Kate Osamor – 2015 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Kate Osamor, the Labour MP for Edmonton, in the House of Commons on 2 June 2015.

I am most grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for calling me during today’s debate to deliver my maiden speech.

I have dedicated 15 years of my life to the NHS, working as a practice manager in a GP surgery—so I have seen at first hand how hard it is to get an appointment—and as an administrator in an out-of-hours GP co-operative. I will be proud to apply the same principles and values as an MP. I stood for election as a Labour and Co-operative candidate, and now I have the privilege of representing the Co-operative movement in the House. With my colleagues, I hope to bring its principles, values and experience to bear on Members’ deliberations.

Among the distinguished list of my Labour predecessors, I pay tribute to Lord Graham of Edmonton, but my immediate predecessor was Andy Love. He was the eighth Member of Parliament for the constituency and all his predecessors were men, but I have broken that tradition as the first woman to represent Edmonton. I feel most honoured and proud of the responsibility bestowed upon me. It is a measure of the regard in which he was held that Andy Love served for 18 years in this House, and I pay tribute to him. I have big shoes to fill: he was a tireless representative of constituents, and he will be particularly remembered in the House for his advocacy on behalf of Cypriot communities both here and abroad.

The name Edmonton is of Anglo-Saxon origin. The medieval parish was centred on the church of All Saints, the oldest building in the borough of Enfield, which is still in use. There are several other listed buildings in Church Street, such as Lamb’s Cottage, the Charity School Hall, the former Charles Lamb Institute, and some Georgian houses. In the 1970s it was designated the first conservation area in Edmonton and there are now three others. In 1996 the Montagu cemeteries, comprising the Tottenham Park and Jewish cemeteries, were also designated because of their unique landscape qualities.

Fore Street, an historic main road leading north from London, attracted rapid development in the 17th century. As some of the buildings survive, it was designated a conservation area in 2002. The Crescent in Hertford Road was added to the borough’s list of conservation areas in 2008. Besides the buildings in these special areas, there are other listed buildings—St Michael’s church and vicarage in Bury Street, Salisbury House in Bury Street West, and St Aldhelm’s church and Millfield House in Silver Street.

Since the 1960s Edmonton has been transformed from a predominantly white, working-class industrial suburb into a multicultural area through Commonwealth immigration, asylum seekers and the expansion of the European Union in May 2004. Edmonton Green ward has been identified as having one of the highest numbers of working-age adults living on state benefits in the UK. Much of the industry for which Edmonton was famous—furniture making, electrical goods and electronics —has disappeared or moved to greenfield sites. We do not have one dominant employer to bring an end to adult worklessness in Edmonton, but despite the lack of low-skilled jobs on offer, Edmonton has a growing entrepreneurial spirit. A hub of small and medium-sized businesses along Fore Street make the best of things, whatever the circumstances. True community spirit is fostered and rewarded and we see this in the numbers of small businesses within the constituency.

Edmonton is a community of many contrasts. Alongside increasing prosperity, many people suffer considerable hardship and deprivation. Edmonton is a priority regeneration area. Edmonton Green and Angel Edmonton have been identified as town centres that need improvements to make them look and feel like much better places to shop. There are a wide variety of schemes and projects happening in Edmonton under a Labour-run council to ensure that these priorities are delivered.

Regenerating the wider Edmonton area is focused on improving the shopping centres, creating access to new jobs, and improving the education and health of our local people. These plans will also deliver improvements to transport facilities and links to other areas, such as central London. They will improve the quality of and access to open spaces and parks, as well as restoring and maintaining connections with all the historical sites.

Up to 5,000 new homes and 3,000 new jobs will be created by the £1.5 billion Meridian Water redevelopment on a former industrial site. This should be completed by 2026. The improvements to the wider Edmonton area and the plans for Edmonton Green will all come under a Labour-led council. I am happy to report that only yesterday Transport for London appointed London Overground as the train operator to run local train services out of Liverpool Street to north-east London. TfL’s presence will bring immediate improvements to Edmonton Green station, improving security and safety for passengers and disability access. This will improve standards for everybody.

It is a great honour to represent the people of Edmonton and I thank them for electing me as their Member of Parliament. I would like to thank all those who campaigned for me and worked hard to achieve a Labour victory in Edmonton.

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.

