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.

Dadabhai Naoroji – 1893 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Dadabhai Naoroji, the then Liberal MP for Finsbury Central, in the House of Commons on 28 February 1893.

MR. NAOROJI (Finsbury, Central) said he did not wish to go into the question of the merits of monometallism and bimetallism. He wished merely to refer to the chief argument of bimetallists, which was that France had stood by bimetallism for 70 years, and had thereby introduced a fixed ratio between gold and silver. The question now was whether the bimetallism of France had been the cause of keeping the ratio between gold and silver steady, or whether it was not the fact that the ratio of gold and silver was not steady even when the system of bimetallism existed in France. He would ask if bimetallism had steadied that ratio why had it been broken up, and why had France given it up?

When bimetallism existed in France there had been no universal consent between France and the other nations of the world, and why was that universal consent required now if bimetallism had any virtue in it? His contention was that when the time came that the ratio between gold and silver had become steadier they might have bimetallism or not, for it would come to the same thing. But India was the subject on which he wished to address the House principally. It had been said over and over again in the course of the Debate by one side that India had been largely benefited by the fall in exchange, and by the other side that India had been injured by the fall in exchange. It was difficult to arrive at a conclusion as to which side to believe, for each side had said it had official authority for its assertion. Instead of making general statements of that kind he would lay before the House a simple ordinary trade transaction from which they would be able to judge how far the difference in the two currencies in England and India, and the rise and fall in exchange, affected India. But in considering the subject they should always remember that India was in an unfortunate economic condition.

They should consider India in two aspects—both as a self-governing country, like China independent of outside political influences, and as a country under foreign domination, with many important forces influencing her for evil and for good. Let them first take India as situated like China or any other self-governing country that had a silver currency.

As far as trade and commerce between two independent countries were concerned it made no difference what currency existed in those countries. He would illustrate that by a simple trade transaction. A trader in India had to sell a hundred bales of cotton which cost him R.10,000. He sent the cotton to an agent in England to sell with directions to forward him the net proceeds of the sale. When the exchange stood at par rate of 2s. a rupee the trader had in calculating his profits to take that into consideration, as well as freight and insurance, and he would know exactly that he had to get a certain price, say 6d., for his cotton, in order to get his original R. 10,000 back and a profit of say another R.1,000. But suppose the rupee stood at 1s. instead of 2s. in exchange. In that case the trader would get only 3d. per pound instead of 6d. per pound for his cotton to cover his R.11,000. As exchange fell prices fell with it proportionately in England, and all the talk about India getting immense quantities of silver when there was a fall in exchange was simply absurd. The Manchester manufacturer was not such a fool as to pay 6d. per pound for cotton in England when by sending a telegram to Bombay he would be able to get the same cotton for 3d. per pound.

His contention was, that whether there were two separate currencies in the two separate countries or not it had no weight or effect on the one country or the other, commercially, and in any case the Indian trader in the business transaction he had mentioned got back the money he had invested and in ordinary circumstances a profit of 10 per cent. In these controversies there was always a reference to prices. It was said that on such and such an occasion prices were high, and that on such another occasion prices were low. That was a very fallacious test, because the ultimate prices of commodities were not the result of one particular force, but the result of many forces, such as supply and demand, exchange, cost of production, &c. He was exceedingly thankful to those hon. Members who had shown so much sympathy towards India, but somehow or other the argument was always on the side for which it served its purpose. India was at one time exceedingly poor, and at another time exceedingly prosperous. But whatever the state of India might be, the system of exchange had nothing to do with it. Then take India, as it was, under foreign domination. It was true that India, under her peculiar circumstances, felt the pinch. India had to remit £16,000,000 sterling to this country every year. This year, or perhaps next year, it would unfortunately be £19,000,000, because for several years the India Office had got capital paid by Railway Companies in England, and did not require to draw their bills in India to that extent.

