Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation
Mr Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire, Labour)
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to make my maiden speech during the first Budget debate under a Labour Government for nearly two decades. I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak in such an important debate.
One thing that has struck me about the maiden speeches made so far by hon. Members on both sides of the House is the way in which those hon. Members have made their constituencies sound like the type of place in which I would like to spend my summer recess. Although I do not promise to persuade the House that Eastwood is the tourist capital of the United Kingdom, I hope that I can at least match some of their eloquence and commitment.
Until 2 am on 2 May, Eastwood was the safest Conservative seat in Scotland, but I am glad to say that that is no longer the case. Eastwood, which I am privileged to represent, is made up of many unique and distinct villages and communities. Eaglesham is the picturesque conservation village, soon to benefit from a bypass. Neilston, Uplawmoor, Busby and Thornliebank are all distinct villages in their own right, with a distinct culture. Giffnock, Netherlee, Stamperland and Newton Mearns are prosperous suburban areas from which many people commute to Glasgow. Barrhead, an industrial town on the outskirts of the constituency, is resilient in bad times, innovative in good times and loyal to Labour throughout, and has a unique sense of local pride.
Eastwood's sense of community is added to by the number and variety of voluntary and civic organisations that are working determinedly, particularly those that are committed to working with the young, the elderly and the disabled. We are also fortunate to be served by two excellent local newspapers, the Barrhead News and the Eastwood Extra. Hundreds of small businesses in Eastwood employ more than 10,000 local people. They will welcome new Labour's new commitment to a fairer deal and lower taxes for small and medium businesses. Farmers in Eastwood will also welcome the new Government's plans for a clearer policy on agriculture, and their commitment to clearing up the BSE mess.
Like many of my colleagues, I believe that my constituency is much more than just the towns and villages that make it up. Its greatest asset is its people. Let me mention a few of them. Sir John Montgomerie, Lord of Eaglesham, fought the English at the battle of Otterburn in 1388; I am pleased to say that he was a member of the victorious army of the Earl of Douglas. John Shanks, who formed Shanks and Co. in 1852—it was based in Barrhead—is famous for the invention of the water closet.