Edmundsbury borough council. It has companies such as Genzyme that export to China, which is truly where the future of our manufacturing economy will come from.

West Suffolk is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful constituencies in our country. I have heard the claims of others, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman)-I look forward to challenging his claim to have the most beautiful constituency in the country. With villages such as Ixworth, Stanton, Bardwell, Hundon and Wixoe, and the Stour valley village of Thurlow where I now live with my family, all in all there are 42 villages of thatched roofs and pink cottages all through Constable country, which inspired the great artist.

As well as the most beautiful, West Suffolk is one of the largest constituencies in England, and that large area is united by the poor transport links that we find throughout it. The A11, which serves the whole of Norfolk, desperately needs the final nine miles to be dualled to provide better transport and a better economy to the whole east of England. At the most northerly point of the constituency, Brandon is a peaceful market town, but that peace is destroyed as the holiday traffic runs up the high street. Members will not be surprised that as a new MP, I support the fully locally funded proposal to bring a bypass to Brandon. However, they can imagine my horror when, in preparing for this speech, I read the maiden speech of my predecessor 18 years ago and found that he, too, had argued that there was a desperate need for a bypass for Brandon. I hope that it will not take a whole 18 years to bring it about.

Just south of Brandon is Mildenhall, famous for the Roman Mildenhall treasure and now, of course, home to a large United States air force base. Finally, I turn to the town of Newmarket. It is undoubtedly the most famous town in West Suffolk, and its heritage lives and breathes in the 62 studs and racing yards that are woven through the town centre. It is a unique town with a unique character, and it has unique needs. For instance, it was once illegal to blow one’s nose on Newmarket high street. That rule was in place for the benefit not of the local people but of the bloodstock that ran up and down the street.

Such attention to local need is unfortunately in marked contrast to the one-size-fits-all, we-know-best attitude that Newmarket has seen over the past 13 years, and it is to that point that I turn in the final moments of my speech. For many years, the constitution has endured a creeping centralism. In particular, in planning, John Prescott’s regional spatial strategies have tried to turn every market town into a clone town. The powers of local people to resist have been stripped away, but already the new Government are succeeding in giving power back to the people. The regional spatial strategy was forcing through an inappropriate proposal to build thousands of homes and an industrial park in the middle of Newmarket, which the council found itself powerless to reject-but no more. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has given councils the power to make decisions for themselves once again. The people were given their voice and their democratically elected councillors voted unanimously to reject the proposal.

So there we have it. After less than a month in office, the new Government are already improving our constitution to make it more local, more responsive to the people and less in hock to unelected, unaccountable quangos. A law and a quango cannot solve every ill of this world, but by trusting people and sharing responsibility, we can make a start. That principle binds us together on these Benches. I commend the Queen’s Speech to the House.

Lord Adonis – 2010 Speech on the Academies Bill

Below is the text of the speech made by Lord Adonis in the House of Lords on 21 June 2010.

I begin by paying tribute to the Church of England for the outstanding work that it does in promoting academies. As the right reverend Prelate said, the Church of England is the largest single sponsor of academies. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool and I worked closely on the ​development of academies in Liverpool and the area around, and they are making marvellous progress, extending opportunity in an area that has not had it in the past.

This is my first opportunity in the House to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hill, on his appointment, which I do very warmly indeed. I should also say how glad I am that my noble friends Lady Royall and Lady Morgan are leading on this Bill for the Opposition. They bring a wealth of talent and experience to the task.

My noble friend Lady Morgan raised a number of policy issues about the extension of academies, which I shall leave the Minister to respond to. However, on the specific issue about the legal name that should be given to a certain category of school, I find myself in surprising agreement with the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. She and I are survivors from the interminable debates on the Education Act 2005, on which our views did not coincide all the time, particularly on the issue of academies. But she is right that, in terms of legal category, the schools to which the Bill proposes to accord that status have all the essential characteristics of existing academies.

