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Two maiden speeches by members of the new Conservative intake this week have taken particular time to praise the work of social enterprises, charities and community groups.

Fuller Richard Richard Fuller, who gained Bedford, said during Tuesday's debate on the Budget:

“The challenge for the Government, met in the Budget, is to balance our books while rewarding work; to find a way in which our public services can support and raise up the people of this country who need their help, and not—as happens too frequently, despite the best intentions—hold them down. I believe that a key to that is unleashing the power, potential, leadership and creativity of our social enterprises and charities.”

“In Bedford, groups of charities have already come together in a formal coalition, Consortico, which will enable them better to compete for the contracts that local government offers. Those charities and social entrepreneurs need the Government as an ally who will enable them to overcome the inertia and intransigence of some arms of the bureaucratic state. We need the leaders of the arms of the bureaucratic state to become champions of unbundling their privileges, not intransigent defenders of their own interests.”

He concluded:

“It is said that courage is often found in the most challenging times. With the very difficult measures that he proposed in his speech today, the Chancellor has shown us the courage that is needed, and that he can set us on the right course. We need a House that can both strive for the most important interests of this country and amplify the weakest and quietest voices in our community. The people need a House that can be a beacon for liberty, freedom and democracy for those in the world for whom those are still ideals and not reality. We need a House that will restore probity to the public finances, so that future generations of Britons are not shackled by the excesses of this generation. The Budget has made a start.”

Jones Andrew Meanwhile, as the debate continued yesterday,the new MP for Harrogate and Knartesborough, Andrew Jones, echoed many of those sentiments:

"One of the reasons for the high quality of life in Harrogate and Knaresborough is the quantity and range of community groups and social enterprises. I have been particularly impressed on my visits to social enterprises such as Paperworks, Claro Enterprises, Horticap and the Little Red Bus. Numerous voluntary groups do so much to add to the quality of life in our area, and there are 400 charities registered. I have seen the difference that volunteering and social enterprises make, and I welcome the Government’s support for the third sector."

He went on to highlight the importance of tackling debt:

"I heard comment after comment from people fearful of the scale of debts facing our country, knowing that the action to deal with them would not be easy. People have understood that the need to tackle the issue was urgent, but that there would be better times ahead when the consequences of the previous Government’s debts are dealt with.

"There is a lesson from Harrogate on the benefits of clearing debts. The local council has been active in repaying its debts, keen to clear liabilities and save taxpayers paying for interest. Paying interest does not appeal to Yorkshiremen and women—we are famous for liking value. Paying interest is using funds that could be put to better purpose. In this case, I believe that the money that is being saved will be used to expand the local recycling service. The contrast is stark: paying interest, or investing in environmental initiatives. In less than three years, the council will be debt free—the consequences of a good Conservative administration. It will take us far longer than that to clear the debts that we have inherited."

Jonathan Isaby

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