Tessa Munt (Wells, Liberal Democrat)
First, I wish to pay tribute to my predecessor, David Heathcoat-Amory, who sat in the House for 27 years, a longer period of service than that of any other MP for Wells since the Great Reform Bill. He was, perhaps, best known as a passionate Eurosceptic, and he voluntarily stood down from John Major's Government in order to pursue his convictions in that area. Although I do not share his views on Europe, I believe we should respect MPs who put such a premium on their principles. Mr Heathcoat-Amory has recently announced that he does not intend to stand for election again. He is a man with other interests and activities, and I wish him well for the future.
Members will be familiar with the names of many places in the Wells constituency. It runs from the coast at Brean and Berrow, and Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge in the west, to Shepton Mallet and Chilcompton in the east, and from Street in the south to Star and across the Mendips to Ston Easton in the north. My constituency also encompasses England's smallest city, Wells, with its glorious cathedral, and the towns of Glastonbury, Axbridge and the villages of Cheddar and Wedmore, and 170 other rural communities. I celebrate the addition of the village of Stratton-on-the-Fosse within the boundaries of the constituency at the last election, and recognise the service of my hon. Friend Mr Heath in previous years.
Wells is rural Britain at its very best. The Mendip hills, reaching over 1,000 feet high, look down over the Somerset levels and moors, much of which is below sea level. Somerset is well known for its farming, its Cheddar cheese and its cider.