The whole evil arising from the fall in exchange was this: that the disease already existed in India, and that fall in exchange came in and complicated it. If the disease of excessive European Services did not exist it would not be the slightest consequence whether the exchange was 6d. or 1s., or 2s. or 4s. the rupee. The position was, therefore, this: India had to send from her “scanty subsistence” a quantity of produce to this country equal to the value of £19,000,000 in gold. As gold had risen, India had to send more produce in proportion to the rise in gold, no matter what the currency was — silver, or copper, or anything. The sympathies of those who wished well to India in the course of the Debate were therefore a little misdirected. The remedy for the evils from which India was suffering did not lie in introducing bimetallism, or changing the currency into gold or restricting the silver currency, but in reducing the expenses of the excessive European Services to reasonable limits.

After a hundred years of British administration—an administration that had been highly paid and praised— an administration consisting of the same class of men as occupied the two Front Benches, India had not progressed, and while England had progressed in wealth by leaps and bounds—from about £10 in the beginning of the century to £40 per head—India produced now only the wretched amount of £2 per head per annum. He appealed to the House, therefore, to carefully consider the case of India. He knew that Britain did not want India to suffer—he was sure that if the House knew how to remedy the evil they would do justice to India, but he wished to point out that bimetallism and the other artificial devices that had been put forward were simply useless, and that India would get no relief from them whatever. On the contrary, much mischief would be the result. With regard to the meeting of the Conference again, he thought it would be useless.

In 1866, when Overend, Gurney, and Company failed, when many of the East India banks broke or were shaken to their foundations, and Bombay was in ruins, entirely on account of the fall in the price of cotton, no man in his senses tried to save this or that merchant, and raise the price of cotton somehow or other. The storm raged and ran its course. Many a well-known name passed into oblivion, but in a year or two no one thought anything more about it; cotton came in as usual from the interior, new men came into the field, and all the ruin was forgotten. The mischief was done in the present instance by the United States.

There was a commercial disturbance, coming from demonetisation in Germany, or the excessive production of silver in America; just as storms arise in the physical world. The United States undertook the absurd feat of trying to stop it, and keep up the price of silver, and the result was that the more it was stemmed the greater force it acquired. Twenty years of suffering had been due entirely to this one mistake. The Indian people would be the greatest sufferers, but the storm must take its course. They could no more stop it than they could order gravitation to become non-existent, or make water run upward. Silver would go on falling until it had reached its proper bottom; the Indian and Chinese currencies would remain; there would be silver-using and gold-using countries, and the amount of silver that would come into operation would be useful in one way or another.

On the one hand they were told that it was law that had made all this confusion, and the very same gentlemen who told them so would rush to the same law again to produce an artificial and worse condition of affairs. They must allow laws, commercial, physical, moral, or political, to be governed by nature. If they tried to stop the storm, the result would be far more disastrous. Conferences might meet, but they would not reach any conclusion except some artificial device which would merely cause more mischief. It was said that France was anxious for bimetallism and laid the blame of her not adopting it on England. But when France and the other Latin nations had bimetallism silver took its own course, and there was no use laying the blame on England now. He was of opinion that England must stick to the sound scientific principle of currency that she had adopted. Nor should she allow the currency of India to be tampered with. He thanked the House for the favourable hearing accorded to him, and hoped that before any step was taken to change the currency system either of this country or of India they would think once, twice, and three times.

Teddy Taylor – 1964 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Teddy Taylor in the House of Commons on 10 November 1964.

This is my first attempt to speak in the House, and I ask the pardon of hon. Members for making my maiden contribution at such an early stage in the Session. Some senior Members may consider that the abundance of maiden speeches we have heard during the debate shows a lack of humility on the part of the younger generation, but I feel that the cause is not over-confidence but simply a fear, strengthened by the weekend Press, that circumstances might require us to present ourselves to the electorate again before we have had the chance properly to present ourselves to the House. I think that some other hon. Members elected for the first time may have experienced the same difficulty as I did when completing a form which asked whether my new employment was likely to be of a permanent nature.

May I further crave the indulgence of the House for making my speech with the handicap of a cold—which will ensure that even if hon. Members opposite do not hear pearls of wisdom they will, at least, receive plenty of germs. I say this in the full knowledge that with the narrower balance between the parties germs in this Session might well play a more effective political rôle than anything I may say today.

