Backbench Business — Valedictory Debate

Part of Elections for Positions in the House – in the House of Commons am 2:25 pm ar 26 Mawrth 2015.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Brian Binley Brian Binley Ceidwadwyr, Northampton South 2:25, 26 Mawrth 2015

It is a great privilege to follow Mr Straw, who was one of the first people to speak to me when I came to this House. He offered help if he could give it. That is the measure of the man, and it is a great privilege to follow him in this debate.

I am equally delighted to have had the honour of serving in the House as the Member for Northampton South over the past 10 years. I was an enthusiastic footballer for most of my first 43 years of life; having the opportunity to be in this place is to me the equivalent of an international cap, and I have been immensely grateful.

Over my 10 years as an MP, I have tried very hard to represent the interests of hard-working people in our county town—particularly those who, like me, would not normally be considered most likely to have a voice in Government. Indeed, I have travelled a considerable distance since leaving my secondary modern school aged 15; I created two businesses on the way, which now employ 300 people. To be here as a late arrival has been fun, but none the less has had its difficulties.

As an MP, I am proud to have worked hard to support the British pub, one of our most vital social resources, although often underrated as such by many. I am pleased to have fought to try to diminish the indignity of putting 27% of the population—those who smoke—out into the cold in shacks and lean-tos attached to pubs when better arrangements could have been provided for them. I am glad to have successfully fought to reduce the granny tax on bingo, which, to our shame, extracted a higher levy than other forms of gambling.

I make no apology for having given voice to the concerns of small businesses, and I served for nine years on the Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills. I consider that work to have been my major contribution to this Parliament. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they provide a strong and ethical base that has increasingly seemed to have been forgotten or ignored by many multinationals and large corporate enterprises. I recommend that they look again at that particular aspect of their work.

I am proud to be a Northamptonshire man and to have represented our county town in this place. That provided the opportunity to create the Northampton Alive regeneration programme, which is making such a big difference to our town. The 40 projects in the programme include a new railway station, a new campus for the university of Northampton, a new innovation centre, 1,000 new jobs at our enterprise zone, a new bus interchange, reinvigoration of our improving town centre and a heritage gateway around which the new station exists close to the ancient castle in an area too long neglected.

Most importantly, Northampton Alive has been an inclusive project, providing a forum in which about 100 vital opinion formers in the town, including young people, unions, business representatives and religious bodies, can make a contribution to the project and give feedback to it, giving a degree of ownership to the people we represent.

Finally, I am especially proud of Challenge 2016, a county-wide project instigated by Northampton Alive and run by the Northampton enterprise partnership. In 2012, some 5,600 young people were not in employment, education or training in our county. That figure has been reduced to under 1,500, thanks largely to Challenge 2016 and the efforts of the Government. I am very proud of that particular record. For me, that encapsulates the Northampton Alive approach—providing opportunities for our young people, attracting new businesses, building facilities for cultural and leisure pursuits, highlighting our town’s heritage and creating a first-class environment where people can raise families and live fulfilling lives. That, surely, must be our objective in this place.

My final message, however, is this. Too often we hear that young people lack aspiration. My experience shows that it is amazing how aspirational young people become once they have a job. Mr Speaker, it has been a privilege to serve under you and to serve in this House with the good people who sit around this Chamber, and I am most grateful.