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.

Lord Duncan – 2017 Maiden Speech in the House of Lords

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Lord Duncan of Springbank in the House of Lords on 9 October 2017.

My Lords, this is the first time I speak in your Lordships’ House. The phrase “baptism of fire” probably springs to mind. This is indeed one of the most challenging issues that we will face as a country and as constituent parts of that country. But before I go on to that, if I may, this is also my maiden speech so I hope noble Lords will indulge me for a moment before I return to the business in hand.

I come to the House from another place, not along the Corridor, as many have done—not for want of effort on my part, I hasten to add—but from over the channel, from Brussels and the European Parliament. I represented Scotland, the largest and many would say the best constituency in the European Union. I learned a great deal from watching how that chamber works. Some things worked well and some things did not. I suspect we will be able to look again at how things are developing there with some interest as the Brexit process goes on.

Just as Charles de Gaulle lamented the challenge of governing a land of 246 cheeses, the challenge is all the greater trying to represent a land of 118 distilleries, as Scotland has. However, the tour is slightly more invigorating than the tour of cheese production in France. I had hoped to bring to this House some experience of events in Brussels and Edinburgh, but given the extraordinary collection of talent on the Benches on both sides, from former Commissioners and ambassadors to distinguished former MEPs, frankly, I just hope to keep up. I recognise that there is a wealth of experience in the debate today, and I hope to try to respond to some of that.

When the Garter Principal King of Arms asked me to consider which place name I would take as my title, I asked, somewhat tongue in cheek, whether I could take Brussels. He smiled benignly, as is his wont, and explained only if I could claim to have achieved a great military victory there. I fear my success on the non-road mobile machinery directive was perhaps not quite qualification enough. Instead, I chose Springbank in the county of Perth. My grandparents moved to the newly constructed council scheme of Springbank Road in the town of Alyth in 1934. They came from a mill cottage with an earthen floor. My mother was born ​there in 1936 on the kitchen table, as she would often tell me, and thank goodness for Formica. Upon marriage, my father moved into the same house and it was there that my brother and sister were born. Indeed, for the first few years of their marriage that is where they lived, alongside my grandparents and their other son. My parents’ first home of their own was also in the same council scheme. My grandparents lived their whole life in Springbank Road, as did my mother, who passed away only a few years ago. I am the third generation to hail from Springbank and I believe that it is appropriate to take that as my title. I also again commend the notion of council housing, which I believe we are once again looking to improve. It is significant and important and I commend it.

Before I move on to the substantive elements of the debate, I should give my thanks to my noble friends Lord McInnes of Kilwinning and Lady Goldie for guiding me so expertly through my introduction here only a few weeks ago. I have to admit that it was most nerve-racking experience of my parliamentary career and I would not want to go through it again. None the less, it was an extraordinary thing to find myself here among noble Lords. I also thank the doorkeepers who have guided me more than once up different corridors and helped me to locate toilets, which are not well publicised, in different parts of the building. I thank again the clerks who have guided me through various other elements of my work and my ministerial colleagues who have guided me in so many of the elements of what I am about to speak of today. They have all shown me great kindness and I appreciate that a great deal. It is a privilege to be here.

Perhaps I may turn to today’s business. Let me begin by commending the approach of my noble friend Lord Selkirk: the union is precious and there is no question about that. Throughout the debate we have heard many noble Lords speaking of that very precious union. Indeed, as my noble friend Lord Lang of Monkton began the debate, he recognised that we must not take this union for granted. We had a close shave not so many years ago, and again the noble Lord, Lord McAvoy, was very kind to point out how we worked together to try to move forward and recognise the challenges faced at that difficult time.

I shall start by addressing head-on the point made by my noble friend Lord Lang. There was a delay in the response to this paper; that is not appropriate and it will not happen again. We must make sure that we address these challenges in good time and we cannot take for granted that time will be given to us to make sure that that happens. It is also important to stress the attitude of this Government, which is to ensure that both the Brexit process and the devolution process work together. A number of noble Lords pointed out the challenge of the piecemeal approach we have adopted to our constitutional evolution, and indeed some of those changes have not always been in the best interests of the entire union. Some have been made in haste and some, I suspect, we regret and would revisit were we to have an opportunity to do so. The challenge with devolution as we understand it is that it is a ratchet that moves in only one direction. The problem is that if we do not get it right the first time, it unfortunately moves on too fast to change it around.​
The joint ministerial committees were mentioned a number of times by several noble Lords, including my noble friends Lord Lang and Lord Dunlop, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness. I was a clerk in the Scottish Parliament in the early days of the joint ministerial committees and I can assure noble Lords that they were not working well then—long before we had the situation of Brexit and long before we had embraced many aspects of devolution. There were a number of reasons for that. I think that to some degree everyone expected different things from those committees and everyone was slightly disappointed by not getting what they wanted out of them. Let me answer some of the other questions which have been raised. How often have the joint ministerial committees met this year? Not enough—they must meet more often. The times we face now are a challenge and we must embrace that by doing so together, using these committees to help us take the steps forward; of that I am in no doubt whatever. But I should also stress that although these committees have not met as often as perhaps all would have wished, to some degree there were extenuating circumstances such as the election and other elements. None the less, we need to do better.

