|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Stewart Hosie (Dundee, East) (SNP): I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Doran), and particularly the reference to his football team. I am sure that we will both be able to support the same team in the Scottish cup final on Saturday. I am sure the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. McGovern) will be backing the same local team.
I was particularly taken by the comments of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Paul Rowen) about the Manchester metrolink and I was impressed that a Liberal Democrat managed to find an issue where he could equally blame the Labour and Conservative parties. I was impressed with his maiden speech.
It is with a great sense of honour that I make my maiden speech in this House today, and with a deep sense of gratitude to the electors of Dundee, East, who
23 May 2005 : Column 500
have given me to the opportunity to serve them in this Parliament for as long as it lasts. I wish to pay tribute to my two predecessors in the seat; there are two because of boundary changes. The first is the Labour candidate Ian Luke, who, for the last four years, served two thirds of the new Dundee, East constituency. The second is my hon. Friend the newly returned Member for Angus (Mr. Weir), who, in the last Parliament, served the electors of Carnoustie, Monifieth and Panbride, which are now in my constituency. Both men ably represented the constituents of the new Dundee, East seat and I thank them both for their work.
The new constituency created by the boundaries is in many ways a microcosm of much of the east coast of Scotland. From the tiny village of Panbride in the north, the constituency runs down the North sea coast, through Carnoustie, with its world famous championship golf course, the seaside town of Monifieth and the prosperous borough of Broughty Ferry, down the coast of the firth of the Tay, through the docks, harbours and industry to the new housing development on the old quays, past the retail centres and into Dundee city centre. From there, the western boundary heads towards the county town of Forfar. Before reaching there, at Finlarig hill, it sweeps eastward to take in the rich farmland and the many small villages of Sidlaw, east and, from there, back to the coast.
This constituency provides a first-class environment and, for many, a very high quality of life. I am concerned that all of my constituents should have the opportunity to share in that high quality of life. Within this boundary lives a generous and industrious people. The constituency contains the gentle beauty of much of the east coast of Scotland and, within the city, the vibrancy that one would expect from a two-university town.
Hon. Members may be aware that Dundee and Abertay universities recruit their students from furth of the city, of Scotland and of the UK. In considering the proposed legislation on immigration and asylum, I am concerned that no decisions be taken here that weaken the ability of Dundee to retain many of the highly skilled graduates that the city creates and who are required to strengthen Dundee's economy and to stop the decline in the city's population.
I have said that the constituency offers a high quality of life for many. Unfortunately, it has others who suffer from too many of the problems faced by many of our towns and cities. Many of the 45 Bills to be considered in this Session will have an impact on the lives of the people in the city and throughout the constituency. In Dundee, East, male unemployment, at 10 per cent., remains stubbornly high. In a number of wards, large numbers of people remain wholly dependent on benefit and in parts of the citysome of the wards in my constituencyone in three children lives in a household in which no one has a job.
In considering the proposed housing benefit and incapacity benefit legislation, I hope that the measures proposed to allow mobility and to help people back into work are sensitive and offer genuine support for my constituents to get into work. I know that there are many real barriers to people leaving benefit and getting into work, not least the fear of additional debt in the early weeks and months after coming off benefit. I hope
23 May 2005 : Column 501
that the planned legislation properly addresses the concerns and needs of those seeking to leave benefit and return to work.
I also hope that in making changes in the company law Bill, which is designed to make the creation of a company easier, the Government understand that for ambitious people who are trying to create businesses, it is not the mechanics of starting the firm that are the difficulty, but the lack of access to capital. Indeed, for many ambitious and talented people who have ideas and vision in my constituency, access to capital to start and grow businesses remains almost wholly elusive.
Within the boundaries of Dundee, East, the Black Watch statue stands proudly on Powrie brae as a permanent memorial to the courage and sacrifice of the many men who gave their lives in that old and proud single-battalion regiment. There was great consternation at the time of the announcement of the merger of the Scottish regiments. I am sure that the issue will be raised again, because there remains deep concern at the merger of all Scottish regiments and the treatment of the Black Watch in particular.
