Yesterday was day two of the new Parliament and three more Conservative MPs delivered their maiden speeches.
He spoke fondly of his constituency, highlighting its links with both Pitts, Wilberforce (not to mention Enid Blyton) and shared this anecdote about another former Prime Minister:
"There is a rumour that the greatest Englishman of them all, Sir Winston Churchill, used to stop off in my constituency for a tipple on the way to Chartwell. I have investigated all the public houses in Keston, Bromley Common, West Wickham and Hayes in my attempt to check whether that is correct. So far, I have failed, but I promise that I will keep up the endeavour."
He went on to speak about military casualties in conflicts and the treatment of veterans:
"Since this day last year, we have lost 125 soldiers in Afghanistan. If we use the ratio of one person killed to about three to five wounded, which the military often does, we have casualty losses of something like 625 people since this time last year. That is horrific. It is not all the 9,000-plus military people in Afghanistan whom I am talking about, but more particularly what the Army calls the Bayonets—some 2,000 to 3,000 people who do the business of closing with the enemy, going out of their camps each day to do what they have been trained to do. They know what the casualty rate is, and so do their families, but they nevertheless continue to go out for us each day. Their courage is tremendous, and we all know that courage is not the absence of fear but its mastery. Our soldiers do that for us every day.
"Looking into things further, we also need to consider how many more of these people are going to suffer mentally—something we do not yet see. Let us think back to last week, when Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC, perhaps the bravest of the brave, admitted that his own demons drove him to consider suicide, which he actually tried. How many more men and some women are going to get the same feeling? We currently have a fabulous casualty evacuation system in place between the point of wounding and all the way through to the time people leave the armed forces. I am very happy with that and I am particularly pleased that we sometimes have a consultant flown in by a helicopter for casualty evacuation. I am nevertheless concerned about veterans once they leave the Colours, as I have been involved with them… I am delighted that the coalition programme refers to better mental health facilities for veterans. We must get this as good as we can; we owe our veterans through-life care until the end of their time."
James Morris, who gained Halesowen and Rowley Regis from Labour at the election, told the Commons that there was an urgency about "reviving the House and reconnecting it with the people who sent us here":
"At this moment in history, political leaders and those of us, like me, who are humbled to have been elected to this place need to use our imaginations to revive this place and how it operates, and how people perceive politics; forge new alliances at home and abroad; create innovation in our politics and economy; and forge new partnerships in the House for the good of the nation. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve things for this country, decentralise power from central Government to local government and communities, strengthen democratic institutions and restore trust, and, by doing that, to build a stronger nation that is able to continue to play a positive role in world affairs."
Stafford's new MP, Jeremy Lefroy, gave the Commons a detailed tour of his constituency pointing out that it is, among other things, home to the annual V music festival ("a constituency event that I have not yet had the pleasure to attend; I am probably unlikely to do so, but I receive reports on it from my teenage daughter") as well as being the seat that David Cameron himself contested in 1997:
"He is well remembered in the constituency. Indeed, I have had the pleasure of visiting one constituent who pointed out a rock in front of her house that she called the Cameron rock, because he had transported it to that place himself. That shows that manual work is not unknown to those on the Front Bench."
He went to underline his belief in seeking greater links with the Commonwealth:
"The Gracious Speech referred to pursuing 'an enhanced partnership in India', which I welcome. India is, of course, the largest country in the Commonwealth. My experience of living and working in Tanzania, which is a stalwart member, for 11 years, shows that the bonds are strong—indeed, far stronger than many in this country believe. There are great opportunities for us to trade with the Commonwealth. At the moment, it accounts only for 8% of our exports and imports, so there is the potential for far more. If we do not do that, other nations such as China will—and they already are. Economic growth depends on exports, and I am sure that the Government will be looking at every possible avenue to improve this country’s export growth. Political, educational and cultural ties are also important. As a previous speaker mentioned, soft power and strong relationships with Commonwealth countries need to be nurtured."
And he ended his well-crafted speech by quoting one of Stafford's most famous sons, Izaak Walton:
“The person that loses their conscience has nothing left worth keeping.”