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The hon. Member for Daventry for the past 23 years was the hon. Tim Boswell, a man well regarded and much respected on both sides of the Chamber and very
much so in his constituency. If I had a pound for each time someone said during the election campaign that Tim Boswell was "such a nice man" or that I would have very big boots to fill, I could have afforded not to have had any dealings with IPSA at all in my first parliamentary term. It is with some trepidation that I come to this place as the successor of a man called a saint by some in the national media, as everyone is disappointed that he chose to retire at the last general election. I am sure that all hon. Members will join me in the hope that we will get to see him working in another place very near here in the not too distant future.
I first met Tim Boswell back in the 1980s. I was working in New Covent Garden market, in my family's fruit and vegetable import and wholesale business. At about 5 o'clock one morning, a mild panic swept through the market. A number of men in suits were touring around. Obviously there was no need for people to worry because everyone there had, of course, paid all their taxes. Soon the mood relaxed when the junior Minister for Agriculture, who was in charge of wholesale markets, started to introduce himself. Yes, Tim Boswell took seriously every job he was given in government and opposition and did them better than anyone else had ever done. No one in New Covent Garden market could remember seeing a Minister beforehand and I know that no one has since.
It should be noted that the boundary Commission changed the constituency boundaries quite considerably, so the new Daventry takes in areas that were previously represented by my hon. Friends the Members for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) and for Northampton South (Mr Binley). Those Members all have excellent reputations among their former constituents, and they are all distinctive characters in this place, too.
The new constituency of Daventry has a great deal going for it, with almost 100 distinct and beautiful villages and the town of Daventry itself. Daventry, or Danetre for those who are truly local or like their Shakespeare, has its origins as a settlement back in the 9th or 10th century. It has had a market since the 12th century, which still continues to this day. The town once-but no longer, alas-had a railway station on the former London and North Western Railway branch line from Weedon to Leamington Spa, but it was closed back in September 1958. The local weekly newspaper, the Daventry Express, is nicknamed "The Gusher" after the steam engine that used to service the town.
If people know anything about Daventry, they will know that from 1932 the BBC Empire Service, now the World Service, broadcast from it. The radio announcement of "Daventry calling" made the town famous across the globe. They might also know that early in the morning of Tuesday 26 February 1935, the radio station on Borough hill, Daventry, was used for the first ever practical demonstration of radar by its inventors, Robert Watson-Watt and Arnold Frederic Wilkins.
Many beautiful villages are tucked away in the beautiful rolling countryside. Earl's Barton is the home of Barker shoes-yes, I am wearing a pair now-a stunning Saxon church and a beautiful market square housing the famous Jeyes chemist, who invented and manufactured Jeyes fluid. Brixworth, with another Saxon church, lies just a mile or so away from a factory that builds McLaren's Formula 1 racing car engines. Naseby is a beautiful
village sited beside the battlefield where a decisive parliamentary victory was won in 1645, and at Ashby St Leger the plan was hatched to blow up the House of Lords during the state opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605.
Yelvertoft, Crick, Preston Capes, Hanging Houghton, Maidwell, Draughton, Lilbourne, Watford, Winwick and West Haddon are all stunning villages in my constituency, but they are also linked by the fact that every one of them has, or has had, proposed planning applications for wind farms with turbines of up to 126.5 metres tall, which is almost the height of the London Eye. The total number of turbines suggested for this small swathe of my constituency is 53.
This debate is about energy, and I must mention the folly that is onshore wind energy. Not only does it dramatically change the nature of the landscape for ever-and as we have very little beautiful English countryside left, so we should try to treasure the bit we have-but it does little to help us in our battle to reduce carbon emissions. Leaving aside the damage these turbines do visually, I believe that science is not on the side of this sort of wind power. We still need to have the ability to produce 100% of our energy requirements by other means for those times when the wind is not blowing, and when the wind does stop, there is plenty of research suggesting that firing up gas and coal power stations quickly to take the slack created by the wind stopping burns those fuels so inefficiently that much of the good that has just been done is undone. I also hope Ministers will give better planning guidance to local councils that have to deal with these matters. That guidance should perhaps borrow an idea from our European friends: a 2 km exclusion zone, meaning that no turbine can be constructed within 2 km of any dwelling.
I am a great believer in renewable, sustainable and locally produced solutions to our energy problems of the future. Plenty of miscanthus grass is grown as a true biofuel across my constituency. I also believe we have to face up to the fact that nuclear energy must play a part in the medium and long term.
Across Daventry, there is also huge pressure on housing, and there is also great concern that the previous Government's top-down housing targets driven by quangos will mean building on greenfield sites and wrecking the countryside we love. I hope and expect to see this coalition Government return local planning to local people and incentivise the reuse of brownfield sites.
