Constitution and Home Affairs

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 5:51 pm on 7th June 2010.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 5:51 pm, 7th June 2010

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker for inviting me to make my maiden speech. I congratulate Mrs Chapman and my hon. Friend Margot James on their impassioned speeches on behalf of their constituents. Having spent some 24 years in local government and made three previous attempts to join the House, I think that I have served my apprenticeship, but little did I think that it would take me 25 years to make this speech. I hope that it will be worth waiting for.

I pay tribute to my predecessor, Tony McNulty, who served the House for 13 years as a diligent Member for Harrow East and 11 years prior to that as a councillor in the area. He rose through the Labour party's ranks to government and high office and eventually to become the Minister for London, and I am glad to say that that is one of the positions that we have abolished in this new Administration. I have served as a local councillor in coalitions, Mr Mayor-Mr Deputy Speaker; a Freudian slip-and I have spent the past four years in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. That demonstrates that going from one place to another is not such a big step after all.

I speak on behalf of my constituents and pay tribute to my constituency, from the great beauty of Old Redding in the north to the deprivation of Wealdstone in the south, from the opportunity areas of Edgware in the east to the tradition and history of Harrow Weald in the west. Harrow West abuts the constituency. Harrow East is the most diverse constituency in the country. We have 22 churches-not only of the Anglican and Catholic faith, but the Greek Orthodox church as well, to the south of the constituency. We have two Hindu temples, two synagogues, an Islamic centre and, indeed, the first Hindu state-sponsored primary school in the country. Some 35,000 residents stem from the state of Gujarat in India. There is a broad swathe of Muslim population, some 15,000 Jewish people and a range of people who come from every country on the planet, including some 5,000 European Union citizens who have come from the new emerging states.

This Government will do one thing of vital importance for all those people: restore civil liberties in this country. The threat of identity cards, the threat of being detained for 28 days without charge, and the huge amounts of data on individual people who are innocent of any crime kept on police DNA databases-the police state that has started to grow in this country-will be swept away. I believe that that is something for which people who are relatively new to this country will feel immensely grateful. Indeed, right across my constituency, there is a demand for better policing, better law and order and a more consistent approach to that whole process. There is also great demand in the constituency for more schools, and better schools as well. I look forward to them being set up under this Administration.

I intend very firmly to hold the new Government to account on the promises made before the election to ensure that the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital in the north of my constituency is rebuilt to the standards that everyone expects. That hospital is a national treasure, with people doing brilliant work in sub-standard conditions-standards that should not be accepted in the modern world. I look forward to that rebuilding starting in 2012. I also look forward to the opportunity of safeguarding Northwick Park hospital, which, of course, has been under threat, with the potential closures in north-west London under the previous Administration.

I am very proud and privileged to represent the people of Harrow East, and I have set out my course of action over this Parliament to be their representative here, speaking up for them at every opportunity, not to be the House's representative in Harrow. I intend to make sure that those people who depend on me will have a stern, very fierce advocate on their behalf.