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The proposed immigration Bill sets out clearly a warm welcome to all those who want to work legally in this country, paying their taxes and contributing to their communities. It sends a clear message, however, to those who come here to work illegally and to those who aim to exploit the migrant worker.

I do not suppose that, during their first few difficult years living in this country, my parents ever thought that their daughter would become a Member of Parliament—and what an honour it is to be the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Lewes.

For those who do not know, Lewes is set in the heart of East Sussex and it is a very large constituency geographically. It includes the town of Lewes, but also the towns of Seaford, Newhaven and Polegate, and it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK.

The constituency of Lewes has a long history in the political landscape of this country. As we have heard, as long ago as 1264 Simon de Montfort fought in the battle of Lewes to set up the first parliamentary system of democracy in this country. His motto was “England for the English”. How appropriate, then, it is that this Queen’s Speech proposes Bills to deal with the issues surrounding devolution. How sad it is, though, that nearly 751 years later, this Parliament is still fighting for English votes for English laws.

Lewes is probably more famous for its bonfire societies and big annual fireworks displays. Various effigies are burnt each year, and some notable current Members have had that privilege bestowed on them—including the Prime Minister and the former Deputy Prime Minister. Last year, it was the turn of the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond), who was burnt not just once, but twice—just to make sure!

At this point, I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Norman Baker, who was the Member of Parliament for Lewes for over 18 years. Although we disagreed on a number of issues, his reputation as a hard-working constituency MP has to be admired.

The Queen’s Speech sets out a clear vision of what our country can be: a country of security and opportunity for everyone. As someone who grew up in an ordinary working-class family, who went to an ordinary state school, and who never had the chance to go to university, even when there were no tuition fees, I was taught by my parents the Conservative philosophy that those who work hard enough can achieve anything in life.

I know that I am running out of time, but I want to pay tribute to the people with whom I have worked for the last 15 years. From an early age, I wanted to be a nurse and follow in my mum’s footsteps. When I was a teenager and she died of breast cancer, I decided that I wanted to help to tackle the disease. For the last 15 years, I have worked under the guardianship of Professors Johnston and Smith and the whole team at the Royal Marsden Hospital, making a real difference to people suffering from that disease. It is certainly no coincidence that there are seven NHS doctors and three NHS nurses on the Conservative Benches, which proves that the NHS is safe in Conservative hands.

The Queen’s Speech is a programme that supports ordinary working families like mine. It encourages job creation, and provides tax cuts for individuals, more help for families with childcare, and a strong and properly

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funded NHS. I am proud to serve as the Member of Parliament for Lewes, but I am also proud to be part of the Conservative team that delivered this Queen’s Speech.

7.31 pm

Conor McGinn (St Helens North) (Lab): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for affording me the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this debate on the Gracious Speech. Let me begin by paying tribute to other hon. Members who have made their maiden speeches today. They have set a high standard for those of us who must follow them.

It is truly a special honour to speak in the House as the newly elected Member of Parliament for St Helens North. My constituency has the proud history and traditions that would be expected from a place born of the industrial revolution, built on mining communities, and situated in the heart of the north-west of England. Our towns, villages and parishes have unique and strong individual identities that have been forged over centuries. St Helens town has its reputation as the home of glass that gave the world the Pilkington process of float glass, and the famous Saints, our rugby league team, are the current Super League champions.

Our other town, Newton-le-Willows, was mentioned in the Domesday Book. It came to prominence in the 19th century as a railway town, and its Vulcan Foundry was one of the foremost locomotive manufacturers of the age. Along with neighbouring Earlestown, it has one of the oldest existing railway stations in the country. A memorial in the station commemorates William Huskisson, an MP for Liverpool who became one of the world’s first widely reported railway casualties when, in 1830, he was run over and fatally wounded by a train in my constituency. His distinguished career as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies was cut short on that fateful day. Perhaps to err on the side of caution, I shall resist the temptation to invite any members of the current Government to visit my constituency—or at least, if I do, I shall advise them to travel by road.

In the north-eastern part of my constituency, the hill and beacon tower at Billinge mark the highest point in Merseyside. To the west, Rainford and its surroundings are testimony to the overlooked rural and agricultural nature of much of the area. Haydock, I am sure, will be known to some Members as home to the eponymous racecourse, one of the finest in the country, which holds flat and national hunt meetings throughout the year.

St Helens North has a distinguished history and great potential for the future, but I fear that things will not be easy in the time ahead. I know that many of my constituents are worried about what lies ahead for them and their families. I can only assure them that I will fight every day for our community, championing jobs and investment, standing up for the most vulnerable, and always defending the interests of our area.

I do not wish to confuse you or the House, Mr Deputy Speaker. I can see from the puzzled look on some faces that there is bewilderment at this strange St Helens accent, which sounds remarkably like the dulcet Ulster tones that are more associated with Northern Ireland Members. There is a song called “The Boys from the County Armagh”, which contains the lines

“My heart is at home in old Ireland,

In the County of Armagh”.

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I am one of those boys, and mine is, but if I might be allowed a somewhat metaphysical addition to the lyrics, I would say that my heart, along with my head and my feet, is also at home in the north-west of England, in the constituency of St Helens North.

If we are to describe generations as children of a seminal figure or defining events, I am most certainly a child of the peace process. The changed relationship between Britain and Ireland, and the end of the terrible conflict that caused so much pain to the peoples of these islands, have afforded me opportunities that were denied to many who came before me. I am in debt to all in the House and outside it who have, through their sacrifice, courage and leadership over many years, helped to build peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. I do not wish to disrupt the etiquette of the House, but I hope that I may be allowed to call them all my honourable friends.

Where previously there were suspicion and mistrust, today there are friendship and co-operation between the United Kingdom and Ireland. There is no longer any contradiction in being Irish and British, and having feelings of loyalty and affinity to both countries. The contribution made by the Irish in Britain to society here has helped to make that possible. It is valued and respected, and has helped to make this the great nation that it is. I hope that, in keeping with that tradition, I can make my own contribution through membership of the House of Commons.

My predecessor served the House and the people of St Helens North diligently for 17 years. Dave Watts is one of the finest men I know. He epitomises all that is noble about public service, and all that is good about politics. His work for his constituency, and his devotion to his constituents, are an example to us all. Dave served as the chair of the parliamentary Labour party. He is a solid Labour man in the best working-class traditions of our movement. I thank him, his wife Avril, and their family for everything they have done for St Helens North and its people, and for me as well.

Let me end by saying that I come to the House committed to representing my constituents, and determined to work hard for my constituency. I made the people of St Helens North a promise that I would do my best for them, and it is a promise that I intend to keep.

7.37 pm

Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn) on one of a series of fantastic maiden speeches that we have heard this evening. I stress that mine is not a maiden speech—I have been specifically instructed by Mr Speaker that whatever maiden status I may once have possessed has long since passed away—but it gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to my great predecessor in the office of Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Sir John Randall.

John Randall was one of the kindest and wisest people in this place, and one of the very few Conservatives to forecast with complete accuracy what would go wrong with the Iraq war. Members may recall that he stepped down from the Front Bench before the invasion, with absolutely no self-advertisement, and never drew

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any attention to the fact that he had got it so thumpingly right. It is, incidentally, a measure of his popularity in Uxbridge that, at a recent electoral hustings there, virtually every candidate stood up to claim that he or she was the true heir of John Randall. “I am John Randall,” they kept saying, meaning them rather than me. I have to accept that I am not John Randall, but I will do my best to emulate him in his service to the constituency, and to London more broadly.

We are seeing fantastic success in this city. I am delighted to say that, as Hansard will confirm, during my final appearance in the House seven years ago I pointed out to the then Prime Minister that I had just banned alcohol on public transport. I was interrupted by the Speaker, and ordered to sit down. I do not know what objection he had to our policy. I now want to point out that, as a result of that policy, crime on London transport has fallen by 50%. Crime on buses has fallen by 50%, and we now have the safest tube network anywhere in Europe. As a result of the continual improvements we are seeing in our city we have the most dynamic urban economy anywhere in Europe—and I am grateful for the many excellent measures in the Queen’s Speech, which I will rapidly summarise as this 12-minute oration has been compressed to four.

I am delighted that we will see the stopping of the madness of a transport strike being triggered by a tiny minority—something City Hall has long advocated—and devolution to the great economic powerhouses of the cities of England. Fiscal devolution will enable us to build Crossrail 2 and many other wonderful projects—many hundreds of thousands. I also approve, by the way, of the decision to allow people to buy their own housing association homes, provided it leads to the rapid construction of more homes—low-cost homes—and it keeps the revenue raised for investment in housing in London.

Nadhim Zahawi: Can my hon. Friend tell us how many houses he has built in London during his mayoralty?

Boris Johnson: I am delighted that my hon. Friend reminds me that under this mayoralty, and indeed under this Government, we built far more homes than Labour did in 13 years. We have built a record number of affordable homes, and we will go on until May 2016 to build a record 100,000 affordable homes over eight years.

Thanks to the hard and successful work of the Conservative-led Government over the last four years, we have a strong, dynamic, successful economy, but the most exciting thing for me, as someone who came into politics more than 20 years ago, is that we now have a Tory-majority Government with a clear mandate to seek change, and therefore a Government in the most powerful position in our lifetimes to deliver reform and improvement in Europe. We can win that argument by being relentlessly positive and by making it clear that what we are advocating is in the interests not simply of Britain but of the entire European Union.

I congratulate the Prime Minister on the élan and success with which he has begun his pan-European schmoozathon in the chancelleries of Europe. I believe his efforts will be crowned with success, but I would remind him of something that I think all of us would want to remind him, our negotiators, the Foreign Secretary

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and everybody else: if you are going to go into a difficult international negotiation, you have to be prepared to walk away if you do not get the result you want.

Dr Julian Lewis: I really feel that the next thought my hon. Friend is about to express deserves an extra minute in which to express it.

Boris Johnson: I am obliged, because it is absolutely right that if we do not get a deal that is in the interests of this country or of Europe we should be prepared to strike out and forge an alternative future that could be just as glorious and just as prosperous, with a free-trading arrangement.

I notice that, in the course of trying to settle this argument over the last few days, assorted speakers have invoked the memory of Winston Churchill in one way or another. Churchill is absolutely useless on this subject. He is biblical in this matter; we can find a text to justify almost any proposition about our relations with Europe that we choose, but one thing he believed in passionately was in Parliament as the expression of the will of the British people, and he would want to see that democratic principle upheld today.

If in the course of those negotiations the Prime Minister wants to invite any of our partners to see the contribution of this country to the prosperity and unity of modern Europe, he could do no better than take them to Uxbridge, where it is now possible to view the amazing bunker that housed Fighter Command No. 11 group operations room, one of the most moving and atmospheric places in this country.

7.44 pm

Danny Kinahan (South Antrim) (UUP): How do you follow that? We would love to see many of those houses being built in Northern Ireland. I have greatly enjoyed listening to the other hon. Members making their speeches and learning about their constituencies, and especially the very moving speech by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer).

It is an immense honour to have been elected to this House as an Ulster Unionist—the first Ulster Unionist here for 10 years—and I pledge to work tirelessly for absolutely everybody in the constituency of South Antrim. But first I very genuinely would like to thank Rev. Dr William McCrea for his many years of work as the MP and especially his staff, who suffer the consequences of losing an election, for all their hard work.

South Antrim is a typically farming, rural and also urban constituency, providing that great produce that is typical of Northern Ireland—Irish beef, lamb and pork. In 2016, Northern Ireland is going to have a year of celebrating our local produce, and I hope all Members will go there to taste our fare, especially the eels from Toombridge.

Within the constituency we have many enterprises of size that thrive. We have the world’s top web-based bicycle company; we have the world’s top pharmaceutical diagnostic company with 5% of the world’s population using its diagnostics; and we have one of the world’s largest vehicle tyre pressure gauge-producing companies. But I want to see many, many more businesses, small,

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medium and large, moving to Northern Ireland, so that we can tackle the unemployment that is rife in so many places.

