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Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) (Con): I think that I will be the last person this evening to make their maiden speech- [ Interruption. ] No, I am sorry-I stand corrected. I am the penultimate person to do so.
Having grown up in Falmouth and having been confirmed in Truro cathedral, it is a real privilege to stand here today as the first MP for the new constituency of Truro and Falmouth. I am particularly pleased to join today's debate, in which we are discussing the important contribution that many of the measures in the Budget will make in enabling enterprise to prosper in my constituency.
My immediate predecessors will be well known to Members of this House. Matthew Taylor served for more than 20 years as the Member for Truro and St Austell, and he played an important role in highlighting the issues of living and working in the countryside of Cornwall in his well-respected Taylor report. As chairman of the National Housing Federation and a director of South West Water, as well as serving in the House of Lords as a Lib Dem peer, he will be able to continue his work on the issues identified in his report. I look
forward to helping him to take the words from its pages and put them into action, especially in delivering truly affordable homes for local people to buy or rent.
Julia Goldsworthy served as the Member for Falmouth and Camborne in the last Parliament, and she has recently returned to the Westminster to work as special adviser to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Her work in creating the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 is noteworthy, as is her dedicated campaigning work for NHS services in Cornwall. I look forward to working with her in her new role.
I have often heard colleagues in this House refer to Cornwall as part of the Celtic fringe; no doubt that is intended in a humorous way. While I am very proud of the Celtic culture, sports and traditions of Cornwall, there is absolutely nothing "fringe" about Cornwall or its people. Cornwall throughout the ages has been, and will continue to be, at the cutting edge of important national developments, as well as being at the centre of key moments of our history. The industrial revolution started in Cornwall, and Cornwall is leading the new industrial revolution-that of delivering the renewable and sustainable energy that our future economic security and growth will depend upon. Cornwall's pioneering and inventive people and enterprises are ready to rise to the challenge of delivering a low-carbon economy and secure energy supplies. They need a Government who understand how to create the right market conditions for enterprise to succeed. I believe that this coalition Government have the determination to do this, and so to unlock potential in Cornwall.
My constituency is a slice of central Cornwall running from the north to the south coasts. It includes Cornwall's administrative, retail and media centre and its only city-Truro. The Royal Cornwall hospital, the only acute hospital in the whole county, is in Truro, along with the Peninsula medical and dental school. I am grateful for the dedication of the staff in our NHS in Cornwall and the people who work hard in all our public services.
Cornwall has benefited from EU objective 1 funding, and now convergence funding, which has helped to develop the knowledge-based economy. Combined Universities in Cornwall has enabled people of all ages to access the opportunity to undertake higher education and obtain new skills. University College Falmouth is a world-leading arts organisation.
Throughout the constituency are very many beautiful villages, from the rugged splendour of the north coast villages of St Agnes and Perranporth to the no less beautiful but gentler coastline of the Roseland peninsula. As hon. Members will be aware, tourism is an important industry in Cornwall. Thanks to local farmers and fishermen, there is a thriving and growing local food scene, which comes together into some mouth-watering food festivals enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. I am delighted that the new coalition Government recognise the importance of farming and fishing to our national food security.
In the hinterlands of the constituency are the ruins of many of the mines for which Cornwall is famous. As a descendant of Cornish miners, I am particularly pleased to see renewable energy enterprises developing in the ruins of the old tin and copper mines. Cornwall has the hottest rocks in the UK and is a natural location for geothermal energy production. That, combined with our rich tradition of engineering and inventiveness,
provides an ideal environment and ideal skills to develop that sustainable form of energy. Geothermal Engineering Ltd has submitted a popularly backed planning application to Cornwall council and if it is successful, we will see the first commercial geothermal energy plant in the UK, which will produce 10 MW of renewable energy to be fed into the national grid.
Nearby, at the former mine of Mount Wellington, is Kensa Engineering, an award-winning manufacturer of ground heat pumps that works with social housing providers across the country to deliver low-carbon energy and at the same time lift people out of fuel poverty. I am delighted that the coalition Government have stated their support for renewable energy incentives. I believe that the Government's priority, as set out in the Budget, to enable more business finance and financial support for the low-carbon economy, will help support excellent low-carbon companies and energy providers such as those in my constituency. The Government's emphasis on the need for economic growth to come from the private sector will also, I believe, create a better environment for the many businesses that already contribute so much to the local economy, particularly at Falmouth port.
Falmouth is not only important to the economy of Cornwall as the third-largest natural harbour in the world, it is of strategic importance to the UK. Falmouth has a long and proud maritime history and, as the most westerly port in the Atlantic gateway, has been at the centre of trade since ancient times. As ships for all purposes, including those needed to service marine renewables and the Navy, are getting larger, the deep waters of that safe haven are ever more important to the nation, not just to Cornwall.
Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central) (Lab): I am grateful to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this debate as the new Member for Glasgow Central. It is a pleasure to follow the excellent contributions of the hon. Members for East Surrey (Mr Gyimah), for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant), for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price), for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew) and for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton), and of course of the baby of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Pamela Nash).
