Simon Kirby – 2010 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

The maiden speech made by Simon Kirby, the then Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, in the House of Commons on 3 June 2010.

I shall be brief, in the hope that I might catch your eye again in the near future, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I am delighted to rise to speak today as the new Member for Brighton, Kemptown, the sixth in the 60 years that the seat has existed. Brighton, Kemptown, as we know, is very close to Europe, and I have to tell the House that in 1514 the French invaded the town of Brighton at the time and razed it to the ground. I am not surprised that even 500 years later, many of my constituents are still suspicious of our relationship with Europe.

Tradition dictates that I should thank my predecessor, Des Turner of the Labour party. For 13 years, he was the MP for Brighton, Kemptown, and I have to say that he did a good job. He worked hard and was an excellent constituency MP. In this House, his experience as a scientist was put very much to use, and I hope, as a mathematician, that I might follow him in that regard.

I should also like to pay tribute to his predecessor—not Dennis Hobden, who was the first Labour MP in Sussex, having won by seven votes, nor David James, the man who pursued the Loch Ness monster, but Sir Andrew Bowden, the MP for Brighton, Kemptown, from 1970 to 1997, a friend of mine and an excellent constituency MP.

Let me tell hon. Members about Brighton, Kemptown. It is without doubt one of the best seaside destinations not only in this country, but in Europe. It attracts 8 million visitors and many conferences. Many of us in this House will have enjoyed the hospitality that Brighton has to offer. The constituency runs from the Palace pier to Peacehaven, and from Moulsecoomb to the marina. It is, in my opinion, the best part of Brighton and Hove city, and the best part of East Sussex. Whitehawk has had human inhabitants for thousands of years. My hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier) mentioned the Domesday Book; Brighton appears in it, and there is a fantastic Norman church in the village of Ovingdean. I have mentioned the French invaders, so we will move on.

Brighton has a large lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and I am proud and honoured to have the opportunity to represent it and the constituency in Parliament. It has a race course and the leafy suburbs of Woodingdean, Rottingdean, Saltdean, Telscombe Cliffs, and Peacehaven. It has older people and younger people. It has two universities. It has a hospital—designed, incidentally, by Charles Barry, the architect of the building in which we stand. It has a grade II listed lido in Saltdean, and one of the largest marinas in Europe, which I very much hope will remain a marina.

I am honoured, humbled and privileged to represent Brighton, Kemptown. It is an exciting, diverse and happening place, and I hope to do my very best.