Julian Amery – 1950 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Julian Amery, the then MP for Preston North, in the House of Commons on 18 March 1950.

The natural diffidence which any man must feel who speaks in this House for the first time is heightened in my case by the apprehension that some of the things I want to say today may be thought more controversial than is becoming in a maiden speech. If so, I can only hope that the sense of deep and urgent conviction which alone leads me to speak today will justify the House in granting me that measure of indulgence which is traditionally accorded to a maiden speaker.

As I see it, the central fact of the international situation today is that we are at war with Communist Russia. It is still a cold war, thank God; but it is a war none the less; and unless we recognise it as such we are unlikely either to secure a satisfactory peace or to prevent it from deteriorating into a shooting war. In these circumstances it seems natural that we on this side of the House should ask the Government to tell us what is their plan, what is their strategy, for the conduct of this cold war. The Minister of State has taken us on a round of interesting and important problems, but I was not myself able to disengage from his speech any coherent plan or strategy for confronting the dangers that loom on the international horizon.

I have heard the Government’s policy sometimes described as one of containment—containment of Russia. I confess that it seems to me to be rather stretching the meaning of words to apply the term “containment” to a policy which has already permitted the Sovietisation of half of Europe and the whole of China. Was it containment when we allowed our warships to be mined in the Corfu Channel with impunity, and, four years later, are still awaiting compensation for the deaths of 40 British sailors? Was it containment when we permitted the murder of Petkov, the imprisonment of Cardinal Mindszenty, and the overthrow of democratic and constitutional life in Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary, in direct contradiction of the armistice terms to which we were a party? Was it containment when we allowed the Czechoslovakian democracy to be overthrown and our friend and ally Mikolajezyk to be driven into exile in direct contradiction of the Yalta Agreement? Was it containment when our Government stood by and did nothing when the Communist armies overran the whole of China, including British interests which, at the present rate of the pound, cannot be valued at much less than £400 million?

It seems to me that the term “containment” is not one which can be applied to the policy which the Government have pursued. At times, indeed, their policy has seemed suspiciously like one of scuttling away from our responsibilities behind a smoke screen of bluster. It may be that the Foreign Secretary has acted in the hope that, if only we could trade space for time and delay bringing matters to a head for long enough, unforeseen developments might divert the Soviet rulers from their aims of world domination. In the past, when we stood at the summit of the world and enjoyed an immense margin of power, there was much to be said for waiting upon events, but today, as the weakest of the three great Powers, we must anticipate events if we are to survive them. By all means let us hope and pray that the Chinese dictator may turn out to be a second Tito, or that there will be a palace revolution in the Kremlin; but to base your policy on the hope that “something will turn up” is to degrade yourself to the level of Mr. Micawber.

Recrimination has its uses if it prevents the repetition of errors, but I do not want to dwell on the errors of the past. Instead, I should like to make one or two constructive proposals about our conduct of the cold war. The first point I wish to make concerns the general defence of Western Europe. I am one of those—and I believe we are a majority on both sides of the House—who believe in the conception of a United Europe, not merely as a means of defence against the Soviet Union but as an end in itself.

Much can be done—something is already being done—to secure European co-operation in the economic sphere; but it seems to me that in present circumstances, in the face of present dangers, there is an even greater opportunity to secure closer European relations, closer European co-operation, in the sphere of defence. For this reason it seems to me to be a matter for regret that the staff set up at Fontainebleau under Lord Montgomery has not yet developed into the supreme command of a genuine European army. No national differences or personal rivalries ought to be allowed to stand in the way of such a development.

The sooner a European army exists the easier it will be to raise those German contingents without which we cannot hope to defend Europe against attack. This whole question of Germany is so intimately bound up with that of the union of Europe, and this union of Europe depends, in turn, so much upon matters of defence that it seems to me a pity that the whole subject of defence should have been excluded from the purview of the Council of Europe. Here is a matter which might well be reconsidered.

The next point which I want to make is this: you cannot win wars, whether they are hot wars or cold wars, by remaining permanently on the defensive. At some point you have to go over to the attack. So far we have followed purely defensive tactics, and the results have not been very encouraging. Surely the time has now come—indeed, is overdue—when we must carry our ideas beyond the Iron Curtain and seek to break the Communist monopoly of Eastern Europe and of China by encouraging opposition, and the setting up of resistance movements, on the other side of the Russian front.

This, after all, is only what the Soviets have been doing for four-and-a-half years in Western Europe and South-Eeast Asia. The Soviet Union has divided Europe and divided Asia by the cold war. We shall only re-unite them if we also take the initiative in the cold war. It will be objected, I know, that such a policy as I describe—one of taking the offensive in the cold war ourselves and building up resistance movements beyond the Iron Curtain—would lead to war. I do not believe it. If Stalin wants war, there will be war; but he is not going to be provoked into starting a war just because we give him a taste of his own medicine.

The truth is that if the Russians have not pressed matters even further than they have it is because they are afraid of a war, and they are afraid of a war because they still believe they would be defeated; and they fear defeat because of their temporary inferiority in atomic weapons. So long, indeed, as the United States had the monopoly of the atomic bomb there was no danger of war at all. The military superiority of the West was absolute. Now, however, that the Russians have also discovered the atomic bomb, that superiority has become merely relative. The Russians may never catch up with the American lead in this one weapon. Equally, it may not be long before their smaller stock of atom bombs matched to an otherwise superior military machine may give them an overall superiority. If that day comes, and please God it never will, it will mean a shooting war.

For some time, however—and, as the Leader of the Opposition indicated, it may be a long time—American atomic supremacy, reinforced by the discovery of the hydrogen bomb, will still stand between the Red Army and the conquest of Western Europe. So long as this situation exists, we can negotiate with the Russians from strength. It must be the task of statesmanship, therefore, to insist upon a settlement with the Soviet Union while there is still time.

What should be the conditions of such a settlement; what, in fact, should be our war aims in the cold war? The root of the trouble—the cause of the cold war—lies in the enormous expansion of Russian power. In the past five years, as Commissar Malenkov pointed out in a speech last October, the Soviet rulers have increased the population under their direct or indirect sway from 200 million to 800 million. They have secured the services of German and East European scientists, officers, technicians and skilled workmen. Their resources have been enriched by the addition of Silesian industry, the Skoda works, the Roumanian and Austrian oil wells, the mineral deposits of Poland and the Balkans, the uranium of Saxony and Czechoslovakia, and the coal and iron of Manchuria. If we add to this the strength of the Red Army and the Red Air Force and the subversive power of the Communist parties all over the world, the conclusion to be drawn is that the Soviet rulers already possess so great a strength that, but for their temporary deficiency in atomic power, their dream of world conquest might already be in sight.

