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"the Tory party, unless it is a national party, is nothing".
As I suggested in an intervention on my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, we really must look at the question of the negotiations that will be necessary because we are now in government, not opposition. We have to receive legislation from Brussels and decide what we are going to do about it-not only from Brussels, but all the European institutions, which operate by majority vote, so that we do not have an option. It is not like legislation that comes from Downing street, the Cabinet Office or the legislation committee or wherever-it comes from the European Commission, which makes the proposals.
We must react to those proposals, but what are we going to do? We must decide yes or no when there is a majority vote. I shall give the House but a few examples. Recently, on the question of the bail-out, £15 billion of British guarantees were subject to a majority vote. The previous Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that there were legal guarantees. As a long-time member of
the European Scrutiny Committee-26 years now-I shall be looking into that very closely in the next few weeks. Is it a guarantee and is it legal? Is it binding upon us despite assertions to the contrary? Is the Barnier report, which came out only yesterday, binding upon us by majority voting?
Above all else-many other things-there is the question of European economic management and whether our own Budgets will be imposed upon us by a surveillance system before they come to Parliament. Those are crucial matters that go to the very heart of how we are governed.
I wish that hon. Members and others outside would get rid of the idea that somehow those of us who raise such questions are wrong. If I may say so-not in any vainglorious manner-we have been proved right in our rebellion on the Maastricht treaty, which I conducted from this very spot some 20 years ago. When we look back, we should recognise that we were right over the exchange rate mechanism, and monetary and political union.
Under the headline "Markets in turmoil", City AM, which is edited by Allister Heath, who became director of research of the European Foundation, a think-tank that I happen to have the honour of chairing, states:
"SHARES worldwide plunged yesterday as fears that Europe's sovereign debt crisis would lead to a fresh collapse in the banking sector... Investors are concerned that Greece's debt crisis is spreading across the Eurozone, in particular to Spain".
We cannot exempt ourselves from the consequences of the mistakes that have been made in the European Union, the Lisbon agenda, high unemployment rates and our massive trade deficit, which results from the fact that we are trading with a Europe that is in turmoil.
We have to revise our views about the European Union and I urge the Government to take that seriously. After all, my party was badly afflicted by the European issue in the general election. The United Kingdom Independence party deprived us of as many as 23 seats. We would not be sitting in this configuration if those 23 seats had come to us, as they would have done had we had a more robust policy on Europe. I do not doubt that many people would agree.
How do we restore this nation's economy, its respect in the world and the respect of our people for their Parliament? This is not Europhobic nonsense: these are realities that we have to tackle if we are to govern ourselves. That is what the general election was about-whether the views of the people who voted for us are reflected in the laws that affect them during their daily lives. This is not about some theoretical abstraction; it is about the realities of life. Unemployment levels in other parts of Europe are astronomic. Europe is in turmoil. We need an association of nation states and, with respect to our own economy, small businesses can thrive only if we repatriate social and employment legislation-something that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister described as his imperative requirement in a speech he made in 2005. We must restore our ability to reduce our debt, which can come only from a vibrant and enterprising economy. That requires the repeal of that very legislation.
The British Chambers of Commerce has suggested that small business legislation from Europe and elsewhere costs the enormous sum of £88 billion. That is completely
and totally impossible and has to be reformed. Our competitiveness internationally will depend on our ability to ensure that we get the balance right.
I am serious about this issue. We are now in government. We know that we have a responsibility to discharge. As I said in an intervention on my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, we need a sovereignty Act to underpin negotiations on this issue. My Bill has been published and some have been good enough to refer to it as a gold standard. We have to require that, notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972, we will legislate where it is in our vital national interest to do so, and require the judiciary to take account of the legislation passed in this House and override European legislation when necessary to restore this country to prosperity and well-being.
John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op): I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this debate on defence, an issue of such importance to my constituents. It is a great privilege to make my maiden speech after a speech on Europe by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash). As a teenager, I used to watch him speak in Parliament, and it is a privilege to be here today to hear pretty much the same speech from him. [ Laughter. ]
I congratulate those who have also made their maiden speeches today. We heard excellent speeches from the hon. Members for Beckenham (Bob Stewart), for Halesowen and Rowley Regis (James Morris), for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) and for Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle), and from my hon. Friends the Members for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi), for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) and for Dunfermline and West Fife (Thomas Docherty). I believe this is the last maiden speech of the evening, so hon. Members need give their indulgence for just a little longer, and I thank them for it.
I pay tribute, of course, to the former Defence Secretary, the former Member for Barrow and Furness, the right hon. John Hutton, who served the constituency with supreme dedication from 1992 and was a Minister for more than a decade. For many of those years, I was privileged to serve as his adviser. In the House, John Hutton always had a sharpness and eloquence, and yet a down-to-earth turn of phrase and, most of all, determination to stand up, in the House and outside, for what he knew was right. He gave outstanding service to the country and his constituents, and has been a great friend to me over the years. I can only strive to emulate the dedication that he has shown in public life.