No new Member can attend or take part in the initial proceedings of a new Session without being fully conscious of the enormous responsibility which is placed on each one of us. For we do not come here to start anew—the basis of our British democracy has been established for us by our forefathers and by hon. Members past and present. Even to maintain the high standards and achievements of the past is no easy task, and yet the problems facing the world and this country require that we must seek to aim even higher.

I would refer to my predecessor, Sir John Henderson, who, I know, was well liked in the House. He served as a Member for 18 years after giving over 20 years of continuous service in local government. The conscientious manner in which he applied himself to his duties and the faithful and attentive service which he gave to the electors of the constituency have established a very high standard which I will do my best to emulate in my membership of the House.

The constituency which I represent is the Cathcart Division of Glasgow. Glasgow, as hon. Members know, has 15 constituencies, and Cathcart is one of the only two which have returned a Unionist Member. It is a matter for the individual judgment of hon. Members as to whether this situation reflects the general wisdom of the people of Glasgow or the particular political sense of the electors of Cathcart and Hillhead.

Apart from politics, Cathcart is rather a unique constituency. It contains some of Glasgow’s most beautiful public parks—Linn, Queen’s Park and Cathkin Braes—the finest football stadium in the country, Hampden Park, perhaps the biggest municipal housing scheme in Western Europe, Castlemilk, and one of the world’s outstanding engineering works, that of Messrs. G. and J. Weir. It is a historic place, because in the heart of the constituency lies the site of the battle of Langside, which decided the fate of Mary Queen of Scots.

Cathcart, although merged with Glasgow geographically and socially, retained its municipal independence until early in the century when it was “taken in” by the City of Glasgow, in perhaps more ways than one. I know that the electors of Cathcart and of Glasgow are vitally interested in the contents of the Gracious Speech and I would like to comment briefly on the section which states that the Government intend to promote reforms in taxation and, in particular, to bring about better arrangements for the modernisation of local government finance.

I think that most hon. Members would agree that the rating system is, in principle and in practice, unsatisfactory in many respects. And the dissatisfaction of the system has been aggravated by the ever-increasing burden of local rates. For example, in Glasgow the average man, woman and child has to pay well over £25 per head a year in local rates, and this means an annual burden for the average family of £100 which must be paid directly or indirectly.

The principal objection to the rating system is that it is not levied either according to ability to pay or to the use which people make of local government services. There appears to be no justification for a system which imposes the same burden on a widow living on a small fixed income as on a neighbouring family which may have three or four wage earners.

Apart from that, the unequal incidence of rates throughout the country produces serious problems. Some areas have a high burden per head of population which is about double the burden elsewhere, and the tragedy is that areas with high unemployment are often the ones that have a relatively high rating burden and enormous municipal problems. Thus, those areas which need to attract industry are often hampered in their efforts by the disincentive of a high rates burden. This is considered by some to be a small problem, but for most industrialists it is becoming a more and more important one. Some Clyde shipyards, for example, pay £30,000 or £40,000 a year in rates, and an increase of 2s. in the rate poundage can mean an extra £1,000 on the cost of each ship.

A third factor which the Government will be bearing in mind is the ever-increasing volume of local government responsibility and expenditure, and, of course, this means that a large section of public spending is outwith the timely or effective control of national economic policy.

It is true that capital spending by local authorities can be influenced sharply, although not immediately, by Government policy; but revenue spending, which must now be over £2,000 million a year, cannot be restrained or boosted in a timely or effective manner by the present economic weapons.

For these and other obvious reasons, my constituents and many others trust that the reorganisation of local government finance will include a complete and comprehensive review of the rating system. I would like to say something about the possible alternative systems of collecting revenue, but I have no wish to burden the House unduly and would merely say that I hope to have the opportunity of speaking further on this subject at an early date.

The promise in the Gracious Speech to promote economic development and modernisation in the under-employed areas leads me to the final point I wish to make. The hon. Members who have so ably represented our city in recent years have rightly stressed the urgency of our housing problems and the need to attract lighter and more flexible industries. These representations were vitally necessary because Glasgow’s housing problem is immense and acute and our economic problem of overdependence on heavy industry is one which will require strong, speedy and effective action.