However, I would also say that the bilateral discussions have been significant and important at all stages of the process. The noble Lord, Lord McAvoy, was right to point out that we are well served by a Civil Service that is able to continue to collaborate even when politicians cannot always quite find themselves at the same table facing each other in the same direction. For example, in rural affairs, over the past few months of the summer period there have been more than 50 face-to-face meetings to discuss each of the aspects of Brexit as they impact on the rural affairs agenda, and that is not without significance. Again, it is important that we are as open as we can be. The UK Government are committed to being as open as they can and have been so throughout the process. Part of the challenge, however, is that we have not always been able to secure from the others participating the same level of openness, and that in itself can be a challenge. The consent aspect has to work both ways. There needs to be collaboration from both sides; it cannot just be all give on one side and all take on the other. It is important that we recognise that.

Perhaps I may go into a little more of the detail. Again, I am fearful that I will not be able to do justice to the sheer range and depth of knowledge and expertise that noble Lords have displayed today. Perhaps I may take a moment to say that, as someone who sat in the European Parliament for a number of years, I have probably experienced more serious debate and insight in the past few hours here than was often the case in some of the debates I witnessed there. First, I turn to the reports themselves. There are elements that we must look at in trying to address how we consider the devolution settlement. It is easy to look on it as unfinished business, but the question is: what would finish that business? How shall we bring together each of the constituent parts to create what needs to be a functioning constitution? We cannot simply keep feeding the crocodile and hope that it will eat us last. There needs to be a recognition ​of what we are for. What is our country and what shall be our constitutional settlement? We need also to recognise that each constituent part must play its role in that. We do that against the backdrop of Brexit, which makes the whole process considerably more difficult in terms of trying to achieve progress. However, I am well aware that we have to achieve that progress because without it we will be in a terrible situation.

The noble Lord, Lord Jay, made a significant contribution to the discussion today. I am under no illusion about some of the challenges the noble Lord has presented to the Government. What I would say as a former Member of the European Parliament is that there is a challenge in how the acquis communautaire functions, how the frameworks within which we exist today have been constructed and how the devolution settlement itself embraced those frameworks. It is true to say that when we witnessed the changes in Brussels, as we have done over the years, they have been negotiated by the United Kingdom with the involvement of the home nations; none the less, the devolution frameworks were established within an established European framework. That was the glue, as the noble Lord rightly put it, but none the less it was there. That is why the Government have no ambition to change in any fashion the powers currently exercised by the devolved Administrations. What we have to do is work out where the frameworks need to be functional. At the moment there are 111 areas in the Scottish legal world and 64 in the Welsh where again, we hope to collaborate to establish exactly where we can find a common framework, a common approach and the right outcome.

We have no ambition to retain powers that we do not need and do not deserve to hold. We must recognise that the devolution settlement is fixed; we will do so, but we must also recognise that on day 1 after Brexit, each element of our procedures must be legally sound. We can take no risk of there being an upset, stumble or breakdown, and we should take time to echo the points made by so many of my colleagues on these Benches. We must take time to ensure that we get the frameworks settled and sorted and workable. If we get them wrong, we will live to regret it. One problem we face now is that that day is fast approaching, so we need to make sure that on day 1 we have a legally sound system, but that we work out how, as a common people of different nations, we will come together and pull in that direction.

The noble Lord, Lord Desai, is quite right. England can often be overlooked and it is one of the great challenges that we sit in what many people consider to be one of the Chambers of the English Parliament—and yet, the very nation of England itself can often be overlooked in the wider sense of the word. That is a great pity, and we need to recognise that as each of the other home nations pushes for particular changes to the wider constitutional settlement. I served as a clerk on the committee when my noble and learned friend Lord Wallace of Tankerness was in the Scottish Parliament—not that long ago, it seems, but here we have arrived, apparently for greater things.

I am aware that we face serious challenges in working out each of the component parts of the overall settlement. I am particularly concerned about the devolution settlement and the replacement for the structural funds and the common agricultural policy, to which reference was made. The Government have given a commitment to 2022. In truth, that is one year more than we would have been able to offer to the wider Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish farmers and others. That is a year more than we would have had if we had stayed in the EU. We are giving a greater degree of certainty. Each of those elements is up for significant change.