The constituency of Dundee, East holds a dear place in the hearts of the Scottish National party. In the Scottish Parliament, the seat is held by Shona Robison, MSP, the SNP shadow Health Minister, who is also my wife. For the 13 years between 1974 and 1987, it was held by Dr. Gordon Wilson, a previous national chairman of the Scottish National party. I have a great deal to live up to.
In his maiden speech on 13 March 1974, Dr. Wilson made a number of suggestions to the then Labour Government. The first was that with North sea oil exploration in its infancy, if investment was made in manufacturing in Scotland, we could live off the benefit of that, exporting skills and products long into the future. Today, with renewable technology in its infancy, I am sure that Dr. Wilson would argue that if the Government support investment in Scottish manufacturing in that sector, we could live off the benefits of exporting skills and products around the world long into the future, so that the natural lottery win of renewable energythe offshore wind sector in particularlasts Scotland for a long time indeed.
Dr. Wilson's second suggestion was support for the Hardman report, which called for the dispersal of civil service jobs from the centre. As of June last year, Dundee had only 1 per cent. of the core civil service jobs in Scotland. We remain wholly committed to the dispersal of civil service jobs from the centre. Even though it has been 31 years since we last won a seat from Labour in a general election, the campaign remains as live and valid as it did on 13 March 1974.
Right hon. and hon. Members may be aware that the Dundee, East constituency takes in communities from two local authority areasDundee City council and Angus council. I said in my acceptance speech that I intend to serve the constituents of each equally, irrespective of who they voted for, of where they live or of any boundaries. I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your time and the House for its consideration. I hope that my contributions in the Chamber and my work in the constituency will allow me to honour that commitment.
23 May 2005 : Column 502
Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Hall Green) (Lab): I warmly congratulate the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Stewart Hosie) on his speech. He clearly did his homework. We heard enough to demonstrate that he will be an asset to his party and the Chamber. I also congratulate all other hon. Members who made their maiden contributions.
However, I want to single out one speech that I heard in the course of the five hours or so that I have been listening to the debate. I happen to disagree with almost everything that the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) had to say, but he said it superbly well and demonstrated what a pro he is. He made it clear that this Chamber is the venue for political argument and debate, not the TV studios or the newspapers. He did us all a service by making that contribution.
I welcome the Government's approach to law and order. We have been tough-minded and have ducked none of the difficult decisions. We do not have to take any lessons from the Conservatives on law and order. When they were last in power, the reality was that crime doubled. When their current leader was Home Secretary, he ducked the difficult issues. He blamed his prison chief when things went wrong and dumped on his ministerial colleague when he should have been man enough to stand up and accept the blame. My honest judgment is that the shadow Home Secretary demonstrated today that he is not tough enough to display the leadership skills that are required if he hopes to be Prime Minister or Home Secretary. He has to get off the fence. It is quite simple.
Now, by contrast, our Home Secretary is a consensual politician. He is a man of the utmost integrity and one whom I have been proud to work with. I can say to him clearly and bluntly that whenever he has to take tough decisions, I will back him and support him, even if those decisions are unpopular, because one has to do the right thing when it is required. Saying that, I hope that my ministerial colleagues will recognise that some criticisms that I will make later in my contribution are well intentioned. I make them because I think that they should be heard; they are intended to be constructive.
I want to make a simple observation about the general election: we won the arguments in the general election. It is pure fantasy for a party that gained fewer seats than Michael Foot did in Labour's disastrous 1983 election to claim a partial victory. It is a figment of the Leader of the Opposition's imagination. The scriptwriters for "Doctor Who" could not come up with a better storyline; it is complete and utter nonsense. I have to sayI am angry about itthat the fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had the cheek to call our Prime Minister a liar during the election was a disgrace, and it damages the politics of this country. The Leader of the Opposition's whole election campaign was based on spin and fantasy, and the British people rejected it. He should come to terms with that.
I turn now to some key points in the Queen's Speech. I believe that ID cards are right, and the Government will have my total support when the Bill is reintroduced. It is ridiculous that the major Opposition party can attempt to abdicate responsibility on an issue of this importance; it beggars belief. It is absurd for the Liberal Democrats to take an as yet unidentified sum based on
23 May 2005 : Column 503
a charging system that they are opposed to and pretend that they would then use it for a different purpose. That is complete and utter nonsense, and you will not be able to get away with it. You said during the election
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|