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.

Nigel Lawson – 1993 Maiden Speech in the House of Lords

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Nigel Lawson in the House of Lords on 14 July 1993.

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins—who has just sat down—for his expression of interest in what I am about to say. I shall try not to take too long in saying it. I suspect it is somewhat unusual, although I believe by no means unprecedented, to make one’s maiden speech during the course of the Report stage of a Bill. To those of your Lordships who feel affronted by my departure from custom, I can only apologise but perhaps plead in mitigation that this is no ordinary Bill and that this amendment is no ordinary amendment; not to mention the fact that, having had the privilege of being a Member of your Lordships’ House for a year, it was probably about time that I broke my cluck anyway.

It is a particular pleasure to speak in a debate initiated by my noble friend Lord Blake. My noble friend was my politics tutor when I was an undergraduate at Oxford some 40 years ago. I may say that he survived the experience remarkably well. As a result, I always pay particular heed to what he has to say.

It seems to me that at the heart of this debate lie two distinct questions. The first is whether a consultative referendum has any part in our constitution; the second is whether, if so, this Bill provides one of those rare occasions on which such a referendum is called for.

As to the first of those questions, I am happy to agree with my noble friend Lord Blake. The precedent that has to some extent inadvertently been set in recent years, that fundamental constitutional change be put to the people in a referendum, is one that I welcome. I welcome it because it buttresses a constitution that is badly in need of buttressing. But I have to agree with my noble friend the Leader of the House that those who advocate a referendum on Maastricht do not strengthen their case by praying in aid the fact that at the last general election all three political parties were in favour of Maastricht, thus depriving the electorate of the possibility of casting a vote against it. Even if that had not been so, a general election is not an occasion on which a single isolated issue can be put to the people, as Mr. Heath discovered in 1974.

But much more importantly, all-party agreement is not the only way in which the people can be deprived of the opportunity to vote against a proposal. It happens all the time. The people had no opportunity, for example, to vote against the Single European Act, which was ushered through Parliament under the leadership of my noble friend Lady Thatcher. As an issue it was not even in contemplation at the time of the 1983 general election and by the 1987 election it was already a fait accompli.

No, the question—it is an important question—is simply whether, unlike the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty involves such a fundamental change to our constitution and such a grave loss of national and parliamentary sovereignty that it should, on those grounds and those grounds alone, be put to the people in a referendum first before final ratification can be contemplated.

Those who claim that the objective of the architects of the Maastricht Treaty is to replace the European Community of nation states by a single European superstate are clearly right. There is nothing disreputable about such an objective, although for my part, as a longstanding proponent of European unity, I believe it to be profoundly mistaken and, if it were ever to be imposed on the peoples of Europe, a blueprint for disaster. But I repeat: there is nothing disreputable about it. All that might perhaps be considered disreputable would be to deny that that is the objective of the architects of the Maastricht Treaty, since it manifestly is so.

But the question to which we have to address ourselves is whether the Maastricht Treaty in fact achieves or can be expected to achieve that objective. The heart of the Maastricht Treaty and the means by which its federalist architects seek to achieve their political objective is monetary union, the replacement of the individual European currencies and central banks by a single European currency and a single European central bank. That is the heart of it.

I believe that there are two distinct constitutional dimensions to it. In the first place the loss of one’s national currency and of the ability to possess a national monetary policy is in itself a constitutional change and a loss of national autonomy of the first importance. But it does not stop there. It is envisaged that monetary policy ‘would be conducted by a European central bank which is politically independent.

The idea of central bank independence has aroused increasing interest in recent years. I myself have long made clear that I favour conferring independence, within an appropriate statutory framework, on the Bank of England. But what is agreed on all sides—and the Prime Minister recently made this point in another place—is that in a democracy independence must be accompanied, as indeed it is in all those countries that already possess an independent central bank, by accountability. That involves both co-operation with the elected government of the day and open accountability to Parliament. So long as there is no single European government and no genuine Single European Parliament, a European central bank, which would arguably be the most powerful entity in the entire Community, would be effectively unaccountable and thus democratically unacceptable.

