Madam Deputy Speaker—congratulations, and thank you for allowing me to make my maiden speech during this important debate on the economy. It is a privilege to follow Mr Cunningham, and I also congratulate all the previous speakers who have made their maiden speeches today. They have set the bar very high for the rest of us who are following them. Thank you for that!
I should like to begin by paying tribute to my predecessor in Mid Worcestershire, Sir Peter Luff. Peter was first elected to this place in 1992 as the MP for Worcester, following in the footsteps of another highly respected Member, Peter Walker. Peter Luff was a Whip and a former Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee and the Agriculture Select Committee. He was also, of course, a Defence Minister in the last Government. Peter leaves a great legacy in Worcestershire. He fought for significant improvements to local infrastructure, including the new Worcestershire Parkway station which will open in 2017. He also worked hard to preserve and restore local heritage assets such as Hartlebury Castle, the Droitwich canals and the Regal Cinema. I will try to serve the kind and generous constituents of Mid Worcestershire as well as Peter did.
I am fortunate to represent one of the most idyllic constituencies in the country. A drive through Mid Worcestershire is a wonderful experience, starting from Broadway—the gateway to the Cotswolds—in the south, and heading through the gently undulating landscape of the Vale of Evesham, past fields of asparagus, plum and apple orchards, and greenhouses full of fragrant and beautiful flowers. One continues north, passing the Worcester Warriors rugby stadium, towards the historic town of Droitwich Spa and on to Ombersley and Hartlebury in the north. On the journey one will pass through many quintessentially English villages with splendid names, such as Upton Snodsbury, Flyford Flavell and my children’s favourite—Wyre Piddle. I am proud of the links between my constituency and this place via Simon de Montfort of de Montfort Parliament fame. In August this year we will commemorate the 750th anniversary of the battle of Evesham, where Simon de Montfort was killed.
The experiences of the past few weeks have taught us all in this place that there is no such thing as a safe seat in modern British politics, but Mid Worcestershire is about as true blue Tory as one can get, having returned a Conservative Member at every election since 1837, apart from once, in 1880, when a Liberal was returned as the MP for Evesham by two votes. As this result was transparently an error, a petition was lodged, the result was voided and a Conservative was returned instead. I like the precedent.
As I have spent the past several years working for one of the leading technology companies in the world, it will be no surprise that in this place I wish to be an advocate for technology and the digital sector, despite the fact that I am reading from a piece of paper. Ignore that for the moment. The UK’s digital economy is vital. It employs more than 1.5 million people and is growing at double the rate of GDP. We can be proud that the UK is one of the most advanced digital economies in the world, and I know that this Government are committed to making sure it continues to be so.
The other sector I wish to champion in this place is travel and tourism—again, one of the fastest growing sectors of the British economy. Since 2010 one in three of all new jobs has been in the travel and hospitality space, and tourism overall contributes more than £127 billion—a staggering sum—to the UK economy and employs more than 3 million UK people, including many in my constituency.
Finally, we all know that we can have good public services only if we have a strong economy that generates the taxes to pay for them. That is why it is vital that we continue to support business and job creation, thereby supporting workers and their families. That is what I am here to do. That is what this Queen’s Speech and this Government will deliver.