South Antrim is also brimming with history and historical sites, and it is timely to remember that towns and villages like Ballyclare and Randalstown with their long-established horse fairs were key to the supplying of horses for the great cavalry regiments and the artillery at Waterloo and in the first world war.

In sport, we are lucky to have the greatest jump jockey ever in A. P. McCoy, two of the world’s top golfers, one of the world’s top snooker players, and not long ago, but very much still with us, probably the greatest rugby player of all time—all from South Antrim.

I am born and bred in South Antrim and, despite the dulcet tones that do not quite match those of my colleague the hon. Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn), my life has encompassed so much of what is referred to by so many as the troubles, living only six miles from the Aldergrove military base, where the RAF, the Army Air Corps and many infantry and cavalry regiments were based, and through which most units entered Northern Ireland. Just close to home in Antrim is also Massereene barracks where the Royal Engineers were to make their home. The military presence in Northern Ireland was part of day-to-day life. Horrors and heroes abound, but with the mention of Massereene we should remember Sappers Quinsey and Azimkar, who were so cruelly murdered by dissidents on the eve of going to do their duty in Afghanistan.

Today I would like to ask everyone in this House to remember all those soldiers, sailors, airmen—some 250,000—and also the politicians, the civil servants, the businessmen, and so many more who over the last 45 years have done so much for Northern Ireland, 1,441 giving their lives. I would like every Member of this House to go back to their constituencies and say a huge thank you, because all those have helped us to get where we are today and we are phenomenally grateful.

I want to see this House carry on with spend on defence—2%, but even more—but I pledged to my electorate that I would do everything I politically could to make sure that the military covenant was put in place properly in Northern Ireland. The current situation cannot be allowed to continue, with some military veterans feeling like second-class citizens in their own country.

I had a 10-minute speech, which became an eight-minute speech, a six-minute speech and then a four-minute speech. The other great point I want to make is on the Union. Everyone here has a little bit of every country in them and, thinking back to the great Union Brigade charging at Waterloo, there were the Scots Greys, the Inniskillings, the Royals and many, many more. We need the Union to hold together, because it is the Union working together that will keep making this place great.

7.50 pm

Scott Mann (North Cornwall) (Con): I follow some truly brilliant speeches this evening, and I am grateful to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech.

Today’s debate is about Britain’s place in the world, but I would like to spend a few minutes talking about North Cornwall’s place in Britain and the world, and

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how the Government of this country can help aspiring people in our area to get the best out of their life. Before I do that, however, I take a moment to praise the work of my predecessor, Dan Rogerson. Prior to my election, the North Cornwall seat was held by the Liberal Democrats and, before that, the Liberal party for 23 years. Gerry Neale was the last Conservative MP for North Cornwall, with Paul Tyler and Dan Rogerson following him. Dan Rogerson championed the cause of Cornwall during his 10 years in office. He talked in the House about rural affairs many times, and he was favourably considered on numerous doorsteps that I visited during the campaign. Dan was a hard-working local champion, and I genuinely wish him well in his future endeavours.

North Cornwall is seen by many as an idyllic coastal retreat, a place to escape the pressures of city life. Our glorious sandy beaches are enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron). We have many strings to our bow. Our rugged coastal paths and inland walkways are enjoyed not only by British residents but by walkers from across the globe. Travelling further afield, people may stumble across Bodmin moor and its charming surrounding villages. The vast sweeping fields of gorse and granite are the perfect place for a spot of reflection after a hard working week.

Until three weeks ago I worked as a postman, a job I thoroughly enjoyed for 20 years. After being elected to Parliament I received national press when it became known that I was delivering leaflets not only for myself but for my political opponents. I never realised how vast the corridors of this place were. I spent more time walking during my first week here than I ever did walking the streets of Wadebridge with my delivery pouch.

I got involved in politics in 2007 when I heard my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney make his first speech as Conservative leader. At the time I had been fortunate to secure an affordable house in my hometown of Wadebridge. Some 200 people with whom I had grown up tried for it, but they were not so lucky. His speech delivered a message of less state intervention, giving people the ability to go out to seek their ambitions, making it better to be in work than out of work and giving people the opportunity to aspire to do the things they wish to do. I decided at that moment to get involved in local government, and now I am here.

Much has been made of blue collar conservatism in recent weeks. The overriding factor that unites our party is the drive for aspiration and the willingness to help people get on, such as the lobster fisherman from Port Isaac who wishes to sell his product directly off his boat; the farmer from Davidstow who seeks a good price for his crops, milk and beef; the young family from Blisland who are looking to purchase their first home; the pensioner from Camelford who seeks security in his old age; or the entrepreneur from Bude who is looking to set up and run a business for the first time. I am here for them.

During my candidacy, I literally delivered a six-point plan for North Cornwall. I now intend to put those words into action in this Chamber. Housing has been a big issue for a long time. Net inward migration to Cornwall places pressure on constituents on modest

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wages who are reaching for their first home. There is no silver bullet to solve that problem. The previous Government did a huge amount with the Help to Buy scheme, but there is much more we can do. With the potential for 47,000 new homes in Cornwall over the next 20 years, many of those homes should be given to aspiring young people who are looking to get on. I wish to explore further self-build projects to help community land trusts to give people the ability to build their own home, instead of having someone else build it for them. I also want to see a halt to the industrialisation of our countryside. I want to see an end to onshore wind subsidy and a move to tidal and geothermal.

Support for small businesses must continue, and we have done a huge amount through small business rate relief. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and, with the advent of high-speed broadband, we can nurture our farming, fishing and tourism industries and expand into new enterprises, promoting North Cornwall not only as a place to go on holiday but as a place to do business.

Many people in Cornwall are proud of their heritage, their traditions and their culture, and it gave me great pleasure in recent weeks to say my oath in the native tongue of the duchy. When my hon. Friend the Member for South East Cornwall (Mrs Murray) seconded the Queen’s Speech, she referred to Cornwall’s MPs as the Prime Minister’s “six-pack”. It was not always that way. Up until the reforms of 1832, Cornwall returned 44 Members of Parliament, as opposed to 45 for the whole of Scotland. With the greatest of respect to my Scottish colleagues, it would have been nice to refer to the 44-pack, rather than the six-pack. What we lose in number, however, we more than make up for in our desire to put Cornwall firmly on the map. Cornwall as a whole has been described in the past as the tail-end of the country. I see my job over the next five years as being to let people know that Cornwall is where the country starts, not where the country ends. During the next five years I am looking forward to getting my teeth into the Government’s Bills to further the aspiration of my constituents, both young and old, and to deliver for North Cornwall.

7.56 pm

Fabian Hamilton (Leeds North East) (Lab): It is a privilege to follow the new hon. Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann), whom I congratulate on his maiden speech. Perhaps he could continue to do us a service by delivering Labour leaflets in future. It is also a privilege to follow the new hon. Member for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan), and I congratulate him on his speech. As a keen cyclist, I think I know the company to which he refers, but I am probably not allowed to mention it in the Chamber—it is a very good online company that I should think provides a lot of employment in his constituency. I also thank the electors of Leeds North East for returning me for a fifth time with the highest number of Labour votes ever achieved in the constituency, once the home of the late, great Sir Keith Joseph but now a solid Labour seat.

I am proud that, among the many good things that the last Labour Government did, they established the Department for International Development in 1997. That was the first time that development had a Minister at Cabinet level in any Government in the western

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world. The coalition, of course, continued that support for international development across all parties. Earlier this year, the millennium development goal of 0.7% of gross domestic product being assigned to international development was enshrined in statute. I hope that the new Government will also continue that commitment to the wise spending of UK taxpayers’ money to help fight poverty in the poorest countries of the world.

As a member of the Select Committee on International Development in the last Parliament, I saw first hand how effectively DFID works and the good reputation it has in all the countries in which it operates. Last February, for example, the Committee went to Nepal. We saw for ourselves not only the contingency work against earthquakes that DFID was paying for but all the other excellent projects that help to bring some of the poorest people in the world out of poverty. I hope that the work for which DFID paid saved lives when the earthquake came just two months later. DFID has also supported the fight against the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Committee visited those countries in 2014 just before the terrible outbreak.

DFID also supports Syrian refugees, not in the UK but in the neighbouring countries to which they fled such as Lebanon and Jordan, where we went in March 2014. Jordan is one of the most water-poor countries in the world, yet it supports a 20% increase in its population from Syria. We went to the Zaatari refugee camp near Mafraq, where we saw how a city the size of Cambridge—100,000 people—had been created in just 12 days, largely paid for by British taxpayers’ money and very well operated. We visited the poorest farmers in the Jordan valley, seeing how DFID cash was used there in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to support those farmers and ensure they could bring their produce to market.

Finally, I wish to say a word about the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, which was set up by the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) when he was Secretary of State for International Development. In 2013, I took over responsibility for chairing the ICAI Sub-Committee of the International Development Committee. In that role, I was asked to be involved in the appointment of the new chief commissioner and three other commissioners to take over from Graham Ward, the first chief commissioner, who was appointed by the then Secretary of State in 2011. I am delighted that Alison Evans, the former chief executive of the Overseas Development Institute, has been appointed. She will do a good job to make sure that we get value for money for all our spending on overseas development and aid.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr George Howarth): Order. It might be helpful if I pointed out that there is a four-minute limit on speeches. Some latitude has been allowed and I will continue to allow a little bit of elasticity, but one of the properties of elastic is that it is not infinitely stretchable and at some point it will snap. Hon. Members who have still to make speeches should be aware of that.

8 pm

Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con): It is a privilege to follow so many new Members who have spoken so eloquently and who will undoubtedly be great champions

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of their constituencies in the years ahead. I am proud to be sitting on the Benches of a majority Conservative Government for the first time in my 14 years as a Member of Parliament and to be able to reply in this debate to the speech by Her Majesty the Queen. We were elected as a majority Conservative Government and we must govern as a Conservative Government. We can now do the right thing; we no longer need to worry about the coalition or minority parties. We, as a Conservative Government, can and must do the right thing for our country.

I am also delighted to note that we have two new Unionist Members of Parliament, and so there are now 10 Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland. We were particularly inspired by the comments made by the new hon. Member for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan), who spoke so eloquently about the troubles in Northern Ireland and the sacrifices that have been made in that part of our United Kingdom. That reminds me of the great Ian Gow, who was murdered by the IRA 25 years ago next month, on 30 July 1990. He gave the first televised speech here, during the debate on the Queen’s Speech in 1989, when he advised us all never to give in to terrorism and always to stand firm for our country’s sovereignty and independence.

That is what we must do as a majority Conservative Government. We live in a dangerous world, but we must defend British subjects wherever they may be in the world. That means not only that we must do a lot more for our British overseas territories, particularly Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, but that we must work to strengthen our links with the Commonwealth of nations. I know that the people of my constituency would support me completely in that. Of course Romford was the first Conservative gain after 1997, and I am delighted that so many more new Conservative MPs have been elected since then.

One thing we must do—we must not let the British people down—is deal with the issue of the European Union. Our Prime Minister has an opportunity to be bold and radical in the changes he seeks in United Kingdom-EU relations. It is a historic endeavour and an opportunity, for good, to set Britain’s place in Europe and the world on the right track. We need a new and totally different relationship with the EU—not a minor change, but a fundamental one. We need trade and co-operation, and not political union. I hope and believe that the Prime Minister will rise to this great challenge as leader of the entire nation. We need to be a sovereign nation over our trade agreements, our laws, our border controls, our social and domestic policies, and our agriculture and fishing. Above all, this Parliament must be supreme. That is what the British people want and demand, and we must not let them down. Margaret Thatcher made it clear that it was a historic mistake to join a political union. Our current Prime Minister has the chance now to put that right and to ensure that Britain goes back to being a sovereign, independent nation of free people.