When I met the Commissioner for Agriculture in Brussels not so long ago, he talked about the fact that the overall sum of money given to farmers will be significantly reduced in certain areas and that farmers will have to tackle that. As a Government, we are committed to 2022 and we will see how we can reform and move forward at that point; but there is still no desire, I hasten to add, to seek powers being drawn back from those Administrations—none at all. It is about trying to recognise where we can work together. To give some examples—I am aware we are often accused of not explaining where those examples may rest—we are currently focusing on the wider question of pesticides. We are conscious of the food and feed law for animals, but we need a common approach. We are aware of the food labelling issue because, as we begin to look at some of the geographical indicators—I was in the Western Isles not so long ago, breakfasting on Stornoway black pudding, a feast of kings—we need to recognise that we need a common approach across the United Kingdom. The final example is infectious diseases—which is more fun to talk about than look into, I hasten to add.

We face challenges in establishing what the frameworks need to look like. We need collaboration, and that is where the joint ministerial committees will work. It is at such gatherings that officials will sit down and work, because in truth, many of these issues are almost above our pay grade. They are at the level of detail where we need to understand how the law comes together with practical and policy issues. That can be something of a challenge.

The noble Lord, Lord Wigley, is right to point out the issue of Catalonia. We cannot see such issues being resolved with bloodshed on the continent of Europe. I absolutely agree. I am also fully aware that the Edinburgh agreement, which was brokered between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Scottish Government, is a template for how other nations may embrace the demographic and democratic challenges presented by independence movements. It is a model that many people across Europe should be looking at.

I hope the Welsh football team are doing rather well right now—I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, is as interested in the outcome of that match as I am—but at the same time, he is right to talk about multiple geometry. Much of our situation today is about the asymmetry of our land. We do not face, as the US does, a number of small, medium-sized and large states all mixed together. We have such asymmetry ​and we need to recognise that. That may be part of the challenge when we start looking at the JMC. How do we contain within the JMC the correct structures to reflect the fact that—as the noble Lord, Lord Desai, pointed out—England is just bigger? How do we recognise that asymmetry, but none the less recognise the obligations we have to the home nations to reflect on the wider settlement of our constitution? It is not as easy as I would like to think.

My predecessor, the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, has been very kind to me during my time finding my feet. I have not yet witnessed the tartan hippo, although I have witnessed many other tartan animals, if I may be a little unkind. A challenge in trying to do one’s job is embracing social media—it is not always full of laughter, it is fair to say.

It is important to stress that there is an existential threat to our nation. There is no question of that. One thing I would note in passing is that there are far too few nationalists in here. There needs to be more. That seems an odd thing, perhaps, for a unionist to say, but if we are to reflect the wider interests of our country, we must recognise that those voices need to be heard in both Chambers, not just in the House of Commons. That is perhaps not for me to create, but for others to look into; none the less, at this time, more than any other, we need those voices as part of the overall discussion that we are looking into.

Some of the aspects which my noble friend Lord Dunlop was kind enough to point out need to be addressed at the technical level. There are technical deficiencies. There are some issues around subsidiarity which we need to look at and then work out how best to do the job. Certainly in the Scottish situation devolution need not rest in Edinburgh, any more than in Wales and Northern Ireland it need rest in Cardiff or in Belfast. We need to recognise where power needs to be exercised. That is the European concept of subsidiarity. We need to recognise where it works even within the United Kingdom itself. If we can do that, we have a fighting chance of ensuring that our union continues. As someone who comes from outside the central belt of Scotland, I am very conscious that there is a great lament that overcentralisation to Edinburgh can be a huge problem, yet it needs to be addressed.

My noble friend Lord Lexden is quite right that some of the issues that we are talking of are worthy of note. The long delays in responding are unacceptable, and I am happy to confirm that we will not be moving in that direction again. We will move to address that.

“Devolve and forget” is not a concept that I wish to see go forward. We cannot simply hope to push things away, particularly during the Brexit process.

I am conscious that I have several other Members to respond to. Let me make one commitment: if I do not address their questions this evening, I ask them to hunt me down and I will come back to them. I do not wish them to feel that they have been short-changed because I have seemingly glossed over their points.

In the latter moments of my speech, I need to stress Northern Ireland. That will be one of the intractable aspects of the overall Brexit situation. It is equally a challenge within the wider devolution question. I assure noble Lords that James Brokenshire, the Secretary of ​State, is working very hard, but we have to recognise that the challenge need not rest solely with those inside the would-be Executive or Assembly; it is at all levels within Northern Ireland. They must also be part of the wider question of devolution and Brexit.

How do I finish off without short-changing other noble Lords who have spoken? Many of your Lordships have raised important issues. We need to recognise that the EU has provided the constitutional glue within which we as a Parliament have been able to operate, but we must also recognise that because of the approach that we have taken—by holding a referendum—that glue will not be as available to us to hold these things together. We must find another glue, something else that works for us as a people but also as a country. I hope that we can do so.

I am fully aware of how challenging Brexit will be, but I assure your Lordships that, in so far as I can, I will respond to any and all entreaties to co-operate and to collaborate. We will do all that we can to ensure that there is serious dialogue on all aspects, not just with MSPs and AMs but with councillors as well, to make sure that all are part of the process. This is an important time and we cannot get it wrong, because the ratchet is turning in only one direction. If we are not careful, we will turn it too tight and, as with winding up those old-fashioned clocks, the whole thing will unravel in our hands.