In these circumstances, surely, the essential condition of peace must be to reduce the power of Russia within proper bounds. We do not wish, and we cannot want, to dismember the Soviet Union or even to smash her regime. What we do want is to see her power reduced within proper bounds. This means that the Red Army must get back behind the Curzon line and that the monopoly of the Communist parties of the countries of Eastern Europe must be broken. Of course, it is not enough merely to compel the withdrawal of the Russian Armies and to break the monopoly of the Communist parties; we have to fill the vacuum created by the destruction of Germany. We have got to build a Europe, not just the truncated Western Europe of today but a whole Europe which will embrace all the countries which by tradition, by history and by interest look to the West.

How are these aims to be fulfilled? Plainly, the first step must be to convince the Russians that we are determined to accept nothing less than the reunion of Eastern Europe to the body politic of Western Europe as it stands today. This calls for negotiations at the highest possible level. If such negotiations should prosper, they will bring immense blessings to all mankind; if they should fail, then, at least, we should all know where we stood and could make our plans accordingly. Nothing but good, it seems to me, can come from such initiative, and that is why, along with many others, I must join in deploring the action of the Foreign Secretary in describing as a “stunt” the proposal made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his speech at Edinburgh.

The Prime Minister has told us that such negotiations should be conducted through the usual channels: that is the United Nations. But the negotiations with the United Nations have been going on for four-and-a-half years, and they have brought us to the brink of war. There is no more dangerous and perhaps no more fatal error in politics, and especially in foreign affairs, than for a Government or a Minister to remain tied to the carcass of a dead policy.

The Leader of the Opposition, in the first volume of his memoirs, described the Second World War as “the unnecessary war.” The war into which the Socialist Government are slowly drifting might be called with equal justice the “inexcusable war.” For four years the Foreign Secretary has known the nature of the Russian danger. In association with his American colleagues he has possessed the power to conjure that danger away. So far, he and they have lacked the will to act. Sooner or later—and the time may not be so far removed—he will also lack the power. Such persistence in error is termed by Christian moralists the sin against the Holy Ghost. In the whole catalogue of sins it is the hardest to excuse. All sins, of course, may be forgiven if repentance comes in time, but time is the essence of the situation. Last year, I was discussing these things one day with a friend while walking up and down a garden. We stopped for a moment to look at an old sun dial and on its edge I read this motto, and I commend it to the Foreign Secretary: “It is later than you think”.

Michael Ancram – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Michael Ancram, the then Conservative MP for Berwick and East Lothian, in the House of Commons on 14 March 1974.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to make my maiden speech at such an early stage in this Parliament. It is with a great respect and awe for the traditions and history of this House that I do so. I am grateful, also, for the opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr. John P. Mackintosh. He is a man of great ability, with a great knowledge of the democratic institutions of this country. He will long be remembered in the constituency which I now represent for the hard, diligent and conscientious way in which he attended to his constituents for the eight years that he represented them. He is also well-remembered and well-liked by hon. Members. I hope that they will all join me in wishing him well in the future.

I have the honour to represent a constituency which could well be described as a microcosm of the country. It contains 56,000 electors and comprises a majority of the facets of Scottish life. Although it has no coal mines, it contains several mining communities, which reflect well the problems and aspirations of the coal mining industry. It has a thriving fishing industry, but one very conscious of and sensitive to rising costs, especially the rising costs of fuel. As a vital part of our food industry it rightly looks to the Government for assistance.

Berwickshire and East Lothian has also a growing tourist industry with a great potential for increasing the prosperity of the area, consisting as it does of some of the most beautiful countryside and coastline in the Scottish Lowlands and the borders. I sincerely hope that the commercial value of the environment in my constituency will be kept firmly in mind by the Secretary of State for Scotland when he has to decide upon detailed planning applications for the construction of nuclear power stations within the constituency.

Over the past few years Berwickshire and East Lothian has developed industrially, mainly in terms of light and specialised industries, which have been successful in reversing the previous trends of depopulation and unemployment. There has been created over the past few years—I say this without complacency—the basis for a stable local economy but, at a time of economic difficulty as there is at present, such industries are the most vulnerable, and I hope that the Government will make strenuous efforts to cushion them from any stringent policies that they may adopt.

The constituency is also a rural and agricultural one, and it is on that subject that, with the House’s indulgence, I shall speak. Before I do so there is one matter on which I hope to receive an assurance from the Minister. On Tuesday the Prime Minister while speaking on the Government’s plans for oil referred to assisting passenger transport services within rural areas through adjusted selling prices for petrol and diesel oils. Be that as it may, having recognised the particular needs for such areas and the disadvantages under which they exist in terms of transport, would it be possible for the Government immediately to give financial support towards improving the public transport system in such areas, at least to meet the present needs?

I come now to the question of agriculture. It appears that hon. Members on both sides of the House are concerned about the position of low-wage groups, among whom farm workers must be a comparative example. Their position needs to be improved, and I had hoped—and still hope—that they might be assisted by the relativities machinery of the Pay Board. But farm workers work in a fractionalised industry, where each man ultimately depends on the viability of the farm on which he works. Their relatively low position is now threatening a shortage of such labour, which in turn could severely threaten home food production unless the relative position of farm workers is recognised immediately. Of one thing we can be certain: the betterment of a farm worker’s income ultimately depends on the economic viability of the farm on which he works, and many sectors of the farming industry, certainly in Scotland, are facing severe economic difficulties.

We have heard in the debate that horticulturists, and especially those in the glasshouse sector of the industry, are threatened and are already suffering from unpredictable rises in the price of fuel. I was grateful to hear from the Minister that the Government intend to take speedy action on this matter, and I hope that action will indeed be speedy, for the situation is urgent.

Pig producers, too, are facing an impossible position. During the election campaign the previous Government announced that they had placed the problem of pig farmers under urgent review. I urge the new Government to complete this review with all possible speed before this sector of the industry severely cuts back on production. Pig farmers simply cannot go on producing at a loss. In my area that loss is recognised to be about £5 per pig. No producer can carry on in this way. If pig producers are driven to cut production that must inevitably increase our national import bill.