I know that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet but, for two reasons, I do not support this amendment on the name that it gives to a legal category of schools. First, the schools which we are talking about in this Bill are academies in all their essential legal characteristics. They are managed independently of the local authority, on a contract with the Secretary of State that regulates a whole host of their policies and funding and which will be similar to that of existing academies. My noble friend says that academies are schools largely in deprived or challenging circumstances, and she is correct, although I need to point out to the House that that is not the exclusive preserve of academies. A number of entirely new schools have been set up as academies in very mixed social areas and a number of successful schools, including successful independent schools, have come into the state system by using the legal category of academies.

The legal status is clearly set out in Section 65 of the Education Act 2002, which is cast in similar terms to Clause 1. I emphasise the fact that the 2002 Act, which was passed by the last Government, does not specify that academies, in legal terms, can only be schools that pass a threshold either of deprivation or of low achievement. On the contrary, I invite Members of the Committee to look at Section 65, which says:

“The Secretary of State may enter into an agreement with any person under which … that person undertakes to establish and maintain, and to carry on or provide for the carrying on of, an independent school in England with the characteristics mentioned in subsection (2)”.

Those characteristics are that the school,

“has a curriculum satisfying the requirements of section 78 of the Education Act 2002”,

and that it,

“provides education for pupils of different abilities who are wholly or mainly drawn from the area in which the school is situated”.

Those provisions are almost identical to those in the Bill.​ If there is no legal distinction between the schools that we are talking about in this Bill and those referred to under the Education Act 2002, is there another public policy reason for us to give a different label to certain schools within a similar legal category? I urge your Lordships not to do so. We already have an alphabet soup of different names for schools within the state system: community schools, foundation schools with a foundation, foundation schools without a foundation, voluntary aided schools, voluntary controlled schools, trust schools, city technology colleges, grammar schools, maintained special schools and non-maintained special schools. If the schools that we are talking about are academies, as they are in their essential legal characteristics, the right thing to do is to call them academies and not to add to the alphabet soup.

Amber Rudd – 2010 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Amber Rudd, the Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, in the House of Commons on 17 June 2010.

I am grateful for the opportunity to deliver my maiden speech. I congratulate all new Members who have spoken so ​elegantly and eloquently, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Jake Berry), whose maiden speech was well conceived and comfortably delivered.

I represent the constituency of Hastings and Rye. Of course, it is only us who call our areas constituencies. To my constituents, the constituency is home, where they live and where they bring up their families, and I will never forget that. Some six weeks since the general election, I still get a little lost going from one room to the next, and between staircases and lifts, but I remain impressed, humbled and not a little relieved to be in these historic corridors and as part of this historic coalition.

Part of my responsibility is to live up to the example of the previous Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye, Michael Foster. He was the epitome of a good constituency MP. He was immensely popular, not just because of the individual acts that he did for local residents, but because of his high visibility locally and his successful lobbying of the then Government for additional funds for the town. Unfortunately for him, his popularity grew in inverse proportion to that of his Government, but I recognise that, through his service, he set a very high bar—one that I shall try to reach and, hopefully, at some stage exceed.

The fruits of Michael Foster’s success are evident in Hastings. We have a new train station, further education college, and university centre, and two new state-of-the-art office developments. However, physical regeneration has not yet translated into economic regeneration. Our offices are still largely empty, the train services are still poor, and on the index of multiple deprivation, Hastings remains 29th from the bottom. We have some of the lowest wages and highest unemployment in the whole country, let alone the south-east. Cynics might be forgiven for thinking that Labour’s regeneration has been a triumph of style over substance so far. The make-up is in place, but I am afraid that the wrinkles are still very much there.

But deprivation is only one part of Hastings, and Hastings is only one part of an area of contrasts and variations. My constituency feels very much like a microcosm of the country, with urban and rural areas, with farmland adjacent to idyllic estates, and with idyllic villages next to deprived wards. We are the custodians of England’s most famous date—perhaps more famous than 6 May 2010.

Let me introduce colleagues to the wonderful aspects of my constituency. Hastings, Rye and the village of Winchelsea were all parts of the Cinque ports, which were put together in the 11th century to keep out seafaring invaders, and for the mutual benefit of trade and fishing. Each place has its own unique character. I urge Members to spend their summer holidays with us. They can enjoy local produce, the source of modern English history, top-quality entertainment, fresh air and exercise—and for the more sedentary among us, there are fish and chips and slot machines. They can even walk in genuine dinosaur footprints, which may appeal to some Labour Members.