8.4 pm

Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab): It is a great pleasure to speak in this debate, because we have heard so many excellent maiden speeches, along with those of other hon. and right hon. Members. It is also a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell),

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who came into the House on the same occasion as I did in 2001. We did so along with the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson). He and I shared accommodation in Norman Shaw North at the time, and I used to joke that I saw more of him on “Have I Got News for You” than I did in Norman Shaw North. But it is good to see him back, and in the meantime I have continued to be the full-time Member of Parliament for Ynys Môn. It is an island community and an outward-looking community at the heart of the British Isles. I am proud to be Welsh, proud to be British and proud to be a member of the European Community and of the international community. Today’s debate sets the scene in that regard. I shall come to the subject of the European Union—I prefer to call it the European Community rather than European Union—and the referendum shortly.

The Queen’s Speech said that the Government would “re-engage” Britain in international affairs. There has been some disengagement in recent years, and I hope that we can once again raise our profile on the international stage. I totally agree with the right hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) that the strategic defence review in the last Parliament was not strategic. I understand the reasons the Government have given, but our future direction must be strategic and our defence must be done on strategic grounds. We have a proud record, and, as has been indicated, the Department for International Development does excellent work. I am very proud that the previous Labour Government set up the Department and focused attention on international development, making Britain a leader on that in world affairs. We have been leaders in many areas, not least defending women and children in the world, helping the poorest children in the world get education and tackling Ebola. We have been leaders in all those areas and we must be very proud of our involvement in world affairs. I also welcome the shadow Foreign Secretary to his place and welcome his excellent speech about our place in the world.

I am very pro-European Union and I feel we have a role to play in it. It is not just me saying that, because during the general election I met many small businesses and farmers from my community, and many large businesses that had invested in my constituency, and they wanted Britain to be at the heart of the EU over the next few years. I will support the Prime Minister if he is clear on what kind of reform he wants. It is incumbent on Government Front Benchers in today’s debate—I know the Foreign Secretary cannot be with us, but I hope that the Secretary of State for International Development will do this in her wind-up—to make it clear exactly what we want in those reforms. This Parliament needs to know that early on, and I will be supporting a yes vote for Ynys Môn to be at the heart of not just the British Isles but the European Community. Wales, the nation that I am proud to represent, is a net beneficiary from the European Union, to the tune of some £200 million per year. Business benefits from it, and I want to be at the heart of it. Britain deserves to raise its profile and I hope we can all work together to ensure that Britain is the leader in the world, where it belongs: at the top table.

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8.9 pm

Mrs Flick Drummond (Portsmouth South) (Con): I am delighted to be making my maiden speech during the debate on Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech, but it is with some trepidation that I follow so many eloquent and awesome Members of this Parliament, both new and longer-serving. I wish to thank my predecessor, another eloquent speaker, Mike Hancock, for his long service to the community in Portsmouth South. Mike, a Pompey boy, was a city councillor for 40 years and worked as the cabinet member for planning and regeneration while a Member of Parliament for 18 years. Juggling two jobs cannot have been easy. I have heard from many constituents of his good work helping them with their problems. I know that the House of Commons will miss his sartorial elegance. I also thank him for the well organised boxes of casework, which will make it easier for me to do my job.

Unlike Mike, I was born not in Portsmouth but in Yemen, but I shall say more on that later. I am very grateful to the people of Portsmouth for adopting me over the past eight years that I have lived there. I will be a fierce defender of their interests, always putting them first.

Portsmouth South is made up of a number of communities. It is 4 miles long and 2 miles deep, and I can cycle it within 15 minutes. It is a city of great contrast: rich and poor live side by side, making it a compassionate city with a caring community of people who help each other. Heavily bombed during the war, the city has beautiful Georgian streets next to brutalist 1960s and 1970s tower blocks. Our literary history belies the low education standards, which I am pleased to say are rising fast. Our proud heritage includes the birthplace of Charles Dickens, whose house is now a museum, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who also played for the first Portsmouth football club, Rudyard Kipling, HG Wells and Nevile Shute, who lived two streets away from me.

The first school in Portsmouth to become an academy, Charter Academy, has transformed the lives of people from one of our most deprived areas, and was the most improved school in the whole country last year, going from 3% to 85% of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs, which is a testament to the hard work and leadership of the teachers. The children are now getting an education that will take them out of poverty. They are involved in the Portsmouth Sail Training Trust, the boxing at the heart of Portsmouth Academy and other activities that are usually associated only with private education.

I am a proud governor of a rapidly improving school, Milton Park Primary. It provides for children with autism who are integrated in the mainstream school, and we welcome children with disabilities. I am determined that our education system will give every child the opportunities that they deserve and be a beacon in the country. Portsmouth University is in the top group of British universities for many of its faculties, and I was in awe of the creative arts graduates who held their show last Friday.

The city of contrasts can be seen in our historic dockyard where world-famous attractions such as the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior lie next to the latest Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers and the new aircraft carriers, which we will receive shortly. Those

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huge ships will be a boost to our defences, and I will be making sure that there are enough Type 26 frigates and other ships to defend our shores and interests around the world.

Contrast can also be seen in two new ventures in my constituency, the International Boatbuilding Training College, of which I am trustee, and Ben Ainslie Racing: one delivers craftsmanship with transferrable skills, and the other is involved in high-tech yacht racing, using all the latest materials. High-tech maritime expertise is one of Portsmouth’s biggest exports, and we are looking forward to hosting the first America’s Cup world series on the weekend of 23 July.

Along our sea front, we have a traditional funfair at Clarence pier and a Victorian pier, South Parade Pier, that is being restored by local businessmen. We have streets of individual shops but also an outlet centre—Gunwharf Quays—with entertainment and restaurants that attracts people from miles around. We do need further investment in our commercial district as we serve a big community in Hampshire, Surrey and west Sussex, and our city is worth investing in. I could not finish selling the city in which I live without mentioning Portsmouth Football Club, which has won the FA cup twice, most recently in 2008, and which has a regular attendance of more than 15,000.

I am glad to be able to speak in this debate. As I mentioned, I was born in Aden in Yemen where my father was serving in the Army, in the Trucial Oman Scouts. He was then recruited into the intelligence services where he had a distinguished career in all the trouble spots—in Nigeria, the middle east, Pakistan and India—with his family in tow. He worked for this country for 46 years, joining as a soldier at the age of 18 and dying aged 64 of an aortic dissection coming home from work. I know that the House has paid tribute to those in the armed forces and I am sure that Members will agree with me that our intelligence services, both past and present, should be included in that tribute. Much of their work goes unseen and unrecognised while they continue to keep our country safe both here and abroad. I know that they need the resources to continue that good work and I will be supporting legislation that enables them to do so.

8.14 pm

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP): Peace to this House. On the day I was selected as the candidate for Glasgow North and on the day of the Queen’s Speech last week, the Gospel reading at Mass was from a passage of Luke which said:

“Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, ‘Peace to this house.’”

It seems entirely appropriate to make my maiden speech now, and I am very grateful to have been able to catch your eye, Mr Deputy Speaker.

During a debate on Britain in the world, peace seems an entirely appropriate starting point. Peace, as many great thinkers have said, is not just the absence of war but the work of justice. Indeed, the Scottish National party’s constitution states clearly that the independent Parliament that we ultimately seek will be bound only by the sovereign will of the people of Scotland, and

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such agreements as it may enter into with other nations for the protection of the environment and the pursuit of world peace.

The aims of the SNP also encompass the furtherance of all Scotland’s interests, and it was on that basis that so many of our candidates were elected on 7 May. It is the greatest honour for me to represent the people of Glasgow North in this House. Glasgow has been my home for nearly half my life, and Glasgow North can quite fairly be described as the city in miniature. It stretches from the banks of the River Kelvin in the west end, through the ancient university, the cosmopolitan Byres Road, and north to Firhill, home of the mighty Partick Thistle. Nearby is the Stockline Plastics factory, where we remember those killed in the explosion 11 years ago. It stretches west to the Forth and Clyde Canal, past the Wyndford—site of the old city barracks—to Ruchill and Summerston, and out to some of the only farmland in Glasgow, including a stretch of the Antonine Wall. Glasgow North contains every aspect of city life: high-density social housing, transient student populations, mature residential areas, supermarkets, business parks and rows of independent traders. I hope to represent all that diversity to the best of my ability.

The seat is home to many musicians, including, for now, despite the efforts of the Home Office, Dr Steve Forman, and artists, perhaps most notably Alasdair Gray, who popularised the saying that has resonated across Scotland in recent years:

“Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.”

It is for that better nation that I look forward to working with my colleagues who represent areas of Glasgow North in the Scottish Parliament: Bob Doris, Bill Kidd, Sandra White and Humza Yousaf. Of course I pay tribute to my predecessor, Ann McKechin, who represented the constituency diligently and well for 14 years, and I know that she was respected by colleagues in this House and by her constituents. She was committed to international development. Last year, she and my hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) were part of a delegation that visited Srebrenica. It is 20 years since that massacre, which should give us all pause to reflect on the progress that has been made towards a world of justice and peace. If the role of Britain in the world is not ultimately the achievement of deep and lasting peace, then what is it?

Our global economy and our environment are too fragile and too precarious to take the shocks that come from military adventurism and old-school projection of power. That is to say nothing of the obscene and obsolete maintenance and renewal of weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde.

My journey to the SNP began when I first saw my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond)—he represented Banff and Buchan at the time—at a conference as part of a school trip organised by my modern studies teacher at the Inverness Royal Academy. At that point, I was already a member—I still am—of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, but it became clear to me that the SNP had the right priorities for Scotland and the world. Nuclear weapons represent everything that is wrong about the policy and spending priorities of successive UK Governments, and that is why I am proud to represent a party, and I believe a constituency, that supports bairns not bombs, nurses not nukes, teachers not Trident.

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This year, at three world summits we have the opportunity to promote a distinctive, progressive and, I hope, Scottish voice in favour of a more just world. I hope that the Minister will find common cause with our colleagues in the Scottish Government on that cause.

The tie I am wearing today is the Malawi Scotland tartan. It symbolises the friendship and solidarity between our two countries. Solidarity should be the mark of relationships between human beings and the basis on which we can end the scandal of poverty around the world and promote world peace.

8.19 pm

Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) and my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth South (Mrs Drummond) on their speeches. Both the Clyde and Portsmouth have made a huge contribution to this country’s influence around the world and it is fitting that the hon. Members spoke in this debate.

Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that Plymouth has an historic place in all this, too?

Henry Smith: Plymouth is indeed another great British city that has projected that image to the world. I just wish that my hon. Friend had intervened slightly more than a minute into my speech so that I would have been given a little bit of extra time.

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) for focusing on the importance of the Commonwealth and the British overseas territories. It is very pleasing to see the flags of the British overseas territories flying in Parliament Square today and I am very proud to have been part of a Conservative-led Government in the last Parliament that put the overseas territories at the forefront of our policy. The Government will, I hope, continue to do so, whether that means ensuring that the people of Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands who wish to remain British have that right defended, or investing in infrastructure such as the new airstrip on St Helena.

This evening, I want to address some unfinished business with the overseas territories—that is, the future of the British Indian Ocean Territory. About a decade ago, many Chagos islanders came to Gatwick airport in the Crawley constituency and, I am pleased to say, settled in Crawley. Crawley now has the largest Chagossian community anywhere in the world. As the House will know, the Chagos islanders, British citizens, were exiled from their homeland in 1968 by Orders in Council and by royal prerogative. The decision did not come through Parliament. A great injustice was done at that time. Of course, we cannot turn back time but we can start to right those wrongs.

I am delighted that the last Government initiated a feasibility study into the resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory and I call on the Government to implement that study. There are a number of pilots for the possibility of the Chagos islanders returning. The Chagos islanders were removed from Diego Garcia and some of the outer islands, such as Salomon and Peros

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Banhos, to make way for a US airbase. That airbase is and has been important for the security of the democratic western world, both in the Soviet era and today with uncertainty in the middle east, but that should not preclude those islanders being able to return to their homeland should they so wish.