Ken Livingstone – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leo Abse – 1959 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Leo Abse, the then Labour MP for Pontypool, on 22 January 1959.

I would ask for the indulgence of the House for this, my maiden speech. I must ask particularly for your indulgence, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for I am aware of the esteem in which my distinguished and noble predecessor was held in this House. If I attempted to follow the remarks made by the hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge), my speech might not be of non-partisan character, so I feel that I should turn in another direction.
I would draw attention to the tardy approach of the White Paper to the acute-problems that arise in primary schools. I should have thought that ere now the danger would have been well understood of under-estimating the importance of the primary schools. They perform the vital function of fostering the potentialities of children when their imaginations are fertile, their minds are nimble and receptive, and, as all of us who are parents know, their curiosities are strong. It is obvious that attention should be given to children at that stage of their life.

I find with much dismay that in the White Paper the real problems of the primary schools are apparently to be postponed until at least 1965. That is particularly distressing. The curricula in the primary schools should be free from the didactic approach. The new techniques which are available for teaching young children involve the use of originative activity. All the techniques of mime, drama, dance, and so on, require proper physical conditions.

I am sure that in the constituencies of other hon. Members, as in my constituency, there is ample evidence that these physical conditions do not exist. I know that in Blaenavon, in my constituency, in one primary school there are two classes of upwards of fifty children in one room. In such physical conditions, how is it possible for the techniques which are available to be applied? How is it possible for any dynamic approach to be given to any elementary education? It is not possible while we have primary schools, as I have in Pontypool, which are more than 100 years old and the teachers have to cope with not only elementary education but the elements, because their classrooms have open fires and, certainly in recent weather conditions, conditions are created when anything is possible except a real, dynamic approach to education.

I am not encouraged by what the Minister has said about the minor works programme to believe that any of these worst evils will be remedied within any measurable period of time. I am aware that the White Paper gives more discretion to local authorities and that it will now be possible for local authorities to put forward schemes twice as large as before, up to £20,000. However, as is apparent from the Minister’s remarks, it does not mean that the volume will be doubled.

In Monmouthshire last year the local education authority put forward a plan costing a little more than £100,000 for minor works. At first it received half the grant. After a considerable amount of effort on the part of the local education authority, the amount was raised, but the total received was still more than 30 per cent. less than was originally intended. The Minister said the increase in volume will be 40 per cent. Opinion in Wales is that that is an exaggeration. Most local authorities there regard themselves as particularly fortunate if they obtain increases in the range of 10 to 15 per cent. Although one may be talking in terms of a five-year programme, it means that it is nothing of the sort. In the case of minor as well as major works, at least the first two years will be spent in trying to catch up the backlog of projects turned down by the Ministry in past years.

An unfortunate aspect of the lack of priority being given to primary schools is that it is bound to be difficult to attract teachers of the proper quality to them. In schools of this character we need people of graduate or equivalent status. It is understandable why few are prepared to go to them. Reference has been made to mathematics. How can one look without some dismay at the teacher training programme when one realises that only 4 per cent. of the women teachers going through the colleges take mathematics? It means that the overwhelming proportion of the women teachers going back into the primary schools are going back to teach without having looked at mathematics since they were fifteen years old. We are bound to wonder how many potential scientists are being extinguished within our primary schools today. I should certainly have hoped that within the White Paper there would have been sufficient understanding of the need to have properly equipped teachers who have had the opportunity of taking real courses with a view to raising the standard, particularly of mathematics, within the primary schools.

The difficulties within the primary schools are not confined to physical conditions and the quality of the teachers. It is now clear that the difficulties will be perpetuated because of the limpet-like attachment of the Minister to the 11-plus examination. Everyone who has any acquaintance with primary schools knows that the curriculum, as a result of the 11-plus examination, becomes appallingly distorted and the teaching becomes bent away from what its true character should be. It becomes perverted so that the child is being prepared for some alleged future educational requirement instead of being given what everybody knows is the most important thing, its immediate needs. I wonder why there is this extraordinary attachment to segregation at eleven. It is clear from the White Paper that there is every intention within the grammar schools to give advanced technical courses and there is every intention to try to have more and more children in the secondary modern schools taking the G.C.E. examination.

