Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Robbie Moore, the Conservative MP for Keighley, on 5 February 2020.
It is a pleasure to make my maiden speech as the new Member of Parliament for Keighley and Ilkley and to be making it in a week full of optimism, as we go forth as an independent nation.
It is an awesome feeling to be standing here speaking in this place, having started my role in politics in local government. I will never forget the moment when I walked in here for the first time, with goose bumps on my shoulder, and took my place on these Green Benches. But before I go any further, I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, John Grogan, an incredibly decent and kind gentlemen. John served the constituency well for two years after being elected in the 2017 election, and I wish him the best in his new endeavours beyond politics.
It must be said that of all of my colleagues in this place I am honoured to be the one who represents the most incredible part of our country. Keighley and Ilkley has a little bit of everything, from the windswept heather and moor, farmed courageously and with passion by many farmers, to the urban landscape of Keighley, once the epicentre of the textile industry and now harbouring fantastic businesses at the forefront of manufacturing, engineering and technology. We are home to the Keighley and Worth Valley railway. We have the first public library in England funded by Andrew Carnegie. We are home to the mighty Keighley Cougars and to Timothy Taylor’s, which produces some of the finest ale this country has to offer. We have many talented and hard-working people from across the world in my constituency, from the many Italians and eastern Europeans, to the Indian population and the strong and proud Pakistani community. Striving for peace and respect for the rights of my constituents’ families in Kashmir will be one of my priorities in this place.
Towards the north of the constituency lies the beautiful spa town of Ilkley, with an array of independent shops, and even a Bettys tea room. Across the constituency, whether in Keighley, Ilkley, the Worth valley, Riddlesden, Silsden or Steeton, it is the people and their passion for and pride in the place that shines through. I think of people such as Ben Barns, a constituent in his early 20s in the process of setting up his first business, as a butcher in Keighley’s market hall, or Steve Kelly and his team at Keighley College, who are passionate about ensuring the young people in my constituency have the very best start in life—I was inspired by their “can do” attitude and willpower to raise aspiration on a recent visit—or the Ilkley Clean River campaign group, who through their own drive and determination have made national headlines by applying pressure on Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency to ensure that our River Wharfe flows sewage free and has bathing water status. I could go on. It illustrates that it is incredible people who are the real catalyst for driving positive change. I am honoured to represent a constituency that has so many.
On the subject of this debate, local government is vital, but it must work and deliver for those on the ground by being truly representative of what people want. In Keighley and Ilkley, things are not quite working. For too long, Keighley has sat in the shadows of Bradford, with a feeling of being forgotten, undervalued and on the periphery of any real, tangible local investment offered by the Labour-run council administration, but things are about to change. Under this one nation Conservative Government, we will get on and get things done, and we are seeing that already, through our towns fund project. I will be bold and aspirational for my constituency. I am going to put Keighley back on the map as the No. 1 place to live, work and thrive. We need to revive and revitalise our town centre and get businesses booming again. We have a rich history, but our potential is so much more exciting. We have world-class manufacturing businesses based in Keighley, and now is the time to go forth and seize new trading opportunities, to become nationally—in fact, internationally—recognised as a centre of engineering excellence.
Some of our schools do need improving, and we need more special educational needs provision. Our much-loved Airedale Hospital needs a financial boost. However, all that is achievable under this Conservative Government.
I want to see Keighley as the beating heart of the northern powerhouse—the sparkplug that fires up that northern powerhouse engine. I want to see our farmers, who produce the very best food in the world, get the credit and recognition that they deserve. I want Ilkley to go even further, and to flourish as the ultimate white rose of Yorkshire. After all, it is the proud home of the official Yorkshire anthem. But in getting there, I will not be frightened of addressing some of those darker challenges that come before us. Drug crime in my constituency is a big problem which needs tackling, and the underlying issues surrounding grooming still remain and must be called out. I will not shy away from these responsibilities.
So I use this maiden speech not to talk about me, and my reasons and drivers for coming to this place. I use this key speech—my first speech in the House—to say a huge thank you to the people of Keighley and Ilkley for entrusting me with their faith to be their voice in this place. It is that trust which is lent at the ballot box, and which must now be earned. So as the only ginger male MP to enter the House through the new 2019 intake—[Laughter]—I look forward to using the inherited red fire to crack on, roll up my sleeves, graft hard to deliver real, tangible outcomes through this one nation Conservative agenda, and put Keighley and Ilkley back on the map.