I am struck by the fact that in a fortnight’s time we will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta just a few miles upstream along the Thames. Article 39 states that no person should be imprisoned or exiled without due process, yet I fear that that is what has happened to the British citizens of the Chagos islands. Much has been said about why they should not be able to return, including much about the environmental reasons, and on the 22nd of this month the Supreme Court will determine a case on their right of return. I do not see any issue, however, with allowing subsistence living by a modest number of Chagos islanders back on Diego Garcia and some of the outer islands if possible. I am pleased that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development is in the Chamber because I believe that we can use some of that budget to facilitate the return of the Chagos islanders.

In this 800th year of Magna Carta I hope that the Government’s feasibility study on the right of return to the Chagos islands can finally be implemented so we can right a wrong of almost half a century.

8.24 pm

Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) and two excellent speeches from the hon. Members for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) and for Portsmouth South (Mrs Drummond), particularly given the maritime connections between our three great cities and the mutual links we have with Malawi and Yemen.

The next five years present this House and this country not only with crucial choices about our public finances and public services but with fundamental decisions about Britain’s role and capacity within the world. I would argue that the decisions we take on international issues over the next five years will have a far greater impact on the prospects for millions of Britons over the remainder of the century than the majority of the individual Bills that we will consider in this Parliament.

I fear much that the Tory Government have proposed in this Queen’s Speech. I fear the impact of swingeing cuts to our social security safety net on the most vulnerable and I fear the continuation of systematic and partisan attacks on our civil society, trade unions and our fundamental rights and protections. What I fear most of all, however, is the risk that this House and this country will descend further into insular nationalism, whether it is Welsh, English, Scottish or British, which could leave us a broken, isolated and increasingly irrelevant rump on the fringes of western Europe, unable to stand up for the values of our citizens in an increasingly disordered, fragmented and challenging world.

This House, this Government and the citizens of the United Kingdom face a choice: do we stand together as a country in Europe and the world robust, equipped and engaged to deal with the challenges of poverty, climate change, conflict, human rights abuses, barbarous ideologies and changing technologies, or do we allow

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ourselves to be overcome with fear or the misty eyed vision of empire past and break apart or break away from the co-operation and solidarity that allows us to face those challenges with optimism, hope and determined purpose, both as the UK and within the EU? I will say without hesitation that I believe that our future and the future prospects of people in my constituency and across Wales and the UK are best served by a positive vote to stay in the European Union.

The EU needs reform. Of that, there is no doubt. Whether it is the absurdity of the two-seat Parliament, the overbearing nature of the often poorly accountable European Commission, or the obsession of some European leaders with the project rather than delivering benefits for European citizens, many changes are needed. Let us not forget that, in the year in which we celebrate 70 years since the end of the most brutal world war, in which millions died—the second war to devastate our continent in the last century—the fundamental principles of the European Union are worth standing up for: peace and security; freedom and tolerance; economic co-operation and trade; a Europe of social justice that recognises that the whole continent prospers when we support the poorest and most fragile members; and a Europe with a voice of progressive values in the world, alongside the United States in a world faced by the threat of an increasingly belligerent Russian Administration and the uncertainties and opportunities inherent in the rise of the east and the south. Just over two decades ago, China and the EU traded almost nothing, but today we form the second largest source of economic co-operation in the world, trading more than €1 billion every day. We are the most open market for developing countries and in the face of one of the greatest global challenges, climate change, we have stood together for carbon efficiency and international co-operation to find a deal that delivers.

It is not just that global vision but hard economic facts that matter for my constituents. Some 500 firms from other EU member states are based in Wales, employing more than 54,000 people, and 150,000 jobs in Wales depend on access to the European single market. Companies such as Airbus, which employs more than 6,500 people in Wales, including some just over the border from my constituency in Newport, have cautioned that they might reconsider their investment in the UK in the event of Britain leaving the EU.

To leave the European Union would be the greatest act of economic, political and classic folly in the past 100 years. It would be a fearful and foolish response to a world of opportunity and challenge.

8.28 pm

Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (Con): It is an honour to make my maiden speech today, following the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty)—a great part of the country. I am very fond of it, though it is the other end of the country from the area that I represent. It is a very emotional day, following some extraordinary speeches from people who are clearly going to take on the challenges that this House affords.

As the new MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, I am following in giant footsteps—those of my immediate predecessor, Sir Alan Beith, who was universally respected for his 41

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years’ devoted service both to his constituents and to this House, a man known as a committed Methodist, a speaker of five languages, one of which was Welsh, and the long-serving Chairman of the Justice Committee; those of Sir William Beveridge, elected in 1944 as Berwick’s MP, whose work on a social security system that would eliminate the five “Giant Evils” of want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness paved the way for our modern welfare state; and those of Sir Edward Grey, who first stood up to speak in this place in 1887 to challenge Government Ministers on the Irish question. He went on to become Foreign Secretary in Asquith’s Government in 1914 as our country headed into that great war. From the northernmost county of England, the Northumberland Fusiliers raised no fewer than 51 battalions for service in the great war, the second largest after the London Regiment, taking a whole generation of young Northumbrian men to war, of whom 17,500 never came home.

But perhaps the fact I feel most keenly is that I am only the second woman to be elected as MP for Berwick, the first having been Mabel Philipson, elected in 1923, also as a Conservative. She was only the third woman to enter this House as an elected representative, and no doubt she would be pleased to see that following recent elections we now have some 30% representation by female MPs across the House. Mabel was the mother of a disabled child and a vociferous champion for improved disability rights. She was an actress before she came to Parliament, and I sometimes think that she had better training than I have had, as a chartered accountant, to tackle the theatrical nature of this Chamber and its tough audience—both without and within! But I am encouraged by her success in her areas of interest, and am committed in my time here to work tirelessly to ensure that all children, whatever advantages or challenges their circumstances have thrust upon them, will be able to achieve their full potential. I believe passionately that all children have great futures, but sometimes the adults around them limit their potential. There is always more we can do to inspire, protect and encourage the next generation.

I have a unique advantage as the MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed—I am certain that I represent the most beautiful constituency in England. From the magnificent Cheviot hills in the west and the River Tweed in the north, both of which act as the border with Scotland, to 60 miles of coastline, with its ancient castles, endless beaches, and RAF Boulmer, from where our nation’s air defences are monitored, my constituency, more than 1,000 square miles of it, boasts the ancient market towns of Alnwick—these days of Harry Potter fame, but historically associated with Harry Hotspur—and Berwick-upon-Tweed, which has changed hands between England and Scotland many times over the centuries. It has remained firmly English since 1492 and continues to prefer that position, in case Opposition Members were experiencing any acquisitory impulses.

Our ports at Seahouses and Amble still bring in fish and lobster from the North sea, despite decades of EU directives trying to kill off their trade, and our tiny villages are surrounded by traditional agricultural factories diligently producing food in all weathers for our tables and barley malted by family business Simpsons Malts for over 150 years for Scottish whisky and Northumberland’s own Hepple gin.

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Perhaps it was Northumberland’s harsh winters that prepared Admiral Collingwood, a true Northumbrian, whose firing prowess from our great ships at the battle of Trafalgar is credited with Nelson’s and Britain’s victory against Napoleon, and whose belief in hard-won respect from his sailors meant that on his ships no corporal punishment was required.

Right at the top of the north-east, in Berwick-upon-Tweed, I am determined to help to build a vibrant economy, so that our young people can make Northumberland their family home, and to ensure that a new enterprise zone across our main towns opens up investment and jobs. What may seem unimaginable today for the future of our communities and our nation should never be dismissed as impossible. I hope fervently, as do so many of my constituents, that with the Scotland Bill and the European Union Referendum Bill and English votes for English laws coming forward, we will be creating a new framework for our four nations to take charge of their day-to-day lives while remaining firmly committed to a strong and united Great Britain.

8.33 pm

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab): It is a great privilege to be elected again to serve the constituency of Clwyd South in this Chamber. It has been a delight to listen to so many maiden speeches, including those of my hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn) and of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mrs Trevelyan), who may indeed represent the most beautiful constituency in England. There were many, many good speeches.

The EU will be part of the discussion on Britain in the world. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty) referred to Airbus and to one of the reasons why the EU is so important for the economy of Wales—namely, the 6,000-plus jobs and their many spin-offs that are dependent on our membership of the European Union, as Paul Kahn, the president of Airbus, has made clear.

The Farmers Union of Wales, which never pulls its punches—it has criticised unnecessary bureaucracy and rules emanating from Brussels, and that was one of its milder comments—has made it clear that it recognises the value of remaining part of one of the world’s largest common markets and trading blocs. It has been clear that there is no make-believe about it, because we know exactly what it would be like to be outside the EU; we saw that in the rural economy at the time of the foot and mouth crisis, and with BSE.

There are issues to address, of course. Globalisation and the free movement of labour have brought many benefits, but there are other issues. I think that is sometimes seen by people on zero-hours contracts and agency workers, as an agency worker living in Brymbo in my constituency made clear. I do not expect the Government to make changes because they are social democrats or part of a labour movement, but if they believe in one nation and in social cohesion, they must address the concerns about zero-hours contracts and agency work.

I would also like to make a point about religious liberty, which was referred to earlier in the debate. It is of huge importance around the world. In parts of the world we see Christians and other religious minorities

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suffering persecution, and in many parts it is getting worse. Too often people think that religious freedom means a person’s right to practise the religion they were born into, but it is more than that; article 18 of the United Nations universal declaration of human rights is very clear that it includes the right to convert, and the right to believe in something or in nothing. It is vital that we see those human rights as part of our vision of Britain in the world. I know that the debate on human rights and on what the Government will do is fairly open at the moment, but if this nation chooses to withdraw from international treaties, think of the message that will send. Think of what that would say to countries such as Pakistan, where so many people are already suffering under the blasphemy laws. I think that those are major issues. They are to do with communities such as mine, but they are also to do with this country and with the global community.

8.37 pm

James Heappey (Wells) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this House for the first time. The world around us is changing quickly; new threats emerge as readily as new opportunities. Therefore, for the sake of our security, our standing in the world and the good of our economy, it is important that we seek to shape the world around us, rather than waiting to be shaped by it. We must be proud of, and seek to maintain, the fact that Britain is a global power. That is about not only our ability to project military power across the globe, but the role we play in the UN, NATO, the Commonwealth and the EU. It is about maintaining our place as a global centre for business and trade. It is about recognising that British culture and values reach far further and carry more influence than even the largest military ever could.

Before entering politics I served our country in the Army, first in the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, and then in The Rifles. In that time I had the great privilege of serving alongside men and women from all parts of this United Kingdom, and indeed the Commonwealth, both here in the UK and overseas in Basra, Kabul and Sangin. Those who serve our country in the Royal Navy, Army and Air Force accept an unlimited liability. If the Government and this House ask them to deploy, they will. On land, at sea and in the air, we can have confidence that our forces will punch well above their weight, because I have seen at first hand just how courageous, determined and selfless our soldiers, sailors and airmen are.

However, we owe those men and women the certainty that we will always support them and their families, both at home and overseas. Since the last strategic defence and security review, the threats facing our country have become much more complex. If Britain is to meet those threats, we must be clear in our intent to fund defence properly. We simply cannot ask our forces, regular and reserve, to meet all those threats without resourcing them to do so. Therefore, as we progress towards the SDSR, we must understand that any further cuts in defence must mean a cut to our strategic ambition as a nation. I hope that neither is needed.

As this is my first time speaking in the House, I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Tessa Munt. Ms Munt was a committed supporter of our community in Somerset. Over a long and difficult campaign in a

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marginal seat there has been much on which we have disagreed, but it is important to note at this first opportunity the hard work of Tessa Munt and her dedicated staff.

