Matt Warman, the recently elected MP for Boston and Skegness, delivered his maiden speech in Parliament yesterday evening and although he has considerable experience in crafting prose (as a journalist at the Daily Telegraph for over a decade) his speech was a fantastic one.
It takes quite some skill to craft an introduction to yourself in such a prestigious and pressured environment but to deliver one on an issue so important to his constituents, with wit intelligence and due thought is a rare gift.
Here, in full, is said speech courtesy of Hansard (which transcribes Parliamentary Content in full):
It is an honour to speak on a day of so many marvellous maiden speeches, and it is also an honour to speak in this seminal debate on an issue that I believe will define a generation of politicians.
I am privileged to represent the people of Boston and Skegness, succeeding Mark Simmonds. Mark’s career ranged from safeguarding the future of Skegness hospital, working with a Labour Administration in a fine example of cross-party constituency working, through to chairing the UN Security Council. Hardly a day on the campaign trail went by without me being told that I had very big shoes to fill, and I will assiduously work as a constituency MP to do that.
Hardly a day went by, either, without a prospective constituent assuring me that Mark’s own predecessor, Sir Richard Body, was another model of an ideal MP. Sir Richard was a Maastricht rebel back when the Conservative party had what was described as a wafer-thin majority of slightly double what it is today. His brave stance is a reminder to all of us that we are here to represent our constituents, rather than to toe any one party line. I hope I can live up to that responsibility as well.
|Matt Warman MP|
Boston and Skegness is a constituency that begins at Swineshead in the south—where, incidentally, King John was poisoned—and quickly arrives in Boston itself. In 1204, Boston famously paid tax of £780, whereas London paid £836. One newly elected councillor recently pledged to dedicate himself to restoring Boston’s status to those medieval levels, and I look forward to supporting him in that endeavour. Indeed, I thank him for taking the lead on it.
Elsewhere, the constituency is home to some of the best agricultural land in the country. I invite hon. Members from across the House to visit so that they might put faces to the names of those people mentioned on supermarket bags of potatoes. Afterwards, they might choose to spend a few hours joining the 500,000 or so people who annually visit Skegness, one of the few seaside resorts that is never described as faded. Indeed, Skeg Vegas is more glorious neon than faded.
I have not the time today to mention Wainfleet All Saints—home to the superb Batemans Brewery—or the Bubblecar Museum in Langrick, the Carrington vintage tractor show, the first Butlins or, indeed, the beautiful areas of my constituency that touch the Lincolnshire Wolds and, almost uniquely for my patch, merit a contour line on a map.
That is in part because I want to deal with the subject of today’s debate. Since the expansion of Europe, tens of thousands of people from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and elsewhere have come from their home countries to work in and around Boston. They have made homes and lives in Lincolnshire and we should welcome taxpayers who have, to coin a phrase, got on their bikes. These, I would argue, are not just the best of Europe, but, in many cases, the best of Britain, too. In Lincolnshire today, following in the footsteps of workers from the midlands, Ireland, Portugal and, latterly, Bulgaria, they work in all weathers to put food on our tables, whether it is Brussels sprouts at Christmas or asparagus at the moment.
It is thanks to an open-door migration policy, however, that Lincolnshire’s police, housing, schools, roads and hospitals now face unprecedented pressure from new numbers—and it is new numbers, not new nationalities, that cause those pressures. We did not plan for or predict their arrival, so we were not able to invest adequately and in a timely fashion in the services that we now urgently need. Social tensions have recently eased, but they have allowed divisive, single-issue political campaigns to flourish and to block out much of the light on what is great about my constituency.
I believe that only if our relationship with Europe changes fundamentally can we fix the root causes of our current problems and that, in the future, only if we can plan for those population changes can we adequately prepare. Of course, it is only because we have a Conservative majority Government that we truly have the chance to have our say as a country between now and the end of 2017.
My own motivation for standing for office stems directly from more than 15 years as a journalist. I believe we live in a world that needs more actors than critics. Writing about technology, I was lucky enough to cover Britain’s world-beating, but still somewhat incomplete broadband roll-out, as well as to cover the rise of Apple, Google, Facebook and much in between. I hope that I can continue to make the case for every aspect of technology improving every aspect of government. I hope that we will see a world where we have more activists than clicktivists. Making those changes will require far more than technical expertise; it will require political courage. I hope that I may provide a small part of that courage to stiffen the sinews of colleagues when it comes both to Europe and to changes in how Government use technology. It is no less than all our constituents deserve.