I again thank your Lordships for your forbearance and kindness in listening to my remarks. I assure you that I will do all I can to take forward the issues that we have discussed today in a timely, sensitive and careful manner.

Matt Western – 2017 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Matt Western, the Labour MP for Warwick and Leamington, in the House of Commons on 12 October 2017.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this important debate. Although I have spoken several times already in the Chamber, questioning the Prime Minister and other Ministers, this is indeed my formal introduction to the House.

The past five months have been extraordinary, and it is a great honour for me to represent Warwick and Leamington, a constituency that also includes the town of Whitnash and a number of villages. I wish to place on record my thanks to them. I would also like to thank my predecessor, Chris White, for the work he did as a constituency MP, and specifically his support for the charitable sector and the local games industry. He served the community well, and I wish him well. It is work that I will most definitely build on.

It is a happy coincidence that my maiden speech should coincide with the news, published yesterday in The Independent and by the BBC, that Leamington has been declared the happiest town in the UK. Delightfully, the survey that led to this finding was conducted after 8 June, which doubtless explains everything.

My constituency is not only the happiest place in the UK. Apparently, it was one of the first provincial towns in England to possess the other key attribute of happiness ​—a good range of Indian restaurants. You do not need to take my word for it: whilst a predecessor, Sir Anthony Eden, liked to quote from Shakespeare, in this instance I am going to quote from the historian, Lizzie Collingham, author of a definitive history of curry:

“Leamington was one of the first provincial English towns to have a selection of Indian restaurants. The area’s very proximity to Coventry and Birmingham, where many of Britain’s Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants found work in the car industry, made it, where Indian food is concerned, one of Britain’s pioneering towns. It still is.”

As if to underline that, one of our very many local establishments was proclaimed winner of Midlands Curry House of the Year and shortlisted for the national awards. So none of you should need any inducement to visit the locality—and you will be most welcome.

But good eating is not all it has to offer. My constituency has been home to such luminaries as Joseph Arch, a 19th-century pioneer in unionising agricultural workers and in championing their welfare. Arch also agitated for the widening of the franchise—ambitions that were to some degree fulfilled in the Representation of the People Act 1884. In the ensuing 1885 general election, Arch was returned as the Liberal MP—we can all make mistakes—for North West Norfolk, making him the first agricultural labourer to enter the House of Commons.

My constituency was also home to Randolph Turpin, who was considered by some to be Europe’s best middleweight boxer of the 1940s and ‘50s, and went on to become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world, in defeating no less than Sugar Ray Robinson. And it was home to Sir Frank Whittle, one of Britain’s greatest inventors, the creator of the jet engine, and indeed once to my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Toby Perkins), the as-yet-unknighted Toby Perkins.

Warwick is famous for its glorious castle, the seat of the legendary kingmaker Guy of Warwick. It is the medieval county town for a shire that once included both Birmingham and Coventry. Today that would be some county. Leamington, its noisy neighbour, is perhaps now the happiest town in the UK but was certainly not favoured by the late John Betjeman in his poem “Death in Leamington.” Fortunately, Betjeman saved his greater wrath for elsewhere, famously inviting “friendly bombs” to rain down upon a different town. In fact, despite being a major manufacturing centre, the constituency was not the victim of significant bombing in the second world war, unlike neighbouring Coventry, sadly, but during the war it was the seat of an important team of camoufleurs—artists and engineers who played a leading role in developing the art and science of camouflage. It is interesting that one of the constituency’s most significant contributions to the defence of our country back then was through design.

Design and innovation permeate the recent history of our towns. In the post-war period, the legendary Donald Healey set up his car business on the Emscote Road in Warwick, going on to produce some of the finest sports cars the world has ever seen. Not far away, Malcolm Sayer was designing the E-Type Jaguar. I am proud of my constituency’s impressive contributions to design and technology and its continuing role in developing innovative technologies of all sorts. That continues to this day with the world-leading Warwick Manufacturing Group, which is part of the University of Warwick and has collaborated with industry, Government and other ​universities in developing battery cell technology, new materials, and digital applications. It is therefore no surprise that what is still referred to as the gaming industry finds itself home here. Along with Dundee, it leads the industry with more than 50 local businesses, employing 2,500 people and generating £188 million in turnover, and it is about to grow exponentially. I am proud that it is leading the revolution in not just virtual reality, but augmented reality. I can honestly say that I have seen the future— through a headset.