As the architects of Maastricht are doubtless aware, the only way in which that dilemma could be resolved would be to create the European political institutions of a genuine European Parliament, a European finance ministry and a European government that democracy itself would then demand. Thus would the superstate be born. However, in regard to this country, none of that is in the treaty before us today, containing as it does a protocol specifying that the United Kingdom shall not be obliged or committed to move to the third stage of economic and monetary union without a separate decision to do so by its government and Parliament. It is of course only at the third stage that the single European currency and European central bank are planned to come into being.

It is clear that Her Majesty’s Government, by negotiating that protocol, recognised the special political and constitutional significance of monetary union. Without monetary union the Maastricht Treaty is not, in my judgment, of any greater constitutional importance than the Single European Act (in the preamble to which, incidentally, the objective of monetary union was for the first time brought back to life from the grave in which it had lain since the collapse of the Werner plan in the mid-1970s).

However, should there come a time when this or any future British Government are so unwise as to conclude that this country should participate in a European monetary union, with all its political consequences, that would be a decision of such momentous constitutional significance as to warrant not merely the separate approval of Parliament at a time as provided for in the treaty before us, but also a prior referendum of the British people. Unless and until that time arrives—and for a number of reasons I rather doubt that it ever will—I do not believe that the case for a referendum is made and I shall vote tonight accordingly.

Nigel Lawson – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Nigel Lawson, the then Conservative MP for Blaby, in the House of Commons on 1 April 1974.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye for the first time, on All Fool’s Day, too—a date whose appropriateness to the occasion of a maiden speech needs no underlining.

This has been a wide-ranging debate, and I could not pretend to be able to follow all its twists and turns, but I am particularly glad to have had the opportunity of speaking after the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne), whose presence here is a symbol of a form of security of tenure which all of us have deeply at heart, although he has perhaps caused a lot of trouble at the United Nations.

The new constituency of Blaby, which I have the honour to represent, is in South Leicestershire. It is roughly 60 per cent. of the old Harborough division, whose Member, happily, continues to serve here as Member for the new Harborough division. Therefore, for me to pay the customary tribute to my predecessor would in the circumstances perhaps be in questionable taste—rather like publishing an obituary of the living. Therefore, I shall simply say that it is my ambition to serve my constituents as well as my hon. Friend did when they were his constituents.

Blaby is in a real sense the centre and heart of England. It is there that those two great Roman roads, Watling Street and the Fosse Way, cross. To come to the present day, it is in Blaby that the M6 meets the M1. As hon. Members of a monetarist persuasion will instantly recognise, that leads me logically to the subject of the Budget.

As a former professional Budget-watcher it was easy for me to recognise the parentage of this beast. It is by the TUC cart horse out of the Treasury grey mare. Therefore, I was not in the least surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that later in the year he intends to introduce a Budget of his own. In view of the speeches made earlier today, many of us on the Opposition side of the House would rather it was the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who introduced the subsequent Budget. However, I have always believed that every Chancellor should be allowed at least one Budget of his own. I am sure that will be the case on this occasion.

In his Budget speech the Chancellor said: Unless we can somehow halt the accelerating inflationary trends in our economy, the resulting political and social strains may be too violent for the fabric of our democratic institutions to withstand.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March 1974; Vol. 871, c. 290.] Those were sombre words, but I fear that the right hon. Gentleman did not exaggerate. Yet there was nothing in that long and complex Budget which did anything to halt the Gadarene stampede to which he referred. Indeed, some measures in it may actively make matters worse. It seems that everything has been staked, indeed gambled, on the success or failure of the so-called social contract between the Government and the trade unions—the philosophy, we are told, on which the Budget has been based.

A social contract is all very well, but, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), I found it difficult, in looking at the Budget in detail, not to be a trifle sceptical about it. Are we supposed to believe that the stony heart of the militant shop steward will melt at the thought of paying more for his cigarettes, petrol and beer in order to allow his wife to pay a little less for bread and milk? Perhaps this rather touching picture of male altruism is well founded, but I doubt it. It seems to me more likely that the Labour Party, which has always had a strange predilection for sacred cows, has gone one step further and now believes in sacred milk, too. Are we to believe that the great mass of trade unionists will suddenly be reconciled to the paths of moderation in wage claims by the knowledge that in future 33 per cent., and not 30 per cent., of any wage increase will be taken from them in tax? That applies to a married man, with two small children, earning as little as £25 a week. If hon. Gentlemen do not believe it, they should look at Table 17 in the Red Book.

