More maiden speeches from yesterday’s debate on the Queen’s Speech, focusing on the economy.
“Much has already been said—and, I am sure, will continue to be said—about spending cuts and tax rises, but more needs to be said about supporting private sector businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. We rely on our private sector businesses to provide employment, to train apprentices, to give people skills and, of course, to supply exports.
“In March in Loughborough, just before the election campaign started, we received the devastating news that AstraZeneca is to close its Charnwood site, with the loss of at least 1,200 jobs locally. I hope that I will have the opportunity in future debates to raise a number of issues relating to the closure. I am proud to be part of the taskforce, of which my predecessor Andy Reed was a vital part, that is working to fill the site and plug the gap. I hope that we will end up not with a black hole in the middle of Charnwood, but with a site that new businesses and many other industries can use, so that we can still have a full manufacturing sector in the town.
“We need to support strong manufacturing businesses, particularly with regard to research and development. Although manufacturing accounts for only about 20% of our economy, it accounts for about 75% of research and development in this country. The services sector is important, but manufacturers take on apprentices and give people new skills in a way that the services sector does not necessarily do so. We need both. I am delighted to see that, in the coalition agreement, the Government mentioned the need for a more balanced economy; in fact, that was mentioned earlier today, too.”
“Far too often, young people who go into manufacturing or engineering are seen as taking a second-class career, whereas we reward and sing the praises of people who go into accountancy, the law or public relations. We do not sing enough the praises of our designers, engineers and manufacturers. We need to change that ethos and have a similar one to that of Germany or Japan. We will have a truly vibrant economy only when we recreate the Victorian spirit of ingenuity and inventiveness that made Britain such a vibrant country, as I am sure it will be again.
“I truly welcome the Prime Minister’s comments about the importance of manufacturing and I hope that the Treasury team listen well to his comments and do not spend all their time listening to bankers. They should also listen to manufacturers, because we often have a lot more common sense than bankers. I hope I can play my part in representing South Staffordshire and the people of a beautiful and lovely constituency, and that I can ensure their voices are heard loud and clear in this Chamber.”
“I have to say—even though this is a maiden speech, I will be controversial—that to hear Labour Members in many of these debates is to be in never-never land; they have not once accepted any blame for what happened and they seem to think that we can just sail on as before. In many of their eloquent speeches it appears that they have forgotten that wealth creation is the most important element in getting us out of this recession. I heard the right hon. Member for Oldham West and Royton (Mr Meacher), who I believe has been in the House for 40 years, say that he was going to tax those in The Sunday Times rich list. Of course, one of the results of their being rich is that they can leave the country in about half an hour, so if he were to go down that route, a lot of them would leave and he would not bring in any more money to the Exchequer.
“One of the right hon. Gentleman’s remarks reminded me of the story of the man who, when leaving a gentlemen’s club—it might have been the Carlton Club—in 1970 gave the footman sixpence. The footman looked at him and said, “That is only sixpence”, to which he replied, “Ah, it is sixpence to you, but it is a pound to me.” That was because income tax was at 95 or 97%. We cannot go down the road that the right hon. Gentleman suggests, and the Conservatives have stressed again and again that the only way to get out of this difficulty is to try to let business grow.
“I should say that the truest words said in this debate were uttered by someone making a maiden speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), who said that the private sector is the “backbone of our economy”. In my few weeks in the House, I have not heard any truer words uttered in it. That is something that we have to be absolutely focused on, in terms of getting out of the recession. I hate to say this, but I find it staggering that Labour Members have not had the good grace to come to the House to apologise and to show some recognition of the very real problems that we face and the solutions that we need to get out of this situation.”