It is an incredible honour to stand here as the Member of Parliament for Wells, and I would like to thank my constituents for sending me here to speak on their behalf. Mine is a constituency that contributes greatly to Britain’s standing in the world. The city of Wells is England’s smallest city, but with the most complete ecclesiastical estate in Europe it is a major tourist attraction and the backdrop to many television programmes and films. In Street is the global headquarters of Clarks Shoes, a brand recognised around the globe and enjoying growth in new markets, while in Chilcompton is the fashion icon Mulberry. Shepton Mallet is the capital of cider production in this country. Only this weekend, the Royal Bath and West show hosted, once again, the largest cider competition on the planet. In Highbridge, Burnham-on-Sea, Berrow and Brean, we welcome well over 1 million tourists a year who come to stay on the magnificent Somerset coast and to journey inland to the Mendips area of outstanding natural beauty. Our local farmers produce the best milk money can buy; we just need to make sure that they are paid what it is worth. Glastonbury hosts the best music festival on earth. Cheddar is famed for its gorge and for lending its name to the world’s most popular cheese.

I am so proud to represent such a beautiful and varied part of the world, but while there is much to celebrate, so is there much to do. The Prime Minister has called Her Majesty’s speech a one-nation programme that will benefit all in our country. I am delighted about that, because for too long rural areas have not received the same investment as our large towns and cities. Our market towns and villages struggle with poor road connections, very limited access to the rail network, weak phone signals, and achingly slow broadband. To unlock the incredible potential for economic growth in rural communities, we must improve that infrastructure. The investment by this Government in broadband has already brought formidable results. Village by village, fibre-optic connections are being made and life is speeding up. However, the final 5% of the superfast broadband roll-out is disproportionately concentrated in constituencies like mine, and so I urge the Government to push on with that final phase as soon as possible. Within that final few per cent. will be some of Britain’s most isolated communities; we simply cannot leave them behind.

8.42 pm

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to make my maiden speech. It is a great pleasure to follow so many great maiden speeches in the Chamber this evening—in particular, to follow the hon. Member for Wells (James Heappey). I have enjoyed the Glastonbury music festival in his constituency on many occasions.

I wish to record my sincere thanks to the people of Lancaster and Fleetwood for electing me. I very much hope that I can live up to their expectations and can faithfully represent my community over the coming years.

I pay tribute to my predecessor, Eric Ollerenshaw, who was well respected across this House. In particular, I want to single out and praise his work to improve

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standards of diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer—a subject close to his heart. He was prepared to put his constituents first, as shown by his opposition to the coalition Government’s plans to ease the regulation of fracking—something I hope to continue with.

Lancaster and Fleetwood is a diverse constituency reaching from the Yorkshire border to the Irish sea and made up of town, city and rural areas. I can truthfully say that mine is the most beautiful constituency, spanning the forest of Bowland and the village of Wray, close to the Yorkshire border, through the Lune valley immortalised by Turner, to the Over Wyre villages of Pilling, Preesall and Knott End. I look forward to championing each of these very many varied communities over the coming years. It is also the only non-island constituency not to be contiguous with land, as one has to travel through three other constituencies to reach the city of Lancaster from the port of Fleetwood. Both these main populations come with a radical, progressive tradition.

Lancaster castle, which until recent years was Europe’s oldest prison in continuous use, is famed as the site of the Pendle witch trials, but it is also, sadly, central to the stories of many radicals who campaigned for change. Many religious and political dissenters were held there or tried in Lancaster castle, including Chartist leader Fergus O’Connor and Quaker founder Margaret Fell.

Lancaster is famous for its nonconformist residents, so as a Methodist I feel I am in good company. I am pleased to be making my maiden speech in the debate on Britain in the world, because it was my faith that led me into politics, through the campaigns to drop third world debt and the campaign for fair trade.

My first act in this Chamber—to take an affirmation rather than an oath—was also inspired by this nonconformist tradition. As anyone with knowledge of the Bible will know, Matthew 5:34 was a central part of the Quakers’ 17th-century campaign to allow for an affirmation so that Members could take their seats.

Lancaster has also been graced with radical residents such as Selina Martin, who was a leading suffragette, and Lancaster University, of which our city is very proud and of which I am a graduate, chose Charles Carter to be its first vice-chancellor. Carter, who was a Quaker and a pacifist, served time in prison for refusing to be conscripted into the Army.

As we discuss Britain in the world, it is also appropriate to highlight Lancaster’s fair trade city status, which helps support sustainable development across the world.

By comparison, Fleetwood is a relatively modern town. Founded as a planned community in the 1830s, the intention was for the town to develop as an international port as well as a holiday resort. For a number of years it served as a transfer point between the railway network and steamers to Scotland, but since the 1850s the town’s fortunes have been strongly linked with the fishing industry.

Fleetwood has its own radical history. The town’s founder, Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood, opposed monopolies, capital punishment and slavery, which it is appropriate to highlight as we discuss Britain in the world.

I am proud of my constituency’s radical traditions and of the many famous names who have led pioneering political campaigns while being unafraid to speak out. I seek to serve in that spirit.

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Given that we are debating Britain in the world, I want to highlight the need for a consistent and ethically driven foreign policy. All too often, the UK has turned a blind eye to repression by regimes it considers its allies, but has all too quickly rushed to military action against those it opposes, resulting in catastrophic consequences.

Although the UK has been a major donor supporting Syrians displaced in their own country and in neighbouring states, I urge Ministers to reconsider the pitifully small number of refugees admitted to the UK under the vulnerable persons relocation scheme.

I had the privilege of visiting Palestine in 2012. It is shameful that Ministers have so far refused to heed this House’s call to recognise Palestinian statehood. I call on this new Government to address that.

I am also gravely concerned about the UK’s approach to Saudi Arabia, where our Government continue uncritically to support a regime currently on course to execute a record number of people in a single year.

I look forward to campaigning alongside my constituents to ensure that the UK plays a positive role in the world, acting as a leading advocate for peace, human rights and poverty eradication across the world.

8.48 pm

Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this debate and to follow on from some exceptional maiden speeches by other hon. Members, even if they have set the bar unreasonably high.

It is, of course, traditional in such speeches to pay tribute to predecessors, but in my case it is a genuine pleasure to do so. Despite serving only a single term, Chris Kelly left his mark both locally and nationally. Speaking to people across Dudley South during the campaign, it was clear to me that Chris’s independence of mind and determination to stand up for his principles were greatly valued by his constituents, if not always by the Government Whips.

Chris’s work as founder chairman of the all-party group on combating metal theft helped to secure changes to the law, banning cash payments and introducing an effective licensing scheme for scrap metal traders. The resulting fall in metal theft, seen clearly in the west midlands in particular, is a fitting legacy for his tireless work in this area. Chris is steeped in the value of family businesses, and was a strong voice in Parliament for family firms. I know that many Members will wish him well, now that he has returned to work for his family company.

As a Dudley councillor, it is a particular honour for me to represent the community in Parliament. Despite its name, Dudley South does not actually cover the town of Dudley—perhaps something for the Boundary Commission to reflect upon—but is made up of a number of towns and villages in the south-western part of the black country. At the southern end, Brierley Hill and Wordsley includes much of the world-famous Stourbridge glass-making quarter, while in the eastern quarter, Netherton was at the heart of the black country’s nail-making and then of the chain and anchor-making industries. The town still takes pride in having produced

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the anchor for the Titanic, which was the biggest in the world at the time.




I hear some amusement from my hon. Friends and it may seem like an odd boast, but whatever criticisms people have made of the Titanic, I have never heard anybody say a bad word about its anchor.

Between the two towns is the Merry Hill centre, one of the largest indoor shopping centres in Europe. While Merry Hill is a major employer and its success is vital to our local economy, neighbouring town centres are still struggling to adapt and to define a role in the world of online shopping and out-of-town retail parks. It would be remiss of me not to mention the nearby quarry just between Kingswinford and Pensnett should house builders be looking for bricks to meet the Government’s new house building programme or—dare I say it—should the Opposition need further supplies of large pieces of high-quality stone.

Dudley South is an industrial area. We are proud of our manufacturing heritage and of Dudley’s role as the birthplace of the industrial revolution. We are an outward-looking area. As the workshop of the world, the black country’s sights have never been restricted to our shores or to any political boundaries. For people in Dudley South, like much of the rest of the country, Britain’s place in the world is not just about prestige, influence or tradition; it is about jobs, business and creating the prosperity that our communities need. That is why it is so important that we have strong trading relationships right across the world.

Whether Britain remains in the EU or we leave it will rightly be decided by the British people—that referendum is long overdue—but whatever the result, it is vital that more is done to facilitate free trade with countries around the world beyond Europe’s borders. A strong European internal market cannot be a justification for tariffs or barriers that make it more difficult for my constituents to do business outside Europe. Even the largest and most successful of markets cannot barricade themselves off from the rest of the world.

8.53 pm

Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): I add my congratulations to all those who have made excellent maiden speeches today. I particularly want to mention my hon. Friend the new Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) and her comments on Syrian refugees and Palestine, of which I hope the Government will take note. I congratulate the hon. Members for Wells (James Heappey) and for Dudley South (Mike Wood) on their enthusiasm in their new roles.

As time is so limited, I will keep much of my comments on Europe for another time. I just briefly acknowledge the importance of our overseas development work and the need for the UK to take a positive lead in this year’s conferences on climate change and on sustainable development. I will focus instead on arms exports controls, the prevention of the use of sexual violence in conflict, and human rights and religious freedoms.

On the issue of arms exports controls, back in 2000, the right hon. Peter Hain, the former Member for Neath and then a Foreign Office Minister, confirmed it was Government policy that an

“export licence will not be issued if the arguments for doing so are outweighed by…concern that the goods might be used for internal repression”.—[Official Report, 26 October 2000; Vol. 355, c. 200W.]

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However, last October, during a debate on the scrutiny report of the Committees on Arms Export Controls, the former Conservative Member, the right honourable Sir John Stanley, who chaired the Committees, explained how, after repeated dialogue and correspondence with Ministers, it had become clear that the Government were taking a more “relaxed” approach to issuing arms export licences. That is very worrying. Indeed, the Committees identified 12 countries on the FCO’s list of 28 countries of top human rights concern where specific exports were feared to be in breach of one or more of the Government’s arms export criteria. Those 12 countries were: Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Uzbekistan and Yemen. I urge the Government to examine carefully the issue of arms export licences; we should not allow a lax and careless attitude to arms export control.

Furthermore, we need much more transparency about not just which country arms are going to, but who the end-user is—Government, non-governmental organisation, civilian and so on. We also need to trace a lot of arms that are being exported through foreign subsidiaries hidden abroad.

The preventing sexual violence initiative was a priority during the UK’s presidency of the G8 in 2013, but it remains a major task to root out the use of rape as a weapon of war. Even if Governments sign the declaration of commitment to ending sexual violence in conflict, there is much to do to challenge and change the culture of violence against women. The UK has a reputation for providing high-quality military training. As a condition of providing such training, we must challenge those countries that want it to demonstrate a genuine commitment to eradicating from their military ranks the use of rape as a weapon of war.

I am glad the Government have not included in the Gracious Speech plans to withdraw from the European convention on human rights or to introduce legislation that would have meant human rights were okay only as long as the Government approved of them—what a slippery slope that would be. However, the very way in which the Prime Minister called into doubt the value of human rights considerably weakens the UK’s position on the world stage when it comes to challenging other countries. How can he challenge repressive regimes when they can retort that he has created newspaper headlines by talking about watering down human rights legislation and pulling out of the European convention on human rights?

With the horrific increase across the world in the persecution of people for their religious beliefs, Britain must champion religious freedom. I hope the Government will consider adopting the Labour manifesto commitment to creating a specific role, and have a person, in the FCO to take forward the religious freedom agenda across the world.

As I said, other speakers want to get in, so I will leave my comments on Europe until next week.

8.57 pm

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): It is an honour to follow the reasoned arguments of the hon. Member for Llanelli (Nia Griffith). I too congratulate all those who have made their maiden speeches, but I must particularly highlight that by my hon. Friend the Member

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for Fareham (Suella Fernandes), whom I have known since she was born. Her parents will be justly proud of the speech she made.

Despite a bitter campaign in the general election, fired by the GMB, which sought to get everyone in my constituency not to vote for me, and by a rather shadowy organisation that labelled me as a child killer as a result of my support for the state of Israel, I am delighted to report that the constituents of Harrow East returned me with more than 50% of the vote and an increased majority.