The emphasis on our problems has, however, created the impression in some quarters that Glasgow is a dull, derelict and depressed city with backward industries and an unenterprising population. This is certainly not the case. Our traditional industries, in particular our great shipyards, have spent many millions from their own resources in modernising their establishments. There has also been rationalisation, made necessary by surplus world shipbuilding capacity, but the yards which remain are vital, progressive and among the most modern in the world.

Orders are being obtained in face of international competition, and if British shipyards, which face the full blast of foreign competition unprotected by tariffs or quotas, are given assistance comparable to that given by competitor nations, they will face the future with even more confidence, particularly in view of the Clyde’s good and improving labour relations.

The west of Scotland needs new and lighter industries, but we must never forget that just as vital is the prosperity of the Clyde shipyards on which around 80,000 families depend, directly or indirectly, for their livelihood. In these circumstances, an extension of the Shipbuilding Credit Scheme and the security and stability stemming from it would be welcomed as much as an entirely new industrial project.

Glasgow, like its industries, is often unfairly maligned. It is one of the few cities which support five major theatres and one great orchestra. Its public parks, libraries and museums are world famous, and every district within its boundaries is within, at most, half an hour’s journey of the beautiful surrounding countryside. Firms, administrative offices and even Government Departments need have no fears about moving to Glasgow, and they can be assured that every assistance in location, planning and essential services will be given by our unique Industrial Inquiries Centre which is situated appropriately beside the two basic pillars of any great city—the main line station and the Conservative Club.

I thank hon. Members for listening so patiently and apologise for taking so long.

George Young – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by George Young, the then Conservative MP for Ealing Acton, in the House of Commons on 18 March 1974.

Due to the operations of the Boundary Commission, I have no fewer than three immediate predecessors to whom I must pay tribute in my maiden speech. One of them—Brian Batsford, the former Member for Ealing, South—did not seek re-election. The second—Nigel Spearing, the former Member for Acton—sought re-election and, after a vigorous contest with me at the hustings came second. The third—Mr. Molloy—sought re-election at a modified constituency, Ealing, North, and was duly returned. It does not need me to remind the House of his ceaseless efforts on behalf of those of his former constituents whom I now represent. He may not be very sorry to lose them, because he did not get many votes from that section of the constituency, but a lot of them are sorry to lose him, as he was a tireless and often pugnacious fighter on their behalf.

My predecessor in Acton—Nigel Spearing—earned the high regard and respect of his constituents in the three years in which he represented them. The closeness of the result doubtless reflected the local good will which he accumulated. He is by profession a school teacher, and in view of the current shortage of members of that profession in London, I hope that I have performed some small public service by enabling him to return to his previous vocation.

Brian Batsford represented Ealing, South for 16 years. He was a highly respected and much loved local Member who will be sadly missed. I am very grateful to him for the advice and encouragement which he gave me when I was a candidate.

I am honoured to tread in the collective footsteps of those three men.

I wish to speak briefly about my constituency. It is an amalgam of a highly industrialised area—Acton—with a large section of Ealing, a predominantly residential area with a major shopping centre at Ealing Broadway. Acton has the distinction of having more railway stations to its name than any other place in the country—North Acton, South Acton, East Acton, West Acton, Acton Central, Acton Main Line and Acton Town. It is, none the less, extraordinarily difficult to travel around it by public transport.

As with other industrial areas in London, Acton is suffering from the progressive rundown of industry. Successive Governments have taken the view that London has an inexhaustible supply of industrial firms which can be exported to other parts of the country. As a result, when firms in London wish to expand or modernise, they find that the planning and fiscal incentives to do so are almost irresistible. Consequently, there is a danger of London’s being left with the most inefficient and least modernised firms in the country. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, it will undermine the economic base of the capital and adversely affect the employment prospects of those who live and work in it.

The Ealing section of the constituency is a pleasant residential area. Its main problem is a disease called planning blight, for which there appears to be no known cure and which can last for 25 years. Indeed, I had some pleasure in tracing back one set of road proposals to the last Liberal Government.

I am honoured to represent this new constituency and hope that it will be many decades before the House has to listen to another maiden speech from the Member for Ealing, Acton.

