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Nokes Caroline In a maiden speech delivered yesterday, Caroline Nokes, who won Romsey and Southampton North, addressed the subject of building a high-skills economy, which was the topic of yesterday's debate on the Commons:

“Even in an area where we are fortunate to have good schools, an excellent university and companies like Ford committed to Britain’s manufacturing base, there is still a disconnect between what employers want and the skills of our school leavers. It is critical that the two are matched, and that our education system works with employers to make sure there is no skills gap.”

“Of course, building a high-skilled economy is not just about the urban centres of the constituency. There are many beautiful rural villages in the north, where problems are inevitably caused by the lack of high-speed broadband—or indeed any broadband at all—but where there is also a good strong farming tradition. The fact that agriculture is traditional does not mean that it is not high-skilled; far from it. Those skills manage and maintain our countryside and, very important, keep us fed. While focusing on the high-skilled, we must ensure that we do not let Britain’s farming tradition wither."

McCartney Jason Meanwhile, Jason McCartney – who gained the West Yorkshire constituency of Colne Valley, talked about the promoting small businesses and the importance of protecting access to service in rural areas:

"Many people say to me—other Members of the House probably hear this too—that we do not make things any more, but I am proud to say that in my constituency we do. It is not on a large scale, but I have a number of enterprising, entrepreneurial and innovative businesses that have set up, sometimes in old mills, to create products that have a niche market and that are exporting around the world… It is these sorts of little enterprises that we, in a high-skilled economy, must try to promote. We have to cut the red tape; we should support them with lower taxes; we must give them the skills in the work force and the local infrastructure so that their workers can live and work locally.

“We have got to support local rural post offices… Post offices, especially the rural ones, are struggling, and our post office network was decimated in the last decade. It is important that we support them, because once they are gone, they are gone. We also need to support things such as rural bus services, so that people can live in my rural communities and work there as well."

He also lamented the recent axeing by the BBC of Last of the Summer Wine, which was set in his constituency

"That gentle comedy about Yorkshire folk, usually going downhill in a bathtub, was very much a mainstay of our television and it helped to promote tourism in my constituency. In Holmfirth, which is just a mile up the road from where I live, we have a Compo’s caff and there is a Wrinkled Stocking café just two doors down from my new constituency office, so we will really miss that opportunity to promote tourism."

Jonathan Isaby

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