Urgent measures are also needed to assist beef producers. They are getting between £2 and £3 per cwt. less than the suggested price last year. Apart from any question of end price support, there are more immediate ways in which help can be given to mitigate some of the producers’ costs.

Despite any difficulties arising from our membership of the EEC, I hope that the Government will review the position of subsidies on fertilisers and lime, as suggested by the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells). Retention of these subsidies—in particular, the subsidy on lime—would be of general assistance to most of the farmers in Scotland. It would help them to restrict their costs to a level at which they could hope to see a reasonable return on their farming operations.

I also urge the Government to consider the possibility of making cheap money available to farmers for expansion projects. It appears to be generally agreed by hon. Members that expansion in the agricultural industry is necessary and, indeed, that is made clear in the Gracious Speech. But that can be achieved only by providing incentives to farmers to expand their production. Although it involves an apparently debased word, that can be done only by encouraging farmers’ profits. I hope that the Government, in the national interest, will now determine to ensure the profitability and the security of the agriculture industry as a whole.

Theresa May – 2017 Statement on Barcelona Terror Attack

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, on 17 August 2017.

I am sickened by the senseless loss of life in Barcelona today. The Foreign Office is working to establish if any British nationals were involved in this appalling incident and we are in close contact with the authorities in Spain, who have our full support.

Following the attacks in Manchester and London, Spain stood alongside the British people. Tonight, Britain stands with Spain against the evil of terrorism.

Alan Duncan – 2017 Speech on Turkey

Below is the text of the speech made by Sir Alan Duncan, the Minister of State for Europe, in Turkey on 17 August 2017.

Well Minister Omer, if I may, My good friend Omer Celik.

Thank you very much indeed for your warm welcome and I’m delighted to be back here, as you say, for the fifth time since the coup attempt. I hope that illustrates not only my personal commitment to Turkey but also that of the entire United Kingdom government.

The world is a difficult and dangerous place and I think that the friendship between the United Kingdom and Turkey is an essential relationship in that difficult world. And we work together as friends and we speak to each other as friends, sometimes directly on issues that matter, some difficult issues. But always on the basis of trust.

I went just now to the Parliament building, which I went to straight from the airport when I visited just a couple of days after the coup attempt last year. And on that occasion a year ago I saw the bombed out bits of the Parliament building and I went back just now to the very same place in order once again to reaffirm the United Kingdom’s understanding of what you went through during the coup attempt and indeed the steps that need to be taken following the coup attempt to restore civility, order and secure a government in the country.

We of course are clear in our view that we want to see proportionate and sensible responses to the challenges you faced within the context of a properly working judicial and democratic system. And that is what we have said from the start and will of course continue to say.

Theresa May – 2017 Speech on HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, on board HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth on 16 August 2017.

It is a great pleasure to be here with you aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth today. Let me start by thanking you all, a great partnership of ship’s company and contractors, for your tremendous work putting this great ship through her paces during her sea trials. I know it’s been a major undertaking.

This is the biggest and most complex warship ever built for the Royal Navy. So to test her capabilities thoroughly, and to make sure that her 17 million components are working as they should, is a very big job. The fact that she was ready to come in to port ahead of schedule is testament to your hard work.

As the first generation of sailors to form this ship’s company, you have a special privilege and responsibility. You are setting the standard for those who come after you. Decades from now, when this ship is carrying our flag around the world, protecting our interests and ensuring our security, you will be able to look back on this time with pride. And the whole country is proud of you. The skill and professionalism of the Royal Navy are world-renowned. Your service is critical to our country’s security and success in the world. In doing your vital work, you and your families are often called upon to make enormous sacrifices.

I know that you make them unstintingly and that you always give of your best. Britain truly has the best sailors, marines and officers in the world and I believe that you deserve the very best equipment. That is what we have with HMS Queen Elizabeth. This ship is a symbol of the United Kingdom as a great global, maritime nation.

Clearly, she is a stunning piece of twenty-first century engineering and a true testament to British shipbuilding and design. Six shipyards from across the United Kingdom contributed sections of this vessel. In Glasgow, Devon, Tyneside, Merseyside, Portsmouth and Fife, the skill of British shipbuilders were on display in her construction. Over 10,000 people, including 800 apprenticeships, 700 businesses helped build the mighty ship we see today. We are determined to build on the success of the Queen Elizabeth class carriers with a National Shipbuilding Strategy to open up new opportunities for our great British shipyards in the future.

Britain can be proud of this ship, and what it represents. It sends a clear signal that as Britain forges a new, positive, confident role for ourselves on the world stage in the years ahead, we are determined to remain a fully engaged global power, working closely with our friends and allies around the world.

As a leading member of NATO, the foremost military power in Europe and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Britain has an enduring responsibility to help sustain the international rules-based order, and to defend the liberal values which underpin it.

To ensure we can do so effectively, we will increase defence spending every year and continue to meet NATO’s target to spend 2% of GDP on defence. Our carrier programme is an example of what that spending can deliver. As highly versatile and potent assets, they will be able to meet the widest range of challenges around the world. Whether the task be high intensity war fighting, targeted action to fight terrorism or humanitarian relief to save lives overseas, these ships will transform the UK’s ability to project power around the world.

Alongside her supporting task-group, including state-of-the-art aircraft, helicopters and escorts, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will in time give the UK a truly world class carrier strike capability for decades to come. Here in Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy and the new home of this great ship, we are surrounded by reminders of the Royal Navy’s proud past. It was from this harbour that Nelson embarked aboard HMS Victory before the battle of Trafalgar; from here the allied forces left for the Normandy beaches to defeat fascism on D-day; and from here that the task-force set sail for the South Atlantic to liberate the Falklands.

Many times in our history we have called upon the Royal Navy to defend our island and protect our interests and those of our citizens around the world. The threats we face may have changed, and naval technology advanced beyond all recognition. But in the fifty years of service to come from this vessel, we can be inspired by those traditions to face the new challenges of the twenty-first century with the same determination and resolve which have always been the Royal Navy’s hallmarks.

I hope that you can all enjoy some respite before you take the ship out of harbour again for the next phase of her sea trials, and let me once again thank you all for your service to our country.

