The area is famous for its football and its nylons, its broadcasters and businesses, its brewers and the Brompton folding bicycle, its impresarios and inventors. Lubricated
by some decades of Fuller's brewing, we are the silicon valley of west London with some of the most prestigious high-tech, media and pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, which is now prospering on Brentford's golden mile. I hope that the area, which was the motor of the new prosperity in the 1930s with Hoover and Gillette, will power the new economic era that this Government are eager to create.
The constituency has been home to many notable residents over the years, including the famous artists William Hogarth, Turner, Pope, Yeats and Vincent van Gogh. It is also home to Brentford football club, which is rightly proud of its ninth place in its first season in league one, although it is naturally aiming for the premier league. I am ever the optimist. The club has recently been awarded the prestigious community mark by Business in the Community-the first English football league club to be recognised with that award for its outstanding work in the community.
Multicultural and cosmopolitan, the Brentford and Isleworth constituency is a harmonious cohesion of communities and an example to the rest of the country. I am proud to represent such a diverse and historic constituency. It is a place that demonstrates what London is all about and has a history almost as exciting as its future. It is a unique and vibrant place that people travel to and through, and preserving the balance of those two groups is vital. I am delighted that both the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London have supported the campaign against the third runway, and have already delivered on that election promise. Quality of life is something that should be above politics. I hope that all my election promises will be as easy and quick to implement.
At the election, my constituents voted for change, and this Parliament represents the biggest change in Members for many years. It is a new Parliament in more ways than one. It must adapt to changing times and adopt different methods. If it is new politics, it must also be genuine change. Let us be the change that we want to see in the world.
I am sure that most hon. Members would agree that we need to rebuild trust in politicians. To do this, this place needs to be representative of the communities it serves. In one important respect, this House has further to go. Women remain a minority in this place, but are a majority in the country. That cannot and should not be the case. For many years I have been, and will continue to be, an advocate of encouraging more women into politics, irrespective of their views. Imagine how different the world would have been if another woman, in another London seat and in another time, had decided that the odds were insurmountable. Small in number we may still be in this House, but there is an old saying in business-"If you want a job done well, give it to a busy woman."
Our task in this House is not only to rebuild people's trust in politics but to rebuild the economy. We face many and significant challenges as we attempt to tackle the national debt and set our country firmly on the journey to recovery and prosperity that we all want. We must do that if we want to address poverty. We now have a coalition Government to lead us through these difficult times. I hope that all hon. Members will do
everything in their power to put country before party and work together to find the right solutions. These are the things that not only unite us as politicians, but as people. I wholly endorse the coalition and the work that needs to be done together for the sake of the nation, but I will also never forget that I was elected as a Conservative. I will stay true to the principles and values that I hold dear and that I know will help this House in bringing about the changes that are needed in the years ahead. We cannot be less than what we are.
As a coalition, we may have to make decisions that are unpopular, but the measure of a politician is not popularity, but the great and good causes they fight for. At the heart of why hon. Members are here in this Chamber today is a vision of a different world-a world in which children can aspire and succeed whatever their background may be; where those who are ill or infirm are supported, helped and cared for; and a world in which people have aspirations to be the best and can achieve their goals and dreams. It is a world with compassion for those in real need. That is what I want to bring to this great country of ours, and I will spend every moment on these Benches seeking to deliver it, locally and nationally.
Our debate on poverty today addresses these issues. First, I wish to say a quick word about international poverty. As a former ambassador for ActionAid, I believe that whatever economic difficulties we face nationally, we must not neglect our responsibilities as a civilised nation to act to reduce world poverty. Hunger kills 3.5 million children every year-one every 10 seconds-and we must do all we can to end it.
Even closer to home, we have issues of poverty to tackle, and that is even more important now than ever before. I see that in areas across my constituency. Currently, 2.9 million children are living in poverty in this country, which prevents them from having the fair start in life that all children deserve. We will work to change this. I agree with the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) that our first task is to ensure that we give children the best education possible and give them the skills that will make a real difference to their lives. After that, it is about cutting the deficit and creating jobs for the future, so that we can create a strong and stable future for us all.
