Income tax charge for tax year 2017-18

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:15 pm on 25 April 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland 1:15, 25 April 2017

I am grateful for this opportunity to deliver my maiden speech as the newly elected Member of Parliament for Copeland, in what is one of the last debates of this Parliament.

First, I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Jamie Reed, who was the Member for Copeland from 2005 until he stood down in January this year. It is, in fact, Jamie whom I have to thank for inspiring my introduction to politics. The very first parliamentary debate I ever watched was a Westminster Hall debate called by Jamie and also attended by other Cumbrian Members—my hon. Friend Rory Stewart and Tim Farron—to discuss the future of my children’s school, Captain Shaw’s in Bootle. I saw the positive impact that MPs in Westminster could have on their local communities and the powerful influence of their support, even in remote areas, which I had previously felt would never be anyone’s political priority.

Like me, Jamie was born, raised and educated in Copeland, in the fine Georgian harbour town of Whitehaven. He has served the people of Copeland with great talent and dedication. As the elected Member, he worked hard for the rural communities he represented and placed a strong emphasis on improving health and education. In announcing his decision to stand down last December, he said he could achieve more for our community by returning to work in the nuclear industry at Sellafield than by remaining a Labour Member of Parliament.

Jamie was a relentless, proud supporter of our local industry; he championed the world-class specialist skills that make up our towns and villages. He worked hard to make the case for Copeland to host the new nuclear power station, Moorside, adjacent to Sellafield, based on the strong belief that our workforce are best placed to power the northern powerhouse; after all, Copeland welcomed the world’s first nuclear reactor at Sellafield back in 1950. Our local knowledge, experience and skills in the nuclear and other highly regulated industries are internationally recognised and respected.

Sellafield’s safety record is exceptional, and it is seen as an example of outstanding performance across the globe. Jamie said that Copeland’s “best days are ahead”, a statement I agree with and will quote many times. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jamie for his commitment to Copeland and wish him all the very best in his new role in community development at Sellafield.

Copeland has for centuries pioneered a modern industrial strategy. Our largest town, Whitehaven, was once Britain’s third largest trading port, with an extraordinary shipbuilding reputation thanks to the locally grown, hard-as-nails oak trees used to build the boats. Our ancestors sailed the world, securing deals, and returning with goods which created a crucial global trading centre. Perhaps that is why the Copeland constituency voted to leave the EU with such a high majority: because history provides confidence in our ability to export our knowledge and products across the globe.

Like true pioneers we do not stand still; innovation is in our veins. As shipbuilding and rum sales declined, we dug deep for prosperity. Mining transformed the towns of Egremont, Cleator Moor and Millom; indeed, Millom was widely regarded as an exporter of the world’s highest quality iron ore.

But we are perhaps best known in Cumbria for a delightful little rabbit, Peter Rabbit, and his friends Mrs Tiggywinkle and Squirrel Nutkin, to name just three of Beatrix Potter’s adorable characters. Writers, artists and poets have found inspiration in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside. Wordsworth was sent, under doctors’ orders, to my home village of Bootle, to aid his recovery from a chest infection. With 32 miles of coastline in the Copeland constituency, our air and our landscape are good for the soul.

Three quarters of the Copeland constituency is situated within the Lake District national park boundary, which I hope will become the second world heritage site for the Copeland constituency, complementing that of Hadrian’s Wall in Ravenglass. We eagerly await a decision in July to confirm another world first—the first UNESCO world heritage site to include an entire national park—thanks to a 20-year project by the Lake District National Park Authority and local communities to put Cumbria on the same international must-visit platform as the Taj Mahal and the great barrier reef.

I was brought up in Seascale, then I moved to Wasdale, where I would open my curtains every morning to reveal Britain’s best view: England’s highest mountain, Scafell. Well before wild swimming was trendy, my childhood weekends would be spent paddling in Wastwater, England’s deepest lake. It is easy to see why Wasdale was the birthplace of mountaineering, and why the beautiful market town of Keswick enjoys such popularity with its annual mountain festival. That is one of the many festivals enjoyed in the Keswick community calendar.

Although the Lakeland topography is the result of glacial formations, our landscape and cultural heritage, for which we are internationally celebrated, are of course man-made. It is vital to support and protect our farming industry, both upland and lowland, to ensure that we can all benefit from quality food production, the highest standards of animal welfare, conservation and our enormously successful tourism industry, on which Copeland is so dependent.

I could not give my maiden speech without acknowledging that I would not be standing in this House today if it were not for the fantastic and unwavering support of my family, friends, community and local association. My husband Keith, my parents, my brother and my daughters—Gabrielle, Savannah, Francesca and Rosemary—have been incredible towers of strength. From the moment I decided to stand, they were with me, campaigning, delivering leaflets and knocking on doors. My girls have become quite the persuasive activists, and it has been wonderful to see their interest in politics grow.

Having four teenage daughters aged 14, 15, 17 and 18, I was delighted to tip the balance between all history’s women Members and the current number of male Members, equalling it at 456. There was a change of reference in my Mother’s day cards this year, however. Gone were the thanks for the practical tasks of washing, cooking, cleaning and generally being there. Instead, each one referred to a theoretical role, referencing inspiration and pride. That is what a by-election does to family life, and you can only imagine their comments about another round of doorstep challenges! It is, after all, our children and young people who motivate us to secure a bright future for Britain and inspire the next generation of leaders.