Laurie Pavitt – 1971 Speech on Housing

Below is the text of the speech made by Laurie Pavitt, the then Labour MP for Willesden West, in the House of Commons on 16 June 1971.

The Adjournment debate provides an opportunity to raise matters which are of deep concern to constituents and which very often involve criticism of the Government. The matter I wish to raise this evening is one of profound and deep concern. However, I wish to begin by asking the hon. Gentleman who is to reply to convey to his Department and his officials the gratitude of a number of the people from my area on the way in which over the last three years they have shown far more understanding of housing problems in Willesden than perhaps has the town hall. I have been most grateful for the help which I have received in this matter. When departmental officials deal with real problems and facts, one can often get from them a greater appreciation of practical solutions than one could hope to get when dealing with the matter in purely political terms.

I wish tonight to raise a problem that affects some 614 families in Willesden, West, who live in an area that was built up in the 1930s which is known as Curzon Crescent, involving several blocks of flats and some houses.

I will try to put the problem into context. My borough probably has the most appalling housing problem in the whole of London. In March 1969, I made a plea in this House in a similar kind of debate dealing with the policy of the Conservative Administration in the town hall at that time. I shall give the House a number of facts and figures. At that time the number of people on the waiting list for accommodation was 6,943. Now, two years later, despite the pressure that was then applied, because the policy at the town hall did not change, the waiting list in my area is now 9,495, over 2,000 more than it was at that time. We operate a points scheme of allocation. In that waiting list there are 2,250 with points for medical disability; 350 are broken families, with children in one place and parents in another; 1,393 are illegally overcrowded. On 27th January, 1970, in answer to a Question from me, the Minister said that the number of designated slums was 554. In answer to another Question on 25th November, 1969, about housing starts, I was told: There is likely to be a shortfall of 1,954 housing starts on Brent’s original 1969 programme which was for 1,978 dwellings … I understand that it will be 24 only.”—OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1969; Vol. 792, c. 56.] It is that policy which has led to the present devastating situation.

An entirely new phenomenon, because of its size, is the heartbreak of homelessness. A few years ago, the country was disturbed by the television play “Cathy Come Home”. There are 149 Cathys who cannot come home in my area—112 homeless families have been accommodated by the Department of Social Services and 37 by voluntary associations. Now, for the first time, because the problem is becoming unmanageable, 10 families have been boarded out in a guest house at the ratepayers’ expense because there is no room at the inn.

There is nothing wrong with these families. They are normal families who have run into a bad patch and have no roof over their heads. The problem is aggravated because more than 100 houses have been cleared out to make way for a bypass, and in less than three weeks the remaining 17 homeless families who will be then displaced will have to be found homes. Tragedy after tragedy: broken home after broken home. My Friday night surgeries are one mass of marital problems and others arising from the fact that many families are sharing too little accommodation.

On the front page of my local paper, The Willesden Chronicle, last week was an attractive picture of two young children who were left at the council’s office at Brent House on Monday: … council officials have been unable to find their mother … The younger child is aged about six months and was dressed in pink nylon rompers with a yellow woollen coat. The other child, who is aged 18 months to two years, was wearing red and white check rompers, a matching dress and yellow anorak. Thanks to Mr. Eamonn Andrews and his television programme, we were able to trace the mother, but the family is still in need of a home. I pay tribute to Mr. H. Whalley, the Director of Social Services, who must be working day and night on the problem of the homeless.

It is the whole problem of housing to which I direct the Minister’s attention, and particularly the rehabilitation of the council estate of Curzon Crescent. Curzon Crescent was a housing development of the 1930s, but for a variety of reasons it has sunk to the bottom of the heap of housing in my area. It has a predominant number, 47 per cent., of very large families. There are inadequate amenities and the area is unpopular and unloved. At the last survey, 71 per cent. of the residents wanted to get out.

I saw the Minister in 1969, and after negotiations with the local authority the Ministry gave the go-ahead for a solution to this problem which meant refurbishing block by block and bringing the whole thing up to modern standards at a cost of £2.3 million. The crux of the scheme was to bring this run-down area back to being part of the community. We wanted not just modern homes but proper amenities, neighbourhood facilities for children, sports facilities for young people and leisure facilities for the elderly. Most important of all, if we succeed in doing doing this this large area catering for 614 families could become part of the general housing provision of the area and not the end of the road for so many people, a cul de sac that no one wanted to get into in case they could not get out again.

The tragedy is that, having received support from the Ministry, there has been a lag in getting the scheme implemented. We have a situation where, because we cannot decant families elsewhere, the builders cannot move in. We had the Chalkhill Estate to which we could have decanted people from Curzon Crescent, but, with rents at £13 a week, it was impossible. The whole of the housing programme in my area, including this refurbishing arrangement, has been put back five years. Because we had nowhere for people to go, the slum clearance, redevelopment and general improvement which is so necessary could not proceed.

I should like to quote one of the new councillors, Mrs. Mary Goudie, who has done a marvellous job and is heart and soul behind my constituents in her efforts to transform Curzon Crescent into a place worthy of them. Speaking of the present situation, she said:There is still one family left in Dudley Court. The whole of the top end is like a ghost town, and those who are left are miserable. The children are breaking into the empty flats, and the parents are worried about fires and accidents. This is typical of many areas which we want to redevelop in Willesden. For instance, I was in Melville Road on Sunday and found four houses out of a whole road in which people were still living. This means that we cannot get on with the necessary rebuilding for which sanction has been given. The delay is costly to the ratepayers and it is a bad thing for housing in Willesden.

I do not blame the Minister. I indict the previous council. If it had treated this project with proper backing from the start with contingent support work, Dudley Court would have been started months ago. The present timetable means that Dudley Court will now start in July, 1971, Dover Court in January, 1972, Pendennis Court in July, 1972, and Lulworth Court in January, 1973. The whole of this timetable should have been brought forward so that we should have been seeing the area transformed into a delightful place 18 months from now.

Despite the many deserving areas to which the Minister has to give consideration, I ask him to give high priority to speeding up what we are trying to do in the Curzon Crescent project, to ensure that there is no delay in the Department in reaching decisions on matters put to him by the new Borough Council, which is anxious to solve the problem as quickly as possible, and to confirm that loan sanction on the present projection of costs is assured and that it will be eligible for a grant of 50 per cent.

If we could get 100 new houses taken over by the council capable of housing large families with up to six children, it would be possible to decant people from the area and enable us to get on with the programme so much quicker and get rid of the boarded up derelict places which are a danger to the community.