I would like to begin, as is customary, by paying tribute to my predecessor. It is perhaps somewhat easier for me to take part in that tradition than for other hon. Members making their maiden speeches, as I have had the privilege of knowing Mohammad Sarwar for all 27 years of my life. He has been a tremendous inspiration to me and it is an honour to follow him into Parliament as the Member for Glasgow Central.
Mohammad Sarwar began his political career in 1992, when he was elected to serve on Glasgow city council. He went on to make history in 1997 when he
became the UK's first Muslim Member of Parliament. He was re-elected to serve Glasgow Govan in 2001 and, following boundary changes, won Glasgow Central in 2005. On election night in May of this year, when I learned that I had held the seat for Labour with an increased majority, I turned to my election agent and we congratulated each other on a well-fought five-week campaign. Overhearing our exuberance, my predecessor was quick to remind us that his hard work as an MP for the preceding five years may also have had something to do with it.
My predecessor enjoyed a distinguished parliamentary career, including serving as a member of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs before being elected its Chair in 2005. A devoted internationalist who was respected on both sides of the House as a champion of the Asian and Muslim communities, Mohammad Sarwar did a tremendous amount of work to strengthen Britain's relationships abroad, but first and foremost, my predecessor was a very passionate and forthright constituency MP who always spoke up to ensure that the interests of his constituents were well represented in this House. In recognition of his 20 years of service to Glasgow, he was last month awarded the Loving cup by the city's lord provost. It is one of the highest honours that can be given by the great city. One example of his devotion to his constituents is his successful campaign to secure the future of thousands of jobs in Glasgow's Govan shipyards, which he cites as his greatest achievement as a Member of Parliament. I hope that under this Government, the tremendous history of shipbuilding on the Clydeside will be protected and promoted, and not harmed.
As you can probably tell from my accent, Mr Deputy Speaker, I was born and brought up in the city of Glasgow, and I have lived there all my life. I love the city of Glasgow and I am a proud Glaswegian, so I feel immensely honoured and hugely privileged to have been given the opportunity to represent the people of Glasgow Central in Parliament. I thank them for putting their faith and trust in me and I promise to work tirelessly to repay that trust.
Glasgow has been through some very difficult periods in its history, and there will clearly be further testing times ahead, but I know the resilience, spirit and innovation of the city's people, and that is why I am confident for its future. In the past 13 years, Glasgow has been transformed from its inward-looking, post-industrial slump to become a confident, outward-looking, economically regenerated city. It is now a leading location not just for shipbuilding but for high-tech industries and developing fields such as biotechnology. It is Europe's fastest-growing conference centre and we now have more than 4 million tourists visiting annually. World-renowned universities such as the university of Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian university are also within my constituency, and I am proud to have graduated from the university of Glasgow with a BDS in dentistry. We all know the pain that can be inflicted by a dentist, but that pales in comparison to the pain inflicted by the Chancellor with this Budget-I know that was a cheap joke, but I could not resist it.
Glasgow Central's school leavers and graduates can look forward to employment in the largest economic part of Scotland. Its business district, international financial centre, manufacturing sector and Clydeside media hub provide thousands of jobs. Glasgow Central
also boasts a thriving retail industry and the best shopping in the UK outside London, including the style mile, which takes in Sauchiehall street, Buchanan street and Argyle street together with three shopping centres. Culture seekers are also catered for in my constituency, which boasts the Scottish exhibition and conference centre, the Glasgow science centre, the Kelvingrove art gallery, the gallery of modern art, the People's Palace and several theatres among its many attractions.
Glasgow is a city that is brimming with confidence and is on the up. This will be demonstrated on the world stage when we proudly host the 2014 Commonwealth games. The spirit of optimism so evident in the city centre permeates into the neighbouring communities that surround it: to the north and west lie Dundasvale, Cowcaddens, Garnethill, Anderston and Finnieston; south of the River Clyde are the hard-working communities of Govanhill, Toryglen, Pollokshields, Kinning Park and the Gorbals; and in the east are Bridgeton, Calton and Dalmarnock, which I hope will reap the economic benefits of the Commonwealth games.
There is much to celebrate across Glasgow Central, but we still face many challenges. Although the previous Government made huge strides, we must recognise that there is still a way to go, and I am determined that the progress made in recent years will be built upon, not diminished. Some areas are still counting the cost of the devastating economic policies of the 1980s, which saw communities blighted and a generation of young people left on the unemployment scrap heap. Sadly, it seems that the same mistakes are being made again.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that the bulk of the pain in this Budget will be felt by the poorest in the country. At times of economic difficulty, the Government should be supporting and protecting the most vulnerable in our society, not harming them and hitting them hardest. Severe cuts to child tax credits, housing benefit, and disability living allowance, as well as the VAT increase, will affect thousands of low and middle-income families and pensioners in Glasgow Central and across the UK. That is on top of the decisions to scrap child trust funds and the future jobs fund. I urge the Government, particularly hon. Members on the Liberal Benches, to rethink many of those previously tested and failed policies before it is too late.