I am delighted to represent the most multi-religious, multi-ethnic constituency in the country. We comprise every language on the planet and every religion under the sun, and we have representatives from every country on earth in our midst. It is a privilege to live in Harrow East and to hear about all the problems of the world without ever leaving the constituency.

One issue we debate in the House is Britain’s place in the world. I am delighted that British people will at last have a say on our membership of the European Union. By 2017, no one under the age of 60 will have had the opportunity to vote on Britain’s membership of the European club, and no one has ever voted on our membership of the European Union. I am delighted to have supported the proposal to do so in the last Parliament, and I am glad the Government caught up with those of us who did. I am also glad that the laggards on the Opposition Benches have finally seen the sense in having a referendum on our future. We must look at internationalist aspirations beyond the Commonwealth to the world at large. It is a fact that at the end of the second world war 25% of the world’s population was concentrated in Europe. Now it is only 10%. As a trading nation, we must be looking beyond our shores and beyond Europe.

I am very proud that the Conservative party manifesto was the only manifesto to mention many countries of the world, in particular India. We have an historic and special relationship with the United States of America that is second to none. Over the next five years, I look forward to us forging a relationship with India that is on a par with the relationship we enjoy with the United States of America: forging a position of greater market opportunities and greater co-operation between our two countries, and ensuring that our trade improves and that we stand four-square behind India’s aspirations to become a superpower within the region. As such, we look forward to India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

We should remember the plight of people who are less fortunate than ourselves. We must ensure a proper resolution to the truth and reconciliation programme in Sri Lanka, so that all its people can see the opportunities. The oppressed people of Bangladesh need to be safeguarded and their ability to celebrate their religion retained. Finally, our historic relations with the state of Israel must be preserved. We are the fourth or fifth-biggest economy in the world, and it is the tenth-biggest economy. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbours.

9.1 pm

Mr Gavin Shuker (Luton South) (Lab/Co-op): It is an honour to speak in a debate with so many epic maiden speeches. I have to admit, however, that I was slightly perturbed to see that all those making them pretty

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much looked older than me, which means that I am constrained to another five years of wandering around this place being asked if I know where I am going.

There can be no future for our nation that is not pro-internationalist and pro-reform. That means demonstrating global leadership to further our interests in and for the world, and making a connected world work for us. It means tackling structural inequalities—of power, wealth and identity—in the interests of all people. Our capacity for influence and leadership is unrivalled for a country of our size. What other nation is a leading member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, NATO and the permanent five of the UN Security Council? We have fundamentals we must not waste, but they must be coupled with political will. The Gracious Speech and the Government, just like the previous Government, fall short on will. This dangerous right-wing Tory Government’s agenda for office risks further undermining Britain’s place in the world. The range of the foreign and domestic policy measures announced last Wednesday poses a threat to our standing and influence.

First, now that the Prime Minister’s in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union is going ahead, it is right that Opposition Members accept the legitimacy of the Bill. It is vital, however, that we make the case for our continued membership and drive for a perpetual process of positive reform, in stark opposition to the right-wing Tory Government’s sham negotiation, against an artificial timetable, that will damage our influence from Cork to Krakow.

Secondly, the Government’s proposed abolition of the Human Rights Act would endanger our membership of the Council of Europe and our position as a party to the European convention on human rights. In addition to risking making it harder for victims of injustice to seek redress in this country, repealing the Act and removing ourselves from the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg Court would put us in the company of Belarus, the only other nation state in Europe not party to the convention. That is not leadership. From the party of Churchill—when the ECHR was drafted in large part by British lawyers with the support and encouragement of the former Prime Minister—the proposed repeal draws stark contrasts with, and conclusions about, the Conservative party of yesterday.

Thirdly, we must equip our citizens with the ability to navigate the complexities, threats and opportunities of a globalised world. Free trade, however, will bring freedom only if it is also fair. The Government’s proposed domestic trade union Bill will put draconian restrictions on the most basic labour and trade union rights. The proposed changes to striking regulations are likely to flout basic International Labour Organisation rules, aligning Britain with an alarming number of repressive regimes that impose similar, or more severe, restrictions. And it comes as no surprise that in a previous iteration this right-wing Tory Government defunded the International Labour Organisation and weakened protections for workers around the world.

Fourthly, in failing to tackle structural and historical injustices our leadership and consistency have been brutally undermined. From Palestine to Kashmir, our interest is demanded by those who find themselves

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being consistently disempowered and oppressed. From the UN to the World Trade Organisation, reform is demanded by those who are not in the room but consistently locked outside in an increasingly cold climate. From the Mediterranean to the Yellow sea, freedoms that we take for granted are under threat: freedom of religion and belief, freedom to love, and freedom of speech. Those freedoms require not our tacit acceptance but shoring up. This Queen’s Speech is neither pro-internationalist nor pro-reform, and we should reject it.

9.5 pm

Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Luton South (Mr Shuker) and the many Members who have made maiden speeches today and in previous days. We have heard speeches of great eloquence and passion, and we already know that Parliament will be well served by its new Members.

The county of Warwickshire has retained all its six Conservative MPs, each with an increased majority, but I want to make special mention of my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey). In 2010, his predecessor had the smallest Conservative majority in the country, at just 57, and at times his own prospects looked bleak. However, very hard work in the constituency and a national party message that resonated with the electorate have led to his being elected with a majority of 3,000. If on election night the Nuneaton result told us that the Conservative party would be in government, the North Warwickshire result told us that we would have a working majority.

In considering Britain’s role in the world, I believe that Britain’s role should be in Europe but with the right kind of relationship with Europe. On 15 June 1975, when the last referendum on Europe took place, I was 18 years and five months old. I followed the debate in the media; I had taken part in discussions at school; and I voted yes in that referendum, for Britain to remain in the European Economic Community. However, that was 40 years ago. Today’s enlarged European Union is a very different body from the EEC then, and it is entirely right that we should renegotiate a new relationship. I am delighted that the Prime Minister has got stuck straight into doing that with visits and meetings last week, and I welcome the early positive responses from European leaders.

It is entirely right that the British people should have their say on Europe, and it is interesting that the Opposition have now changed their view and support a referendum. If they had been able to do that just a matter of weeks or months ago, the matter could have been settled in the last Parliament. However, our negotiations should not be rushed. They will set the template for the next 40 years and they will not be easy to conduct, so it is right that we should take time for the referendum to be held.

Our security in the world depends on our having armed forces that are equipped to carry out whatever it takes to keep us safe, and the Queen’s Speech confirmed that work is now under way on the 2015 strategic defence and security review. It is entirely right that we should build on the SDSR of five years ago and consider the risks that our country faces in a rapidly changing world. We have heard much about those threats in our debate today.

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In my constituency, we are building the propulsion system for the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers at GE’s factory in the town. The first of those carriers will be handed over to the Royal Navy next year, and it was a great pleasure for me to see the first of those two vessels at Rosyth just before it was floated out, when I visited with the all-party group on the armed forces. We have heard much today from my hon. Friends the Members for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer) and for Wells (James Heappey) about the very challenging issues faced by our armed forces. To new Members of Parliament who wish to learn more about our servicemen, I recommend the all-party group and the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust.

I was pleased to see the Psychoactive Substances Bill in the Queen’s Speech. It will be of great interest to my constituent Richard Smith, who has been a very vocal campaigner on this issue, having seen his son affected by these products.

Mr Speaker, you would not expect me to participate in a debate about Britain’s role in the world without referring to what my constituency in particular has given to the world, and what we and the world will be celebrating both in Rugby and across the country in just 100 days, when we celebrate the rugby world cup. The town of Rugby will be hard at work preparing to welcome the world to see our wonderful game.

9.9 pm

Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) (Lab): I wanted to take part in this debate because, like my Labour colleagues, I believe in the abiding principle that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we do alone, and the meaning of this principle does not stop at the Scottish border or the English channel. I believe in a United Kingdom that plays a major role in the planet’s global institutions, and I believe that Britain is a force for good, which is why I said on the night I was re-elected that I would campaign to ensure that the UK remained at the top table of European nations by maintaining our membership of the EU. When I joined the Labour party in Sedgefield more than 30 years ago, I joined a constituent part of a British Labour party, not an English Labour party, and I will fight to ensure that the values we adhere to will find renewed strength and favour in all four parts of the UK, because they are not restrained by a cynical nationalism that says, “We want our independence, as long as it is not fiscal independence and we can keep the BBC.”

If we can achieve more together than we can alone, surely our country should stay united. In a world where decisions taken on the other side of the world affect our communities here at home, we should realise that we cannot, and should not, pull up the drawbridge to the rest of the world. Instead, we should embrace it, with all its faults, be they climate change, national financial markets, ISIS or rampant technological change; all these things affect villages in Sedgefield, from Thornley in the north to Hurworth in the south. We should remember that the forces that swirl through the towns, cities and villages of the UK are now global. I say that not just because companies such as Nissan and Hitachi have invested in the north-east, but because being an active member in support of our global institutions means being confident not only in those institutions but in ourselves. Yes, we will need to

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reform and renew them, but surely we are part of such institutions because we achieve more together than we ever do alone.

As part of our outward and optimistic approach to world affairs and the UK’s role in that approach, we should play a key role in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The negotiations are a long way from completion, but it is not right to say no to the partnership without first knowing what is in it. To those opposed to TTIP now I say: if the agreement goes ahead, it will help us go some way towards reforming and negotiating 50% of the global economy, which can only be a good thing.

Our role in the world as a permanent member the UN Security Council means being a military contributor to the maintenance of global security, which is why we should be very careful before we allow our military budget to fall below 2% of GDP. But all that is at stake if this country is dismantled and its component parts diminished, and if the UK also leaves the EU questions should rightly be asked about whether we should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Surely if we believe that Britain is a force for good, we should not be undermining our role in the world by bringing uncertainty, but that is exactly what we are doing. We should not allow the UK’s future to be put at risk for party political reasons or out of narrow nationalism. I do not believe in a little Britain. We achieve more together than we do alone, and that principle should guide us in our negotiations in Europe, in any referendum and in any goals we set for Britain in the world.

9.13 pm

Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con): I applaud the magnificent maiden speeches we have heard today. I always thought the class of 2014 was particularly distinguished, but on the basis of what we have heard today I think the class of 2015 will be even more so.

I thank the people of Newark for returning me to the House and the people of the county of Nottinghamshire, a majority of whom voted Conservative for the first time since 1983. I look particularly to my neighbour my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mark Spencer).

Given the shortness of time, I will concentrate on one area little touched upon today. The substantial internal constitutional reforms that are understandably diminishing the space and energy for foreign affairs and the many other immediate challenges in the Foreign Secretary’s in-tray we have heard about today must not distract us from the bigger task of repositioning Britain in a new world order. We must all recognise that the future of our living standards and security will depend as much on the great new powers and the exploding consumer markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America as on Europe. That is where most, if not the vast majority, of the growth over the next 30 years will be.

The patterns of international trade are changing fast. The internet is upending old industries. The EU, born in an age when solidarity and centralisation were understandably relevant, now risks being hopelessly outmoded in a world that demands flexibility, decentralisation and, above all, openness to the markets beyond.

The British business I used to manage with the new hon. Member for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan)—Christie’s—is now generating 45% of its annual turnover

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from Asia. Ten years ago, it was 1.5%. It is a similar story with other high-growth businesses, whether they be multinationals such as Burberry, JCB and Jaguar Land Rover, or Newark firms such as Benoy, an architects firm that has transformed itself within five to 10 years from designing barn conversions in Nottinghamshire to designing shopping malls and airports in Singapore and China. British businesses need our support and guidance in these endeavours.

The last Government opened new embassies in Asia and focused some of the Foreign Office’s resources on trade. I sincerely hope that that refocusing will continue and accelerate in the five years to come. I was pleased that the Government chose to be a founding supporter of China’s new Asian Infrastructure investment bank. Talks are under way for an EU-China bilateral trade agreement. Whether it be within or without Europe, the UK must take a lead in that enterprise, as it should on finalising the transatlantic free trade agreement that was crudely mischaracterised and caricatured before and during the election.