The borough now has to make up for lost time. The previous council put the programme back at least five years. We need to weld into a neighbourhood entity a community which has been sharply divided into the “haves” of Wembley and the “have nots” of Willesden by the last council.

The symbol of success in our endeavours would be for people to be able to walk into Curzon Crescent with pride and say that it was a pleasure to live there. That has not been possible for a long time. That symbol of success is what I am seeking tonight. It is a matter to which the borough council is pledged. I wish it well in its endeavours.

I am grateful to the Minister for the understanding which he has shown in the past. I hope that he will translate his sympathy into some practical help.

Ann Widdecombe – 1997 Speech on Fox Hunting

Below is the text of the speech made by Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, in the House of Commons on 28 November 1997.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) on his choice of subject. I particularly congratulate him on his courage in introducing a controversial Bill so early in his time in the House.

I also congratulate the hon. Member for Wansdyke (Dan Norris) on his maiden speech and on having the courage to make it in such a debate. His predecessor, Jack Aspinwall, was much respected on both sides of the House. I am grateful for the tribute paid to him.

Having started on that friendly note, I should like to engage in one of my favourite sports–trying to flush out the Prime Minister. The hon. Member for Worcester told the House that the Prime Minister supported the Bill. I am pleased to hear that. Does that support extend to making parliamentary time available? I hope that I shall be assisted in the resolution of that query by the spokesman for the Opposition. I hope that he will help me to flush out the Prime Minister.

Mr. Ivor Caplin (Hove): Spokesman for the Government.

Miss Widdecombe: That is true. It takes a lot of getting used to, and it will not last long, anyway.

On 15 April–hon. Members may recall that that was in the middle of the general election campaign–the current Prime Minister, in his then role of Leader of the Opposition, wrote to the current Minister for Sport, the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks). He said:

“Our policy is to have a free vote in Parliament on whether hunting with hounds should be banned by legislation. If such a vote is passed, it will be a decision made by Parliament and parliamentary time will be made available for appropriate legislation to progress in the normal way.”

I repeat:

“parliamentary time will be made available”.

If the House passes the Bill–or at least gives it a Second Reading, as it is unlikely to pass the Bill–I hope that the Prime Minister will honour his promise and will make time available, not for a measure on licensing or some other watered-down proposition, but for the measures in the Bill. We have heard a lot of talk about what the upper House will do. I want to know what the Prime Minister will do if Parliament votes–

Mr. Peter Bradley: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Miss Widdecombe: No. The hon. Gentleman is not the Prime Minister.

I have a couple of concessions to make about the Bill. It may not be the most perfectly drafted Bill in the world, but it is a pretty good attempt. If it is possible for a lawyer of the eminence of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) to interpret clause 5 in a different way from what was intended, we shall tidy that up in Committee. What is the Committee stage for? That is a common plea in private Members’ legislation, and one that I have often made–and Labour Members have not granted it. One does not need perfection the first time, because the Committee stage is designed, elementarily, to clear up such problems.

Yes, the fox is exceptionally cruel. When it goes into a hen-house it is concerned not only with getting a good supper but with having a horrible time with the hens. Does that mean that we should take our standards from the fox? Is it proposed that, because a fox eats a couple of guinea pigs in a nasty way, the House should take its standards from the fox? I find that proposition amazing, as I have some of the other arguments advanced today.

It is argued that if we abolish hunting we will abolish jobs. If we abolish crime, we will put all the police out of work. If we abolish ill health, we will put all the nurses and doctors out of work. Does anyone seriously suggest that we must preserve at all costs crime and ill health because they keep people in jobs?

We are told that there must be consensus before we lock people up, that if there is a large body of opinion that says that something is okay, we must not lock up the practitioners. What about the legalisation of cannabis? A sizeable body of opinion, with which I am totally at odds, says that cannabis is all right. I defend to the hilt society’s right to lock up the purveyors of cannabis. I defend also to the hilt–although this will not be so acceptable to Labour Members–our right to lock up people who did not pay their poll tax when it was a lawfully levied tax.

If this democratically elected House decides that hunting is against the law, it is our right to exact penalties against those who fight the law. We will be penalising not the fact that they like to hunt but the fact that they break the law. I do not believe that the sort of people who tell me that they want to carry on hunting are the sort who would wilfully break the law. There seems to be an underlying assumption that such people will go out breaking the law. Frankly, I doubt it. If Parliament changes the law, I believe that people will largely obey it and that we are entitled to take action against those who do not.

It is important to ask ourselves a simple question. Is hunting so wrong that we wish to abolish it? If it is, all else flows from that. We do not need to be concerned about jobs or liberties to do wrong; we need only ask whether it is so wrong that it should be abolished.

My problem with hunting is not that I contest the right of farmers to practise pesticide. Hunting is a most ineffective pesticide. Its supporters have tried to have it both ways by saying that they do not kill too many foxes but also that they kill so many that it is a good pesticide. In fact, nine tenths of fox control is done by shooting, not hunting.

Hunting is not a pesticide, so we must ask what it is. It is cruelty. I am not against killing foxes or culling deer. I am against the chase, the cruelty involved in the prolonging the terror of a living, sentient being that is running for its life. They laugh at it, apparently. When the deer is running, can feel the hounds closing in and knows that its strength is not going to last, it is uproariously funny. If it is so funny, why do not those who favour hunting take a trip to Kenya and stand unprotected in a lion reserve and see if they enjoy the hunt? I admit that I might enjoy watching it. Prolongation of terror is wrong. Those who practise it when there are alternatives that are already widely practised do wrong. Yes, the scenes of a hunt are splendid, so splendid that they are all over my dining room curtains, but they are colourful scenes of olde England, and in olde England, not in modern Britain, they belong.

John Whittingdale – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP for Colchester South and Maldon, in the House of Commons on 6 July 1992.

It is with great pleasure that, in this my maiden speech, I follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen), whose views I have long held in great regard. It is also a pleasure to follow my hon. Friends the Members for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Hawksley) and for Milton Keynes, South-West (Mr. Legg) and the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Keen), all of whom made excellent maiden speeches and made my task considerably more difficult.