If you will permit me, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will also pay tribute to Albert Booth, another former Member for Barrow, who sadly died earlier this year. He served in the House from 1966 to 1983, and was, of course, Secretary of State for Employment between 1976 and 1979, in the last Labour Government but one. He is remembered with great affection in my constituency, which I am sure is the case in the House as well. He will be greatly missed.
I am delighted that the boundaries of the Barrow and Furness constituency have expanded, making the area ever more diverse and taking in the areas of Broughton, Grizebeck, Kirkby, Greenodd and Penny Bridge, and I
look forward to being their champion every bit as much as for the established areas of the constituency. Furness is tucked away but it is a fantastic place, and I urge every hon. Member to come and visit the area, including the beautiful market towns of Ulverston and Dalton, Askam and the natural beauty of the Duddon valley. It will not take hon. Members as long as they think to get there, and they will not forget the area once they have been, so they should try to make the effort.
Britain remains a great manufacturing nation, and we should be so proud of that. My constituents are intensely proud of the part they play in the great, high-skilled manufacturing sector in the area. They look to the future and see so much potential. Furness has so much to offer the world: from the low-carbon lighting industry, based around the Ulverston area, which can play a central role in tackling climate change in the years ahead and provide more jobs, to the creative industries and the young entrepreneurs coming to Furness because the technological advances that we have made mean that they no longer feel that they have to gather in the cities. Of course, however, the success of those industries and opportunities requires partnership with the Government, which is why it is essential that we guard against cuts to regional business support and restrictions on university opportunities and opportunities for young people, which could do so much damage to the future prosperity of my area and the whole country.
The modern Furness region and our future prosperity are founded upon continued support for our prized defence industrial base and the incredible prowess in Barrow shipyard. The multinational nuclear non-proliferation talks are vital, and we have to pursue the long-term goal of a world free from nuclear weapons. The only thing we can do, as a country and as human beings, is strive for a world completely free from nuclear weapons. However, while the threat remains from nuclear, as it will for the foreseeable future, it would be grave folly and damaging to our long-term goal of peace and security to risk effectively disarming unilaterally by stalling the Trident successor programme in these vital months ahead.
John Woodcock: The Secretary of State shakes his head, but I hope that he will clear the issue up in his closing remarks. If the Government want to reopen the question, I will play a full part in putting the case for renewing Trident and why it is the only cost-effective and secure system. However, it is vital that any reconsideration, on cost or form, should not affect our capacity, either in Furness or across the UK, to build the new submarines without putting jobs at risk. That is vital to my constituency and to the extensive supply chain, which extends right across the United Kingdom.
I hope that the new Defence Secretary, whom I congratulate on his elevation, will give a reassurance on that issue in his closing remarks. I also hope that he will give an assurance that the contracts that the last Government let in March for the fifth and sixth Astute-class
boats to be built in Barrow shipyard will not be reviewed by the incoming Government. I hope he agrees that it is vital that those contracts should continue apace, as they were doing.
I am determined to play my part in restoring the public's faith in Parliament and the power of the democratic process to transform people's lives. Most of all, I am determined to stand up for the area that I love and for the people, who are so brilliant and so inspiring, and who have made me and my family so welcome. I will not let them down.
Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): Thank you for giving me this chance to speak so early in this Parliament, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is great to see you in the Chair. There has been a long succession of maiden speeches from across the House, from the excellent speech by the hon. Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) on mental health issues, through to the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle) and the most recent speech, by the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock).
Let me say first what an honour it is to be elected to this House to follow David Howarth, who served as an excellent MP for Cambridge for five years. Everywhere I went during the election campaign, people were full of praise for David and his achievements, from specific items of casework to saving Brookfields hospital and his campaign against the closure of the young people's psychiatric service. His national work has also been acclaimed, such as his fight against the "Abolition of Parliament Bill". Now that I am here, I am delighted to find that he is remembered clearly by many in all parts of the House, and also by many of the Clerks, who appreciated his interest and expertise in procedure. David is a true scholar, a fine lawyer and a great representative, and he will be missed on these Benches.
Cambridge has a long and distinguished electoral history. Since 1295, our representatives have included such notable political reformers as Oliver Cromwell-although I do not endorse his aims or his methods. If one includes the parallel Cambridge University constituency, which operated from 1603 to 1950, the list also includes many great scientists, including Sir George Gabriel Stokes and Sir Isaac Newton, who was arguably the first scientist to make money, although in his case it was as Master of the Mint. In the light of recent discussions, I should also say that the representatives of the university constituencies were elected using the single transferable vote, so there is plenty of historic precedent for using it for elections to this House.
Cambridge is a distinguished city and a special city. It became significant under the Romans, as an important causeway past the swampland of the fens-now all coloured blue. Like Rome, Cambridge is built on seven hills, although anyone who knows it well will be hard pressed to name them all, or indeed to find them.
