Theresa May – 2010 Speech to Association of Chief Police Officers

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, to the Association of Chief Police Officers and Association of Police Authorities National Conference, in Manchester on 29 June 2010.

Not many people understand the weight of responsibility that rests upon the shoulders of a police chief constable. Like chief executives of large private sector companies, you manage multi-billion pound budgets, lead thousands of men and women, and devise strategies to succeed.

Except, being a chief constable isn’t like being a chief executive at all.

On Wednesday 2 June, Chief Constable Craig Mackey of Cumbria Constabulary went to work and found himself leading an armed police response to Britain’s worst mass shooting since 1996. Just days earlier, his officers had dealt with the tragic school coach crash near Keswick. And at the end of last year, it was Craig Mackey’s men and women who came to the rescue when Cumbria was devastated by floods. Being a chief constable is a job like no other – and I want to start by paying tribute to Craig and to all of you for the work you do.

And let us not forget the work of the members of police authorities up and down the country. We might have our differences about the future of accountability in policing – and I’ll come to that later – but we all recognise the importance of listening to local communities. And I salute you for the dedication and sense of duty with which you serve your communities.

Budgets

I stand before you today as a new Home Secretary in a new government and I am about to tell you something that no Home Secretary has ever said before. I take no pleasure in that fact, because what I have to say is tough.

Our country has the worst budget deficit of any major economy. The public finances are in the biggest mess that any of us have seen in our lifetimes. And as you saw in the budget, that means the Coalition Government is going to have to take tough action.

Like almost all of my colleagues in the cabinet, I have to cut spending in my department. The spending review has not begun yet, so we don’t know the exact figures, but I must be clear. We are not talking about a spending freeze, or a reduction of one or two per cent. The cuts will be big, they will be tough to achieve, and cuts will fall on the police as they will on other important public services.

In the Home Office, I will be ruthless in cutting out waste, streamlining structures and improving efficiency. But these practical measures can only go so far, and together we have to make sure that – despite the cuts – policing must remain visible and available to the public.

Value for money

So we are going to have to make sure that every penny of your budgets is spent in the most useful possible way. As I told the Police Federation conference last month, we will honour the existing pay deal for police officers negotiated with my predecessors. And we will stand by the deal for other police staff too.

But we have to be realistic about what we can afford, so we will also undertake a review of police terms and conditions. Let me be crystal clear from the beginning: police officers and staff need to be ready, along with the rest of the public sector, to make sacrifices and accept pay restraint. It cannot be right, for example, that police overtime has become institutionalised. We may not win popularity contests for asking these difficult questions, but it is time for them to be asked.

I want to work with you, the leaders of our police forces and members of police authorities, to make sure we get value for money wherever we can. I’ve said before that I don’t want to run the police, and I don’t – but there is no need to do everything 43 different ways.

So in tandem with our reforms to make the police more accountable to their local communities, I am considering what matters should be delivered for the service nationally. For example, does it really make sense to buy in police cars, uniforms and IT systems in 43 different ways? Where central procurement is consistent with our desire to devolve responsibility and accountability downwards, and it saves money for the taxpayer, we will encourage it and facilitate it.

I know that some of you have argued for mergers between police forces. I understand the operational advantages of large forces, particularly in relation to the most serious forms of criminal activity. But let’s get one thing straight: this government believes strongly in building strong local communities and giving the people who live in these communities a major role in the planning and delivery of the public services they use. In keeping with this belief in local democratic accountability, police force mergers will not be allowed to happen unless they are voluntary and unless they have the support of local communities.

But of course, there is a lot that police forces can do in terms of sharing back office functions and procurement. And, to that end, I welcome ACPO’s offer to produce a national plan for the way the service does business. I’m eager to hear over the coming weeks from ACPO and the APA what progress has been made in putting together a project to meet the financial challenges of the future.

I want that plan to look at what other matters are best reserved and what essential functions – such as criminal justice units, call handling and training – can be delivered more cheaply and effectively with other forces or partners. And I want that plan to identify where collaboration can strengthen the police response to terrorism, organised criminality and threats to the public that cut across force boundaries.

We need to understand too the potential benefits of outsourcing, and not just in areas like human resources and finance. Some forces have already shown substantial savings in things like custody management.

The ACPO plan will need to look critically at the size of these functions and the number of officers deployed. I am determined that frontline availability should increase even as budgets contract. I acknowledge that increasing the visibility and productivity of officers, PCSOs and other staff is a major challenge. But I firmly believe that it is a challenge that chief constables can – and must – meet.