Are we meant to suppose that trade union activists will feel that an extra 2½ per cent. rise in the cost of living imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer “at a stroke” is a small price to pay for the promise that one day there will be a wealth tax?

The social psychology of clobbering the rich is a subject deserving of study. As one close student has written, there is a curious tendency within the Labour Party towards a suspicious, militant, class-conscious Leftism. That is the observation of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Environment in that classic work, “The Future of Socialism”. Can it be that fostering this suspicious, militant, class-conscious Leftism is compatible with the stirring cry for national unity which the Chancellor made the theme of his peroration in his Budget speech?

Perhaps, after all that, it is not to the Budget that we should look for the key to the so-called social contract, the sop to the trade unions. Perhaps, instead, that key, that sop, is to be found elsewhere—in the repeal of the Industrial Relations Act and the “Footwork” that we are told will replace it. At first sight, that seems to be a more plausible candidate, but, even so, there is something curious about it.

When I was listening recently to the eloquent oration of the Secretary of State for Employment, I was struck by the passage in his speech in which he accused the previous Conservative Government of having conceived of the statutory incomes policy as a kind of blunderbuss to brandish in the face of the Trades Union Congress and say to it ‘Stand and deliver’.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March 1974; Vol. 870, c. 697.] Most people in the country, and certainly the great majority of my constituents in Blaby, would say that if there is anyone these days who is inclined to say “Stand and deliver”, it is the big trade unions. One of the more endearing characteristics of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) is that he is inclined to live in the past. No doubt he imagines, even today, that he is marching alongside the Tolpuddle Martyrs or fighting the Taff Vale decision. But the rest of us know that times have changed and with them the balance of industrial power—and the balance of weaponry, as some of his right hon. Friends can testify. Some of us recall, during the celebrated “In Place of Strife” saga, the plaintive cry addressed by the Prime Minister to Mr. Scanlon, “Get your tanks off my lawn, Hughie”. I am afraid that Hughie’s tanks are still on the Prime Minister’s lawn and, in the light of that, the present Government’s intentions towards trade union law in general and picketing in particularly are thoroughly alarming.

If I may draw an analogy following the “blunderbuss” of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, there is in the United States considerable concern over the constitutional right of every citizen to bear firearms and the violence and bloodshed that result from it. Sensible people there are campaigning to try to get the right limited by law. The position of the Government in a similar situation boils down to saying, “Of course people will be frustrated if they have only rifles, and this will lead to violence. For real peace and good order you should let them have machine-guns, or even bazookas.” That is a serious point. The central problem of our time, however much hon. Members on the Government benches may try to hide away from it, is the problem of the abuse of trade union power. If a social contract is to mean anything, it must mean that that power has to be used responsibly, but we will not ensure that by enlarging that power, or making its abuse still easier.

The link between trade union power and wage inflation sheds a spotlight on the basic fallacy that underlies the social contract/egalitarian approach. The mechanism of wage inflation rests on two simple and unequivocal facts. First, there are more groups of workers who feel strongly that their relative pay in relation to that of other groups of workers should be improved than there are groups who feel that their relative position should be allowed to deteriorate. Secondly, many of these groups—not all—have the economic and industrial power to be able, at least in the short term, to force the relative improvement they seek.

No amount of egalitarianism—of clobbering the so-called rich in the sacred name of the social contract—can make the slightest difference to this central issue. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer can have Mr. Harry Hyams hanged in public—and drawn and quartered, if he so wishes—but it will not make a jot of difference to the differing views of ASLEF and the NUR on the relative standing of their respective members. Why should it? Again, the right hon. Gentleman can, if he likes, impose a 90 per cent. capital levy on second, third, fourth or even fifth homes, but it will not make the slightest difference to the view taken by mineworkers about their position in the industrial league table. Again, why should it?