As this is the first time that I have spoken in the Chamber it is only right that my first act should be to pay tribute to my predecessor, Lord Wakeham. For 17 years John Wakeham represented, first, the constituency of Maldon and Rochford, and then my constituency of Colchester, South and Maldon. He did so with enormous distinction in a way that won him friends throughout the area. I have lost count of the number of people who have come up to me in the past year and told me that I have a hard act to follow. But I have never doubted that they were absolutely right.

In this place, John Wakeham was perhaps better known for his role in Government. He is one of that dwindling band who joined the Government in May 1979 and has remained a member of it ever since. In that time, he has held an enormous variety of positions, but he will be best remembered for his time as Chief Whip when he set a standard against which all his successors are likely to be judged. He once described himself as the Minister for stopping the Government doing silly things. It is a cause of great pleasure to my constituents and all Government supporters that he is still in the Cabinet and still fulfilling that role.

In 1984 John Wakeham suffered severe injuries in the bombing of the Grand hotel at Brighton, which also caused the death of his first wife. I am sure that no one in the House who witnessed it will forget the moment when a few months later he walked back into the Chamber unaided. I remember listening to that event on the radio, and in particular the reception that he was given by hon. Members. It was a tribute to his remarkable courage—a courage that he has displayed every day since that terrible event.

I should also like to mention some of my other predecessors. Before 1983, the Colchester part of my constituency was ably represented by Sir Antony Buck and, before him, by Lord Alport, to both of whom my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) paid deserved tribute. Previous Members of Parliament for Maldon include Brian Harrison, who now lives in Australia but is still a regular visitor to the district. It was also once represented by Tom Driberg, who will be remembered as one of the more colourful Members of Parliament. Earlier still the constituency was represented by Mr. Quintin Dick, who is said to have spent more than any other hon. Member on bribery at parliamentary elections. I shall not follow his example, even if we do receive increased allowances for our office expenses.

My constituency stretches from the southern part of Colchester to take in the whole of the Maldon district. It is an area rich in history. Colchester was the first Roman capital of England and is Britain’s oldest recorded town. At the end of the Dengie peninsula, at Bradwell, is the chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall—one of the first Christian churches in England. It is just a short distance from Bradwell power station—the first Magnox nuclear power station to be built in Britain.

Maldon itself was made a royal borough in 1171, and almost 200 years earlier was the subject of repeated assaults by invading Danes. The battle of Maldon in 991, in which the great Saxon leader Bryhtnoth was slain, inspired a famous Anglo-Saxon poem. Last year, the battle was re-enacted as part of the millennium celebrations. The House will be glad to learn that my constituents now regard the Danes in a much friendlier light.

The recession has hit my constituents hard. The Colchester Lathe Company has announced its intention to cease production, light industrial companies throughout Essex have shed labour, and retailers, small business men, and the construction industry continue to suffer from lack of demand.

Confidence among Essex business men remains low. I am frequently asked what are the Government doing to bring about an upturn. I have always replied that it is not in the Government’s power to conjure up recovery. Only business can create lasting jobs, and it is the Government’s duty to create the right climate in which enterprise can flourish.

Having spent almost three years as special adviser to three of my right hon. Friend’s predecessors as President of the Board of Trade, I read with interest his proposals to reorganise the Department of Trade and Industry. I welcome in particular his efforts to improve communications between that Department and industry and to reduce further the regulatory burdens on business.

However, the key to recovery lies more with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As I said, it is primarily for the Government to create the economic conditions in which recovery can take place. In the words of my right hon. Friend’s amendment, that can best be done by controlling public spending, reducing taxation, relieving business of burdens, and, above all, getting inflation down. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Chancellor on his success in achieving that aim, and agree that nothing must be done to jeopardise the progress made so far. I hope, however, that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will take the earliest possible opportunity to reduce interest rates again. With inflation falling, the real level of interest rates is actually rising, which is adding to the difficulties facing my constituents.

I hope also that when interest rates fall again, that will be reflected in the rates charged by banks to small business men. I am concerned that too often they tell me that, despite the nine reductions in interest rates, the interest on their loans has not fallen accordingly—or that they have had to pay more in other charges.

The other essential requirement for recovery is continued control of public expenditure. In that, I agree absolutely with my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West. It is understandable at a time of recession that the public sector borrowing requirement will increase. Although it is higher than I would like, I am reassured that it is less than the average under the last Government, and that it is this Government’s intention to restore it to balance in the medium term. That will not be easy. It will require my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, like Ulysses, to lash himself to the mast and to fill his colleagues’ ears with wax so that they do not succumb to the siren voices in favour of higher public spending.

If my right hon. Friend does that, and if the proportion of our gross domestic product taken by public expenditure can once again be reduced, allowing industry and the public to keep still more of the wealth that they create, then I am confident that, as the recovery gathers pace, the future for commerce and industry in my constituency and throughout the country will be bright.

Eric Pickles – 1992 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the speech made by Eric Pickles, the then Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar, in the House of Commons on 5 June 1992.

thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for this opportunity to address the House for the first time. It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Raynsford). I have read many of his articles, always with pleasure. However, having reached the end of an article, I have often, regretfully, had to disagree with him.

I pay tribute to my predecessor, Sir Robert McCrindle, who served with great distinction the people of Brentwood and Ongar, and its predecessor constituencies, in the House. He was rightly regarded by his constituents with great affection. He spoke with great authority in many debates, particularly those on financial services and aviation. His first speech was typically a battle on behalf of his constituents with regard to compulsory purchase. His last speech was, again typically, a battle on behalf of Brentwood and Ongar. He told the Government in no uncertain terms that the people of Brentwood and Ongar do not want the M12, which is blighting my constituency. As you may know, Madam Deputy Speaker, Sir Robert did not enjoy the best of health during his last few years as a Member of Parliament. Therefore, I am sure that the whole House will be pleased to know that Sir Robert is now in very good health. I am confident that both he and his wife Myra will enjoy many happy and healthy years of retirement from politics.

Brentwood and Ongar is situated about 20 miles to the north-east of this House, in the county of Essex. Since my adoption of Essex, it has become clear to me that the people of the country are divided into two—those who come from Essex and those who wish they came from Essex. For a Yorkshireman to say that is true praise indeed.