The matter of deployment and availability will be examined by HMIC in their value for money inspections later this year. And we will make sure that the review of remuneration and conditions of service recommends ways we can give chief constables more discretion over how to use their workforce flexibly and cost-effectively.

Liberating the police to get officers onto the beat

Because we need to think creatively about how to get officers from behind desks and onto the streets. And I’m pleased to say that we have, in our short time in government, already made some progress.

We have long promised to scrap the ‘stop and account’ form in its entirety and reduce the burden of the stop and search procedures. I can announce today that these important commitments will be delivered by the end of the year.

In my speech to the Police Federation, I promised to return charging decisions to the police for a broader range of minor offences. And I can announce today that there will be a phased rollout of the new arrangements from November.

Essex, London, Thames Valley, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire have been testing these new charging arrangements. When they are rolled out across the whole country, up to 80,000 cases a year will be returned to the discretion of police officers.

And I can also announce today that I am also scrapping the confidence target and the policing pledge with immediate effect.

I know that some officers like the policing pledge, and some, I’m sure, like the comfort of knowing they’ve ticked boxes. But targets don’t fight crime; targets hinder the fight against crime. In scrapping the confidence target and the policing pledge, I couldn’t be any clearer about your mission: it isn’t a thirty-point plan; it is to cut crime. No more, and no less.

I know that the Home Office hasn’t been the only guilty partner in creating all this bureaucracy. The criminal justice system can waste officers’ time, and I know that Nick Herbert, who is not only a minister in the Home Office but also the Ministry of Justice, is keen to hear your ideas about how to make it more efficient. Nick is going to be here all week, and is anxious to hear your views on this and any other subject that is bothering you. So please do make sure you speak to him.

But we have to face the fact that some of this bureaucracy also stems from the forces themselves. When times are tight, when we are removing red tape imposed by the Home Office, it simply cannot be right that this bureaucracy is reinstated at a local level. Nor can it be right for remaining paperwork to be goldplated by forces. So I call on all of you, chief constables and police authority members alike, to take the same, radical approach to cutting bureaucracy as we are taking in Whitehall.

The announcements I have made today are by no means exhaustive, and I want to hear from you about what else we can do to help you do your jobs more efficiently and effectively. Tell me precisely where bureaucracy is making your life harder for no benefit, and I will do whatever I can to change it.

But the truth is that if we are going to make the police more visible, more available, and more accountable to the public you serve, then we have to go beyond these changes. We have to look again at the driver of all this bureaucracy, and that is the top-down model of accountability imposed on police by government.

Swapping bureaucratic accountability for democratic accountability
That is government’s way of doing things. Ask a bureaucrat to do something and he’ll create bureaucracy. It’s not really a surprise, is it? But we can’t sweep away the targets, initiatives and paperwork and leave nothing in their place. The police, like every public service, have to remain accountable. But they do not have to be accountable to bureaucrats in Whitehall – they should be accountable to the people they serve in their communities. So we will swap the top-down, bureaucratic accountability for local, democratic accountability, as we promised to do in the Coalition Agreement, and indeed as was promised in the manifestos of both Coalition partners.

It means a directly-elected individual at force level, setting the force budget, agreeing the local strategic plan, playing a role in wider questions of community safety and appointing – and if necessary removing – the local chief constable.

It means publishing accurate local crime data, so that maps can be produced showing exactly what crimes have been committed where.

It means regular beat meetings for local communities to hold their neighbourhood policing teams to account. And I give you this assurance: none of these changes will compromise the foundation stone of British policing, your operational independence.

That is the deal I am offering to you. I haven’t had time today to do more than outline some of its main principles. In the next few months, Nick Herbert and I will be in listening mode – and I urge you to use this opportunity to tell us how you think that these general principles should best be implemented.

Later this summer, we will be bringing forward detailed proposals and introducing the necessary legislation to be implemented in this session of Parliament. Some of you will no doubt argue that this timetable is too ambitious. Some have suggested that what we should do is set up a Royal Commission to think about these matters for a couple of years.

Frankly, these issues are too important to be put on the back burner. In this age of spending cuts and policing on a budget, our programme of police reform becomes more urgent, not less. So we will get on with the job.

Our vision is a bold one, with a totally redrawn national policing landscape: more collaboration between forces, a review into the role and remit of the NPIA, a border police force as part of a refocused Serious and Organised Crime Agency, and, of course, directly-elected individuals to deliver local accountability. And I want you, the senior police officers, to think sensibly about a clearer and more transparent leadership role for ACPO in this landscape.

Conclusions

Times might be tough, and money might be tight, but there is no reason to check our ambition.