I wish to speak briefly on one matter concerning the economy, namely, the role of the public sector. Until recently I was an economic adviser in one of the largest nationalised industries—the Post Office Corporation. I was able to observe at first hand the effects of price restraint in this section of the economy. At a time of rising prices any Government will seek to use its influence to keep down prices, and it always does so in the nationalised sector because that is where it has most influence.

Historically, the nationalised industries have been the first to respond—not always willingly—to the call for price restraint. However, we should be under no illusion about the danger of this course of action if allowed to go on for long. First, many of the nationalised industries supply energy—the Central Electricity Generating Board, the National Coal Board and the Gas Council. At a time when the country must economise in its consumption of energy, it is indefensible that energy should be available to private consumer and industry alike at a price which is less than its true cost.

Secondly, pegging prices at low levels artificially increases demand, and in response to this the nationalised industries have put forward ambitious investment programmes. Many of the nationalised industries are capital-intensive and large sums of capital money are needed to increase their output. The two largest nationalised industries plan to spend £8,000 million in the next five years. If their investment plans are based on incorrect assessments of demand there will be a serious misuse of this country’s investment resources.

Morale in the nationalised industries falls if there is continued price restraint leading to substantial losses. Most of the nationalised industries are, in the normal sense, technically bankrupt and it is somewhat dispiriting for management in the nationalised industries to know this and to have to put up with it. Furthermore, the knowledge that the taxpayer will always foot the bill deprives management of the commercial criteria it needs to make sensible decisions.

Finally, price restraint in the nationalised industries has meant that they have had to have recourse to the Treasury for funds in order to keep going and to finance their investments. Not only is continuous Treasury interference in the affairs of the nationalised industries not always a good thing; it has pushed up the borrowing requirement of the Treasury and added to inflationary pressures. The Economist estimated last Friday that current subsidies to the nationalised industries were running at £1,100 million per year. In other words, twice the sum that is apparently available to subsidise food is currently being used to subsidise goods and services because they happen to be produced by the nationalised industries. I see little economic or social logic in this. It will always be difficult to get back to sensible pricing policies for the nationalised industries, but the later we leave it, the more difficult it will become, and in the meantime the greater will be the distortions in our economy.

It is probably too late to influence the Chancellor’s Budget next week, if, indeed, he would welcome any influence from the Conservative benches. But before the right hon. Gentleman commits himself to large increases in personal taxation, perhaps lie will look at the public sector deficits caused by the nationalised industries. If he were to remove these subsidies, the money he would get in would be equivalent to a 15 per cent. increase in personal taxation. Most people would maintain that it is much fairer to remove those subsidies than to put up personal taxation by that amount.

David Davis – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by David Davis, the then Conservative MP for Boothferry, in the House of Commons on 5 November 1987.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech so early in the debate. I am also grateful for the compliments on my speech, however premature.

I pray the indulgence of the House to speak briefly about my constituency and to pay proper tribute to my predecessor in Boothferry. The constituency of Boothferry encompasses the Yorkshire wolds and extends down to the vale of York, across the Ouse and Humber to include the Isle of Axholme. It is a beautiful rural area and can claim to be one of the cradles of English individualism. Many of its people fought for their beliefs and for other people’s rights. Some died. Robert Aske, who led the pilgrimage of Grace, was hanged in chains in York castle. Others, such as William Wilberforce and John Wesley, have, by the force of their character, and their commitment to their ideas, changed the world in such a way that history will never forget them.

Today, individualism takes the form of enterprise and initiative on the part of the people I represent. That is why Yorkshire and Humberside has many more small businesses, private enterprise and self-employed people than most other areas of Britain.

My predecessor in Boothferry was Sir Paul Bryan. When Sir Paul entered the House as the Member for Howden 32 years ago, he was already distinguished by his war record. He was a holder of the Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order. I think that he was the last Member of the House to hold both those decorations. He was clearly a man of considerable courage and leadership Courage has been described as the quality of exhibiting grace under pressure. Sir Paul had the quality of exhibiting grace in all circumstances. He was greatly loved in my constituency for his dignified leadership, quiet compassion and calm wisdom. If I can do as much for my constituency and the House as Sir Paul did, I shall be justifiably proud.