Finally, we will face many challenges in the lifetime of this Parliament, and we must do so with the courage and energy of the new intake, allied to the wisdom and experience of experienced Members. As the new MP for Brentford and Isleworth, I will take on those challenges with enthusiasm, commitment and determination, and I will stand up for what I believe in and work hard to make a real difference to those in most need. Working together, we can achieve so much more and deliver real change for our country.
Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): I congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on your election to your post, and I am grateful to you for calling me to make my first speech to the House. I also warmly congratulate all Members, on both sides of the House, who have made their maiden speeches today on enlightening us about the many delights of their constituencies.
I am greatly honoured and humbled that the voters of Bury North have placed their trust and confidence in me to represent them. It is a great privilege. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mary Macleod), I first stood for Parliament in 1997, and I had to stand four times before being elected, which is testament to the fact that perseverance pays off. My predecessor as MP for Bury North was Mr David Chaytor, who while holding very different political views from my own, always treated me with the greatest courtesy and respect. I am sure that my constituents whom he helped during the 13 years he represented the constituency would want me to thank him publicly for the work he did on their behalf. Mr Chaytor made frequent contributions in the House, particularly on education and energy.
Prior to Mr Chaytor, Bury North constituency was represented by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt). He is still fondly remembered in Bury from the 14 years he represented the constituency, and I congratulate him on his ministerial promotion to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Bury North constituency has changed little geographically since the days when it was represented by him. The latest boundary review transferred voters in three of the four polling districts in the redrawn Unsworth ward from Bury North into Bury South. The name "Bury North" reflects the fact that the constituency covers the northern part of the borough of Bury, which was formed in the 1974 local government reorganisation, when the six townships of Prestwich, Whitefield, Radcliffe, Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington were combined to form a single metropolitan district within the Greater Manchester conurbation. It is the last three of those-Bury, Tottington and Ramsbottom-that together now comprise the current constituency of Bury North. It is, if I may say so, archetypal Lancashire territory, where the people have a strong sense of local pride, identity and community.
Bury grew quickly during the industrial revolution, on the strength of its textile and paper industries. Although those industries are now largely absent from 21st century Bury, there is much to commend it to would-be visitors. Indeed, if there are any hon. Members who have not yet booked their summer holidays, may I suggest that they need look no further than Bury? The list of attractions is wide and varied, starting with the world-famous Bury markets, where people have the chance to purchase the local delicacy, Bury black pudding. Then there is the regimental museum of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the east Lancashire railway and the wild splendour of the moors of east Lancashire, along with the Peel tower and the Peel statue, which stands in the square in front of the great parish church, commemorating one of Bury's most famous sons, Sir Robert Peel.
Much has been said of the changes that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made to the Conservative party, particularly with regard to increasing the number of women and the number of Members from an ethnic minority background in the parliamentary party. However, surely none of those changes is as noteworthy or striking as the fact that I, as a Yorkshireman from a working-class background, was selected to fight a seat in Lancashire. Although I was born in Sheffield, in common with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, I attended a comprehensive school in Rotherham. It must be something of a record, but this is the second time in less than half
an hour that Rotherham has been mentioned, as it was by my hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Craig Whittaker). In those days, Rotherham was-and it probably still is-referred to as the "Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire". [Hon. Members: "It still is."] Indeed. I am sure that there was no attempt at political indoctrination, but if there was, it clearly failed.
Let me turn to the topic of today's debate. I note that nowadays poverty comes in all sorts of technical categories. We have "severe" poverty, "relative" poverty, "absolute" poverty and "persistent" poverty, but it seems to me that, with our welfare system and the vast amounts that we spend on welfare in Britain today, there is no reason why any of our fellow citizens should be categorised as living in poverty. It is incumbent on us all to look at how we are spending our welfare budget. It is the poverty of aspiration and ambition, which is so pervasive and widespread among many in the lower socio-economic groups, that is the real problem. In that regard, I hope that perhaps my achievements can be an inspiration to others.