My constituency straddles the two main conurbations of Abridge and West Horndon. It has played a curious and significant part in the nation’s history. According to Robert Graves, it was the scene where a singular battle over sovereignty was fought—not over the treaty of Rome but over the treaty of the Roman legions. It was the place where the Emperor Claudius met the ancient Britons. The residents of Brentwood and Ongar were the first to see elephants on these shores. Our association with elephants continued for 2,000 years. The East India Company decided to set up its training school for elephants in Brentwood. It was there that the first, second or even third sons of the landed gentry met those huge quadrupeds for the first time. Stories still abound among my constituents about these bewildered members of the aristocracy losing themselves in Brentwood and Ongar.

The site of that elephant training school is now the headquarters of Ford UK and Ford Europe. Many international and national companies are to be found in my constituency. Rhone Poulenc, a French pharmaceutical company, has based its research facility in Brentwood and Ongar. It is also the headquarters of Amstrad, the computer company which has done so much to ensure that ordinary people have the opportunity to own personal computers. While retaining its traditions, therefore, Brentwood and Ongar is a constituency which looks to the future. I am proud to represent it here.

About 80 per cent. of Brentwood and Ongar’s housing stock is now in owner-occupation. The two district councils are the largest providers of rented housing for the remaining 20 per cent. In Brentwood there has been a decline of about 3 per cent. a year in the public rented sector, largely as a result of right-to-buy. There have been more than 2,000 sales since the scheme began. That is a remarkable achievement.

Public housing was largely responsible for the forming of my own political views, contrary to the political tradition of my family. I was brought up on a council estate in the West Riding of Yorkshire where my parents ran a small corner shop. As I looked at the style and condition of the houses occupied by my friends and neighbours, my conviction grew that they deserved a better landlord. I served for many years on a local authority and do not want to paint all local authorities black, but, even when they are at their most benign, they do not make good landlords. They are cumbersome and bureaucratic. Pavements remain cracked for want of inspection; window frames remain unpainted for want of a form. Brave is a tenant who decides to take matters into his own hands. To me, there is no such thing as a golden age of public housing.

Any reasonable housing policy must be based on quality, diversity and choice. Above all, it must be based on what people want. People simply want to own their own homes. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders and a recent BBC survey, 77 per cent. of the population believe that to own their own homes is the ideal tenure. I have heard hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber argue that the British obsession with wanting to own one’s home is wrong. That message is particularly hard to swallow when it is given by people who come from families who are second, third or even fourth generation owner-occupiers. Perhaps my socialist ancestors would approve of what I think about those sentiments: what is good enough for the toffs is good enough for the workers. People have the right to own their own homes. We have an obligation to ensure that they can do so.

I welcome the Minister’s reference to the rents-to-mortgages scheme. I understand and fully appreciate that it will not have the same impact as right-to-buy, but it will enable people, just one or two steps down the housing ladder, to own their own homes. I expect more people thereby to achieve their goal of home ownership. Nevertheless, I recognise that, for reasons of mobility and disposable income, some people may not want to buy. To offer diversity and choice represents a great challenge to both the Government and local government. It is a reflection of the greater challenge that faces the Government, which is to ensure that choice, freedom and opportunity are taken further down the social and economic ladder.

I am especially pleased that my hon. Friend the Minister mentioned the concept of empowerment, which is the key to tenants’ rights. We need to ensure that there are methods other than purchase by which tenants can exercise choice and enjoy freedom.

The more tenants are involved in the running of estates, the better those estates will be. And the more officials are removed from their air-conditioned towers and work and manage from estates, the better the estates will be. When I talk to housing officials, I sometimes feel that they regard estates as distant colonies—that there is a new form of colonialism, with the inspector going round once a month. If people have to drive past graffiti, cracked paving stones and holes in the road, those problems suddenly assume the importance that they should and suddenly the council gets round to doing something about them. I believe that the area management of estates is vital—just as important as the tenants charter.

I welcome the promise that, in the autumn, the right to repair will be improved, because at present the provisions are a little cumbersome and difficult to understand. Will my hon. Friend the Minister give his attention to, and perhaps also give us some further details on, the right of improvement? If people are to have the opportunity to use their own homes as their own homes, we must ensure that, when they decide to leave them, they are financially compensated for the improvements that they have made. If anything, the present right of improvement poses more difficulties than the right of repair and I should welcome a commitment to improve that right in the legislation.

I believe that council housing is now moving into a different age. Too much energy has been wasted on trying to find ways round regulations, on trying to prevent tenants from buying their own homes and on trying to stop housing action trusts coming into being. If just a quarter of that effort and vitality had been put into ensuring that tenants had a better deal and more opportunity to decide the way in which their homes, environment and estates were managed, the stock of public housing would be materially better than it is today.

Jim Paice – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Jim Paice, the then Conservative MP for Cambridgeshire South-East, on 3 November 1987.

In rising to address the House for the first time I am mindful of the honour and privilege of being a Member of it. The trepidation with which I make my first speech is tempered only by the knowledge that even the greatest statesmen who have served the country have had at some stage in their careers to rise and address the House for the first time.

Indeed, I follow in the footsteps of a great statesman: Francis Pym represented the old constituency of Cambridgeshire and, more recently, Cambridgeshire, South-East, for some 26 years. During that time he occupied many of the highest offices in the land, and for all that time he served both his constituency and country to the very best of his ability. He did so in a way which is an example to us all, and which I shall find it very difficult to emulate over the years in which I hope to represent my constituency. It is only right and proper that Francis Pym has now taken his place in the Upper House, where his counsel can still be heard.

The constituency that I am proud to represent includes many of the features that are at the forefront of Britain’s revival. In it have taken place, and are taking place, many of the technological developments and the advances in research that are at the forefront of our economic recovery. The enterprise culture has blossomed and boomed there perhaps more than in any other part of the country. The very atmosphere seems to breathe and encourage success. However, it is a very large constituency and, geographically, a very rural one—stretching from the Essex-Suffolk border to around Newmarket and taking in the vast majority of that great centre of the British bloodstock industry, and extending upwards into the Fens and the city of Ely, including the magnificent cathedral that makes it the centre of tourism in that part of Britain.

However, the area has its problems. Fortunately. they are the problems of success. The pressures of development. if not handled properly, threaten to destroy the very fabric of our community. There is a further problem: the businesses that are currently booming, expanding constantly and providing massive numbers of extra jobs face an even greater threat to their continued development. The great perversity of our current economic scene is the shortage of skilled staff. That is why I am addressing myself to the Bill, and particularly to part II, which deals with training. I am sorry that much of the vehemence of the Opposition is concentrated on part I. I can only assume that they support most of the section on training, which, in my view, is of much longer-term importance to the country. I welcome the clauses on training and the greater emphasis placed on it by my right hon Friend in appointing a Training Commission.