Tourism is an essential ingredient of what we have to offer. Hotels and boarding houses boast that they have been popular with visitors since 1066—visitors, of course, have not always been so popular with them. We have fantastic beaches, wonderful countryside and arguably ​the world’s most remarkable heritage. We have flourishing language schools, visited by students from all over the world, and a community that welcomes them with open arms, not to mention open tills, because we need the business.

Like many towns, we suffer from the coastal problem of being at the end of the line. Looking at previous maiden speeches over the past 40 to 50 years, I see that there has been a recurring theme: transport. The A21 to Hastings needs renewing and improvement. Our survival and prosperity depend on access. There is no point having wonderful facilities if people cannot access them. It unquestionably puts off employers and tourists, both of whom we need, that it is so difficult to get to our part of the world. I am talking of a constituency where 43% of the work force are in the public sector. We are like an island. We know which way the tide is going; we need to attract the private sector to try to take up some of the unemployment. I fear that much of the money that has already been spent in my constituency will fail to improve the economy if we do not do something about that. For too long, we have been the underprivileged cousin of the south-east. Many of my constituents have suffered terribly from an economy that has simply left them behind.

I have two important considerations for my constituency of Hastings and Rye. The first is transport. I recognise the particular financial situation in which we find ourselves—there must be cuts; we have inherited a difficult legacy. However, I urge Government Front Benchers not to make them to vital infrastructure projects, on which everything else depends. In my constituency, they are a link road to open up the area to more jobs and more employers, improvements to the A21, and better rail transport. We must be accessible to prosper. Conservatives understand above all the importance of enterprise and encouraging private sector growth so that families and communities can grow on their own.

We have discussed the high-skilled economy, and I agree that we all need that for our country to advance. However, I would like to draw hon. Members’ attention to a very old trade. In Hastings, we have the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in Europe. In Rye, we have an important port and fishing fleet. They have been treated shamefully in the past 15 years. In the 1990s, there were 44 fishing vessels leaving Hastings; now there are 20, and the fishermen eke out a precarious living. Those men earn their living in a traditional, honest and environmentally friendly way, battling with the sea and the dangers of the deep. However, the common fisheries policy, as enforced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has made their lives impossible. In 2005, there were prosecutions of those fishermen. The role of Government must be to help people, not put them out of business. Their way of life needs bailing out. Our Fisheries Minister understands the issue and the urgency and has visited Hastings twice, but we cannot wait for a full renegotiation of the common fisheries policy. We need change now, with the cod season approaching and difficulties ahead of us. We need a Government who protect our fisheries and our fishermen. I urge particular consideration of coastal towns.

The Government recognise the importance of promoting private sector growth. I hope that we can demonstrate ​that in Hastings and Rye by supporting better transport links and securing a fairer deal for fishermen. All we ask is a fair wind and an even keel.

Sajid Javid – 2010 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Sajid Javid in the House of Commons on 8 June 2010.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to make my maiden speech. I speak with a particular sense of humility after so many hon. Members have given such admirable maiden speeches, including that just made by the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green).

I have some worthy predecessors. My immediate predecessor was Miss Julie Kirkbride. She was first elected in 1997, and she was a fine constituency MP. I will never forget the spontaneous tributes that people paid to her, when I knocked on their doors during the campaign, for all the work that she had done on their behalf. I should also like to express my gratitude to her two most recent predecessors, Mr Roy Thomason and Sir Hal Miller, who both helped me in my campaign with great advice.

Bromsgrove is a beautiful, traditional beacon of middle England. I know that many hon. Members have described their constituencies as beautiful, but Bromsgrove truly has breathtaking countryside. It is an old market town which was originally a bit of an industrial hub for the west midlands industrial complex. It still has a very active, traditional court-leet, with lovely traditions. In the east of the constituency we have many beautiful picture-postcard villages, including the glamorously named suburb of Hollywood.