Finally, let me say that I intend to be a strong and independent advocate for my constituents in Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington, speaking up for them with straightforward common sense. I believe in small government, freedom for the individual, less bureaucracy and red tape, an end to political correctness and restoring the full sovereignty of this Parliament, free from control by the European Union. It is for those causes that I will be fighting during my time in this House.
Mr Marcus Jones (Nuneaton) (Con): I welcome you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to your new role, and I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make my maiden speech in the House today. I congratulate the Members who have preceded me, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall), who has just made a magnificent speech. I congratulate other Members on both sides of the House on making eloquent speeches, which I hope I can live up to today.
I must say how delighted and proud I am to be elected to represent the good people of my home town constituency. They have shown a great deal of faith in me, which I intend to repay over the course of my time in the House. I aim to be an excellent constituency representative and to work diligently for my constituents with the same enthusiasm, passion and old-fashioned hard work that I showed during the election campaign.
The Nuneaton constituency in the fine county of Warwickshire in the heart of our country was formed in 1885, following the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. From that time until the second world war, the seat regularly changed hands between parties of all persuasions. After the second world war, however, the seat became somewhat of a Labour stronghold. That lasted until the general election of 1983, by which time the seat included several wards from the borough of Rugby.
Mr Lewis Stevens became the first Conservative post-war Member for Nuneaton. He was regarded as a hard-working and conscientious Member who was one of the best attendees in the House during his time here and had an excellent voting record. He was also extremely well respected within the constituency. Mr Stevens, who still lives in Nuneaton today, has been a good personal friend, to whom I have always been able to look for
advice and support. I thank him for that. It is a great privilege for me to join Lewis in such an exclusive club as only the second Conservative Member for Nuneaton since 1935.
In 1992, I cast my first vote for Mr Stevens, although it was not perhaps the luckiest of omens because unfortunately he was sadly defeated by Mr Bill Olner. From 1992 until the Dissolution of Parliament earlier this year, Mr Bill Olner served the constituents of Nuneaton. In my experience, Bill was a reasonable and gentlemanly character, who was a loyal supporter of the Labour Government. I am aware that he seemed to be well liked on all sides of the House. He was a prominent local figure, and like my good self, before his election he served for many years on the Nuneaton and Bedworth borough council before eventually becoming its leader-a privilege that I also enjoyed. Bill was also involved in the establishment of the Mary Ann Evans hospice and is still the president of that fine organisation today. I would like to thank Mr Olner for his work and service to the people of Nuneaton, and I wish him well on his retirement.
The latest incarnation of the constituency sees the wards from the borough of Rugby that came into it in 1983 returned to the constituency of Rugby. I now formally welcome the North Warwickshire borough wards of Hartshill, Arley and Whitacre to the constituency. It was apparent during the election campaign that many constituents from these wards were mostly unaware of the boundary changes. There appears to have been a most unfortunate lack of consultation, from which the House should perhaps learn when we conduct the reorganisation that is outlined in the coalition document.
Both the urban and rural areas of the constituency at one time relied heavily on the industries of mining and mineral extraction, much of which has now ceased, with the notable exception of Daw Mill colliery- the single largest coal-producing colliery in the UK. The colliery is situated right on the border where the constituencies of Nuneaton and North Warwickshire meet.
Nuneaton itself was traditionally an industrial town known for textiles and manufacturing, but like many constituencies it has changed dramatically in the post-war period. The traditional industries have given way, and in recent years, due to its convenient geographical location and unparalleled transport links at the heart of the motorway network, Nuneaton has become an excellent distribution hub. Companies such as RS Components and Dairy Crest have their national distribution centres within the constituency. Other major companies such as Holland & Barrett have their headquarters in the constituency.
