Here are excerpts from four more maiden speeches delivered during Thursday’s debate on poverty.
“It is not just one thing that needs to change. Low income, family breakdown, addiction, mental health problems and criminal behaviour contribute to a lack of expectation that, in turn, leads to inactivity. Charities find themselves too small to help; agencies find it too difficult and authorities find it too expensive. Complex problems may require multiple solutions, but unless we invest our time, energy and support, deprivation in parts of one of the most advanced countries in the world will continue to blight our nation.
“I have heard many maiden speeches over the past few weeks, and the one thing all new Members share is the desire to make a difference. While I am in Parliament, I want to accomplish many things on behalf of all my constituents, but I hope that improving the plight of the poorest will be my greatest achievement. The Government must of course cut the deficit, but our legacy must be to reduce the dreadful levels of poverty and give every person in my constituency and throughout the country the standard of living they deserve.”
“First, I wish to say a quick word about international poverty. As a former ambassador for ActionAid, I believe that whatever economic difficulties we face nationally, we must not neglect our responsibilities as a civilised nation to act to reduce world poverty. Hunger kills 3.5 million children every year—one every 10 seconds—and we must do all we can to end it.
“Even closer to home, we have issues of poverty to tackle, and that is even more important now than ever before. I see that in areas across my constituency. Currently, 2.9 million children are living in poverty in this country, which prevents them from having the fair start in life that all children deserve. We will work to change this. I agree with the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) that our first task is to ensure that we give children the best education possible and give them the skills that will make a real difference to their lives. After that, it is about cutting the deficit and creating jobs for the future, so that we can create a strong and stable future for us all.”
David Nuttall, who gained Bury North from Labour spoke with the hinterland of a working-class background in the “Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire” and concluded that there was no reason why anyone should be categorised as living in poverty:
“I note that nowadays poverty comes in all sorts of technical categories. We have “severe” poverty, “relative” poverty, “absolute” poverty and “persistent” poverty, but it seems to me that, with our welfare system and the vast amounts that we spend on welfare in Britain today, there is no reason why any of our fellow citizens should be categorised as living in poverty. It is incumbent on us all to look at how we are spending our welfare budget. It is the poverty of aspiration and ambition, which is so pervasive and widespread among many in the lower socio-economic groups, that is the real problem. In that regard, I hope that perhaps my achievements can be an inspiration to others.”
Finally, Jessica Lee , the new MP for Erewash – who has legal experience in this area, as well as having worked with the Centre for Social Justice – offered her services to Frank Field as he reviews these matters:
“I applaud my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that there will be a review on poverty in the UK and how the state can assist the least advantaged. The whole House benefited from the contribution to the debate made by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field), who will lead the review, and I look forward to assisting in any way that I can.
“Agencies working together locally to assist families is the key to fighting poverty. The reality is that the state cannot and should not seek to provide all the answers to this complex problem by itself. We have a dedicated voluntary sector with many large and small charities that help disadvantaged families in the UK. Further steps to enable the third sector to work hand in hand with social services and adult services are to be encouraged.
“Before I was elected to the House, it was my privilege to work as a lawyer specialising in cases concerning children and their welfare. The consequences for children of a life in poverty were all too clear to see in my daily work. Family breakdown, substance misuse, personal debt and educational failure can all too easily follow, and the consequences for children can be far-reaching and devastating. I will contribute in any way that I can to the ongoing debate on protecting children and ending the cycle of poverty that can perpetuate.”