The constituency’s relative economic buoyancy is exactly that: relative. It has depended on the single market and the customs union, together with our openness to attract the best in the world. Football clubs, such as my beloved Arsenal, have benefited similarly. Warwick and Leamington is an exceptionally diverse, international and multicultural community. Engineers, designers, academics and working people of all sorts from Europe and around the world have made the area their home. As Leamington’s proud restaurant history reminds us, it has also long been home to distinguished communities originating from the Indian subcontinent, who have played, and continue to play, an important role in the economic and cultural life of the west midlands. By way of example, our magnificent gurdwara is now celebrating its 50th year. That diversity explains in part my constituency’s openness to international business and migration. It voted remain in the EU referendum. Since the vote, residents and representatives of Warwick University, Jaguar Land Rover and other businesses have consistently voiced their concerns to me about the impact of Brexit. They tell me that they simply want clarity and certainty—urgently. Economic matters are critical in their planning, and they expect Government responsibility, not party infighting. I am confident that they would agree with me: no deal, no way. They are right to worry.

The prolonged lack of clarity over the post-Brexit landscape on the British economy is an issue for the majority of my constituents. Some have already voiced their concerns about potential exclusion from the EU’s data protection framework, which would impede the continued free flow of data among EU and EEA states, without which businesses and the economy will suffer. The Lords EU Select Committee states that we are facing a dangerous cliff edge in that regard. Data is critical in our society and for our businesses, but we need strong safeguards. I echo the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) about what data means, particularly for the younger generation, who, interestingly, can be viewed as a data commodity, but we must not allow our young people to become a commodity.

My constituents are already noting Brexit’s impact on the region’s ability to attract and retain the talented skilled workers on which it relies, and they are worried about the continuing weakness of the economy overall. The economy is extremely fragile and vulnerable to currency fluctuation and interest rate changes. Since 2015, we have witnessed a surge in unsecured household debt, which has reached levels not seen since 2007-08. Consumption growth—the sole driver of the UK economy for nearly a decade—is faltering, partly because much of that growth was driven by the £35 billion windfall that households received in PPI repayments. That is some economic stimulus by any measure. The effect of ​that short-term windfall is now tailing off. Since 2011, that extraordinary, one-off cash injection helped to fund, for example, higher retail car sales and new kitchens, but for little longer. Car sales have been falling since April 2017, which is as good an indicator as any that consumer confidence is declining significantly. Investment growth—the real driver of wealth—has failed to return to the UK after the financial crash of 2008, but only here. Growth in all other developed nations now exceeds the UK’s.

Like so many of the Government’s claims, assertions about Conservative economic competence have proven ill founded. UK debt has continued to rise. The Government have failed to meet their own economic targets. Real wages have fallen by 15% for many in the public sector and have been stagnant for most. CPI inflation is rising and will soon exceed 3%. Household budgets are being truly squeezed. Sterling has fallen by up to 20%; by contrast, personal unsecured debt has sky-rocketed.

Individually, those elements would be concerning enough; together, they augur serious concern. At the same time, the cost of housing is rocketing. In my constituency, average rents have increased by 26% in the past six years. In the past 10 years, only 50 council homes have been built in the area although 2,400 people are on the housing waiting list. Last year, 705 people applied as homeless to the local authority—130% up on 2010, compared with a 29% increase nationally over the same period. Some 3,600 people in my constituency regularly use our food banks. There are several night shelters in our towns and in recent months the numbers attending have doubled. The work there is increasingly important and I place on the record my thanks to Margaret, Chris, Susan, Vishal and all the other volunteers.

Quite simply, the housing market is broken. As has been confirmed by a Prime Minister not known for her Marxist principles, the energy market is also broken. As with so many Government announcements these days, it is too little, too late. Energy is ripe for revolution and it is vital that we should take this opportunity to democratise it. That will bring prosperity to all, as well as address the urgent crisis of climate change.

In his maiden speech in 2010, my predecessor stated that Warwick and Leamington had excellent frontline services. He was right: in 2010, we did. Seven years on, we do not. We have lost police—in Warwick, we have lost the police station. We have lost teachers, full-time firefighters, and health professionals from the NHS. Many are demoralised. I will not continue because all hon. Members face the same reality in their own constituencies.

What can we do? The International Monetary Fund has one suggestion: rebalance the tax system. A report just published by the IMF finds that higher income taxes for the rich would help reduce inequality without having an adverse impact on growth. Perhaps implementing some of the Labour party’s policies would be a good start to getting us on to a more secure economic footing as we face the enormous disruption of Brexit. Perhaps that is an announcement for next week. My constituents, whether residents or businesses, need, now more than ever, a strong Government ready to protect jobs, deliver a shared prosperity and enable all to flourish. Above all, I will speak for them. That is the vision that I will represent in Parliament. I thank hon. Members for their attention.​

Marcus Lipton – 1945 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Marcus Lipton, the then Labour MP for Brixton, in the House of Commons on 26 October 1945.