Over the centuries, we have had many heroes from Bromsgrove. I should like to pay tribute on this occasion to two of the most recent-both teenagers, both soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment. The first, Private Robert Laws, was aged 18 when he lost his life fighting for our country in Helmand province last year. He had passed his training only six months previously. The second, Private Alex Kennedy, also aged 18, earlier this year became the youngest soldier since the second world war to receive the military cross. He fought hard to save the life of his commanding officer during a fierce battle with the Taliban. We must never forget the sacrifices that our soldiers-those who have served and those who are currently serving for us-make on our behalf.

A notable person from Bromsgrove is A. E. Housman, whose stirring prose reflected the rural beauty of the heart of England. In Bromsgrove we have a wonderful heritage in the English countryside, and that is why I want to make sure that it is the people who are most affected by planning decisions who make those decisions. That is why I welcome the recent announcements of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on that issue. They have been most welcomed by my constituents.

Perhaps at this point I should say something about my own background, as hon. Members may be able to tell from my appearance and my name that I can hardly be of traditional Worcestershire stock. My parents were both born in British India. Although my father was just six years old in 1947, he remembers full well the tragedy that occurred upon the partition of India-12 million people were displaced and almost a million lost their lives. If we need an example of how political failure can lead to great human tragedy, surely that is one of the most heart-wrenching, and an example of how politics can really make a difference. That is what I say to people who ask me why I gave up a lucrative career in finance to enter this House.

To the dismay of the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), I have to tell him that for 19 years I have been an investment banker. In my case, this is one brain that was sucked up by the City and has now come to serve the people in this Parliament. I worked in London, Singapore and New York. I readily admit that being seen as an investment banker was not the most useful thing on the campaign trail, but it helped prepare me for a profession not well liked by the general public. Let us hope that all of us, on both sides of the House, can work together over the coming years to help restore the nation’s respect for our great Parliament.

In view of my background in finance, I am particularly pleased to give my maiden speech during this debate on economic affairs. There are many global economic uncertainties at the moment, and they have potentially grave consequences for our economy. First, the euro is only just beginning to have problems. It was always a political contrivance that had virtually nothing to do with economics. Secondly, the world’s largest emerging market economies, which have buttressed global demand since the onset of the credit crisis, are about to go through a period of monetary tightening, and we can no longer rely on them for global growth.

Thirdly, industrialised nations, including our own, that have issued vast amounts of sovereign debt over the past three years in particular can no longer go on that way. We have to make sure that when we look at these issues, we never forget the traditional disciplines that have stood Britain in good stead-sound public finances, low and simple taxation, and light and flexible regulation. It is when we forget these disciplines that we put our future prosperity at risk.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity, and thank you to the people of Bromsgrove for allowing me to serve them in this Chamber.

Charles Kennedy – 2000 Speech on the EU and the Euro

charleskennedy

Below is the text of the speech made by Charles Kennedy, the then Leader of the Liberal Democrats, in Brussels on 5 December 2000.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be able to be here today to talk about Britain’s role in the EU and the case for the Single Currency.

So much of the discourse about Europe or the Euro in Britain is characterised by scare stories and misinformation that it is scarcely possible to have a serious debate on the issues any more. Any positive news stories about the benefits of EU membership or the virtues of the Single Currency tend to be subverted by the sceptical British press in favour of scare stories about straight bananas or the fact that the European Union flag will fly alongside the Union Jack over Downing Street for one day this year to mark our membership of the EU.

You would think from the hysterical reaction in one particular Sunday newspaper a couple of days ago to that story that we weren’t actually members of the European Union at all. It is becoming more and more necessary in Britain for those of us who support Britain’s membership of the European Union and think that a successful Single Currency will yield benefits for British businesses, and British workers, and British consumers to go out and make the case for them both time and time again.

The Liberal Democrats are strong advocates of the European Union. Let us not forget the dream of the original members of what is now the EU. It was that a degree of economic and political integration would bring co-operation and, more importantly, peace and stability to Western Europe, which had been notably absent for centuries.

Having, most of us, grown up in the last fifty years it is perhaps easy to underestimate the degree to which the European Union has been the cause and the guarantor of that peace. The longest continual period of peace in Western Europe since Roman times. Membership of the European Union also gives Britain more power and influence than if we were a nation alone.