Sir Paul had one other characteristic when he came to the House which helped him to stand out from the crowd. He had an entry in the “Guinness Book of Records”. He was and is a keen golfer and he achieved the feat of getting two holes in one, as some hon. Members will know. He tells the story of returning from that round, buying the traditional round of drinks in the club house and telling the barmaid about the fact that he had scored two holes in one. She asked him which holes he had scored them on and he said that it was the ninth and twelfth. “But, Mr. Bryan,” she said, “those are the two shortest holes in the club.” Such wry scepticism is often seen on the Opposition Benches today.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has scored hat trick after hat trick—in the Autumn Statement last year, the Budget this year and the Autumn Statement this year—when we had a higher growth record than any other Western nation, a faster fall in unemployment than any other country, and many other characteristics in our financial situation which stood out as being models for the rest of the world. However, the comments of the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) will not be the real test of the Government’s policy. The real test of the Government’s policy and our economy will be how it withstands the global adversity that we are seeing today.

I want to explore how that test will come about. I am not just talking about a slump or a potential slump. If we have a slump, everybody understands what that means as a test for our economy. If we avoid a slump, that, too, will be a test for our economy.

Let us examine what has been said about what is needed to avoid a slump. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan) basically described five different points. Two of them are American. There is obviously the need to cut the budget deficit and the Americans must abandon protectionism. Three other things have to be done. First, we must maintain the liquidity of the financial markets, and that has already been done. Secondly, we probably have to see some fiscal relaxation in Germany and Japan. Thirdly, we must see a modification of the Louvre accord to allow the dollar to devalue to a proper level against the deutschmark. If that goes ahead and is successful in preventing a global slump, there will be a continuation of growth in global demand—it will not be as high as in recent years but it will continue. However, the structure of that global demand will change.

Labour Members like to talk about the real economy, but what will happen in real terms? The American market will suffer deflationary effects. The policy change and the consumption effects of the Wall street crash will have deflationary effects. American industry and employment will be protected from that, to some extent, by the dollar-deutschmark parity change. British industry will not be protected. Some £12 billion worth of exports will be going into the dollar area markets. We will have a smaller, more difficult market for our high-tech and high-value items—typically the items that we sell to the United States—and we will face tougher competition from American producers with that dollar advantage.

We will have to look elsewhere for outlets. If the global economy is growing, by definition there will be expansion elsewhere. When we look elsewhere we will run head on into Japanese competition and Japanese products that have been displaced from the United States market. We will also face German and American competition, which will be tougher because of that dollar parity change. We will have to battle hard for our market share. That market will not necessarily be in the same products—it certainly will not be in the same place—and we will have to fight for every percentage point of share.

How will Britain’s industry cope? The transformation of British industry in the past eight years will ensure that we will win enough battles to maintain our growth rate. How would we have done eight or ten years ago if we had taken on the Japanese or tried to sell Jaguars to Germany? That is the acid test of Government policy. That is the test that will apply if the global market does not crash. The previous Labour Government would have failed that test. Their policies would not have coped because of the lack of competitiveness that they brought about in British industry.

That is the successful scenario, but in the unsuccessful scenario the other side of the Government’s balance sheet takes effect. Clearly competition and competitiveness still matter. However, the Government’s ability to inject more demand into the economy—this is a common sense approach, not a Keynesian one—is a function of its creditworthiness. Any company chairman will know that creditworthiness dictates how one copes. The United States’ problem is that it has run out of creditworthiness.

The Government’s balance sheet is as good as it has ever been, but it is not the only important balance sheet. Over the past few years it has become fashionable to criticise the bull market. However, one of its side effects is that British industry has been able to obtain lower borrowing levels, better equity funding and a lower risk base than ever before. Thus, it is better equipped to deal with stronger competition and higher margins.

Our policies stand up, on any scenario, in comparison with anybody else’s. We have the flexibility to move with the world markets. We have the capacity to cope with a drop in world demand. In the final analysis, whatever the outcome, the British economy has the equipment to harness the wind or weather the storm.