Let us suppose that it made sense for the Government to base all their hopes on the all-important struggle against inflation on the social contract. The crucial fact remains that there can be no such thing as a contract, social or otherwise, unless there are sanctions against those who break it. The question is—and this is the crux of the matter—what are the sanctions to be against the TUC or its member unions if they break the social contract which the Government are currently endeavouring to negotiate?

There are three, and only three, possible answers. The first is that the Government could stand by and allow the strongest groups to grab what they can, but refuse to increase the money supply accordingly. They could let events take their course so that there are bankruptcies, falling real wages and large scale unemployment among the groups which are less strong. The second possible sanction is to take the “free” out of free collective bargaining, which would envisage a return to the statutory incomes policy and all that—assuming we ever leave it. The third possibility is to take the “collective” out of free collective bargaining, and move to curb trade union monopoly power—which sooner or later is bound to happen.

The question to which we want an answer is which of those three possibilities is to be chosen by the Government. It must be one of those three choices. What is to be the sanction against breach of the social contract? Trade union members have a right to know the small print of the contract which they are being asked to enter into. But, above all, we in this House and the country have a right to know, and I trust that we shall be given the answer before this debate draws to a close tonight.

Before entering the Chamber tonight, I took the trouble to read an essay which appeared in the Spectator on the subject of maiden speeches. It was written by my predecessor as editor—Iain Macleod, whose loss to this House, to the Conservative Party and to the country is still deeply felt by all of us. His principal piece of advice—indeed his only practical advice—was that a maiden speech should on no account exceed 15 minutes. I apologise to the House, for I fear that I may have transgressed that advice, but I shall try to do better next time.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East) The conventions of the House require that I congratulate the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) on his maiden speech. He delivered it very well and was rather witty at the expense of trade unions. He talked about militant shop stewards. But his view of the trade union movement is as inaccurate as his recollection of the figures contained in my right hon. Friend’s Budget speech. I do not recognise the trade unionist whom the hon. Gentleman described as being the militant trade unionist who would not be prepared to sit back while some of the lower paid and weaker elements in our society got a rather better deal such as that which my right hon. Friend has offered them. Nor do I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the accuracy of the figures which he quoted. He said that a married man with two children and an income of about £30 a week would pay more in income tax. He is wrong—

Mr. Lawson rose—

Mrs. Short I am not giving way.

Mr. Lawson The hon. Lady is wrong—

Mrs. Short I repeat, I have not given way to the hon. Gentleman. A married man with two children earning that sum will pay £47 per annum less in income tax. In fact, he can earn £3,000 a year and still pay less tax—

Mr. Lawson rose—

Mrs. Short No. I will not give way.

Mr. Peter Rees Give way to a maiden.

Mrs. Short I hope that the hon. Member for Blaby will be a little more accurate in future when he quotes figures—

Mr. Lawson rose—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. George Thomas) Order. If the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) does not give way, the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) must himself give way.

Eric Forth – 1983 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Eric Forth, the then Conservative MP for Mid-Worcestershire, in the House of Commons on 9 December 1983.

As I address the House for the first time, I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members who take a pride in identifying accents will quickly recognise that I have the honour to represent the new Mid-Worcestershire constituency.

I am delighted to be able to pay tribute to my predecessor in that constituency—Sir Herbert Whitely—who represented it from 1916. I suspect that even senior right hon. and hon. Members will not remember him. Although he is strictly my immediate predecessor it gives me greater pleasure to pay tribute to those from whom I have inherited my constituency. The first is my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, who now represents the Worcester constituency, who is a distinguished member of the Cabinet and for some 22 years assiduously represented a part of what is now my constituency. The second is my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Miller) who is a distinguished Back Bencher of great integrity who has worked hard on behalf of the people of Redditch. I am aware that I shall find it difficult to follow my distinguished colleagues, but I shall do my best to try to maintain their standards of representation.

My constituency was originally to have been named Redditch and Droitwich as those towns comprise about 85 per cent. of the electorate in Mid-Worcestershire. Redditch is one of the best examples of a new town. It is well planned and well built and has moved away from its traditional industry of needle making. It has diversified into several light industries and is ideally poised in the midlands to take advantage of the economic recovery that we are now experiencing. Droitwich has Roman origins and is now working hard to develop its tourist industry on the basis of its spa and the brine baths which were the origin of the salt industry on which it lived for many centuries.