I imagine that everyone in this Chamber will have driven through my constituency, because the M1 carves it almost in two. At junction 18 stands Daventry international rail freight terminal, where what many people refer to as "big sheds" employs thousands of my constituents in skilled and unskilled work. My constituency is a key national hub for many large businesses, and I will always try to make the case for them in this place because I have noticed that wealth creators are often ignored, dismissed and perhaps even viewed with disdain by some in this Chamber. My constituents are excited about the proposals in parts of the Gracious Speech, especially those relating to the roll-out of high-speed broadband, because villages such as Spratton and Sibbertoft struggle to receive any connection.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye and participate in this debate. Daventry is very much a part of middle England, and I consider myself fortunate and privileged to represent it in the House of Commons.
Nick de Bois (Enfield North) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this important debate. I congratulate all hon. Members who have made their maiden speeches, but my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) raised the bar even higher with his speech. Not only was it entertaining, but it had depth and content, and I warmly congratulate him on that. I also congratulate the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on leading today's debate on the Gracious Speech, which represents a triumph of localism over centralisation and prescriptive government. That will be particularly welcome in my constituency, as I shall explain a little later.
First, I wish to say a word about my predecessor, the right hon. Joan Ryan, who served the constituency from 1997 with such distinction and with such a commitment to campaigning on behalf of her constituents. I am sure that she would wish to hear no better message of thanks than that she was a fine and welcome constituency MP. Hon. Members may recall that her predecessor prior to 1997 was the right hon. Tim Eggar, who served Enfield, North from 1979 and served for 12 continuous years as a Minister. Tim was kind enough to support me during all my campaigns-those of 2001 and 2005, as well as the more recent one in 2010. People who remember Tim will recall him as the eternal optimist, with an outgoing and friendly nature; I did not know a day when he appeared a little down. Unfortunately, his optimistic outlook was put to the test in 2001 and 2005. With that same optimism, commitment, determination and self-belief he had assured me that we would win those elections with vast majorities, so it was extremely notable that in the most recent campaign he stayed silent.
As tradition requires, I shall spend a few moments telling the House about my Enfield North constituency, which I am so proud to represent. It is a constituency of contrasts. It is London's most northerly constituency and it boasts some of the largest areas of green-belt land in its west. Many people say that it has the finest landscapes in the Greater London area. I agree with that view and I intend to work hard with local groups such as the Enfield Society, the Federation of Enfield Residents and Allied Associations-FERAA-the Crews Hill Residents Association and Friends of Hilly Fields, which, along with others, have worked so hard to preserve the character and nature of our constituency. Enfield Chase and areas such as Forty Hill have been blessed with many royal visitors during the past 400 years, the most regular of whom was Henry VIII, followed by Elizabeth I. The visits continue to the present day, but I can confidently say that nowadays most of our visitors come from the region; the area is very accessible, as it neighbours the M25.
Enfield town is, at heart, a traditional English market town, but I hasten to add that it has one unique distinction: it boasts the world's first automated teller machine-it was known as "the cashpoint" in those days. I must say that it has been far more reliable in dispensing money than some of the banks that we got used to in the last couple of years, and it is still there to this day.
Eastern Enfield, by contrast, is a much more urban scene. My constituency has a diverse population. Diversity is evident in culture, ethnicity, language and religion. More than 40 languages are spoken by children attending schools in Enfield North, including my own school, Chesterfield, of which I have been fortunate enough to be an active governor for the last four years. The same local communities bring a vibrant economic and social mix to the area, with a wonderful sense of entrepreneurial spirit. The spirit of our Cypriot, Turkish, Greek, Asian, Kurdish and Somali communities is evident if one goes down the Hertford road. As someone mentioned earlier, hon. Members are most welcome to do so, so long as they are willing to part with some money to support our local business.
Above all else, Enfield is shaped by industry. Indeed, its motto is "By industry ever stronger". This part of Enfield gave the world such things as Belling cookers, Scrabble and the first manufactured colour television, and it is of course famous for the Lee Enfield rifle, which, I believe, served the British Army until 1957. The subsequent disappearance of much of eastern Enfield's old manufacturing industry has brought its challenges and its problems. Much of that industry has been succeeded by other entrepreneurial efforts but at the heart of my ambition for Enfield is the wish to ensure that we capitalise on the strategic advantages of the constituency to attract new businesses and a new economy, to support new local jobs and, above all, to deal with the plague of youth unemployment, which is far too high in my constituency. We have particular strengths, including an advantageous location next to the motorway network, direct connections into London on the trains and, of course, Stansted airport nearby. We have excellent communications, a reliable and skilled work force and a resilient enterprise culture with a burgeoning small business sector.
We have to create and attract new industries from the high-skilled sectors. We have to attract the creative industries that will be tempted to move from London and, of course, industries from the green economy that can and should come to Enfield. If, during my term-however long it might be-I can demonstrate that I can be the No. 1 salesman for our constituency, I will be a very happy MP as I would have improved the quality of life of many of my constituents.