What I have outlined today is a real plan to cut crime and anti-social behaviour. It’s not – as we’ve been used to – a bureaucratic checklist we expect police officers to follow. It’s a plan that gives responsibility to the police, accountability to the public, and the clearest sense of direction possible: your job is nothing more, and nothing less, than to cut crime. And I will do everything I can to help you do so.

Theresa May – 2010 Statement on Police Reform

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, on 29 June 2010.

I am today setting out some further details of the government’s approach to police reform. Policing governance has become distorted and over-centralised in recent years and the government is committed to ensuring that accountability and transparency are firmly at the heart of policing.

The first step for reform must be the return of proper operational responsibility to chief constables and their teams and that for this to work effectively there needs to be a redesign of the current performance landscape. The police service needs more freedom from central control – fewer centrally driven targets and less intervention and interference from government. That is why I am announcing that we are abolishing the centrally imposed target on police forces to improve public confidence and we will scrap the Policing Pledge. Police forces need to be
accountable instead to their communities.

To achieve greater accountability, the public need better information about their police and about local crime. This is why we will make sure that crime data is published at a level that allows the public to see what is happening on their streets, enabling the public to hold the police and other local agencies to account for how they are dealing with problems in their area. We will also require police forces to hold regular ‘beat meetings’ to provide residents with the opportunity to put forward their concerns and hold the police to account.

In the future, the establishment of a directly elected individual at force level, setting the force budget, agreeing the local strategic plan, playing a role in wider questions of community safety and appointing – and if necessary removing – the local chief constable, will strengthen local accountability for policing. We will publish further details on our reform of policing later in the summer, which will assist our discussions with the public and our partners, and inform the government’s preparations for the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill in the autumn.

Theresa May – 2010 Statement on English Language Requirement

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 9 June 2010.

I wish to inform the House that I am today announcing the introduction of a new English language requirement for migrants applying to come to or stay in the UK as a spouse. Changes to the immigration rules will be laid before Parliament to bring this policy into effect in the autumn.

Non-European migrants joining a British citizen or non-European national settled in the UK will have to demonstrate a basic command of English in order to be considered for a visa. The rules will apply to spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, same sex partners, fiances and proposed civil partners, and will be compulsory for people applying from within the UK, as well as visa applicants overseas.

The Government believe that speaking English should be a pre-requisite for those wishing to settle here. This new English requirement for spouses will help promote the economic well-being of the UK, for example by encouraging integration and protecting public services. It will assist in removing cultural barriers, broaden opportunities for migrants and help to ensure that they are equipped to play a full part in British life.

This is only the first step. We are reviewing English language requirements across the immigration system with a view to tightening the rules further in the future. We will inform the House of our conclusions in due course.

Today’s announcement is one of a range of new measures the Government will be taking to ensure that immigration is properly controlled for the benefit of the UK. These include an annual limit on non-EEA migrants coming to the UK to live and work and measures to minimise abuse of the immigration system, for example via student routes.

Liam Fox – 2010 Speech on General Fonseka

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the then Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, on 17 February 2010.

After years of war, there is much talk in this country about peace. This is a welcome change. But peace is not simply the absence of war.

A genuine peace requires other, positive attributes. It requires freedom from fear-the fear of hunger, the fear of sickness, the fear of persecution.

It requires freedom of expression including a free press and broadcast media. It requires freedom to dissent within the law. And it is a law that must be applied without regard to race, gender or religion, accepting fundamental human rights. It is a law that must apply equally to the governed and the governing.

Sri Lanka is a fortunate country. It has seen decades of violence and terror under the LTTE brought to an end. It has a constitution and a judicial system that should be the foundations of a peaceful, tolerant and progressive society.

This is a country with huge natural wealth and economic potential. Yet too many Sri Lankans have been denied access to this potential. I have visited camps where children from the war zone have never been to school. I saw other children brutalised by a life as child soldiers, totally unaware of the existence of a different lifestyle that so many others take for granted. For those returning home from the camps there must be a new start with access to quality social infrastructure-good housing, education and healthcare. All Sri Lankans, of whatever ethnic group, must share equally in the future of this country or the country will never reach its full potential.

Of course, such infrastructure requires money. That is why I have brought plans with me for the creation of a new fund which can help provide basic social infrastructure for the reconstruction that this country will need if the end of the violence is to develop into a sustainable peace. I am extremely grateful for the support I have received across the political spectrum and from religious leaders. We will be signing a memorandum of understanding for the workings and next steps in establishing this fund and will set out details in the near future. I hope this initiative we will give the people of Sri Lanka, and particularly the Tamil people in the North and East, the tools they need to ensure that opportunity and prosperity are the inheritance of all the people of this island.