What is happening is that the Government are stumbling and staggering into comprehensive education and not looking at the matter rationally. They are evading having a logical programme. They are trying to meet instead of control the pressure of outside events. I hope it will not be considered presumptuous for me to say it, but when one sees that there is a logical approach, one must wonder why it is not adopted. I believe it must come about. There are definite prejudices in existence which look with distaste at the idea that people from all groups should be mixed up together when they are young. Clearly, the more that people of different talents and capacities and from different groups within the community are mixed together, the more possible it is that we should have what we really need, a more homogeneous and more egalitarian form of society in the future.

I trust that I shall not be regarded as having been too intemperate, but I have children of my own who will shortly be entering a primary school. However inadequately I may have expressed my views, I believe I am expressing not only my anxiety but the anxiety of many hundreds of parents in my constituency.

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.

Andrew Sawford – 2012 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Andrew Sawford, the Labour MP for Corby, in the House of Commons on 22 November 2012.

I am very proud to speak in the Chamber for the first time as the Member of Parliament for Corby. Locally, we know the constituency as Corby and east Northamptonshire, comprising as it does both Corby town itself and the surrounding villages, the four towns of Raunds, Irthlingborough, Thrapston and Oundle, and many villages across east Northamptonshire.

I will start by paying tribute to my predecessor. Louise Mensch served as Corby’s MP in her own unique style. She was proud to be a vocal woman MP, speaking up for women in public life. She played an important role on the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, particularly on matters concerning the role of the media, in which she took a great interest. She championed the local media, such as in her debate earlier this year in which she praised our excellent local newspaper, the Corby Telegraph. She was also known as an advocate of social media. As I know already, combining family life with the demands of being an MP is challenging, but in my predecessor’s case there was also the matter of an ocean between those two parts of her life. I wish her and her family well in the future.

Louise had a tough act to follow. Her immediate predecessor, the Labour and Co-operative MP, Phil Hope, served for 13 years and was well known as a very hard-working local MP who was concerned with his constituents. He was instrumental in the opening of a new railway station in Corby, the opening of children’s centres across the area, major health service improvements and the building of new schools. He also served with distinction as a Minister.

Like Phil Hope, I am a co-operator, and I am proud to be a member of the Co-operative group of MPs, which this week has reached record numbers. The first ever Co-operative MP in the country was elected to represent my constituency, on its earlier boundaries, in 1918. The driving force behind Alf Waterson’s selection was the blastfurnacemen’s union in Corby. Although Northamptonshire had once been a stronghold of the Liberals, in the early 20th century, a more radical culture emerged from the chapels and the boot and shoe industry, in which past generations of my family were employed. Local co-operatives in towns across the constituency became a vital part of the local economy, and still feature strongly today. I believe that co-operative approaches, such as mutual housing and new energy co-ops, can play a big role in my constituency’s future.

The towns of Raunds and Irthlingborough are known for their co-operative heritage, and as boot and shoe towns. Raunds’s place in history is assured by the events ​of the Raunds strike of 1905, during which a party of boot operatives marched to London to demand fair wages. The Times reported:

“Their arrival was awaited in Parliament by a large number of people in Parliament Square, from where a deputation of ten proceeded into Parliament to meet with MPs. Afterwards, the men were admitted to the Strangers Gallery, and a slight disturbance was created.”

Although I urge no disturbance in the Strangers Gallery today, I assure the descendants of those Raunds marchers that I will continue their campaign for fair wages.

All those years ago the War Office agreed to the demands of Raunds workers and committed to a minimum rate of pay that people could live on. Today, I urge all parts of the public sector in Corby and east Northamptonshire, and the private sector, to consider the case for a living wage of £7.45 an hour. Too many people in my constituency are being squeezed by rising food and fuel prices, and by other factors such as the role of employment agencies in our local labour market. Too many people are on zero-hours contracts where no work is guaranteed. When they do work they are paid low wages with agencies taking a cut of their earnings, and sometimes workers are poorly treated. I am also concerned about the way in which some agencies have set up offices overseas to facilitate employment in my constituency; I want them to make a much more determined effort to ensure that local people are given employment opportunities. I have raised that point with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and I am grateful that he has listened and said that he will take action.

