I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech. I start by congratulating my hon. Friends who have also made their maiden speeches today. I sympathise with my hon. Friend Karen Bradley in her frustrations over bureaucracy and her impatience at the way in which Whitehall sometimes adds additional layers to the laws that we in this House set out. I also congratulate my hon. Friend Mr Offord and I completely agree with him about the importance of building aspiration.
I would like, too, to congratulate Karl Turner, who I believe has just left the Chamber, on a very articulate speech. That might be something that the constituents of Kingston upon Hull East take a while to get used to. I am grateful to Clive Efford-he has also left the Chamber-for his colourful description of, and personal perspective on, the new coalition, although when I heard him discussing the Stockholm syndrome, I wondered whether he was talking about the process whereby Labour Members stuck with their former leader, Mr Brown, for such a long time.
The seat that I represent is a three-way marginal, as was the former constituency of Camborne and Falmouth. The election left me with a majority of just 66 over my predecessor, so it has certainly lived up to its reputation again this time around.
It is a special honour for me to represent my home town. I was brought up between Camborne and Hayle, in Cornwall, and my family have lived and worked in the area for more than 400 years. When one has such deep roots in a constituency, one feels a special responsibility for its long-term future.
My predecessor, Julia Goldsworthy, was also local, and came from a well known Camborne family. I pay tribute to her work for the seat in her five years as a Member of the House. When she was elected she was the youngest MP in England and one of the youngest in the country. She was quickly promoted within the Lib Dems, and became first a health spokesman, later shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and finally Communities and Local Government spokesman. She also campaigned locally, most notably on water charges and the injustice in the south-west whereby just 3% of the population are expected to carry the burden of maintaining 30% of our coastline. I, and many other Devon and Cornwall MPs, will be persistent in pushing that agenda forward and trying to find a policy solution that ends that injustice.
Camborne and Redruth is a diverse constituency. To the south is the peace and tranquillity of the Helford passage and some fantastic gardens such as Trebah and Glendurgan, with their collection of plants. To the north is the rugged splendour of the north cliffs and undoubtedly one of the best beaches in the country at Hayle, with three miles of golden sands. At its heart, however, are the three industrial towns of Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, which have made a remarkable contribution to the industrial revolution. The steam locomotive was invented there by Richard Trevithick, the famous Camborne engineer, and the first ever gas lamp was invented by William Murdoch in Redruth. Ever since, there has been a healthy rivalry and competition between those towns and not least their rugby clubs.
The loss of the mining industry and iconic engineering firms such as Holman Brothers in Camborne dealt a serious blow to the Camborne and Redruth area. I truly believe, however, that we can be pioneers again and become the international centre of excellence in renewable energy and, most importantly, wave power. Cornwall's coastline is second to none, and we have the engineering expertise to turn ideas into industry. The wave hub project, currently under construction near Hayle, will be the first of its type anywhere in the world-the first installation that can test commercial-scale wave devices. The constituency also leads in much of the academic research work that will enable wave power to move forward, especially at the Camborne school of mines, now located at the combined universities for Cornwall at Tremough.
My No. 1 priority for the area will be economic regeneration. I was delighted to hear the Chancellor say in his Budget that he does not propose to make a further cut to total capital spending. If we want to improve our infrastructure and competitiveness and rebalance our economy, it is essential that we continue to invest in that infrastructure. He is also right, however, that we should switch the focus to creating new enterprises and businesses, and that in particular we should encourage the development of new enterprise in those regions such as mine that have perhaps been too dependent in the recent past on the public sector. There is only one way out of the current recession: through new businesses setting up and new industries being created. We need to harness a culture in which entrepreneurs are willing to get out there, take risks, have a go, and feel that they can make a difference.
Earlier, I mentioned Richard Trevithick, the most famous inventor from Cornwall. Like many pioneers, Richard Trevithick never actually made any money from his idea of building an engine, but the rest of the country did, and the world has benefited from that invention and everything that followed it. Trevithick had no regrets about what he had done. Recently, when conducting some research, I came across an interesting extract from a letter that he had written. I shall end with this quotation, because I think it makes a very valid point.
"I have been branded with folly and madness for attempting what the world calls impossibilities, and even from the great engineer, the late Mr. James Watt, who said to an eminent scientific character still living, that I deserved hanging for bringing into use the high-pressure engine. This so far has been my reward from the public; but should this be all, I shall be satisfied by the great secret pleasure and laudable pride that I feel in my own breast from having been the instrument of bringing forward and maturing new principles and new arrangements of boundless value to my country. However much I may be straitened in pecuniary circumstances, the great honour of being a useful subject can never be taken from me, which to me far exceeds riches."
I believe that as we face the present economic challenges and try to deal with the environmental challenge of climate change, we can learn a lot from pioneers such as Richard Trevithick. What we can learn is that Government cannot simply drop all the answers. I have heard a great deal in the debate today about how Government can do everything, but they cannot. In the final analysis, we need talented individuals to come up with the solutions. The role of Government is to enable those individuals, not to try to replace their role.
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