The traditional sympathy extended to those who, like myself, address this House for the first time will, I hope, speedily transfer itself to the much more deserving object, namely, the provision of legal aid for poor persons, on which I venture to speak this afternoon. In May of this year the report of the Committee on legal aid and legal advice in England and Wales was presented to Parliament. This highly qualified Committee, consisting of men and women of great eminence and wide experience, presented unanimous and very practical findings on which I would urge His Majesty’s Government to express an opinion at the earliest possible moment. I am only too well aware of the very heavy demands upon the Government’s time, but this can be said: this question of legal aid is fortunately one that requires no world-wide preliminary measure of international agreement, but is one that can be solved within our own unfettered jurisdiction.

It is, I think, generally agreed that existing facilities are totally and hopelessly inadequate. Laws and Regulations of all kinds are pouring forth in an ever-growing flood, and many of them are not clear even to some hon. Members of this House. Legal assistance for ordinary folk, therefore, becomes all the more necessary, and an adequate scheme of legal aid must be regarded as an essential contribution towards improved social services. There are of course many aspects of this problem covering both criminal and civil proceedings. I shall not attempt to deal with more than one aspect of the problem, an aspect which I know is a source of gnawing anxiety and suffering of spirit to very large numbers of our fellow citizens—how large this House will, in a moment or two, be able to judge.

In 1942 the Army Council, realising the importance of legal aid to Service men and women in their civil affairs, introduced a scheme of legal aid in which I have had the privilege of taking some part. The other two Services followed suit. It is not for me, either now or at any other time, to appraise the value or the necessity of this scheme; of legal aid for the Services.

Suffice it to say that, according to the latest annual report of the Law Society, the number of cases submitted by the Army and the R.A.F. Legal Aid Sections to the Poor Persons Committee now reaches no less a figure than 900 a month. Largely as a result of Service cases, the number of applications received by the Poor Persons Committee of the Law Society in London during 1944 was 11,137, treble the figure of 1941. Of these cases, 97 per cent. are matrimonial. I understand that so far this year over 13,000 new applications have already been received, and that the number of cases awaiting consideration by the Poor Persons Committee increased between January and October of this year from 9,000 to 14,000. The Poor Persons Committee, I know, is doing its best to cope with the influx of cases but it now takes nearly ten months before a poor persons’ certificate is granted. After that certificate is granted, the actual conduct of the case is assigned to another committee of the Law Society, the Services Divorce Department. I understand that at this moment there are 2,500 cases in respect of which poor persons’ certificates have been granted and they are held up because they cannot be accepted by the Services Divorce Department, which is itself more than occupied with current cases. The Services Divorce Department has over 12,000 cases in hand at the moment.

Here is a state of affairs which, when its full moral and social implications are realised, ought to stir the conscience of the nation. Everyone knows that a major casualty of the war on the home front has been the number of homes broken and ruined, not by enemy bombs, but by the infidelity of one or the other spouse. I have known of cases where our men have come back from German and Japanese prison camps to find children in their homes of which they were not the fathers. I have known other cases in which the first intimation that anything was wrong was when the Service man contracted venereal disease from his wife on his return to his home. To a Service man who applies for legal aid, one has to say, “Yes, you have a good case, and you; should certainly be able to obtain a dissolution of your marriage, but it will take at least two years, and it may be a bit longer.” It is tribute to the self-control of our men that in so few cases, when faced with domestic tragedies of this kind, do they take the law into their own hands, and when they do English juries, flatly disregarding judicial direction, have been known to return a verdict of manslaughter rather than murder, a danger signal that the law and public opinion are drifting apart. I do not ask for the impossible, or even for the difficult. At this moment I am not asking for the law to be changed. I ask only that it be applied. A practical solution has been worked out and is available in the report to which I have ventured to draw attention. It is one which, I believe, will be supported in most quarters of the House and by most people whose opinion in the matter is worth taking into account.

It involves no new revolutionary principle. It merely reaffirms a principle established 730 years ago in Magna Charta: To none will we refuse or delay right or justice. I emphasise the word “delay.” It is on this principle that I base my very heartfelt appeal to the Government to give early attention to the report of this Committee. There is another reason. Each of the thousands of cases to which I have referred affects two, if not three, or more persons. The happiness and wellbeing of thousands of men, women and children are involved. Delay amounting almost to a denial of justice puts a premium on irregular unions, illegitimate children who can never be legitimised and all the other unsatisfactory social consequences of unsettled and completely severed family ties. Real social security is not just a matter of housing, education, food and such material things, essential though they are. Social security is just a facade which is not buttressed by the spiritual values that develop out of happy homes. It is our duty to rebuild or to repair the social fabric of these broken lives as well as it is our duty to rebuild our shattered houses. Despite the alarming figures to which I have referred, the vast number of men who have served will happily return to homes where the purity of family life has been cherished and preserved in all these trying years. Let us ensure, as we can do, given the assistance of His Majesty’s Government, that for those of our serving men whose home-coming is darkened by domestic misfortune, the fruits of victory shall not be made bitter because the opportunities of legal redress have become so increasingly remote.