I cannot leave the subject of my constituency without mentioning some of the villages. Hartlebury, Ombersley, Himbleton, Fernhill Heath and many others make up the new constituency of Mid-Worcestershire in the heart of England.

It gives me great pleasure to address the House for the first time during this debate as the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) was my opponent in the two general elections of 1974. Although it has taken me nine years to catch up with her, I am delighted to participate in this debate. I must crave some indulgence of the House as it is remarkably difficult to be uncontroversial in a maiden on sex. I might try the patience of right hon. and hon. Members almost beyond endurance. If I stray across some of the conventions of the House I hope that I shall be forgiven, but that is almost inevitable when making a maiden speech on this subject.

In many ways, the Bill epitomises one of the regrettable tendencies of politics today — the increasing gulf between rhetoric and aspirations on the one hand and reality and practicality on the other. It is most unfortunate that politicians of all parties feel obliged or tempted increasingly to claim what they will or intend to do whereas in reality they are quite unable to live up to or deliver what they promise. The Bill is a perfect example of that. We are now in the difficult and delicate business of attempting to legislate for human behaviour. We are in danger of adding to the behavioural interference industry which is already established in Britain.

I refer, for example, to the Equal Opportunities Commission which already costs about £3 million a year to run and the Commission for Racial Equality which costs about £8 million. The Bill proposes to add to that cost although experience in many other parts of the world, such as Title 7 in California, has shown that such attempts fail. Such measures have disappeared in a welter of argument and counter-argument from which the only beneficiary is the legal profession. There is a serious risk that what the Bill proposes will end up in much the same way.

The Bill will also add serious additional burdens to those already faced by industry when we are worried about employment. We all want industry to be helped as much as possible to provide more jobs. Anything which prejudices that must be examined carefully and sceptically. Many of the Bill’s provisions would seriously prejudice industry’s ability to be flexible, meet the needs of the future and provide employment. In that regard, I refer to one of the most difficult provisions in the Bill—the attempt to give home workers equal status with other employees. Such a provision would seriously prejudice the employment opportunities which are available to those who work at home. Moreover, it would create serious difficulties for employers who use home workers extensively. If such a provision were accepted, we should have to ensure that all of the health and safety at work provisions and the rest were implemented in every home where people work. If we impose one provision, we must impose them all. Following that line of argument, it is already obvious that we shall have great difficulty in implementing such a provision properly. There is also a danger of giving people false hopes that we shall improve something when we are patently unable to do so.

The provision of paternity leave would also put a heavy burden on industry. Annual reporting to the commission would create more bureaucracy when we are trying to reduce the burden of paperwork on industry. Providing that arrears should be paid as far back as 1976 could also be a heavy burden.

The hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) mentioned sexist calendars. This is a serious question. Are we contemplating making illegal calendars that portray men, women or anything else, and preventing them from being shown in places of work? That is the implication of what the hon. Lady said, If we are to make words such as “waiter” and “stewardess” illegal or the basis of a case for discrimination, that is going much too far in the direction of trying to legislate for behaviour and the way in which people speak.

However well intentioned, the Bill is yet another step along the road to additional bureaucracy and burdens on industry. It will not achieve its aim, but will be counterproductive. Living as I do in a society in which the Queen, the Prime Minister, my wife, my daughters and my mother are all female, I still find it in my heart to oppose the Bill.

Francis Pym – 1961 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Francis Pym, the then Conservative MP for Cambridgeshire, in the House of Commons on 17 May 1961.

In addressing the House for the first time, I ask for the indulgence which the House so generously accords its newest recruits; the indulgence which the House has in the past accorded to the several members of my family who have had the honour to sit here over the last three and a half centuries. I hope that the House will not think it presumptuous of me to have said that.

I am privileged to follow Sir Gerald Howard, as he now is. For ten years he was a well-known Member of the House, and he has been a most distinguished member of the Bar. I am sure that all hon. Members would want to join in wishing him well in his new and important office.

I represent Cambridgeshire, one of the loveliest English counties, and famous for its villages. I think that right hon. and hon. Members would wish that that peacefulness which is a characteristic of Cambridgeshire was more prevalent in the world today.