Look at the example of British beef and the BSE crisis. The United States has banned the import of British beef for a number of years. and we have absolutely no power to stop them. Yet France also maintains an unwarranted ban on our beef. The difference is that in this case, we are able to complain to the European Union who are now taking legal steps to force the French to lift this unnecessary and unacceptable ban.

Indeed, given the current fears over the safety beef produced in other EU countries, notably France, I find it hard to understand any justification for the French action. Measures must be taken speedily to reassure public opinion as to the safety of beef in the EU, so as not to undermine confidence in beef produced in this country. I want to see nothing less than a total EU-wide ban on all cattle over 30-months old entering the food-chain. The European Union must provide 100 per cent compensation to farmers for destroying cattle of that age.

The EU must not shy away from taking the strong action necessary to ensure public safety and reassure public opinion. Membership of the European Union gives us the leverage to fight for this to happen. If we were not members our calls would mean nothing.

In a wider sense, Britain’s place in the world order has changed dramatically, in the years since we joined what was then the Common Market. Britain is now a stronger trading nation than at any time since World War Two.

In the years since 1973, our trade has increased by 138%. More than half of British trade now is actually with other EU countries. In 1999, the value of Britain’s trade with the EU approached £350 billion. Almost a tenth of that was with Belgium. As businessmen and women, you will know how easily levels of trade are affected by tariffs, barriers to entry, and exchange rate fluctuations.

So long as we are members of the European Union we will enjoy the benefits of a common market. But if we remain outside of the Single Currency we remain open to the damage that an unstable and high exchange rate can do to our exporters and to inward investment in Britain. The high pound has already been doing serious damage to our manufacturing industry and exporters in recent years. If this were to be perpetuated in the future it could have a seriously adverse impact on Britain as a trading nation.

The Liberal Democrats have not been alone in arguing this case. But we have perhaps been the most consistent. The Prime Minister, for example, probably shares this view. Although some of his ministers, including the Chancellor, may not. But he is timid when it comes to discussing the benefits of joining a successful Single Currency, preferring to hide behind a series of utterly subjective economic tests laid down by Gordon Brown. They are a fig leaf to hide the Government’s indecision.

Yet, I believe people need the British Government to take a lead, more than ever, on the issue of the Single Currency. To give them the certainty they need to plan their businesses or to give them the certainty that their job is secure.

It is important also to take heed of the views of those in business and industry when looking at the case for or against the Euro. Over the course of the last year, numerous big hitters in business have spoken out in favour of Britain joining a successful Single Currency. Richard Branson, for example, has let it be known that he is increasingly concerned about our non-membership. Earlier this year he wrote: “Outside the Euro we will be much poorer both as a nation and as individuals.” A month later, the President of the Japanese electronics giant Matsushita spoke out of his concerns that Britain had still not made a commitment to join the Euro. “The immediate question is when the pound will be included in the Euro” he said. “If Britain does nothing to solve the problem, foreign companies, regardless of whether they are Japanese American, or whatever nationality, may exit the country.”

These words should be heard by all politicians when deciding whether we should join the Single Currency. But I readily accept that this issue cannot, and should not, just be decided on economic grounds. There are constitutional implications to consider also. That is why the Liberal Democrats were the first major political party to call for a referendum on this issue. To call for the British people to have the final say on whether to adopt the Euro.

All I ask is that the public are given all the information on the pros and cons of membership in order to make an informed decision when the times comes, rather than being fed a diet of half-truths, exaggeration and plain hysteria as is the case all too often at present. The British people deserve nothing less than the whole truth.

Andrea Leadsom – 2010 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire, on 22 June 2010.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, the amount of global derivatives outstanding is now $1.14 quadrillion; that is more than $1,000 trillion and more than 10 times the GDP of the entire world. It is a vast risk, and not only that; it is largely unregulated and traded between the banks themselves.

I am grateful for this opportunity to give my maiden speech during today’s crucial Budget debate. There is no doubt that the actions we take now to cut our deficit and make our banking system safer will determine how quickly our economy recovers.