Archie Norman – 1997 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Archie Norman, the then Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells, in the House of Commons on 3 July 1997.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for this opportunity to make my maiden speech on the important subject of the Budget. I congratulate Labour Members who have made their maiden speeches today and welcome their interest in the businesses in their constituencies, especially the highly profitable ones in Leamington Spa. I share their interest and that of the Chancellor in the business community, but perhaps in a more substantial way. I should declare that I am chairman of Asda—the largest private sector employer based in the north of England—a director of Railtrack and a former director of British Rail. That establishes my public sector credentials as well.
I have tried to speak in the Chamber in previous debates, and I think this is about my 11th hour of taking assiduous notes. I have listened to many excellent maiden speeches and, as a result, my geography has been much improved. On this occasion, I do not intend to give the House a guided tour of my constituency, but I should like to speak about my predecessor, Sir Patrick Mayhew, who is now Lord Mayhew of Twysden.

It is not difficult to pay tribute to Lord Mayhew. He was a distinguished Attorney-General and his contribution as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was remarkable. He undertook the role with an open mind, great objectivity, integrity, enthusiasm and relish, and he brought the prospect of lasting peace in Northern Ireland closer than at any time in the previous two decades. In the constituency and in the House. Sir Patrick was, in all respects, larger than life. He succeeded in making a contribution which was in many ways beyond politics. His halo still shines brightly in Tunbridge Wells and, as I am constantly reminded, he leaves large shoes to fill.

Mine is a delightful constituency, situated in Kent in the heart of England. Its focal point is Royal Tunbridge Wells, a spa town which was famous in the 18th century for its royal visitors who, I suspect, were able to get there rather more quickly than today’s commuters. It has two major public finance initiative projects which are important to the local community and which were supported by the Conservative Government. The first is the long-awaited dualling of the A21, which is the main arterial route from London to Hastings. The second is a desperately needed new hospital because the Kent and Sussex hospital is divided into two parts and has outdated facilities. A PFI project for a new hospital is at an advanced stage.

Regrettably, both projects have been called in for one of the new Government’s ubiquitous reviews. That means that, within two months of the election, my constituents fear that they may have to pay a steep price for a Labour Government. I hope that those fears are unjustified. The people of Tunbridge Wells are famous, apart from anything else, for the forthright expression of their views in national newspapers. They are vigorous letter writers, as the Minister will find out before long if our transport and health projects are not approved.

My warning may be a little too late for the Chancellor. He will hear from many home owners in Tunbridge Wells and especially from those whose incomes are less than £15,000 a year. The majority of those who benefit from MIRAS are in that income range, and their incomes have been cut as a result of the Chancellor’s action.

Many of my constituents are retired or saving for retirement and their pension funds will be hit by the changes to advance corporation tax. The abolition of tax relief on private medical insurance affects many of my constituents who are in nursing homes and many people in the insurance industry. It is short-sighted, mean-spirited and economically insignificant and can only add to the pressure on the health service. It is greatly regretted by my constituents. My ambition is to rebrand my constituents “Contented from Tunbridge Wells”, but I fear that the Government have done little in their first few months to help me to achieve that aim.

Two of the Chancellor’s main themes were business and employment. Unlike many Labour Members, I believe that experience in business, enterprise and industry is good for the Government and for the House. I am proud of my record in business and of the companies that I served. I welcome the Chancellor’s intention to be business-friendly, and I also welcome the promotion of people with business experience to the Government. The appointment of the Paymaster General and of David Simon, the former chairman of British Petroleum, are a welcome recognition of the contribution that business can make to the policy and process of government. I am glad to see that my friend Howard Davies has been given a leading role in the Securities and Investments Board. It is good to see a former McKinsey man in gainful employment in public services. Hopefully, he will not be the last.

It was reported at the weekend in, I think, The Sunday Times that Martin Taylor had turned down a ministerial job. Of course, BP and Barclays are among Britain’s 10 largest companies: Asda is about the 50th. Perhaps as the Chancellor works his way down the list I will eventually receive a call. My badge from my shopkeeping days reads, “Happy to help”, which has always been my motto, but, of course, I cannot be certain that my help would be the sort that the Chancellor has in mind.

It is not long since the Secretary of State for Health described people like me as stinking, thieving, lousy, incompetent scum. Even as I read the words I find them amazing. One of the great strengths of the House is that hon. Members are able to speak freely, and the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to his view, but I hope that there is a little truth in the last part of his epithet because my dictionary defines scum as matter which rises to the top in an otherwise murky liquid. The right hon. Gentleman’s words were, in the main, different from the more honeyed prose that we have heard from the Labour party in the past two years. Its business manifesto states that a Labour Government would create a dynamic and supportive environment in which business can prosper and thrive. We hope that they will succeed in that endeavour, although it will be hard to better the achievement of the Conservative Government in the past 18 years, during which period there has been a comprehensive managerial revolution in the way in which we manage and employ people, create success and invite investment into the United Kingdom. To date, the words from the Government have been friendly, but the substance, I fear, has been increasingly hostile.