I venture to speak on this occasion and in support of the Motion, because I know from my recent experience in the election how strong is the desire for peace and the willingness to attain it; and our foreign policy is nothing if it is not the pursuit of peace.

The first point that I want to make is on defence. We must have adequate defence forces, for at present, whether we like it or not, there can be no peace or security otherwise. The people in my constituency, and the people in the country as a whole, are prepared to foot the bill. In fact, they know that if they do not the other bill will be higher.

The tragedy of Singapore, in the last war, when so many Cambridgeshire men were taken, is still a real memory. The people of this country are not prepared to forgive weaknesses in our defences. Indeed, they do not appreciate weakness at all, and this applies to our economic and domestic policies as much as to foreign affairs. But the risk of weakness in defence is too great, and there is some disquiet at present about the level of our conventional forces. Our regiments become amalgamated one with another and grow less in number, yet our commitments for those forces do not seem to diminish in any way. I urge the Government, with all the earnestness that I can, to make sure that our forces are adequate for the tasks which confront them, and that we are bearing at least our part of the burden which we share with our allies.

One of the problems of the so-called Western world is that it comprises a much larger number of countries and covers a much wider area than the Communist and Eastern bloc. Clearly, this makes our task the more complicated and we group together to protect ourselves by a series of alliances. These alliances are arranged geographically, and the problems are tackled area by area. This is right, but I wonder whether it is enough.

Is there anything to be said for an occasional meeting of all the free countries in the world—those not under Communism or under the Communist yoke? The only occasion at present when all these countries meet is in the Assembly of the United Nations, and there are many influences present in that forum which have to be token into account. I think that it might help to get a new purchase for negotiations with the Soviet Union if the free world held a conclave of its own. I would welcome any measures of this sort to further international co-operation.

That leads me to consider the Commonwealth, which is the only alliance or group of nations which comes anywhere near to encompassing the earth. Some people say that it is now disintegrating, but I do not accept that. Gloomy forecasts as to its future have been made in the past and been proved wrong. The Commonwealth has a substantial history behind it, and is in the habit of evolving, of adapting itself to changing circumstances. I am one of those who believe that the Commonwealth is one basis of our hope for the peaceful co-existence of nations, and I think that we must try to build on it.

If we believe in that policy, we need to do two things. First, to invest more in the Commonwealth, especially in those countries which are under-developed. I welcome the increased emphasis which has been placed on this policy lately, but I should like to see more done to publicise and bring home to our people the importance of it, the purposes behind it, and the sacrifices involved. I am not thinking only of financial investment, but also of the many opportunities which exist overseas today for our young men and women with a spirit of adventure. I believe that this is an appeal which would go down well in the country, and one to which the country would respond.

The second thing which we need to do is to try to increase the membership of the Commonwealth. It is normal practice today for associations and clubs to try to increase their membership, and I do not think that the Commonwealth should be any exception. Certainly, we do not want any closed doors. We want an open association. Is it possible that countries in addition to those who have recently attained their independence and joined the Commonwealth might become members? It is an expansion and extension of membership which we require so that the influence of Commonwealth ideas can spread.

It is in that sense that I see the Common Market as an opportunity. I welcome my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s reaffirmation only yesterday that we shall not sign the Treaty of Rome in its present form. I know that that is partly due to the agricultural difficulty, but there is also the difficulty of Commonwealth trade. If we become associated with the European Economic Community, it will surely be with the Commonwealth, and in that way the influence of both groups will be enlarged.

There seems to be a tendency sometimes to look at the Common Market in isolation, whereas, in fact, it is one of the stages in the economic integration of the West. This is not a process that we could or should arrest, but one we want to foster in principle in the general interests of the widening of world trade and the strengthening of the economic position of the West. Naturally, we must look after the interests of our own people, but, equally, we want to break down international barriers. I hope that we shall be able to find a satisfactory way of bringing Europe and the Commonwealth closer together, to the mutual benefit of both.

I believe that this movement towards unity, coupled with adequate defences, will contribute significantly to that peace which, as I said at the beginning, is the one desire that is common to the hearts of all our people.