I should like to thank you, Madam Speaker, for calling me at this early stage in the first debate that you are chairing as Speaker. I hope that I shall be equally fortunate in future in what I hope will be a long and which I know will be a distinguished Speakership.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) and my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Mr. Mitchell) on their excellent speeches in proposing and seconding the Loyal Address. I remember the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley in 1979 about the balance between sycophancy and rebellion. He seems to have managed to achieve that balance very well immediately after 1979, and I hope that he and my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling will be equally successful in that respect in the next 13 years.
I should like to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on leading the Conservative party to a fourth consecutive general election victory. Much of the credit for that victory belongs to my right hon. Friend, whose calm, quiet but firm leadership was in tune with the times and whose hopes and aspirations for the future were in line with those of the people of this country. My right hon. Friend now has a mandate in his own right: he can be his own man, and I believe that he will be his own man.
It is as well to remember that many people voted for other than Conservative candidates in the general election. The Conservative party polled more than 42 per cent. of the popular vote, and, in my view, that means that the Government should proceed with caution and restraint over the next few years.
In his first major speech after again becoming Prime Minister in 1951, Winston Churchill said:
What the nation needs is several years of quiet, steady administration, if only to allow Socialist legislation to reach its full fruition."—[Official Report, 6 November 1951; Vol. 493, c. 68.]
Fortunately, we have had no socialist legislation since 1979, but we have had a great deal of reforming legislation in the past 13 years, particularly in the past five years, and it needs time to reach its full fruition. I am thinking particularly of the health and education reforms. With the return of a Conservative Government, the threat of reversing those reforms has now been removed. The aim in this Parliament should be to consolidate them.