Debate on the Address — [1st Day]
Mark Spencer (Sherwood, Conservative)
Many Members will be aware of Sherwood forest and its legends, and of all that Sherwood is famous for, so they will not be surprised to know that I am not the most famous person from Sherwood. That honour probably goes to Robin Hood. Like Robin Hood, I have a desire to counter over-taxation, to protect the most vulnerable in society, and to make sure that oppressive government does not bring misery on the people.
At this point I should refer to my predecessor, Mr Paddy Tipping, a most honourable man who decided to retire before the election. I am sure that all Members will join me in wishing him well in his retirement. Paddy was very well thought of, not only in Westminster but in the constituency. Many people whom I meet today tell me what a wonderful man Paddy is, and was as their MP. I should like to put it on record that I congratulate Paddy on the work that he did on behalf of the people of Sherwood.
Sherwood is quite a diverse constituency. Let me try to bring Members up to speed on what Sherwood is all about. There are two really important industries that have always been in Sherwood, and that will be very important to the country as it moves forward. The first is agriculture and food production, and the second is energy production. Sherwood is very much part of the Nottinghamshire coalfield, and we produced large amounts of coal through the 1970s-and, to a certain extent, in the 1980s, too. As we move forward, energy and food will be fundamental to how we run this country and how we progress, and to the global economy.
Agriculture has always been a big part of Sherwood. There are a number of very efficient and productive farms in the constituency that lead the way, not only in the east midlands but nationally, in their technology and how they produce food to make sure that our nation's shops and supermarkets are full of food and that the nation is well fed. We now have two generations of consumers who have no concept of what food security is all about, and have no concept of what it is like to go to a shop and find that the food is not on the shelves. We have the farmers in our rural areas to thank for that.
Energy will become very important as we move forward. Whether we are talking about the production of renewable energy or clean coal technology, the residents of Sherwood are there to assist, and to make sure that our great nation has enough to move forward. A number of schemes are coming forward involving anaerobic digestion, which allows energy to be produced cleanly and in an environmentally friendly way. There are also willow coppice and other schemes, which allow us to produce energy from agricultural fields.
The one thing that I really want to pull out of the Queen's Speech is the matter of localism and passing power back down the structure. On the doorstep, the issue that I was challenged on all the time was antisocial behaviour. We have heard many references to policing-how we need to change the way in which we do it, and how we need to encourage more police officers-but there have been other references to how there is not money available to make those vast improvements. Often, however, those improvements do not require extra cash. They may be about the process, and about the way in which we carry out policing.
There are two examples of antisocial behaviour that I want to highlight today. At junction 27 of the M1, which is just outside my constituency, there is an enormous issue with what is called car cruising. Hon Members may not be aware of what that is. It is when members of the public change-some would say improve-their vehicles. They make them louder and faster-