Manufacturing is still very much alive, with a number of small and medium-sized enterprises that work in the supply chain to the car, aviation and defence industries. I am aware from speaking to local business leaders that those industries depend considerably on available credit for both cashflow and development. Many have struggled through the current recession, and continue to do so. I hope very much that the new Government will be instrumental in ensuring that credit is made available to SMEs, particularly those engaged in manufacturing. They are vital to our economy, particularly in the west midlands.
Nuneaton also has a fantastic town centre which has done exceptionally well to fend off the challenges from the big cities-the likes of Coventry, Birmingham and Leicester. A key to the success of the town centre is the vibrant and historic street market, which has operated in the town since the charter of 1226 and is going strong to this day, winning the accolade of the UK's best market in 2009 and best market attraction in 2010. Those are proud achievements. However, in 2010 our traditional markets face serious challenges, and we must recognise them if the markets are to survive the test of time as they have so far.
The constituency has been home to a number of famous sons and daughters. Among the most notable is the Victorian novelist George Eliot, born at South Farm, Arbury, as Mary Ann Evans. She adopted the name George Eliot to overcome the prejudice against female writers that existed at the time. Her works include "Adam Bede", "The Mill on the Floss" and "Silas Marner". She was inspired by Nuneaton's Arbury estate, the jewel in whose crown is Arbury hall, built during the reign of Elizabeth I. Arbury hall is still recognised as one of the most authentic stately homes of the era. A previous owner of the estate, Francis Newdegate, represented Nuneaton in this very House, and the Newdegates are still the owners and custodians of the estate. Although Nuneaton is not necessarily renowned as a tourist destination, it does attract many tourists from as far afield as Japan, who come to see where George Eliot was inspired to write such great works.
Probably the most famous son of Nuneaton was the late entertainer Larry Grayson, who Members of a certain age may remember entertaining us on Saturday nights during the 1970s and 1980s as the effervescent host of television's "The Generation Game". They may recall such sayings as "Shut that door". Nuneaton is also linked to two former giants of this House, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone, fierce rivals who both owned land in Nuneaton. The original deeds with which the pieces of land were transferred are still on display in Nuneaton and the neighbouring town of Bedworth.
Nuneaton is a friendly and homely place in which to live, and on the whole still enjoys an excellent community spirit. Demographically, the constituency is very diverse. We have areas of relative affluence, but pockets of real deprivation. In fact, three wards in the constituency are in the bottom 20% in the country. Over the past 13 years the last Government made much of the need to narrow the gap between rich and poor in such wards and ensure that child poverty ended, and substantial amounts were spent during that time, but outcomes were often not proportionate to expenditure.
Although well intentioned, the last Government received very little for their money in terms of social mobility and a reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor, and they have further fuelled a culture of benefit dependency in which children grow up seeing parents and grandparents who have never worked as their role models, in which people are better off living apart than living together, and in which there is no incentive to work because of the fear of becoming worse off.
I must say that I am enthused by the coalition document, and particularly the work conducted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), with his practical and pragmatic ideas to simplify the benefits system, help people into
work, and prioritise early intervention which will help our most deprived communities. I am sure that the new Government's commitment to such measures as the pupil premium and support for further education colleges and universities will give the young people of my constituency the educational opportunity that will make them more socially mobile, raise their aspirations, unlock untapped potential and let individuals take control of their own lives once more.
I particularly welcome the new Government's commitment to providing an additional 50,0000 apprenticeships, which I am sure will engage and enthuse many young people who do not have the necessary aptitude for-or, more often, are not attracted to-further academic studies. I hope that many of those apprentices will be employed in Nuneaton. I am also convinced that there is no better way of regenerating our areas of deprivation than to create an environment in which the private sector can thrive. We must reduce regulation and business taxes and get credit moving, so that businesses can create the jobs that the skills provided by our Government will deserve.
Let me sum up by again thanking the people of Nuneaton, whom I now represent. I will work hard and to the best of my ability properly to represent them both in the constituency and in the House. I will do whatever I can to make a contribution that will have a more positive effect on their lives.