The Chancellor said that this is a Budget for investment and to secure our future. Business people are, in the main, practical, and we will wonder quite what he means. Our economy’s future depends on competitiveness and profit and, so far, the balance sheet does not look too good. To start with, business people will wonder whether it is logical for a Government, who make much of the need for investment in infrastructure, transport and the waterworks, to reduce the prospect of further investment with a windfall tax.

The Chancellor said that the tax will not affect investment, employment or the cost of services. In fact, it clearly will. It takes investment cash from those companies, and it defies belief to suppose that obliging utilities to gear up and take on more debt will have no effect on investment. Surely we are all financially literate enough in this day and age to understand that taxing more means investing less. Stage two, we fear, may be regulation to force the investment, which the Government have made less attractive, by other means.

Business people will wonder also where the logic is in Labour’s plans for the proceeds of the tax. They are to be used, apparently, to subsidise wages to create temporary jobs, but permanent jobs will be threatened as wage costs will be driven up with the introduction of a minimum wage. Those of us with experience of employing people and of being employed do not need to be the principal of the London business school to know that a minimum wage will mean fewer jobs. It will hit the most vulnerable people in society—in many respects, those whom the welfare-to-work programme is supposed to help, including the unskilled in particular, the handicapped, the young, the old and, yes, single mothers who work part time.

There is a piece of hypocrisy floating around that the minimum wage is a form of competitiveness—that it will even up the competitive field between employers who exploit employees by paying less and those who do not. The reality is that big business will not be affected by the minimum wage, but small business will. The companies affected will not be large and profitable; they will be the corner shop, the local pub, the small hairdresser and those that we need to support most.

Business people will wonder also how opting into the social chapter will help our competitiveness. I was curious and interested to hear the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Plaskitt) say that businesses in Leamington Spa were not concerned. That is not my experience. Many small businesses throughout the UK are in favour of a free-trading Europe, but wholly opposed to further regulation in the form of the social chapter. New regulations in the form of works councils, supervisory boards and paternity requirements can bring us only closer to a European model of inflexibility and ossification.

Business people will wonder also how taxing pension contributions by limiting tax relief on advance corporation tax can do other than raise the cost of employment. It is irrelevant for the Chancellor to justify that measure by claiming, as he did yesterday: Many pension funds are in substantial surplus”.—[Official Report, 2 July 1997; Vol. 297, c. 306.] If they are in surplus, that is a consequence of the funds that have been injected and of their investment performance. Those companies with surplus funds are taking advantage of that by improving their profits through a pension holiday. By definition, eliminating the scope for pension holidays means reducing those profits. It follows that, if those pension funds are in deficit in future, the money to fund them will have to come out of corporate profits. The £5.4 billion that this measure will raise has to come from somewhere. The cost of the Budget is in company profits and individual savings. That is corporation tax by another name for companies and a savings tax by another name for pensions.

It would be churlish of me not to welcome the cut in corporation tax, particularly for small businesses, many of which will benefit in my constituency, but the balance sheet for businesses in the first eight weeks of this Government is in the red—a small cut in their tax bill for a large slice of their pensions and a large increase in pension contributions.

After this Budget, business people will ask whether we have a Government who mean what they say about business, or a Government for whom business was simply a nice idea and who simply said what the electorate hoped they would. The Chancellor’s grand words about investment and long-termism belie a fundamental shift in Government tone and policy—a shift towards a belief that it is Governments who create jobs and shape the economy. The question that business people will be asking is whether new Labour means a new form of socialism—not the ownership socialism of the past, but the regulatory socialism of continental Europe.

The assumption behind the Budget appears to be that the Government can engineer investment, whereas, in the business world, we know that subsidised investment is often the worst form of investment. The other assumption is that the Government can engineer and create jobs, whereas, in the business world, we know that subsidised jobs are often of the poorest quality and temporary.

It is not my intention to be unreasonably contentious, The Chancellor’s aspiration to improve competitiveness and long-termism is, of course, one which we share. It is the means that we contest. This Budget is not a people’s Budget, as the people will have to pay more tax. It is not a Budget for competitiveness or for enterprise. It is a Budget of taxation to enable a Labour Government to pursue political policies that involve spending more of the “people’s money” on their well-meaning, but perhaps ill-judged, projects.

It is not a good Budget for business, for middle Britain or for my constituents in Tunbridge Wells. The business world is pragmatic, not ideological. Most business men operate in their commercial interests and in those of their shareholders and employees. We judge people by what they deliver, not by what they say. As far as we can, we call a spade a spade. Substance triumphs over style, decisions over reviews, and we will hold the Chancellor to account for his promises. Today, the jury may still be out, but the first signs for business and enterprise are ominous—very ominous indeed.