In these tough economic times, many people in my constituency are unable to find work at all. Independent studies show that Corby is the most difficult place in the country to be a young unemployed person looking for work. Corby is, and must be, a working town. It is particularly well known as a steel town. Corby provided the steel for Operation Pluto—the famous pipeline under the ocean—which provided the fuel for allied forces invading Normandy in world war two. My granddad was there on D-day as a Royal Marine commando, and my other granddad, who worked in farming, helped to feed that Army and the country. Both would later become Corby steelworkers.

Today Corby’s steel tubes can be found at the Olympic park, and seen on everything from the Wembley arch to the millennium wheel across the river from this House. Tata is still a major local employer and I support its call for a level playing field on energy prices—which it tells me are much cheaper in continental Europe—and, crucially, for investment in infrastructure to boost demand. These are key issues for manufacturing industry in the UK. I want to see more action to create jobs, such as a one-off tax on bankers’ bonuses to pay for a real jobs guarantee for young people, and to help our small firms with a one-year national insurance tax break if they take on extra workers. I will also work locally with businesses, councils, schools and colleges. Skills matching is a particular issue, helping people to gain the skills they need for the jobs that will be created.

I was struck by the experience of a local man I met recently. He had started his working life as an apprentice toolmaker, carrying out a high-quality apprenticeship and being mentored by an older toolmaker who was in his last few years before retirement. I want such experiences to be much more widely available to support ​our young people to develop great skills and careers in the manufacturing industries—the important subject of today’s debate.

Corby is very proud of its Scottish connections and has a large population of Scottish descent. The Highland gathering is a big event, as are the Burns suppers. Generations of Scots and other people coming to the town have blended with Northamptonshire people to create a distinctive, incredibly strong and proud community that it really is a privilege to represent. There has not always been such co-operation between the Scots and the English in my constituency. Today Fotheringhay is one of our many beautiful villages, but it has a more gory past as the place where Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded. I assure the House that today there is a more harmonious spirit and we believe that England and Scotland are definitely better together.

That spirit has enabled Corby to survive at times of great hardship. In the 1980s. 10,000 people were made redundant at the steelworks—my own dad was one of them—and that experience shaped my childhood. My dad went to Ruskin college to study, while my mum worked in a leather goods factory to pay the bills. My dad, who is here today, went on to become the Member of Parliament for Kettering from 1997 to 2005, and I am very proud to continue my family’s record of public service.

I look forward to raising other issues that matter a great deal to my constituents, such as the future of vital local services, including our schools, local policing and health services. I am particularly concerned about the threat of serious cuts to Kettering general hospital. It is where my own children were born, and it serves people across my constituency. I will do everything I can to protect our hospital services. I will speak up, too, for our more vulnerable residents: the families affected by cuts to special needs services; those who rely on disability benefit who feel unfairly treated by these Atos reviews; and the pensioners, who want to know that their MP is on their side.

Thank you for the warm welcome, Mr Deputy Speaker, from the staff of the House and MPs on both sides, and from my right hon. Friend the Opposition Chief Whip—[Laughter.] I intend to work hard here in Parliament and in my constituency for all the residents in all the towns and villages. I very much look forward to the honour of representing Corby and east Northamptonshire in the years ahead.

Edward du Cann – 1956 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Edward du Cann, the then Conservative MP for Taunton, in the House of Commons on 23 April 1956.

I have the honour to represent the ancient and historic constituency of Taunton, in the County of Somerset, which comprises not only the Boroughs of Taunton and Wellington but also their rural districts and the rural district of Dulverton, and which includes some of the most beautiful countryside in Somerset, if not in the whole country.

The industries in my constituency are many and varied. They range from the production of cider—fortunately not affected by the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or perhaps I should make a speech rather different from that which I am now about to deliver—to the textile trade; from the manufacture of gloves, shirts and collars to the manufacture of precision instruments; from engineering to withy growing.

Taunton market is the finest in the West, and the largest single industry in the constituency is farming. Therefore, not only do we earn foreign currency by our work in this constituency, but we also save foreign currency as well. Perhaps I may say, in parenthesis, that one must recognise that for all the support which the farming industry is receiving at the moment from the taxpayer, small farmers and hill farmers particularly eke out a not very satisfactory living.

