Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to make my maiden speech. I speak with a particular sense of humility after so many hon. Members have given such admirable maiden speeches, including that just made by Kate Green.
I have some worthy predecessors. My immediate predecessor was Miss Julie Kirkbride. She was first elected in 1997, and she was a fine constituency MP. I will never forget the spontaneous tributes that people paid to her, when I knocked on their doors during the campaign, for all the work that she had done on their behalf. I should also like to express my gratitude to her two most recent predecessors, Mr Roy Thomason and Sir Hal Miller, who both helped me in my campaign with great advice.
Bromsgrove is a beautiful, traditional beacon of middle England. I know that many hon. Members have described their constituencies as beautiful, but Bromsgrove truly has breathtaking countryside. It is an old market town which was originally a bit of an industrial hub for the west midlands industrial complex. It still has a very active, traditional court-leet, with lovely traditions.
In the east of the constituency we have many beautiful picture-postcard villages, including the glamorously named suburb of Hollywood.
Over the centuries, we have had many heroes from Bromsgrove. I should like to pay tribute on this occasion to two of the most recent-both teenagers, both soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment. The first, Private Robert Laws, was aged 18 when he lost his life fighting for our country in Helmand province last year. He had passed his training only six months previously. The second, Private Alex Kennedy, also aged 18, earlier this year became the youngest soldier since the second world war to receive the military cross. He fought hard to save the life of his commanding officer during a fierce battle with the Taliban. We must never forget the sacrifices that our soldiers-those who have served and those who are currently serving for us-make on our behalf.
A notable person from Bromsgrove was A. E. Housman, whose stirring prose reflected the rural beauty of the heart of England. In Bromsgrove we have a wonderful heritage in the English countryside, and that is why I want to make sure that it is the people who are most affected by planning decisions who make those decisions. That is why I welcome the recent announcements of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on that issue. They have been most welcomed by my constituents.
Perhaps at this point I should say something about my own background, as hon. Members may be able to tell from my appearance and my name that I can hardly be of traditional Worcestershire stock. My parents were both born in British India. Although my father was just six years old in 1947, he remembers full well the tragedy that occurred upon the partition of India-12 million people were displaced and almost a million lost their lives. If we need an example of how political failure can lead to great human tragedy, surely that is one of the most heart-wrenching, and an example of how politics can really make a difference. That is what I say to people who ask me why I gave up a lucrative career in finance to enter this House.
To the dismay of Frank Dobson, I have to tell him that for 19 years I have been an investment banker. In my case, this is one brain that was sucked up by the City and has now come to serve the people in this Parliament. I worked in London, Singapore and New York. I readily admit that being seen as an investment banker was not the most useful thing on the campaign trail, but it helped prepare me for a profession not well liked by the general public. Let us hope that all of us, on both sides of the House, can work together over the coming years to help restore the nation's respect for our great Parliament.
In view of my background in finance, I am particularly pleased to give my maiden speech during this debate on economic affairs. There are many global economic uncertainties at the moment, and they have potentially grave consequences for our economy. First, the euro is only just beginning to have problems. It was always a political contrivance that had virtually nothing to do with economics. Secondly, the world's largest emerging market economies, which have buttressed global demand since the onset of the credit crisis, are about to go through a period of monetary tightening, and we can no longer rely on them for global growth.
Thirdly, industrialised nations, including our own, that have issued vast amounts of sovereign debt over the past three years in particular can no longer go on that way. We have to make sure that when we look at these issues, we never forget the traditional disciplines that have stood Britain in good stead-sound public finances, low and simple taxation, and light and flexible regulation. It is when we forget these disciplines that we put our future prosperity at risk.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity, and thank you to the people of Bromsgrove for allowing me to serve them in this Chamber.