On taking full advantage of the strategic location of Enfield, I noticed earlier that the Minister of State, Department for Transport, was in the Chamber. Perhaps she would have anticipated what I am about to say, because she is familiar with the need for us to compete, when the finances are right, for a northern gateway access road that that will link from the M25, and take mainly industrial traffic down through our eastern corridor. I join my colleagues who spoke earlier in knowing that this will be on our agenda. It will be a win-win situation, as it will help to develop our eastern corridor for business and take away one of the harshest environmental blights in the north of the constituency where the traffic goes along Bullsmoor lane-at its peak, 150 heavy goods vehicles a minute pass residential housing. Such a measure would be a win-win for the economy and for the local environment. I am sure that that is a subject that my constituents will ask me to revisit in due course.
One of the many qualities that Enfieldians have is that they are proud-proud of their area and of their neighbourhood. Many residents have grown up and
spent all their lives in Enfield. They have strong views on their home town, and yearn for strong independent minded representation that will genuinely put their interests first and protect the environment and public services.
The localism that is evident from the Gracious Speech is one that I know the people of Enfield will welcome, so that they, and not remote politicians, can shape and influence the neighbourhood as they see fit. We were honoured when that localism was made acutely evident when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health visited our hospital, Chase Farm, within 14 days of the general election. He immediately stopped the top-down, London-led, unwelcome and unpopular reconfiguration plans for our hospital and returned the control and direction of our health care needs to residents and GPs, removing the threat of forced closures. That was a welcome demonstration of localism and of the new Government in action. That same localism is proposed across other key areas that dominate people's day-to-day lives, including planning, which can literally have an impact on the street they live on. The Queen's Speech marks the first real opportunity for an MP to work with his constituents, local authorities and public bodies to shape their neighbourhoods, services and environment and thus deliver real improvement to quality of life for all. I welcome that challenge and opportunity, as will my constituents. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for allowing me to speak today.
Stephen Mosley (City of Chester) (Con): May I be the first to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield North (Nick de Bois) on his entertaining and interesting speech? May I also thank everyone else who has made a maiden speech today? I have learned a lot and I hope that hon. Members will learn a bit from me too.
In the few weeks that I have been here, I have been absolutely amazed that almost every Member I have spoken to, on hearing that I represent the City of Chester, has delighted in telling me of their happy trips to my city. Whether they have been to Chester races, studied at the law college or been there for a romantic weekend away, they have all, without exception, left with a wonderful memory of their visit.
I am proud to say that Chester has always welcomed visitors. Our first recorded visitors were the Romans, who established the legionary fortress on the lower reaches of the River Dee, built the city walls, laid out the road network and enjoyed themselves at the amphitheatre so much that they stayed for almost 400 years. In AD 973, King Edgar came to Chester and established himself as the King of all England when he got the kings of the other northern kingdoms to row him up the river and he started to lay the foundations of what is now the United Kingdom. That marked the start of the long relationship between the city and the Crown that Chester has enjoyed for more than 1,000 years.
The Normans came to our city, built a castle and our magnificent cathedral and then used the city as the base for their conquest of north Wales. The English did not get it all their own way, however: several times the Welsh raided the city, destroyed the bridges across the river and burned down many buildings outside the walls. It is from that period that our famous statute
came into force, which forbids Welshmen from entering the city walls after dark and allows those who are in the city at night to be legally shot with a crossbow. Apparently, that statute was never repealed. Fortunately, we live in happier times and, except for the one day of the year when Chester play Wrexham at football, we live in friendship with our Welsh neighbours.
Speaking of football, I must congratulate my predecessor, Christine Russell. When Chester City football club went into administration earlier this year, she was at the forefront of the campaign to bring football back to Chester. I am proud to say that at the start of this month the supporters group City Fans United established a new Chester football club, and we can now look forward to football returning to the Deva stadium in the autumn. Much of that is due to the hard work that was put in behind the scenes by the previous Member for the City of Chester.
Christine also championed international development and improved child care, but she will be most remembered in Chester for her conscientious casework in the city and the help that she gave to so many local people. I have known her for more than 10 years, and although we had many disagreements over politics, I salute the good work that she did locally and I know it is not going to be easy to follow in her footsteps. I have also been delighted by the good will that still exists on both sides of the Chamber towards Christine's predecessor Gyles Brandreth and his predecessor Sir Peter Morrison, and I hope to be a worthy successor to them all.
Chester is the jewel in the crown of the north-west of England, but there is still much that we need to do. Our Gateway theatre closed down in 2007 and we need help to ensure that our dream of having a new theatre and performing arts centre in the city is delivered. I was particularly pleased to hear that the new Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport had promised that lottery funding would be restored to the arts, thus providing many opportunities for towns and cities such as Chester to improve their arts facilities.
We are also lucky to have in the City of Chester Chester zoo, which is one of the leading visitor attractions in the country and a world leader in animal conservation. It has big plans to expand to help to conserve more endangered species, and I look forward to championing it and its good work within Parliament.
Our ancient city walls, our amphitheatre and the mediaeval rows have all been neglected in the past and now need us to protect and champion our heritage. That is why I will be supporting a bid, put in by the local Conservative council, to obtain world heritage site status for the city centre.
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