The first of the 148 Conservative MPs of the 2010 intake to make his maiden speech was Richard Harrington, who rose for the first time in the Commons at 5.32pm yesterday, the very first day of the new Parliament.
Aside from paying tribute to his Labour predecessor as MP for Watford, Claire Ward, he began with a little self-deprecating humour:
"I fear I did not make the cut for Cameron’s cuties, so I have to rely on Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail.
He referred to my stature in Parliament as broadly equivalent to that
of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames) and of
the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right
hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr Pickles). However, I
think Mr Littlejohn was referring not to political stature but to my
He went on to emphasise the importance of encouraging young people to enter the world of business:
"To me, one of the most important parts of the
Government’s programme—this came out in the Queen’s Speech—is providing
a business environment where people are incentivised to create
employment for others. If I do nothing else in Watford, and in my
political career, I would like to be able to do this one thing: I would
like to change the attitude to business among young people, together
with a Government who are able to give them incentives to fill the
empty shops and offices, so that we make business something that people
want to do. I have spoken at many schools in Watford, and always to
very bright young people. I say to them, “What do you all want to do
after university?” but so few of them want to start businesses. It is
not fashionable, and it should be. Government can incentivise people,
but it is the responsibility of us all to encourage people to go into
"The very large number of young unemployed people in
this country—1 million—is obviously a scandal, but boiling that down to
individuals, I believe that it is the job of Government to facilitate
some form of change. I was delighted to hear in the Queen’s Speech that
the welfare reform Bill, much of which is based on our election
manifesto, is to provide interesting schemes, such as a mentoring
scheme for small businesses and sole traders to take in young people
and give them a chance."
Two further Conservative maiden speeches followed during the course of yesterday's debate on the Queen's Speech:
"Like Robin Hood, I have a desire to counter over-taxation, to protect the most vulnerable in society, and to make sure that oppressive government does not bring misery on the people."
He went on to outline his desire to see the promotion of localism and power being passed back down to lower levels, and called for driving without due care and attention to attract a three-point penalty on driving licences. He also welcomed the proposed abolition of regional spatial strategies:
"They have put enormous pressure on the greenbelt in my constituency, and they fill residents with fear. Those people live in villages and towns, but they cannot escape them at rush hour, because of the amount of traffic on the roads. I hope that we can find a method to give local authorities the power to look much more strategically at where they place housing, because there are areas of my constituency that need extra housing, and we would welcome developments not only for younger people who want to live near their families, but for older people who want to stay in their village."
"Tourism in this country has declined rapidly over the past 20 years, and in its place there is a lot of deprivation. I should like the coalition Government to do something to address areas of deprivation and the fact that sometimes in the forgotten-about coastal areas, social issues slip through the net. I would like to be a champion for the town of Morecambe and its regeneration plans, and I wish to say here and now that I will always fight the corner of the disadvantaged, not just in Morecambe but in all the other areas of the country that have similar problems."
He went on to speak out in favour of nuclear power – "I will always fight the corner of the nuclear power industry… because if we do not, in 10 years’ time the lights will go out" – and welcomed the Coalition's promotion of localism, whilst opposing the siting of wind farms in the middle of areas of outstanding natural beauty in his constituency.
As a candidate who unsuccessfully fought a seat in 2001, he offered his view that William Hague is "the best Prime Minister we never had".
As the rest of the new intake settle in to life in the Commons over the coming days, weeks and months, ConservativeHome will be seeking to highlight their maiden speeches as they make them.