You can read a full account of the contributions I made to Parliament in 2010 here.
My Maiden Speech to the House was delivered on 6th June 2010:
I am grateful for this opportunity to speak in today’s debate, and I congratulate the other Members who have made their maiden speeches as they have raised the bar. I also thank the people of Amber Valley for electing me as their Member of Parliament. It is a tremendous honour and privilege to serve them, and I will do my utmost to live up to the trust they have placed in me.
The seat of Amber Valley was created in 1983 and was previously represented by Phillip Oppenheim, whom I am sure some Members will remember, and since 1997 by Judy Mallaber. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her work on behalf of the people of Amber Valley. She can be rightly proud of what she achieved, especially on the introduction of the minimum wage, on which she worked before entering the House as well as while she was here. It is a tribute that something that was originally a political controversy has become accepted on both sides of the House. I wish her well in her future endeavours.
Whatever our differences on political issues, we have been in agreement on the need to address the support for the British National party in Amber Valley; it had two councillors elected in 2008. I am sure the whole House will share my relief that we are not joined in this place by any members of that party. I suspect that that concern is part of the reason for the conversion of Mr Straw to thinking the European list system we currently use is a bad idea.
It is, however, incumbent upon all politicians of the mainstream to address constructively the issues that have been taken up the BNP. Immigration was the issue most often raised in my seat, and I am pleased that the Gracious Speech includes our pledge to introduce the annual cap on immigration from outside the EU-and I am a little surprised that, as today’s Opposition amendment highlights, they are still concerned about that measure, which, as I have said, had widespread support in my seat.
My predecessor referred in her maiden speech to the importance of putting Amber Valley on the map. I think I can best describe that as a work in progress. This may be the only case that data protection rules allow me to take on from her. The seat is in Derbyshire-not in Wales, as some appear to think-running from the Nottinghamshire border to the edge of the Peak district, and includes the towns of Alfreton, Heanor and Ripley, and many surrounding villages. It is a former mining area, which has developed diverse industries since the closure of the pits in the 1960s.
The seat shares its name with a borough council, although that borough council of about 100,000 electors now has three MPs. Perhaps certain measures in the Gracious Speech will reduce some of that confusion, although I will take care in saying that, as part of the council area is also represented by my Chief Whip, my right hon. Friend Mr McLoughlin, and I would hate to be seen to be trying to steal part of his seat.
While some Members might not have been able to place Amber Valley on a map, I am sure they are familiar with some of its businesses. These include Denby pottery-and I disagree with Tristram Hunt in that I claim it as the producer of by far the best pottery in the country, and I am disappointed that I have not as yet found any of its products in use in the House. They also include Matthew Walker Christmas puddings and Thorntons chocolates. If I indulge in too many of their products I can avail myself of the services of another local business, Slimming World.
Of great concern in my constituency is the need to provide good-quality jobs for local people. A recent sadness has been the final closure of the Butterley plant, in Ripley. My two predecessors referred to the great steel work made there that forms the roof of St Pancras railway station; at least they had the pleasure of the business still being around at the time. Part of the Butterley site has already been replaced by houses, much against the wishes of the local council. I therefore welcome our proposal to change the planning system to allow local people to have far more of a say not only in protecting brownfield sites on which we would like to keep manufacturing businesses, but in preventing houses from being built all over our green belt.
I turn to the issue that prompted me to speak in today’s debate. While the tragic events in Cumbria were unfolding last Wednesday, there was also a tragic event in the peaceful village of Holbrook, in my constituency, where a young woman and her two-year-old child were stabbed to death by her estranged partner. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims at this difficult time. This case is made more difficult by the fact that the alleged perpetrator of these offences had been arrested twice by the police the week before, following accusations of domestic violence, and had also been receiving treatment for mental illness. I therefore welcome Derbyshire police’s calling in the Independent Police Complaints Commission to review their actions. I in no way wish to pre-judge the outcome of that review-it is easy to do so with the benefit of hindsight-but I hope that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will closely follow the progress of this case. If any lessons need to be learned, I hope they can be learned to ensure that the risk of such tragic events happening again is as low as possible.
It is at times like these that we come to appreciate the difficulty of the job carried out by our police, and I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the officers who broke into the house to try to stop those tragic events. I wish them all the best as they come to terms with the awful situation that they found.
We know that the size of the budget deficit run up by the previous Government means that difficult decisions need to be taken, and Derbyshire police will have to take their share of that pain. I note that the amendment that bears the name of the right hon. Member for Blackburn contains a request that the cuts do not damage the number of police officers. I point out to the Minister that the police funding review carried out some six years ago noted that Derbyshire police needed a significant increase in funding, of approximately £5 million a year. However, that funding has still not been provided to this day, due to the damping mechanism. I urge the Government to have a full review of the allocation of funds for police forces, to ensure that Derbyshire police-who are currently being deprived of the 100 officers whom those funds could be used to provide-get the fair funding they are entitled to for the level of crime in Derbyshire. Only by ensuring a fair allocation of funding can we make sure that we have police services that are both effective and efficient.