Orders of the Day — Consumer Credit Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 9th June 2005.

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Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry Shadow Minister (Higher Education and Intellectual Property), Deputy Chair, Conservative Party 5:30 pm, 9th June 2005

With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker, I should be grateful to respond to some of the comments made in today's debate. It has been of an extremely high standard and we have addressed a wide range of issues of tremendous importance. We have also been privileged to listen to five remarkable maiden speeches from my Conservative colleagues, and I pay tribute to each and every one of them. They spoke with great clarity, passion and enthusiasm, and they are people from whom I know we all look forward to hearing a great deal more.

My hon. Friend Greg Clark, with whom I worked very closely during his time as the head of Conservative party policy, has an outstanding brain and I am delighted to have him as a constituency neighbour. He will be a very doughty campaigner, following on from Archie Norman's work in campaigning for issues in Tunbridge Wells. If my hon. Friend can secure improvements to the A21, that would be of great benefit to Michael Jabez Foster, as well as to my own constituents. My hon. Friend said that on one occasion, Archie Norman described him in three rather damning words, but the three that I would use today are "Excellent—keep going." It was a pleasure to hear the great fluency with which he spoke to the House today.

It was also a great privilege to listen to my hon. Friend Mrs. Miller, who gave us a fascinating insight into her constituency's history. It is a much longer, broader history than most of us have imagined, driving past it on the M3. She will clearly be a tremendous champion of what is best for her constituents, and she will ensure that the best of the past is preserved, while being ready to campaign on future challenges. It is clear, too, from the way in which she spoke how engaged she already is with the issues affecting her constituents.

I also listened with great interest to my hon. Friend James Duddridge. He spoke in the best tradition of Southend—East and West—in being a strong, powerful, clear and determined voice for his constituents, and a resolute local campaigner. I was struck, however, by his evident admiration—almost over-admiration—for all things from Tunbridge Wells. After my hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells said that he had a peer in his constituency—Lord Mayhew—my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend, East said that he had a pier as well: one of the largest in Europe. He said that he had something of a love affair with Tunbridge Wells, but I became slightly concerned when he told us that his constituency was gradually slipping closer to Tunbridge Wells, moving across the Thames and into Kent, which we in the south-east would of course greatly welcome. His was a very impressive speech and we look forward to hearing from him further.

My hon. Friend Mr. Gauke also spoke with tremendous fluency and showed a detailed and insightful understanding of the issues in this Bill. He spoke of the dangers of racehorses for Members of Parliament. When the late lamented Donald Thompson missed a vote, he explained that he had been at the races. His Whip, Spencer Le Marchant, who happened to own a racehorse that he was keen to sell, got him out of trouble by selling him a third of that racehorse, which immediately went lame and never won anything again. So my advice is to steer clear of racehorses. But the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Hertfordshire was extremely impressive and we look forward to hearing from him again.

Of the five of my hon. Friends who made maiden speeches today, my hon. Friend James Brokenshire is the one who actually gained a seat at the election. His was a remarkable result and I congratulate him on a tremendous gain. He spoke with enormous fluency, and with great warmth about his predecessor, John Cryer. Many of us would be very happy to see John Cryer back in this House—albeit in a very different constituency—although that might not be quite in keeping with the Labour Whips' wishes. My hon. Friend will clearly be a very effective campaigner on the issues affecting his constituents.

Those speeches provided us with a remarkable tour of English history: of the Romans in Basingstoke; the Saxons in Hornchurch; the Normans in South-West Hertfordshire; the Stuarts in Tunbridge Wells; and the Victorians in Rochford and Southend, East. I am not quite sure about Wantage, although we are very glad to see the end of the "Jackson" era. All those speeches revealed a group of Members of Parliament who are extremely dedicated to their constituents' interests. That filled me with tremendous hope because I believe passionately that the Conservative party must look more like the country that it aspires to represent.

In the speeches that we have heard today, we have heard from Conservative Members to whom people can relate, whom they will trust and feel are truly plugged into their constituencies and by whom they will be very well represented. I had better stop there for fear of incurring your wrath, Madam Deputy Speaker, or giving anyone the impression that I am setting out my credentials for the leadership of the Conservative party. [Interruption.] I hear the demands, but I shall resist them all the same.