There is however a political problem which needs to be addressed if the outside world is to have confidence that Sri Lanka is a stable place in which to invest. The President won a huge victory and deserves congratulations. But the situation surrounding General Fonseka threatens to damage Sri Lanka’s international reputation . At a crucial time for this country’s future it cannot afford to have the prosecution of such a senior military officer portrayed as an act of revenge. It is not for any outside nation or body to determine who should or should not be tried in this country but how such trials are conducted will play a huge role in how this country is perceived abroad. The law not only has to be applied fairly but has to be seen to be applied fairly. It is my strong view that the General should be tried in a civil court where the charges against him can be tested with all the rigour that the law can muster and where transparency will enable both the domestic population and the international community to have confidence in the judicial process.

Liam Fox – 2010 Speech on Defence Spending

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the then Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, on 3 February 2010.

I would like to thank the Secretary of State for his statement and for prior sight of it, although we do seem to have been the last to see the Green Paper since every journalist I have met this week has been telling me about its contents.

I think the Secretary of State deserves genuine praise for his attempts to find a cross party consensus. When the history of this dreadful government is written, his will be one of the more honourable mentions. I would also like to thank my Honourable Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex for the effort he has put into producing a balanced and open-minded Green Paper and I know that his experience in the MoD was appreciated in the process.

This Green Paper indicates that the MoD is coming out of denial but the Prime Minister is not. We are used to the Prime Minister briefing against his perceived enemies in the corridors of Westminster but not normally undermining a Secretary of State on the front page of The Times. How far away from the number 10 briefing this week is paragraph 9 on page 9 of the Green Paper which says ‘we cannot proceed with all the programmes we currently aspire to. We will need to make tough decisions.

Of course this week we have seen the truth of the Prime Minister’s approach to defence. The former Defence Secretary, the Right Honourable Member for Ashfield, said that there was ‘quite a strong feeling that the defence review was not fully funded.’

The former Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Walker, told us that the defence chiefs threatened to resign as a result of the savage cuts which the then Chancellor tried to apply to defence in the middle of two wars.

And today the former permanent secretary Sir Kevin Tebbit talked about having to operate a ‘permanent crisis budget.’

The Defence Secretary introduced defence cut backs in December but the Prime Minister has talked about Defence increases this week.

In his statement the Secretary of State said ‘there has been a great deal of interest and speculation about whether any major capabilities will be confirmed in the Green Paper’.

But we all know why: it is because No 10 have been briefing all week that any project that has job implications for the Prime Minister’s constituency will be spared. That is taking a core strategy way too far.

There are some things on which we are clearly agreed.

We know from bitter historical experience the difficulty of predicting future conflict- either its nature or its location. We cannot base our future security on the assumption that future wars will be like the current ones. That is why we must maintain generic capability, able to adapt to any changing threats.

There is no doubt that in Afghanistan we have been too slow to give the army, in particular, the agility and flexibility it needs to maximise its effectiveness.

But we must also remember that we are a maritime nation dependent on the sea lanes for 92% of our trade. A time when the threat of disruption is increasing is no time for Britain to become sea blind.

We also agree that France and the United States are likely to be our main strategic partners. For us there are two tests: do they invest in defence? And do they fight? Sadly too few European allies pass both these tests.

The Secretary of State talked about a 10% increase in the defence budget in real terms. He also talks about the higher level of defence inflation. Can he tell us how much of the increase in the defence budget has gone into pay, pensions and allowances? And what proportion of that increase has been made available for equipment and other programmes over the period he outlined?

Can he confirm that the department’s budget for next year will be 36.89 billion pounds as previously set out? He says ‘not a penny will be cut for next year’s budget.’ What cuts does the Government envisage after that?

Unlike the Opposition and the House of Commons, he has access to all the costs of the contracts and penalty clauses for the major programmes. Why will the Government not give honest answers about the implications of the cost overruns in the years ahead?

We know that there has been serial mismanagement at the MoD, with the equipment programme somewhere between 6 and 35 billion pounds above what can be afforded. How will it be reconciled?

After twelve years on indecision, we finally get a Green Paper weeks before an election. And despite all the good words in this Green Paper today, the future defence budget will have to be conducted against the backdrop of Government debt of 799 billion pounds. That is the equivalent of borrowing 1.1 million pounds every day since the birth of Christ.

That our nation’s security should be compromised by Labour’s historic economic incompetence is truly a national tragedy.

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.