The division has been represented in this House by many distinguished men, although it failed to elect the great Mr. Disraeli when he stood as a Tory candidate at a by-election in 1835. Not least among those distinguished men has been my immediate predecessor, Lord Colyton, to whom I owe a great deal—far more than I shall ever be able to repay. I see the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Collins) in his place, and perhaps I may say that both he and my predecessor the noble Lord represented Taunton with distinction and rendered great service to their constituents. They have both set me a hard example to follow, and I shall do my best to follow it.

I confess to being in some difficulty in addressing the Committee today because, on the one hand, I understand that by the tradition of this House a maiden speech may not be contentious, but, on the other hand, I recall the turbulent history of the West Country. Names like Monmouth and Judge Jeffreys come to my mind. Perhaps it is just as well that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is not in his place. So we in the West Country are rebels yet, and suffer no Government gladly, particularly when they have their hands in our pockets in which we keep our loose change.

For all that, it is true to say that my constituents and the majority of the people of this country support my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his grand design and aim to contain inflation, to encourage private, and more particularly Government, saving, to keep Britain solvent and to build up our reserves and keep us paying our way. We recognise, too, that if these things are done we are certain to maintain our standard of living and, perhaps, in the future to build it up. If these things are not done, we shall perish and the result will be tragedy for our people.

It is with regard to the methods by which my right hon. Friend seeks to attain these aims that there may be differences of opinion. As to the detail of his Budget, I wish to refer, first, to the sensational announcement—for it is that—about the new Premium Bonds and then later to other matters.

We shall have to wait for details of the Premium Bonds scheme, but it is is, perhaps, appropriate to make four points. The first is, that it is clear that the public imagination has been caught by the idea. That augurs well for its success. It seems to me important, if it can be arranged—as I have said, we do not know the details at the moment—to start the scheme as early as possible. I hope very much that we shall not be kept waiting for as long as my right hon. Friend suggested.

Secondly, when we have secured the interest of the people, we surely want to maintain it. It occurred to me that it would, perhaps, be better to draw these bonds every month instead of every three months.

Thirdly, my right hon. Friend announced that the bonds would have a par value of £1 and that the maximum holding would be limited to £250. I agree with the figure suggested for the holding, but I am not so sure about the par value. At a time when investments tend to be cheaper so far as their par value is concerned in order to encourage working and middle-class people to buy them, it seems to me that it would be better to reduce the par value to 10s. or 5s. One recognises the difficulty when a great investment company like Cable and Wireless has to do that in order to attract investors. Therefore, it seems to me important to make the point here today.

Lastly, bearing in mind a letter in The Times on Friday last which quoted a precedent in Queen Anne’s day, it seems to me that my right hon. Friend might be able to get over the objections of some people—one can sympathise with and understand them—to the speculative nature of these bonds if some small rate of interest were paid on them. The net rate to be paid is 4 per cent. and if we gross it up it is about 7 per cent., which is a very high yield when compared with the ordinary share yield index quoted in the Financial Times, which is just about 5½ per cent. Surely 1 per cent. could be paid on these bonds, since my right hon. Friend has said that registers are to be kept.

Leaving the subject of the Premium Bonds, I should like to say that I have—and I know that my constituents have—followed the Chancellor’s reasoning when he says, in effect, that this is to be a “hold-the-fort” Budget and that there could be no tax concessions this time. We are also pleased that no severe increase in taxation has been imposed either.

I should like to register a point for the next time, and talk about two sections of the community, those who receive the most and those who receive the least—the Surtax payers and the old-age pensioners. I am, clearly, not an old-age pensioner, though, pray God, I may be one day, and neither am I a Surtax payer.

The present initial level for Surtax is the same as it was in 1928–29, and if we take account of the fall in the value of money, it would appear, bearing in mind current values, that Surtax begins at a level of about £600 or £700. In these days, when the middle-class is expanding so fast—and we welcome that expansion—it is surely illogical and out of date to keep the lower limit at that figure.

I am not suggesting that one should not recognise the social purposes of taxation, as the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) mentioned in his speech, nor am I suggesting that we should not keep the upper limits of Surtax high. I am talking about the middle ranges of Surtax. We must surely recognise that Income Tax and Surtax discourage the people with special skills and trades. They discourage, too, the young and rising managers and executives. They stultify endeavour and kill incentive, and they are morally bad in the sense that they encourage the payer of Income Tax and Surtax to look for his remuneration in indirect ways.

