First Day

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 8:51 pm on 6th May 1992.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson , Delyn 8:51 pm, 6th May 1992

I add my congratulations to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, on your appointment today. I also congratulate the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Tyler) on his maiden speech. It must be a great pleasure for him to return to this place after serving for a brief time in the 1974 Parliament, and a great honour and pleasure to represent the people of Cornwall, North in this Parliament.

I congratulate also my hon. Friends the Members for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) and for Warrington, South (Mr. Hall) on their contributions. It was a particular pleasure to listen to my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston because when I fought the constituency of Eddisbury in the 1983 general election my hon. Friend was then the constituency chair. We go back rather a long way, as do my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South and I. Twelve years ago we sat in the Strangers Gallery and watched the proceedings and dreamed of the day when we would represent the Labour party in Parliament, though perhaps in more auspicious circumstances under a Labour Government. Nevertheless, we are proud to be here today.

I have the honour and privilege to be the first Labour Member for Delyn. It is a particular pleasure and honour to represent the people of Delyn. My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) referred to the five general elections that he fought. I did not have to suffer that ordeal as I have fought only three general elections, although I did fight one Euro-election which was an ordeal times nine. It is a great pleasure to be here today to speak for the people of Delyn, to put forward their strongly held views and to argue the case for Labour party policies in this forthcoming Parliament.

In becoming Member for Delyn, I want to thank my constituents and the many Labour party workers and supporters in Delyn who worked in this election and in previous general elections to return a Labour Member for Delyn. In 1983, Labour secured 14,000 votes in Delyn. In 1987, we secured 20,000 votes. Thanks to the work of the people in Delyn and the many organisations that have supported Labour candidates in the constituency over the years, on 9 April we secured 25,000 votes and a Labour gain for the first time in that constituency.

I would not be standing here as Member for Delyn without the support of my family—my wife Margaret who married a Labour candidate for Delyn constituency, my children Tom, Amy and Alys who, not necessarily of their choice, were born into the political history of the constituency of Delyn—and of my employers. Until last Thursday I worked as a director of RESOLV, the society for the prevention of solvent and volatile substance abuse. That organisation was extremely generous in supporting my candidature as a Member of this place. I hope to repay that by working with my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) and the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) and the all-party group on solvent issues to ensure that another voice is added to support action to stop the tragedy of the deaths of 149 young people every year as a result of solvent and volatile substance misuse.

My constituency is in north-east Wales. It is a proud area. The name of the constituency derives from the river Dee and the river Alyn which serve my constituency. My constituency is the gateway to many of the beauties of north Wales for many travellers from elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Flint, with its historic castle which was built to keep out the English invaders, is the main town at the south end of my constituency. It is a proud and closely knit town which supports many industries and is enjoying great regeneration. It was hit hard by the appalling job losses at Shotton steelworks, Courtaulds and many other factories during the recession in the early 1980s. It faces hard times now, but with the support of positive action from the Labour party and the House, it will see those times through.

My constituency includes the towns of Holywell and Bagillt. It stretches to the coastal resort of Prestatyn where many people from Liverpool, the city of my birth, have enjoyed holidays and good days out. Mold, the county town of Clwyd, provides many local government jobs. When the Gracious Speech is digested, I shall be interested to see how local government will fare under the Government's future plans. I am extremely worried about how the Government will take forward plans to maintain local government, to develop it and to ensure that its boundaries reflect the needs of local people and the wishes of our communities and that it delivers effective services.

There are also many mining villages in my constituency such as Ffynnongroew, Pennyffordd and Gronant, which support the Point of Ayr colliery. Many beautiful and prosperous villages that form part of the hinterland of Delyn constituency have prospered under the Government who, I hope, in future will secure support for the many people in my constituency who have not prospered after 13 years of Conservative government.

I am fortunate to represent a seat which is a Labour gain. I fought the then hon. Member for Delyn—Mr. Keith Raffan, who retired before the general election—in the previous general election and it would be remiss of me not to mention the good work that he has done for Delyn constituency. We never agreed on many political points, if any at all, but during the six years in which I shadowed him as the Labour candidate, I found him to he a hardworking constituency Member who reflected the views of his party most vociferously in the Chamber and in the constituency and who served the people of Delyn constituency well. He has now gone to pastures new. On behalf of everybody in Delyn, I wish him well in his new job and for the future.