I watched my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservative party conference last year and I was so impressed by her strength and commitment to deliver for Great Britain. Her ambitions for our country resonated with my own. As she spoke, I said to myself, “That’s me, that’s who I am, that’s what I want for my community and for my country.” I stood for Parliament because I want to get on and make things happen. I want to be part of a proactive, positive team that makes a tremendous difference to my community: the land of Copeland glory.

My husband and I moved from Whitehaven in the north of the constituency to Bootle, a small village in the south of Copeland, to raise our young family. Our move was motivated by a desire for our girls to attend a village primary school, and in Captain Shaw’s we found our perfect, quintessential Lakeland school. In 2006, I discovered that the school was really struggling to make ends meet. It desperately needed extra funding so I joined the parent teacher association. I soon realised that the problem was a decline in pupil numbers, so I joined the governors. Then I learned that the whole village was declining: we had lost 20 businesses in 20 years. I then applied for the position of regeneration officer at my local borough council, where I realised that the challenge was far more extensive.

Copeland desperately requires investment in infrastructure to be able to thrive. Both professionally, working for the council, and personally, working with the can-do people in my community, I worked to shape policy giving our planning authority the option to be either the nail in our coffin or the key to our future. We trailed the streets and lanes, collecting and providing the necessary evidence to shape the strategic vision for Bootle, which would become a beacon of hope to other rural communities. We worked hard to secure the Lake District national park’s biggest ever mixed-use planning application for Wellbank, a former 12.5 acre Ministry of Defence base. Wellbank will bring 50 homes, a hotel and enterprise areas, and will attract public and private investment. For Bootle, that will mean an extra 64 homes, new businesses and, when complete, £20 million of inward investment.

I stood in the Copeland by-election to really make a success of the modern industrial strategy, to be an asset to the northern powerhouse and to realise our full potential as a centre of nuclear excellence and global exporter of knowledge and products. Copeland needs investment. I know that as a pioneering, hard-working and innovative community, we can succeed with the Government’s support. We have the people with the skills, the potential, the essential natural resources and a landscape where people love to live, work, learn and invest. We have every reason to be optimistic and to become an asset to the country’s economic performance and world-leading reputation. Copeland is on the brink of the most exciting, game-changing transition, but we need investment to kick-start that transition.

Throughout the election, I campaigned on six vital points. First, I campaigned to make a success of Brexit, as 62% of my constituents voted to leave. Secondly, I campaigned to secure nuclear new build at Moorside benefitting both Copeland and the country. Our Government must commit seriously to new nuclear, now more than ever, if we are to attract the international investment. Thirdly, I campaigned to bring our road and rail networks up to modern standards, as they are simply not fit for the modern industrial strategy. Our infrastructure is holding back our ability to diversify and thrive. Fourthly, building resilience against flooding, which wrecks lives and livelihoods, is also essential.

Fifthly, access and connectivity will be key enablers, particularly in our rural area, if we are really going to trade and compete in a global marketplace. Improving mobile and internet connectivity will make a huge difference to our quality of life and our ability to do business in a global market. It will ensure a bright future for our children and young people, and the announcement in the spring Budget supporting an enormous increase in technical apprenticeships is wonderful news for a practical, skilled community such as mine.

Sixthly, I campaigned to secure services. Ensuring that we keep our 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, consultant-led maternity department at West Cumberland hospital in Whitehaven has been one of my key aims throughout my election campaign and as a Member of Parliament. I was born at that hospital and all four of my daughters were born there too. My community has clearly demonstrated the importance of retaining such an essential service. In my first weeks as an MP, I have been able to meet my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and I have visited the hospital to see the new wards for myself and to meet the staff. I have talked to clinicians and management in order to understand the barriers to having fully operational departments in the future. We now have a fully staffed maternity department, the trust has been removed from special measures and, in addition to the £90 million already invested by this Government, we have secured the funding for the final phase of the hospital’s construction.

Supporting a further recruitment drive with Choose Cumbria is also my priority. Positive action, listening to concerns, tackling problems head on and working with the can-do people in our community who really care—all these have been my mantra for many years. I will continue to strive enthusiastically, because I believe passionately in Copeland, its people and its potential.

Turning to today’s debate on the Finance Bill, I have seen that this Government are the only Government who can deliver a stronger, more secure economy. The economy is getting stronger and growing, the employment rate is at a record high and the deficit has been reduced enormously since its pre-financial crisis peak. We are in a much stronger position than in 2010, but I recognise that we must not be complacent. We must continue to reduce the country’s debt and the deficit even further. We cannot, as previous Labour Governments did, borrow endlessly to plug holes. We need to get the public finances in good order to safeguard for the future—for the future I want for my daughters and their generation.

Finally, Copeland has been my home since I was born. It is an area I know and love. The opportunity to represent the communities I grew up in as their Member of Parliament is truly a great honour, and I will ensure that the voice of our towns and rural communities is heard loud and clear. I am utterly committed to Copeland, and I will fight hard to deliver on promises made to my constituents during the election.

I am extremely grateful for the time I have been allowed and for the opportunity to deliver my maiden speech in this debate.