Backbench Business — Valedictory Debate

Part of Elections for Positions in the House – in the House of Commons am 4:08 pm ar 26 Mawrth 2015.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee 4:08, 26 Mawrth 2015

Forty-eight years ago, when I first joined the Labour party having been rather angry at the way in which a landlord had treated a neighbour of mine, little did I think that I would end up here. I thought about that when I gave my maiden speech on 6 May 1992. The 23 years between then and now have been extraordinary and I have a lot of people to thank for that, particularly from my local party, which contains some great stalwarts and wonderful people.

We have heard tributes being paid to great people in politics, some of whom work at the local level. Reg Chrimes and the late Fred Venables and Norman Angel—extraordinary people of great integrity—had something like 150 years of public service as councillors between them. If a little bit of their integrity has rubbed off on me, I will leave this place a proud man.

You were involved in one of my achievements here, Mr Speaker, namely my 10-year campaign to have Nelson Mandela’s appearance in the Great Hall recognised with a plaque there. It did take rather a long time. I remember Sir George Young, when he was the Leader of the House, pointing out that the wheels grind very slowly here. That is probably the only early-day motion I have signed that has had an effect.

I want to reflect on such things as the legislation on agency workers and the work done—on a cross-party basis, I have to say—to support Vauxhall Motors. We have transformed that company with the support of Ministers from all three political parties. More recently, there has been the acquisition of the Thornton research centre, which must be going in the right direction because it has attracted visits by four Cabinet Ministers within the past year. We hope to see more Cabinet Ministers—Labour ones, I hope—during the next Parliament.

In the past few years, I have concentrated my efforts on the science agenda and the work of the parliamentary and scientific committee, the first ever all-party group. It was formed 75 years ago, and last year it had its 75th birthday party, hosted by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in Buckingham palace. There is also the work we have done on the Science and Technology Committee during the past five years. It is a great pleasure to see Mr Willetts in his place, because he had to face me many times in enjoyable exchanges.

Some of those points are covered in the Select Committee’s legacy report. In the foreword to the report, I have commended the extraordinary staff we have in this House, and put on the record my thanks to the Committee for its collegiate approach. We have never had a political division in the Committee; yet we have published some reports that are quite blunt about failures within Government. That says a lot about the new process, and reflects well on the election of Chairs and the authority that that gives Chairs over their Committee. I refer hon. Members to the Chair’s foreword to the legacy report, because there is a wonderful picture of me in the Jubilee Room setting off a methane mamba in my hand. It could have set the Houses of Parliament on fire, but I assure everyone that it was a controlled experiment.

Just yesterday, a Bill was published. I do not know, Mr Speaker, whether from your deep reading of parliamentary literature you are aware of the publication of this fake Bill by the science community—you can guess who was behind it. It is called the Andrew Miller parliamentary farewell appreciation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill and was presented to me in all its glory, looking just like a parliamentary Bill, by the science community. I am immensely proud of that, but what I am really proud of is the work that the Committee has done to deserve the accolades it has received.

Finally, if I may, I want to thank the staff I have had over the years, and particularly, as several hon. Members have done, to thank my family, and nobody more than my wife Fran, who has stuck with me through thick and thin during this period. It has been an extraordinary 23 years, and I have enjoyed every single minute of it.