Above all, we should be confident enough to develop our own agenda to work with the emerging powers of Asia and Africa. That is where our future beckons. That is where the high-skilled, well-paid jobs will come from. Tackling those questions will be part of the answer to our productivity challenge at home.

Too many British companies rely on the captive markets of UK household consumption to fuel growth, rather than seek a place in the fiercely competitive international markets. Those companies are the ones we should be on the side of. The next five years may be characterised by many challenges, some of which will define our role in the world, but the overarching question is the wider one of how we can re-imagine Britain as a trading nation sending out ships to emerging markets.

9.17 pm

Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge and Hyde) (Lab/Co-op): I must say that we have heard some truly impressive maiden speeches today, and it has been a pleasure to sit here for seven hours listening to them.

My main point today is that the prosperity of my own constituency can be secured only by Britain being an outward-facing, open, skilled and confident country—one that is best placed to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities available in the world today. Listening to the Queen’s Speech, however, I do not feel at all encouraged that that is the direction in which the new Government will take us.

I clearly recognise the decisive Conservative victory at the election, but I can honestly say that the issues of having too many low-paid, low-skilled jobs, of insecurity at work, of the bedroom tax and of unfair benefit sanctions, are real and genuine problems in my constituency. I say to whatever Government are in power that the people affected by those problems deserve to have their voices heard.

What I need this Government to understand is that many people in my area who do work hard, who do put in to the system, genuinely do not get the rewards that their labour should deliver. I need this Government to understand that in my constituency poverty, including

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extreme poverty where people are pushed to rely on food banks, now affects people who are in work. In my borough, 24% of all the jobs, nearly a quarter, and 47% or about half of all part-time jobs pay below the living wage. Most of all, I need the Government to understand that the answers to those problems require Britain to be engaged in the world around us, and particularly engaged in the world economy and in the European Union.

If one thing is absolutely paramount to the prosperity of my area, it is Britain’s membership of the EU. We still have substantial manufacturing in my area, and I have no doubt we would lose a great deal of it if we chose to leave the EU. I believe that even the uncertainty caused by holding a referendum will be to our economic detriment, but I hope it will end an even greater period of uncertainty by decisively confirming our membership of the EU once and for all.

I am not sure that it will be as straightforward as that, however. Having sat in this Parliament for the last five years, it is clear to me that a sizeable number of Conservative Back Benchers would not be happy even if our European neighbours agreed to change the name of Europe to “Greater Britain”. Realistically, while there are several annoying things about the EU that might need to be reformed or changed—from where the Parliament sits to eligibility and reciprocity in respect of tax credits—I see us facing three main choices.

First, we could withdraw from the EU altogether and suffer catastrophic economic damage. Secondly, we could withdraw from the EU, but still sign up to the single market via a Norway-style free trade agreement under which we would still pay a fee to gain access to the single market and be forced to implement all the EU’s rules without having a say in any of them. That would surely be disadvantageous. Thirdly, we could remain part of the EU and part of the single market, and, in doing so, secure a say in the rules of that single market. It is pretty obvious to me where our national interest lies in those three options.

I hope that we shall start to see the real issues in the debate come to the forefront. I hope even more that it will mark the start of a period of real engagement in Europe, in which we shall have the confidence to form the alliances and relationships that will make the EU work even better for us. We had it under Tony Blair and under Gordon Brown, but we have not had it under the present Prime Minister, and we need to get it back.

9.20 pm

Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab): I am extremely grateful to be called. Let me begin by paying tribute to all the Members who have made their maiden speeches—very fine maiden speeches—during the debate. I am confident that Members on both sides of the House will benefit from their contributions over the next five years.

As the right hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr Burns) said last week, this was a true-blue Tory Queen’s Speech whose centrepiece was the EU referendum. Our party has said that it will go along with the referendum, and I support that, but let us be clear that the Prime Minister was forced into it from a position of weakness, not strength. He was forced into it because, in the last Parliament, 50 Tory Members rebelled in the EU budget vote. He was forced into it because, in the last Parliament,

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the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) tabled an amendment to the Gracious Address, and he was forced to support that.

The EU referendum is a result of the Prime Minister’s weakness, and, as the Government Whips are well aware, it would take just nine Tory Members voting in our Lobby to sink any piece of Government legislation. During this Parliament, because of his slender majority, the Prime Minister may well experience the chaos of which he warned during the general election campaign.

I will campaign for us to remain in the European Union. What worries me about the referendum is that all the energy and animating spirit of the Prime Minister and the Government will now be directed towards the renegotiation. Rather than spending his valuable time with other European leaders discussing energy security and the energy threats from eastern Europe, or matters relating to the Greek financial crisis, the Prime Minister will spend all of it discussing the intricacies of the treaty of Rome, just to satisfy his own Back Benchers.

The problem relates to a range of foreign policy issues, As we heard from the right hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan), there are mutterings that we are withdrawing from the world—that the United Kingdom is not playing its role on issues such as climate change, poverty, security and terrorism, and that we are retreating from the world stage. We are reducing our military capability, and there are strains on our domestic capability. It seems that not only do we no longer carry a big stick, but we do not even speak softly any more.

There are two areas in which I think the Government have been complacent. We have a Prime Minister and a Chancellor who, as far as I am aware, have not said a single word, let alone taken a single step, in relation to the emerging economic crisis in China, which is in the grip of one of the worst stock market frenzies in history. Millions of ordinary Chinese people are borrowing money that they cannot repay to invest in what they think will be one-way bets on rising stocks. Just three weeks ago, a real estate company on the Chinese stock market saw its shares rise by 10%, simply because it had changed its name to something that sounded more like the name of a technology firm. That is madness. History teaches us that it will end in tears, and those tears will be shed not just in China, but in Britain. It used to be said that, when America sneezed, Britain caught a cold. When China eventually sneezes, Britain will be in bed for a year, and, as far as I can see, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have done nothing.

We are equally complacent about India. We talk about increasing our trade, but the number of students coming from India has fallen by 36%. In the last Parliament, the Home Secretary talked of increasing a £3,000 visa bond for visitors from India. I hope that that is not on the agenda now. On the questions of China and India, and on a range of other foreign policy matters, we are becoming increasingly complacent, and withdrawing from the world.

I hope that the Foreign Secretary will think again about many of those matters.

9.24 pm

Mary Creagh (Wakefield) (Lab): May I begin by paying tribute to our armed forces and the work they are doing across the world to protect our country and

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Britain’s national interests? We remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the last Parliament and we must never forget them. I also pay tribute to Foreign Office and DFID staff working often in challenging environments to improve people’s lives. I warmly congratulate the Secretary of State for International Development on her reappointment and on the commitment she personally has shown to the advancement of women and girls across the world. We also congratulate her colleagues the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Mr Swayne), on his reappointment, and the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), formerly known as Michael Green. He has shown that being deputy chairman of the Conservative party is no barrier to promotion to higher things, and we wish him well as he starts his big, proper Government job.

All three DFID Ministers have the great privilege and duty of delivering change to the poorest people in the world at a time of significant challenges. If we in this House wish to end the abuse of power, to end inequality in education and health, and to end the waste of worklessness and transform our world, we must rise to meet the challenges of globalisation, technology and migration. We believe we achieve more by our common endeavour than we achieve alone.

But this Queen’s Speech was notable for the things it did not mention as much as for those it did. The right hon. Lady’s party promised to scrap the Human Rights Act yet there was nothing on that in the Gracious Speech. We on the Labour Benches believe human rights are universal and inalienable. Mature democracies like ours should support the development of free societies everywhere while upholding our own legal and moral obligations.

Britain helped draft the European convention on human rights after the genocide of world war two. What message does it send to the bigots and tyrants of the world if we leave that convention? If we turn our back on human rights, what hope is there for those awaiting the death penalty in prisons around the world? What message does that send to Burma, Syria, North Korea, Sri Lanka and Iran?

Workers’ rights are also human rights, so will the right hon. Lady use some of the £1.8 billion she has earmarked for economic development to work with trade unions to tackle the abuses of migrant workers building Qatar’s 2022 World cup stadiums? The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that 1,200 workers have died so far. That is the human toll of FIFA’s corruption. The deaths of those people are a stain on the beautiful game. The right hon. Lady’s Government should organise a summit to press for change at FIFA, and that change must also include a review of the decision to award the World cup to Qatar.

Today we face the greatest refugee crisis since the second world war, with 55 million people in need of our help. Over the past two years we have seen a huge tragedy unfolding in the Mediterranean. People fleeing conflict in Syria, Libya and Eritrea are putting their lives into the hands of the traffickers because the world is turning away in their hour of need. The right hon. Lady’s Government were wrong to withdraw from the Mare Nostrum Mediterranean rescue force saying it acted as a pull factor, but they were right to realise their mistake, to correct it and to participate in the new

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Mediterranean rescue force, and we pay tribute to our armed forces who are engaged in that task.

This country has a proud history of helping those fleeing persecution, yet we have offered safe haven via the United Nations to fewer people than Germany, Austria, Canada, Sweden, France and even Australia. The right hon. Lady’s Government have resettled just 187 Syrian refugees under the UK’s vulnerable persons relocation scheme. Labour Members now urge her to work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to offer safe haven to the children of Syria.

Sir Alan Duncan: Given that we have given 25 times more than the French to assist those fleeing from Syria, does the hon. Lady think it also right that we should be put on the same basis for taking as many people into this country, when most of them would rather go back to their own land?

Mary Creagh: The right hon. Gentleman talks about our previous work. Under the UN scheme, we took 2,500 people from Bosnia and 4,000 Kosovar Albanians when our troops were engaged in the no-fly zone and the airstrikes in the former Yugoslavia. It is not a question of either/or; it is a question of and/and. Our country’s proud tradition of offering safe haven to those fleeing persecution should not be forgotten.

We heard some excellent speeches, including from the right hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan), but I will concentrate on Members who made their maiden speech. There was an excellent contribution from the hon. Member for Fareham (Suella Fernandes), who shared her family’s personal story in a powerful and eloquent maiden speech. My hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Melanie Onn) reminded us of the question of what happens when the renewables run out. She fought off UKIP in her seat, and she set out the future for her town, with 4,000 new green jobs in the energy sector in partnership with the European Union. The hon. Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) made her maiden speech, and we are glad to hear that her constituency is recovering from the floods. There was also an excellent speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Julie Cooper), who shared with us the fact that 90% of sound systems in Hollywood are made in Burnley, which we will all think about when we watch the next blockbuster.

We heard an excellent speech from the hon. Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Ms Ahmed-Sheikh), who talked about the importance of women’s participation in politics. She represents a constituency that combines both The Famous Grouse and Gleneagles—she has the best of both worlds.

We heard a moving tribute to the members of our armed forces and about the needs of veterans from the new hon. Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer). He paid a moving tribute to Lance Sergeant Dan Collins, who took his own life, and Lance Bombardier Mark Chandler, who was killed in action in Afghanistan. Those were deeply moving moments that this Chamber will not forget in a hurry.

We also heard a great speech from the new hon. Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield). She and I share an Irish heritage, although I cannot say that I have

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burned any effigies of the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond), although there is always time—so good, they burned him twice!

The hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson) made an excellent speech, and he talked about the importance of Bombardier to his constituency.

My hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn) spoke movingly about how he was a child of the peace process. He talked about the contribution of the Irish community and the difference it has made to Britain. We also had two speeches from Members who can perhaps be described, in the words of Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles,” as maidens no more: the Mayor of London, who is also known as the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), and the right hon. Member for Gordon, who waxed lyrical on the Prime Minister’s secret renegotiations with the EU. He compared the renegotiations to the South Sea Company, whereby a company was set up but people were not allowed to know its purpose until it was all finished.

We heard excellent speeches from the new hon. Member for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan) on the need for the military covenant to be recognised in Northern Ireland and from the new hon. Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann), who described delivering his own and others’ election literature.

The hon. Member for Portsmouth South (Mrs Drummond) rightly reminded us of the debt we owe the intelligence services.