Let me conclude with a message to my constituents. My first priority is to be a visible, accessible and hard-working member of parliament. I will fight for vital investment to ensure that we continue to create opportunity and jobs in Glasgow so that it can remain a great place to live, work and raise a family. I will work in the House with hon. Members on both sides to help to build a society that has equality and fairness as its guiding principles, providing educational opportunity, tackling child poverty and ensuring that everyone, no matter what their background, can match their aspirations with achievement.
Mr Brian Binley (Northampton South) (Con):
May I first pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton)? She is no longer in the Chamber, but she held her own with charm and interest among the many excellent maiden speeches this evening. I congratulate all who made such speeches,
especially the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Anas Sarwar), who delivered an informative, interesting and hard-hitting speech. He clearly has a great future in the House. I know I speak for all hon. Members when I ask that he pass on our good wishes to his distinguished predecessor-his dad.
It will come as no surprise to Labour Members that I welcome the Chancellor's Budget, but I have been amazed when listening to some of their speeches during the Budget debates. It seems to me that they have a collective delete button that has erased the last 13 years of their memory. I regret the situation left by the previous Government, which has motivated the many tough measures that the Chancellor has been forced to take. I also regret that they left such a massive budget deficit and such a large public sector debt, and that they let spending rip to sustain the previous Prime Minister's vain boast that he had done away with boom and bust. How empty those words seem now.
Mr Binley: I welcome the Government's pledge to ensure that child poverty does not increase in the next two years in these difficult times, but I was dismayed by the previous Government's record, which left so many young people out of employment, education and training. That was terribly sad.
I regret that the previous Government thought that they had only to create a project and throw money at it to solve a problem. I come from industry, and I can tell Labour Members that in truth, how projects are managed determines their success or otherwise. Perhaps they can take that lesson on board.
I congratulate the Chancellor on his courage in the face of what he had to deal with. I think he produced a fair and balanced Budget, as do many of my electorate in Northampton. To fire a warning shot across the bows of Labour Members, I can tell them that a number of those who told me that this weekend were in fact Labour voters. Labour Members might need to temper their comments in the light of that information.
The success of the Budget is not assured. It depends on achieving the projected growth figures, which means being competitive. How sad that on the World Economic Forum's global competitiveness index, the UK fell from seventh to 13th in the rankings between 1997 and 2010. Sadly, that is another Labour failure.
As I said, the Chancellor did a great job in trying to be fair and balanced, not only for this generation, but for our children and grandchildren. Had we not taken that action and set out on that course, they would be left with the burden.
I said that the success of the Budget is not assured, but I welcome the many initiatives that the Chancellor outlined in his speech, including the reduction in corporation tax, particularly for small businesses. The Federation of Small Businesses announced that they will help more than 850,000 small and medium-sized concerns. Along with the FSB and the Forum of Private Business, I welcome the extension of the enterprise guarantee scheme, which will likewise help those small businesses. The FSB reckoned that a 1% increase in national insurance contributions would have brought about the loss of 57,000 jobs. So the previous Government's record continues. The issue is not only what they did, but what they said they would do. We need to take that into account.
I am delighted that the Chancellor listened to our concerns about raising capital gains tax and that he has increased the threshold to £5 million from £2 million to further encourage entrepreneurs. All of that, welcome though it is, might not be enough to ensure that business has the available financial resources to produce the growth that we need. I am especially worried about that because some 94% of the people who work in the private sector in Northamptonshire work in small or medium-sized enterprises. I fear that they will not have access to the credit from the banks that they require to continue their businesses. Some 70% of the nation's creativity comes from that sector, and SMEs added 2 million jobs to the employment list at a time when UK plc was shedding 1.5 million jobs. Without that sector, we would not have had the jobs growth that we had in the five or six years before the beginning of the recession.
We face some serious issues in ensuring that the SME sector receives the credit it needs to provide the growth that my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary require. The G20 agreement to force the Government to make sure that the banks hold on to even larger amounts of capital flies in the face of our work in that respect, so I ask the Chief Secretary to look at ways of ensuring that the sector receives the money it requires. I want him to look at the levy on the banks to see whether he can allow some of that money to be spent on providing credit for the small business sector and I also want him to promise that he will look at ways of alleviating the £130 billion figure placed on us-seemingly by agreement-by the G20. I welcome the Budget, but I need my Government to recognise the need for SMEs to get the money they need to continue to grow to provide the jobs that we require.
Mr George Mudie (Leeds East) (Lab): This is one of those occasions that Members dread, when they write a very calm speech but then have to follow the hon. Member for Northampton South (Mr Binley), nice fellow though he is. He has, in one contribution, echoed so much of the same political nonsense that has come from the Government Benches to justify this unnecessary Budget. Day after day, we have heard about the state that Labour left the country in and the deficit that Labour caused.
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