Education and Health

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 8:09 pm on 2nd June 2010.

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Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Labour, Liverpool, Wavertree 8:09 pm, 2nd June 2010

I congratulate Neil Carmichael and all those who made their fascinating maiden speeches that we have heard in this debate. It has been a real education. I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for allowing me the opportunity to make my maiden speech in this debate. In his book "In Place of Fear", Nye Bevan wrote of the frustration caused to new MPs who provocatively deliver the concerns of their constituents in their maiden speeches and are met simply by a polite response from the next speaker, according to parliamentary convention:

"After remaining in his seat a little longer, the new Member crawls out of the House with feelings of deep relief at having got it over with, mingled with a paralysing sense of frustration. The stone he thought he had thrown turned out to be a sponge."

Notwithstanding parliamentary tradition, I shall endeavour to make my points provocatively, and to receive equally strong, uncompromising answers from Members opposite in due course.

I succeed the right hon. Jane Kennedy, an inspirational lady who served our nation and the people of Liverpool, Wavertree-formerly the constituency of Liverpool, Broadgreen-for nearly 20 years. She worked tirelessly for her constituents and was also a Minister in no fewer than six Departments. Her time as security Minister in Northern Ireland was precious to her. Jane was incredibly proud that it was the Labour Government who made such strides against the scourge of youth unemployment. When Jane was Minister for Work, there was virtually no youth unemployment, and serving as Health Minister, Jane was also so proud of the improvements made to our NHS under the previous Labour Government, particularly as they affected older constituents.

Jane did what so many could not or would not. I was struck by the number of people I met on Wavertree's doorsteps who admired her greatly for the courageous actions that she took, particularly for her stance against the militant tendency. A brave woman, she will always remain an inspiration-never afraid to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in, even at the highest levels of Government. Jane did a sterling job for her constituents, for the Labour Government and in this House. As my friend and mentor, I hope to do her proud.

I have the privilege of representing the warm and kind people of Liverpool, Wavertree. It is a remarkably mixed constituency-culturally and historically rich, and ethnically diverse. It is a mixture of suburbia and metropolis, and a place where the old meets the new. We have our fair share of notable residents and landmarks from across the business, academic, musical, religious and political worlds. Wavertree is the birthplace of Meccano, Littlewoods pools and catalogue shopping. It is also home to the oldest Hindu community in the UK outside London.

Perhaps our most famous residents were John Lennon and George Harrison; Penny lane sits on the border of the constituency. Some lesser known people also deserve mention for the contribution they have made, not only to local life but also nationally. Dr Fred Freeman was a Wavertree businessman who owned a large department store in the constituency; he was also the philanthropist who pioneered tax-effective giving in the UK. James Newlands, a resident of Edge Hill, became the first borough engineer for Liverpool in 1847 and paved the way for municipal engineering as the world knows it today, creating the world's first integrated sewerage system. The significance of that development cannot be overrated. During his years in office, Newlands succeeded in doubling the average life expectancy from 19 to 38.

Politically, the constituency has seen a whole spectrum of political representation. Dr Coffey went to school in the constituency, as did Edwina Currie. Lord Alton was once its Member of Parliament and Derek Hatton lived in Childwall. Although Wavertree has been home to notable political representatives from across the political divide, it is the rich Labour witness within the constituency that has made such an impact. Stewart Headlam, one of the pioneers and publicists of Christian socialism, was born in Wavertree, and fiery campaigner "Battling Bessie" Braddock attended a Socialist Sunday school in Marmaduke street in the constituency. I intend to keep the rich socialist tradition alive.

We will be celebrating two notable anniversaries in Wavertree this year. In 1836 the world's oldest passenger station, described by some historians as the start of the modern world, opened in Edge Hill, and this September marks the 180th anniversary of the opening of the Liverpool to Manchester railway line, which started at Edge Hill station. That was the first time anyone in the world could travel between two cities by rail. This celebration will be taking place at Metal, a creative hub that sits in the station today. We are also marking the 100-year anniversary of the Wavertree garden suburb, a development that was part of a national movement to improve urban living conditions, which gave tenants a stake in the place where they lived.

I requested the opportunity to make my maiden speech during the education and health debate because knowledge and well-being are so important to my constituents. I urge Mr Lansley to honour the guarantee that he made in March to rebuild the Royal Liverpool hospital. The scheme is so important, not only to sustain the provision of high-quality health care for all the people of Liverpool, including many in my constituency, but also because it will be the catalyst for sustaining growth in the economic renaissance of Liverpool, with the creation of a globally excellent, biomedical science campus.

Similarly, as highlighted by my hon. Friend Stephen Twigg, Alder Hey-the largest national children's hospital in Europe, which treats young people from more than 85% of the UK's PCTs-must see its accommodation upgraded. Alder Hey has put forward the most affordable hospital scheme in the country to replace its Florence Nightingale design from 100 years ago, so it can provide paediatric treatment in 21st-century facilities.

As a Labour and Co-operative MP, I am delighted that there have been real strides to expand mutualism in our public services. Mutualism ensures the promotion of democratic accountability-giving users, staff and other stakeholders a real say in how our public services are run. So far, the biggest expansion of mutuality has taken place in the NHS, with the formation of 129 NHS foundation trusts, which are accountable to a widely defined membership of more than 1.5 million. Similarly, in social care 178 user-led organisations have been created, and they both design and deliver high-quality services.

I move on to education. Incredible investment has been made into my constituency, where we have made great strides in education. Before Michael Gove starts redirecting money from the education budget to create new free schools, I urge him to come and see how education is working in Liverpool. I urge him to invest in those schools, such as St Hilda's in Picton and Archbishop Blanch School in Wavertree, that already have a vibrant community ethos and active governing bodies, and are already achieving above national-average grades at GCSE.

Nearly 90 years ago, my great-uncle, Manny Shinwell, newly elected as the Member for Linlithgowshire, made his maiden speech to this House. It feels almost eerie now to echo the words that he said then, that

"in opposition we would bring every kind of pressure-constitutional pressure, I may say-to bear on the"


"Government in order to compel the Government to implement the pledges they gave".-[ Hansard, 23 November 1922; Vol. 159, c. 119.]