By Jonathan Isaby
“I will be eternally grateful to the good people of South Basildon and East Thurrock for sending me here. They have put great trust in me. I intend to repay that trust by being open and honest with them, and accessible and available. My one aim is to ensure not only that they have a voice, but that that voice is heard.”
Citing that his constituency is “a very industrious area, in which business plays an important role in the community”, he went on to speak in support of the Academies Bill in that context:
“Companies thrive on having a supply of well-educated, enthusiastic and aspirational people. It is our duty as politicians to provide an education framework that delivers that, and I believe that the Bill that we are scrutinising today will do exactly that. It feeds into the need to provide a well-educated work force for the future. It is through our businesses and through innovation that we will get our country back on track.”
“From my experience of discussions with governors, staff and teachers, I know that they are desperate to show that they know what is best for them and their pupils, and that they know how best to serve their local communities. We must give them the opportunity to do that. I fear that the amendment would hinder that process and deprive my constituents of the chance to access academies at the earliest possible opportunity.
“These issues are vitally important to my constituents. Essex attracts many preconceptions: I think that many people misunderstand it. We are a proud county. We have our foibles, but I think that, as well as being proud, we are hard-working, industrious and generous. Those traits-combined with the opportunities that I believe the Bill, unamended, gives us-will help us to emerge from the challenges of the past 13 years.”
Meanwhile, the same debate saw the first speech in the Common chamber itself from Rory Stewart, the new MP for Penrith and the Border.
He gave his first fully-fledged speech as an MP in Westminster Hall, but used the opportunity of his first speech in the chamber to pay tribute to his predecessor, the former Chief Whip, David Maclean:
“In Westminster Hall, I was unable to recognise the extraordinary service that David Maclean paid to this House over 27 years. I thought that I was stepping into big shoes, but I had no idea how large. I remember climbing up a snowdrift in December last year feeling like Scott of the Antarctic reaching an isolated farmstead to find that David Maclean, like Amundsen, had already been there before me, and repeatedly. As I have moved around over the past few weeks, I have seen the incredible care that he paid to his constituents. Every time I pick up a sheaf of documents, I can see that he has written no fewer than 11 letters of astonishing energy and specificity.
“During the debate over the past two days, I have often heard the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) ask people to answer the question. On the basis of the letters that I have seen, Mr Maclean answered the question repeatedly, and with vigour and honour. When asked, for example, about windmills, he did not simply say, like an ex-civil servant such as myself, "On the one hand, but then on the other," but instead attacked the technology and the proposal and ensured that people organised as a social committee to oppose it.”