Cambridge is a city of values-of people who think beyond the immediate. It is a liberal city, with residents who understand the value of civil liberties and human rights. Cambridge is an environmental city, keen to live sustainably and without polluting the planet. It is also an international city, with residents who appreciate diversity and welcome those from other countries, and
have a deep interest in foreign affairs and what their country is doing in their name. Cambridge cares about fairness and social justice.
For it is not a uniformly wealthy city. Some areas are wealthy, especially around the picturesque historic centre where tourists gather, but many, including the division that I had the honour to represent for eight years on Cambridgeshire county council and the ward where I now live, are less well-off. We must ensure that inequality is reduced, both in Cambridge and across the country.
Cambridge is best known as a university town, and it has three of them. There is the eponymous university-801 years old, although one should never inquire too carefully about such ages-and Anglia Ruskin university is an excellent university in its own right. It is financed by a certain Lord Ashcroft, and that is a very good use of his money. We also have a branch of the Open university as well.
There is more to Cambridge as an education city than just these universities. We are proud to have two marvellous sixth-form colleges, and excellent further education at Cambridge regional college-I hope that the Secretary of State for Health, the right hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr Lansley), and the Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the hon. Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Mr Paice) will forgive me for trespassing by a few metres across our borders. We also have countless good schools, although some need rather more investment, possibly through a pupil premium, to ensure that all children can have the fair start that they deserve.
Cambridge is a city of students, especially around the central areas. As a former student there myself, and more recently as a lecturer and a director of studies, I have seen at first hand the problems that they face as a result of ever-increasing debts. I have seen how that debt changes their social interactions-Cambridge students are more segregated than they used to be-and how it affects their career choices for the worse.
Cambridge is also a city of science. It has its historic figures such as Newton, Darwin, Watson and Crick, while its more contemporary greats are still pushing back the frontiers of knowledge at a great pace. As one of the few scientists in this House, I hope to bring my expertise to bear on many of the issues facing us.
I suspect that my own research field will not come up too often. I work-or, rather, I worked-on four-stranded DNA structures called G-quadruplexes. I studied how these structures form within cells, how they control which genes are turned on and off, and how they can be targets for new anti-cancer drugs. I do not think that will come up, but it is an understanding of how science works that I bring to this House.
I can speak on wider issues of science policy, such as the funding process for both applied and blue-skies research, and on the operation of the DNA database. I can also speak on how science should affect the broader reaches of policy: for instance, I can speak about making decisions on low-carbon energy sources, following the ideas of my scientific colleague Professor David MacKay, who is now chief scientific adviser at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
However, I also believe that science, and more specifically the scientific method, has much to contribute to more
diverse fields such as home affairs and justice. For instance, the Cambridge criminologist Professor Larry Sherman has performed elegant trials studying how to deploy police most efficiently to minimise criminal activity. He has shown that alternatives to short-term jail, such as restorative justice, are more effective at reducing future crime, cost less, and are preferred by victims. Scientists are obviously not unique in being able to apply such approaches, but we do come with a commitment to making evidence-based policy decisions.
Cambridge is also a city of technology and innovation. It is an economic powerhouse for the region, with many high-tech companies forming an ever growing cluster. Companies such as ARM, Solexa and Cambridge Display Technology are changing our lives, and driving the economy. There is much still to learn about how to stimulate and nurture such clusters and such companies, and I hope that we can develop a set of policies that facilitate such growth.
But economic growth is not all that we should care about. We know that economic growth can lead to environmental damage, but the issue is broader than just that trade-off. We are too fixated on gross domestic product, and make too much of whether it has gone up or down by 0.2%. It does not measure the things we ought to care about- education, health, or well-being. If there is an oil spill off the coast that we then clear up, more or less well, GDP has increased, but I am not sure that any of us would be delighted with that outcome.
We need to focus more broadly on personal issues such as well-being and happiness. We need to develop rigorous metrics to measure this well-being throughout society, and then ensure that we bear them in mind when developing policy. We already know a lot about well-being. It does not change much with income, above a figure of around £7,000 a year. It changes with the quality of our environment, with the number of friends and the other social bonds that we have, with the activities that we get involved in, with family, and with community.
I shall end by summing up my aims for Cambridge and for the country. I want to make Cambridge a city where people want and can afford to live and work. I want it to be a city at ease with its environment, a tolerant, open and more equal city. And I want to expand those same aims across the country.
It has been said before that decisions are made by those who show up. It is a great honour that the people of Cambridge have asked me to show up here on their behalf, and I will try to represent them to the best of my ability.
Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View) (Lab): We have heard some wonderful maiden speeches today. My new colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi), made a warm, passionate speech about her constituency. The hon. Member for Halesowen and Rowley Regis (James Morris) spoke of his inexperience, but he is now out of the starting gate, having made his maiden speech, and I doubt that his lack of experience will last long. It was good to see the hon. Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) in the flesh; the last time we engaged in a dialogue I was in Plymouth and he was somewhere in London.
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