As to the old-age pensioners—I am sure that my right hon. Friend bears their needs very much in mind—much has been done for them, not least by the present Administration. I think that is a fair point to make, but much more needs to be done for them. On the subject of the tobacco concession, I have found among my constituents dissatisfaction, not because the concession has not been increased by 2d., but because the concession exists at all. Many think that it would be much better to give all old-age pensioners an extra 2s. 6d. a week rather than give one section an extra benefit. Although 50 per cent. of old-age pensioners take advantage of the tobacco concession, one does not know how many of them are habitual smokers. It would be fairer to give the 2s. 6d., or whatever the sum may be, to all of them.

Another point which has been put to me very strongly, and with which I strongly sympathise, is that it would be a great aid for the old people if something were done to raise the earnings limit for them. I know that that is a matter which is being investigated at the present time.

Finally, I hope and believe that my right hon. Friend’s language in his Budget speech gives great cause for hope that his second Budget may implement the promise of his first, and that when inflation is mastered and our trade position in the world improves, as we pray may be the case, we may look forward to enjoying the great tax reforms and reliefs of which our heavily burdened nation stands so sorely in need.

Gwyneth Dunwoody – 1966 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Gwyneth Dunwoody, the then Labour MP for Exeter, in the House of Commons on 8 July 1966.

If that riveting opening phrase, “I rise to make my maiden speech and to beg the indulgence of the House” causes you to sink a little lower in your august Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope that you will forgive me.

I warmly welcome the Bill as a step in the right direction. With the greatest respect, I welcome it also since I rather feel that I might not always find myself in such wholehearted agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) during the rest of my Parliamentary career.

I represent a very beautiful city. It is one for which I have great affection. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), I represent a city that has many historic associations and many beautiful buildings. To anyone who has the opportunity to sit, as I do, on a local authority planning committee, it is sometimes a little disheartening to discover how easy it is to destroy the beauty that men have left us over the years. Although we are able to preserve individual houses, it has in the past been only too easy to destroy the entire character of streets and cities by not considering an area as a whole.

I am delighted that a Clause is provided in the Bill to deal with that aspect. I have had the slightly disheartening experience of taking part in a discussion on how to preserve a very beautiful view on one of the most beautiful rivers in Devon. Had it not been so tragic to me, I should have been amused at the sort of solution arrived at. It was decided that it was possible to leave a gap between two large sheds; and that this would preserve a very beautiful amenity.

We have various other problems in Exeter on which I hope to have a chance to address the House on other occasions. We face the thorny problem of what is known as development. We desperately need to marry the best of the old with the best of the new. I always feel that beautiful cities, rather like beautiful women, require a certain amount of judicious preservation—I was about to say that they do better to be lived with; but perhaps that might be misinterpreted.

If we are to provide the sort of environment in which people can live their lives to the full, we must be able to preserve the best houses and the best architectural points of interest. We certainly must do something about the rage we sometimes seem to have in modern society only to destroy and not to preserve. I have been startled by the number of ways in which it is possible to, shall we say, evade some of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts.

If it is true to say of people Thou shalt not kill, but need not strive Officiously to keep alive it is also true of trees. I welcome the provisions for the preservation of trees because there is here one aspect that we have not considered. Trees are living things, and can be easily destroyed.

One can judiciously find that their branches are in need of lopping, one can destroy their roots, or find perhaps that they are a danger to new developments it is necessary to do away with them. In those circumstances, it is all the more important for local authorities to have the kind of provisions contained in this Measure to require developers or builders to replace trees in areas from which they have been removed.

Those of us who have served on local authorities want to see our cities made not merely utilitarian and as a sort of background against which can be produced better jobs and a better future for our children, but a warmer, livelier and more beautiful environment. As this island becomes more and more crowded it becomes more incumbent upon us to protect areas such as the South-West which have great natural beauty where cities have grown up in very pleasant juxtaposition one to another, but which, if they are to live and not merely to be developed, must be developed in such a way that they will provide even greater beauty than in the past.

I know that I do not need to draw the attention of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl), to some of the problems we have in the South-West. I live in what is called a gem town. The problem for this particular gem is that the setting is one which we are very anxious to preserve. We look to the future to provide opportunities for better planning of growing towns. It is important that they should be the sort of towns which provide the environment we want for our children.

I most warmly welcome the Bill.