It would be remiss not to mention also the two Members of Parliament who are held in great esteem in my constituency and who served the constituency before the boundary reorganisation in 1983. My hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) is particularly well respected and well remembered in my constituency, having served as the hon. Member for Flint, East, which covers half of my constituency, for 13 years before the boundary reorganisation. There is not a place in Delyn where my hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside is not fondly remembered, fondly known, recognised and applauded.

For many years, the hon. Member for the Flint, West part of my constituency was Sir Anthony Meyer, who recently retired from the House. He distinguished himself by being an extremely good constituency Member of Parliament and a man of particular courage. It certainly takes courage to stand for election when one's party does not support one and to say things that, one year later, many people are only too glad to vote for. I pay tribute to him for the courage that he showed. When the knives are out and when one's back is in the way, one must be extremely careful. Sir Anthony Meyer, who represented the northern parts of my constituency and the town of Mold, deserves the congratulations of the House on his service to his constituents.

The Gracious Speech has much in it that we can appreciate and look to for the future and about which I shall be willing to learn more. However, there is much in it which I fundamentally oppose and about which I have grave concern for my constituents and the future of major services and industries in my constituency. I mention in particular the proposal to privatise British Coal. My constituents who work at the Point of Ayr colliery in my constituency will oppose that proposal. The many people for whom the colliery provides employment in the hinterland of the Point of Ayr colliery will oppose that proposal. Many people throughout the constituency who have no involvement with the coal industry will oppose that proposal. Point of Ayr is fundamental to future employment in the northern part of my constituency. The Rothschild report, which was published in leaked form before the election, indicates quite clearly that under a privatised British Coal the Point of Ayr colliery would be no more. When the opportunity arises, I shall fight that Bill tooth and nail in the House and elsewhere to make sure that the people of my constituency get a fair deal.

It is not a matter of dogma—it is a matter of common sense. We are not talking about, and nor are people in my constituency necessarily concerned about, the ownership of British Coal. The dogma on that matter comes from the Government. We are concerned about good management, investment in the coal industry, investment in decent working conditions for the people who work in that pit, productivity, and support for those people to produce coal at effective, cheap prices. In the coming months, there will be arguments about ownership and profitability. As I have said, I have three children under five. What is profitable today will not necessarily be profitable in future. We have valuable reserves now, but in the future my children and grandchildren will need resources which such a Bill will deny people, allowing them to consider only the profit motive in the coal industry.

I also heard with dismay about the involvement of the private sector in British Rail. In my constituency, there is a great need for further investment in Flint and Prestatyn railway stations and, as my colleagues who represent constituencies in Wales and Cheshire know, the improvements in the Crewe-Holyhead railway link. Privatisation and private sector involvement in British Rail will do nothing to support the improvement of services in my constituency. They will do nothing to invest in the future of rail links to my constituency, and nothing whatsoever to ensure the security of viable, important transport links to Flint and Prestatyn stations. I will oppose such a measure when the opportunity arises.

Like my hon. Friends, I was disappointed at what was not in the Gracious Speech. On 9 April, in Wales, 27 Labour Members of Parliament were elected, compared with six Conservatives, four Welsh nationalists and one Liberal Democrat. I make no quibble about being part of the United Kingdom, because we are rightfully part of the United Kingdom. However, if Conservative Members wish to impose their policies on the people of Wales, they must listen to hon. Members who were elected to represent the Welsh people and who have valid points of view to put forward.

The Welsh Office currently spends more than £6,000 million per year. There are 42 quangos throughout Wales dealing with every aspect of public life in our community. There are thousands upon thousands of investments by the Government in Wales. Yet there are only three Ministers, one of whom does not even represent a seat in Wales. They spend and invest that resource on behalf of the people of that community.

As the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) said, 70 per cent. of the people of Wales did not vote for the Government. I do not ask that you discard your programme. It is your right to implement it. I ask that you simply—