The new hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) began by wishing peace on this House and ended by wishing peace on the world.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mrs Trevelyan) reminded us of Sir William Beveridge, one of her predecessors, and the importance of realising the potential of every child.

The hon. and gallant Member for Wells (James Heappey) spoke eloquently of his service to his country in Basra, Kabul and Sangin.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) spoke of the proud history of non-conformism in her constituency and our duty to accept more refugees.

The hon. Member for Dudley South (Mike Wood) also spoke about the importance of businesses in his constituency and the need to keep working in Europe.

Let me turn to the three immediate tasks ahead of the International Development Secretary in the next six months: the financing for development summit in July; the sustainable development summit in September; and the climate summit in December. Those international summits will shape the life chances of millions of people, yet only one, the climate summit, received a mention in the Gracious Speech. Will she encourage her right hon. Friend the Chancellor to attend the financing for development summit, to demonstrate UK leadership? It will be crucial to convince other wealthy countries to make their fair contribution to put poorer nations on the path to a low-carbon, secure and sustainable future.

At September’s summit, the world must focus the new sustainable development goals on the growing gap between rich and poor. Inequality reduces growth, hindering development. Ensuring women’s political, social, economic

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and human rights will help eradicate poverty and achieve inclusive economic growth. Across the world, millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face criminalisation, hatred and persecution. Inequalities in gender, caste, race, sexuality, community, disability, religion, and ethnicity far too often determine people’s life chances. Ensuring that everyone has access to healthcare is essential to ending poverty. The best way to protect against disease is to build a resilient, publicly controlled, publicly funded health service. With Ebola still lingering in Sierra Leone and Guinea, will the International Development Secretary now prioritise the provision of universal health coverage in the sustainable development goals?

The third summit is the climate summit in December. As many right hon. and hon. Members have said, the effect of climate change will hit the poorest people hardest. Eradicating poverty goes hand in hand with tackling climate change. If we do not cap temperature rises below 2°, millions of people will fall back into poverty. DFID must be fully involved in the preparations and negotiations for the climate conference. The climate change crisis is not an abstract geography and weather question, but a threat to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

The Gracious Speech was marked by the commitment to the EU referendum. Our country needs strong alliances around the world. Those alliances start in Europe, and a strong Britain benefits from a strong European Union. The Prime Minister has been uncharacteristically coy about what he is trying to renegotiate with other EU leaders. Labour Members look forward to making the case for remaining in the biggest market in the world, the protector of our rights and freedoms as workers and consumers, and the most successful peace process the world has ever seen.

In conclusion, there is an ambition across this House to see a better world, as Members from both sides have passionately made clear in a range of speeches today. The last Labour Government cancelled debt, trebled the aid budget, and brokered ambitious deals on trade and climate change. We will not allow that history to be rewritten by Conservative Members. In Opposition, we will support the Government unfailingly and in good faith where it is appropriate to do so. Where it is not, we will force them to act, as we did when the Government failed to act on their 2010 manifesto promise to commit 0.7% of gross national income to international development aid. This Government must not squander the leadership role that the 0.7% commitment gives them. As many hon. Members have said in this debate, we have to choose and shape Britain’s future place in Europe and in the world. As the global village becomes smaller and more connected, we believe we must build a world where power, wealth and opportunity is in the hands of the many, not the few, and where we achieve more by our common endeavour than we achieve alone.

9.39 pm

The Secretary of State for International Development (Justine Greening): I am delighted to have the impossible task of trying to wind up a wide-ranging debate on an incredibly important topic. It has been characterised by some outstanding maiden speeches by Members from across the House and I will do my best to do them justice in wrapping up.

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I should start by saying how proud I am to have been re-elected to represent my own community of Putney, Roehampton and Southfields. I am very proud to have achieved a bigger majority, with a bigger share of the vote, in 2015 than I did in 2010. It is a real privilege for me to be able to continue to represent my local community, as it is for many other Members across the House.

On this important debate today, there can be no argument that the actions this country takes on the world stage matter to all of our lives here in Britain, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) pointed out, history shows that we often shape the lives of so many others beyond these shores as well. By standing tall in the world, Britain not only protects our interests but promotes them. It stands up for the values we believe in, and does the right thing by the poorest people on the planet.

We should be clear that these issues are not either/or options; in fact they go hand in hand. We know that in today’s world, global problems such as migration, disease and terrorism all find their way on to our doorsteps. Instability in a country such as Somalia can end up affecting us through piracy. We either tackle and shape those problems, or they will tackle and shape us instead. It has never been clearer that our national security and long-term economic prosperity depend on greater prosperity and security in the wider world.

By contrast, countries that progress successfully on the path of development— countries such as China or India—present our country with huge economic opportunities. We can either make the most of those emerging economic opportunities, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick) said, or risk being left behind by those countries that will take advantage of the opportunities.

As I have said, this House has heard many excellent contributions today, and I want to pick up on a number of them, especially the incredibly impressive maiden speeches. I am proud that our Conservative intake includes people from all walks of life, including from military service, and the NHS. We also now have a former postman. All those Members have a real ethos of public service, which led them to stand and be elected to represent their own communities. I am immensely proud to welcome all of them to the House today.

Let me pick up on a few contributions. First, I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) is back in the House. We have missed his colour over the years, and we look forward to more new words, such as schmoozathon, over the coming months. It is also great to see the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) back a second time around. He must have made a number of maiden speeches over the course of his career.

The hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Melanie Onn) gave us a fantastic opening speech. She has a tough act to follow. I often wondered whether her predecessor had found his own renewable energy source that he drew on over the years. I have no doubt that she will do a great job representing her local community without necessarily having to change her name to that of a local fish, as her predecessor did.

Let me turn now to the speeches made by my new hon. Friends. As first generation migrants, my hon. Friends the Members for Fareham (Suella Fernandes)

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and for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) set out their take on being able to contribute to our country and talked about the aspirations that their parents had when they arrived here. Whatever debate we have around having good controls over our immigration policy, the success or otherwise of those people who make their lives here is intrinsically linked to the success of our country, and we should never ever forget that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) talked about Somerset being the gateway to the south-west I am pleased that with the investment going into the A303 it will be a gateway that remains open rather than closed for the future.

I will continue to speak until 10 o’clock, Mr Speaker, if that is acceptable to you. I just want to ensure that we both understand how I am approaching my closing speech.

The hon. Member for Burnley (Julie Cooper) talked about the northern powerhouse. I am pleased she recognised the Chancellor’s aim of setting our northern cities and regions on their feet again, contributing to our economy. I know, having grown up just outside Sheffield, the contribution those cities can make. She recognised the strategy that is now in place and talked about how the old mills are being reinvented for the 21st century. That is exactly the kind of change we want to see in those communities and I can assure her that we will work through many of the Bills in the Queen’s Speech to continue to stimulate economic growth right across our country.

I pay tribute to the maiden speech from the hon. Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Ms Ahmed-Sheikh), from the SNP, who talked about job creation and how important it is in her local community. That point was also made by the new hon. Members for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson), for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan) and for St Helens North (Conor McGinn). They were all powerful introductions to the House and I pay tribute to those Members.

As the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) mentioned, perhaps one of the most moving speeches we heard today was from my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer). He clearly comes to this House having set himself a real mission and it is one with which we can all agree and, I hope, support, particularly his aims of helping to improve support for people with mental health issues in our country and understanding how that affects veterans and people who have served in our armed forces. I certainly remember a case in my constituency of a man who had served in Northern Ireland and had come back and spent years suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which took a great toll not only on him personally but on his wider family. My hon. Friend has set himself a noble mission and I wish him all the best in tackling it.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann), who is now no longer a postman, is incredibly welcome in the House. He talked about how he wants the message of aspiration and blue collar Conservatism to run through everything we do as a party and as a Government. I could not agree with him more. I also went to my local comprehensive school and came from a very ordinary background and his

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achievements in reaching this House are significant. I wish him well in his future career. I should also take this opportunity to say a big thank you to my postman, Ryan, who pointed out to me during the election just how heavy his postbag was, delivering not only my literature, as he pointed out, but everyone else’s.

My hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth South (Mrs Drummond), aside from pointing out her cycling prowess, again talked about the importance of her local economy and how it is steadily changing to be as successful in the 21st century as it was in the 20th century. I was in university in Southampton and knew Portsmouth very well from that time. It is a fantastic city and I know that she will do a great job in representing the communities that elected her.

As I wrap up my tributes to those who made such great maiden speeches, let me mention my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mrs Trevelyan). I remember going up to visit her when she was campaigning assiduously in the run-up to the election and I can tell her that being a chartered accountant is a good thing and will give her all the skills she needs to be successful in this House. She made a good bid in the competition for the most beautiful constituency.

The hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) also described how passionate she is and what drove her to become an MP. The values and the faith that she brings to her role will no doubt stand her in good stead. I liked her account of the radical traditions of her community and how she aims to continue those. My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley South (Mike Wood), who has a tough act to follow in many respects, spoke eloquently about the job that he plans to do for his local community. I have no doubt that he will be extremely successful.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary set out how, by maintaining a strong economy, this Government can pursue a foreign policy that will deliver a stronger, more secure and more prosperous Britain.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) highlighted in his speech the importance of international institutions to which the UK belongs. We face many complex challenges from EU reform, which we will no doubt debate at length in the House over the coming months and years. Many Members spoke about that today, including my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mark Pawsey).

Migration is another complex challenge. Back in the 1980s people in Britain first became aware of the challenges to international development posed by poverty. They saw people in Ethiopia suffering and starving because of the famine there. Those people had no idea of the world that the rest of us were living in. They had no conception of their state, compared with everyone else’s. That has changed. People are no longer willing to accept a life sentence of poverty. They are aware of the prospects in the rest of the world and we can expect them to try to get a better life for themselves. We must be prepared to continue the work that we are doing, levelling up their part of the world and helping to create jobs, opportunity and prosperity where they are. That is why the work that DFID is doing not just in responding to humanitarian crises, but in upping our game on economic development, doing more work on jobs and

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livelihoods, is so important in tackling the root causes of the problem that we are now seeing daily on our doorstep.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) described many of the challenges that we face, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart), with reference to the threat posed by ISIL and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. Our diplomacy will continue to be as important as ever, alongside our military prowess, in tackling those challenges.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman) was right to point out that we should not forget the importance of the middle east peace process and issues such as Kashmir as we debate the broader foreign policy challenges that we face. In a thoughtful but extremely short speech, the hon. Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) covered important points for the House to reflect on, which featured also in the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

This Government are committed to doing whatever is necessary to keep Britain safe at all times. We have the biggest defence budget in the EU and the second biggest in NATO, and we will maintain strong, modern armed forces.

Sir Gerald Howarth: My right hon. Friend mentions that we have the largest defence budget in the EU, but serious concerns have been expressed by our principal ally. Will she address those?

Justine Greening: My hon. Friend is right to point out the challenges associated with continuing to invest to maintain our defence in future. The Prime Minister has been incredibly clear that we will meet our 2% commitment this coming year—[Interruption.] As my hon. Friend knows, we hosted the NATO summit in Wales. We hear chuntering from the Opposition Benches, but we need take no lectures from those whose Government left us with a hole of £38 billion in our defence budget. For that they should be truly ashamed of themselves. We have cleared up that mess. We are living within our means and at the same time we are investing in our military equipment—investing more than inflation and making sure we maintain our troops. We will continue to do that. My right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) and my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon) spoke passionately about how important that commitment is.

That requires us all to work effectively across government. Indeed, the days when one could look at the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development as separate Departments that tackle separate issues are over. A long-term, joined-up approach is absolutely essential, as my hon. Friends the Members for Reigate (Crispin Blunt) and for Gloucester (Richard Graham) said. The good news is that the UK Government have never worked together as seamlessly as we do today. On threats to our security, for example, DFID has worked hand in hand with the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone. Those efforts have not only saved countless lives in west Africa, but helped to prevent a global health crisis that could have been far deadlier than it was and even threatened the UK.