Before I was elected, I was general manager of a company specialising in training and management development. My duties included running a substantial youth training scheme and many other MSC schemes. I also served for a time as a member of an area manpower board, and I have seen many of the MSC schemes from different perspectives. In my view, the youth training scheme that my right hon. Friend has already developed is one of the Government’s greatest achievements over the years since they were elected in 1979. However, I have a few caveats.

First, and probably most important, if, as we all hope, the number of young people in strict unemployment is coming down, partly because of the improving employment picture and partly because there are slightly fewer school leavers, the challenge to us all to ensure that the youth training scheme continues to develop is even greater as the necessity for it appears to diminish. The YTS is not concerned merely with keeping people out of the dole queue, which is the accusation thrown at it by those who wish it ill. More important, it is a means of ensuring that all young people who leave school at the age of 16—or, now, at 17—whatever their level of academic ability or achievement, can go into work and gain the skills that are necessary for work. That does not mean only the manual and practical skills, essential though they are. It also means the skills of working discipline—personal skills, which are equally important to holding down a job and doing it well. All those skills are vital if young people are not only to obtain jobs in the future, but to play a full and lasting role in Britain’s economy.

Many firms and businesses with which I have been associated understand that and use YTS as the normal route of entry for 16-year-olds, not simply as a means of paying only £28.50 a week. It is, of course, open to an employer to pay any figure above that minimum, and, in my experience, many do so. The framework of YTS provides an opportunity of training in a combined programme lasting for up to two years, to ensure that when young people reach the age of 18 they have learnt many of the basic skills that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their working career. That is a good basis on which to build, and I hope that in the next few years the Training Commission will take steps to develop it into a three-year scheme. It would then compare favourably with the apprenticeship schemes that it is now replacing in many industries. It is a pity that only about 10 per cent. of trainees have formal employee status, as opposed to trainee status, and I hope that the commission will set an increase in that figure as one of its chief targets over the next few years.

My second caveat is that we must ensure that industry takes up its own responsibilities for training. One of the sadnesses that I faced in my career, until my election, was the low level of importance attached by some industries to training. They pay considerable lip service to it, but when it is time to come up with the goods they are found wanting. That is their loss and the loss of the country and the economy.

It is no use threatening to institute massive levies on every business so that the Government, through some different arm, can redistribute and dispense those levies as they see fit. Contrary to what we have hard, and no doubt will hear again, it just does not work. Seen from the grass roots, it is not a good use of resources. What we have to do is to encourage, persuade and cajole industry to recognise its own responsibilities for the development of its staff — to recognise that it must make a major investment, which is worth every penny. The most important investment that a company can make is in training its staff for the future.

As the number of people on the youth training scheme declines, the Government and the Training Commission will be tempted to begin to reduce the financial input. I know that it is the Government’s policy to move the burden of training more to the employers. That is right, and is as it should be, but we must be careful to ensure that we do not go too fast too soon. We must make sure that the slack is gradually taken up by industry so that the developments that have been at the forefront of the advances in the youth training scheme in the last few years are not lost.

Even with inflation down to its present highly satisfactory level, the costs of training, especially in rural areas, where YTS trainees can be spread over many square miles, are considerable. Like everything else, the costs keep rising and I hope that my right hon. Friend will recognise the great cost and only gradually shift the burden to the employers. The burden should be shifted, but we must not do it too quickly, because if we do something will be lost in the middle.

My final caveat is that the development of YTS in the last few years has spawned a number of private training operators. I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), who has left the Chamber, and noted the cynical way in which he spoke about privatised training. One of the major factors in the success of the scheme has been the development of private training operators, often in competition with established colleges of further education. Many colleges succumbed to the temptation of simply tacking the YTS on to their existing courses of study. Over and over again that failed miserably, because the very ethos of YTS and its concepts of integrating work and training into a combined package and of appraisal and assessment were new and could not simply be tacked on to existing programmes.

Fortunately, professional trainers were there, as opposed to professional educators. They were able to take up the opportunities offered and in many cases they forced colleges of further education to recognise the great differences. The colleges now understand that if they are to run the youth training scheme and provide the level of service that young people deserve and require, a rethink is necessary. The results of that rethink are now beginning to show in the efforts of many of those traditional providers.

In the proper shifting of the burden that is bound to come, I urge my right hon. Friend to make sure that private providers are not put at risk. We have already heard expressed the great antipathy of the area manpower boards, the trade unions and the established institutional providers against the private sector. It would be a great shame if private sector competition were lost. The private sector has taken great steps towards moving the whole ethos and understanding of the skills of training forward into the future. It is not good enough for the Opposition to say that we should hark back to 1974 when the Manpower Services Commission was first developed. Today, everything to do with training is totally different, because training is a different ball game. The skill training profession has moved a whole street ahead of where it was in 1974. We must recognise that. There is no point in looking back, because in those days training did not do half the job that it professed to do.

I welcome the clauses in the Bill to ensure that every young person will have the opportunity to train and to make a responsible choice. They will be able to go into the planned programme of training and work provided by the Government, or choose to be unemployed. The social security changes that were given their Second Reading yesterday are welcome. It is estimated that about 6 per cent. of young people refuse YTS and that about 7 per cent. pull out of the scheme because they believe that it is doing them no good. That is about 40,000 people a year, and we must try to reduce that figure. If the young people who dither and wander, or who become sceptical or disenchanted with YTS, are to be persuaded that the scheme has something to offer, we must make sure that the developments that have taken place in the last four or five years continue at the same pace.

The opportunities are there and the importance of the YTS has not diminished even though, perhaps, its original purpose begins to fade. We must ensure that industry takes up the challenge of using YTS as the normal route for training and accepts the responsibility for gradually paying a greater share of the costs. We must ensure that young people will accept the concept of YTS as being in their best interests. We are already moving fast down those roads. If we can do those things we will have taken the first step towards ensuring that the successful, booming industries and businesses in constituencies such as mine are not continually faced with the problem of a shortage of skilled staff. Sadly, such shortages are even now beginning to hamper development. That is not in Britain’s interests, and I urge my right hon. Friend to ensure that the skills are available for the future.