In speaking today, I am following in the big footsteps of my predecessor, Tim Boswell. He made his maiden speech during a debate on the Finance Bill in 1987, and I hope I am not tempting fate, because within a few months of his speech the stock market spectacularly crashed.

It is a great pleasure to pay tribute to Tim’s 23 years of service in this House. He is one of a small number of politicians to have been called a saint by The Daily Telegraph and he has certainly been an honourable Member of this House. As well as his many virtues, however, he also has a wicked sense of humour. He recently e-mailed me to tell me he was never going to vote for me again-ever. It was only after a few minutes of sheer panic that I realised that that was his way of giving me the great news of his elevation to the other
place. Tim has many friends on both sides of the House and I am sure many Members will want to join me in congratulating him on his well-deserved new role.

South Northamptonshire is a new constituency, with two thirds of it from Tim Boswell’s Daventry and a third from Northampton South. My family members have worked and farmed there for generations. It is a wonderful place in the heart of England: we have a mixture of ancient villages, with the market towns of Brackley and Towcester; we have thriving new communities on the outskirts of Northampton; and, of course, we have the world-famous Silverstone circuit. Engineering and technology businesses are a great strength, and we also have some big local employers, such as Barclaycard and Carlsberg.

We do have our own challenges, however. Under the last Government Northamptonshire was a huge target for housing growth, with little regard for the needs and desires of existing long-standing communities, and I am very glad that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has announced plans to scrap the regional spatial strategies, thereby giving power back to local people.

We have been beset with applications for wind turbines on the edge of villages, where local residents have felt unable to defend their own environment.

More recently, we have whole communities under threat from Labour’s preferred route for high-speed rail. It would literally cut through farms and villages in my constituency, in some places on a 6 metre-high embankment. We all know that we cannot build new infrastructure painlessly, but there is a huge price to pay by people whose homes and businesses would be destroyed by the track. I urge our Government to make sure that the consultation on high-speed rail gives to everyone whose life and business will be affected the opportunity to have their voice heard. South Northamptonshire is a gem of a place to live, to work and to visit and I am hugely honoured to be its first Member of Parliament.

Let me return to the subject of the debate. To me, it is absolutely key to restore the health of our financial services sector as a critical part of restoring our broken economy. There are two ways of doing that. First, I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already decided to give back extra responsibility to the Bank of England.

In 1995, Barings bank collapsed due to rogue trading in the far east. Nick Leeson had found a way to put on massive uncovered derivatives exposure without the knowledge of Barings’ treasury in London, in a different time zone if not on a different planet. At the time, I was managing the investment banks team at Barclays, and we were the principal banker to Barings. The collapse came on a Friday evening and the markets were threatening chaos, but Eddie George, the then Governor of the Bank of England, called together a small group of bankers, including myself, and we worked over the weekend to calm the fears of banks that were exposed to Barings. The direct result was that there was no run on the banks on the Monday morning, Barings was allowed to fail and there was no systemic contagion.

The difference between that experience and the more recent experience with Northern Rock is the difference between accountability and the tripartite system. In 1995, Eddie George knew that it was down to him to prevent a run on the banks, whereas in the case of Northern Rock, we had the Financial Services Agency looking to the Bank of England, which was looking to the Treasury for action. The result was the first run on a bank in 150 years and a taste of the financial meltdown to come.

From my experience, I am positive that a key to restoring the health of our financial sector is giving back powers and accountability to the Bank of England, and I am delighted that my right hon. Friend plans to do just that.

There is a second key action that we need to take as well. The financial crisis was not just a failure of regulation; it was also a failure of competition. The great Adam Smith always said in his wealth-creation ideas that for markets to be free and for us to create new wealth we have to have free entry and free exit of market players.

But in the world of finance those principles have not been true for years: cost and complexity have created huge barriers to new entry; we have already seen that Governments cannot possibly allow a single bank to fail when there are issues of systemic contagion; and we see every day the distortion of free competition in the power of investment banks to charge huge margins for derivatives trading and underwriting.

So, I and many of my ex-City colleagues argue that a key way of making our banking system safer is through measures to change the culture of our financial sector. The banks that are supposedly too big to fail must be broken up. The barriers to entry must be removed. The ability to charge monopoly prices must be taken away.

In South Northamptonshire, businesses are struggling because of the lack of available working capital, but with our high-tech and engineering expertise we should be really well placed to build new jobs in the low-carbon economy that our Government want to create.

The Government are right to want to promote a broader mix of business in our economy. That mix must contain a successful financial services sector with healthy competition and the free availability of working capital.

It is a mix that will be at the core of our economic recovery.

David Cameron + Nick Clegg – 2010 Joint Press Conference

davidcameronold

Below is the text of the joint press conference held with David Cameron and Nick Clegg on 12 May 2010.

Prime Minister:

Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome. On the steps of Downing Street yesterday evening, I said that Nick and I wanted to put aside party differences and work together in the national interest. Since I set out that aim, both our parties have given their full backing to our coalition agreement, a Liberal Democrat-Conservative Government that we have negotiated.

This is the first coalition Government in Britain for 65 years. It will be an administration united behind three key principles: freedom, fairness and responsibility. It will be an administration united behind one key purpose. That is to give our country the strong, stable and determined leadership that we need for the long term.

In the days and weeks ahead, we will together be setting out in greater detail the aims and the values of our partnership and the full policy programme of our coalition Government. Today, we want to say just a few words about how we plan to work together and the significance of what we have achieved in coming to this agreement.

This morning, as part of the process of establishing the new Government, I have been working to appoint the Cabinet. Later today, I will be chairing the first meeting of our National Security Council and Nick Clegg will be at my side. There are five Liberal Democrat Secretaries of State in Cabinet working hand in hand with Conservative colleagues to address the big challenges that Britain faces. Starting with Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Democrats will be represented at every level of government. I think this is a sign of the strength and depth of this coalition and our sincere determination to work together constructively to make this coalition work in our national interest.

We have a shared agenda and a shared resolve to tackle the challenges our country faces, to safeguard our national security and support our troops abroad, to tackle the debt crisis, to repair our broken political system and to build a stronger society. We understand that we are not going to beat these problems overnight. In particular, no Government in modern times has ever been left with such a terrible economic inheritance. Today’s unemployment figures are another sign of the human cost of the economic mistakes of the past decade. So we know there will be difficult decisions ahead but, working together, I know we can take the country through those difficult times to the better times that I believe lie ahead.

But today, we are not just announcing a new Government and new ministers; we are announcing a new politics. A new politics where the national interest is more important than the party interest, where cooperation wins out over confrontation, where compromise, where give and take, where reasonable, civilised, grown-up behaviour is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. One of the major problems of the last few years has been a chronic short-termism in government. With this coalition Government and this coalition agreement that we have for five years, we can act for the long term and make the major decisions for our country’s future. That is the true significance of this coalition. It can be an historic and seismic shift in our political landscape. It can demonstrate in government a new progressive partnership, believing in enterprise, markets and fiscal responsibility, committed to civil liberties and curbing the power of the state, passionate about building a green economy, determined to build the Big Society where families and communities are supported and strengthened and eager to make sure that the Big Society is matched by big citizens, where power is taken from the politicians and put in the hands of people as we embark on a recasting of our political system.

Our Liberal-Conservative Government will take Britain in an historic new direction, a direction of hope and unity, conviction and common purpose. I am delighted to be standing here with the new Deputy Prime Minister. The two of us together leading this historic, Liberal Democrat-Conservative administration. I would like, now, to invite him to speak to us on what I think is a remarkable and very welcome day. Nick.

Deputy Prime Minister:

Thank you, David. We have just been through an election campaign and now we have a coalition. Until today, we were rivals; now, we are colleagues. That says a lot about the scale of the new politics that is now beginning to unfold. This is a new Government and it is a new kind of government, a radical reforming Government where it needs to be and a source of reassurance and stability at a time of great uncertainty in our country too.

David has spoken about many of the challenges we all face: the economy, still struggling to get to its feet; the public finances, in a mess; our troops, engaged in a difficult and lasting conflict that requires resolution; our society, still scarred by too much unfairness and inequality; our politics, not yet recovered from the hammer blows of recent months. At a time of such enormous difficulties, our country needed a strong and stable government. It needed an ambitious Government determined to work relentlessly for a better future. That is what we have come together in this coalition to provide.

This is a Government that will last, not because of a list of policies, important though they are, not because it will be easy. There will be bumps and scrapes along the way. We are different parties and we have different ideas. This is a Government that will last despite those differences, because we are united by a common purpose for the job we want to do together in the next five years. Our ambition is simple and yet profound. Our ambition is to put real power and opportunity into the hands of people, families and communities to change their lives and our country for the better.

For me, that is what liberalism is all about: ensuring that everybody has the chance, no matter who they are or where they are from, to be the person they want to be and live the life they want to live. You can call it ‘fairness’. You can call it ‘responsibility’. You can call it ‘liberalism’. Whatever words you use, the change it will make to your life is the same. You will have the opportunities you crave: fairer taxes; better schools; a fair, green economy with growth that lasts; clean, open, plural politics that I hope, once again, you can put your faith in to deliver the help and the change you need.

I want this to be a bold, reforming Government that puts fairness back into Britain, a Government that restores our faith in what a healthy, strong society can achieve, a Government that takes power away from politicians, as David said, and gives it back to you, a government that hands back your liberties and your privacy, building a nation where parents, pupils and patients can shape our schools and hospitals, where fine words on the environment are finally translated into real action, where social mobility becomes a reality for all where the great British traditions of tolerance and fairness are restored. I came into politics to change politics and to change Britain for good. Together, that job starts today. Thank you.

David Cameron – 2010 Speech at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on 13 May 2010.

Thank you very much. It’s great to be here. The very first Department of State I ever walked into as a junior researcher over 20 years ago was actually the DTI – I think I walked through that door over there. The ministerial team in those days included talents as diverse as Alan Clark and Eric Forth, so if that coalition can work together, this one certainly can!

I wanted to come here first for some very good reasons. First of all, we face huge economic challenges, and I think it’s so important, as Vince has just said, that we really demonstrate that this country is open for business; that we want to promote trade overseas; we want to get our economy moving; and we want to get our banks lending. I see this as a big economic department with a huge task in front of it, and I want all of you to work together to help deliver that.

In doing so, you’ve got an incredibly talented team of ministers. Vince Cable is an absolute star in terms of economic policy and economic thinking; he’s demonstrated that over the last few years in parliament. To bring him together with David Willetts, who is also known as ‘two brains’ – you’ve got two ministers so far, and there are more to come this afternoon I promise you. But you already have some of the top talent that is available in parliament, to make a great success of this.

The more I think about the endeavour, on which we have embarked, the more excited I become. Because this coalition government, if we can make it work – and I believe we can – is a five-year government; and one of the things that everyone says about our economy is that we need to make more long-term decisions. I think we have an incredible opportunity to make long-term decisions for the good of our economy, for the good of our country. In doing so, I will try, as Prime Minister, to do something else that hasn’t always happened in the past, and that is to appoint good ministers and keep them in post for a decent period of time. The average length of ministerial life, I think, is around one year and three months; we have got to do better than that when we have these big challenges in front of us.

Two last things. Yes, this is a coalition government, but in many ways, all governments are a coalition – a coalition between politicians and civil servants. I want us to do better than has been done before, in making sure that coalition really works. Part of that is about respecting the work that civil servants do. Having worked as a special advisor 20 years ago, having watched government over the last 20 years, I know that the British Civil Service is an incredible machine. It requires, of course, the right coordination, the right leadership, the right combination with politicians. But it is a great machine. Where else in the world can you see a transition to government be so smooth and so effective, even when you’re putting together a political coalition?

I am expecting great things of you in this department. The economic challenge we face is the biggest we have faced over the last 40 years. We have two big economic departments, the Treasury and BIS; we have great political leadership, I believe, in both. I want you all to get down to work, to make sure we send out a big signal: this country is open for business. We want to get the economy growing, get the banks lending, and make sure that we build a strong and, as Vince said, a more balanced economy for the future.

So today is a day to receive your new ministers; there will be three more talented ministers turning up very shortly. Tomorrow is the day to roll up your sleeves and get down to work, to help us build a strong economy here in the UK. Thank you very much indeed.