Andrew Bridgen: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to give my maiden speech. In this debate we have heard many fine maiden speeches, all of which were well crafted and delivered. In particular, I must compliment the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) on her speech, and declare a vested interest: I am a graduate of one of her area's great universities, the...
Andrew Bridgen: I wish to assure the shadow Chancellor that Conservative Members appreciate that the previous Government had to borrow money during the recession. What baffles us is why they borrowed money during the boom.
Andrew Bridgen: I assure the hon. Gentleman that Conservative Members would have liked to enjoy Labour's economic inheritance in 1997.
Andrew Bridgen: The hon. Gentleman talks about the coalition Government's cuts, but he has forgotten about the biggest cut of all. We are going to cut the deficit, which is a millstone around the necks of current and future taxpayers. That will secure the future of our economy.
Andrew Bridgen: Did the right hon. Gentleman really believe that the previous Government had ended boom and bust, and is that why he put no money away for the rainy day that has now arrived?
Andrew Bridgen: I want to start by adding my congratulations to my hon. Friends the Members for Dudley South (Chris Kelly) and for Wolverhampton South West (Paul Uppal) on their excellent maiden speeches. I am sure the rest of the House will join me in hoping that they will speak again in this Chamber in the very near future. Today's debate is very important. As Members will know, local government financing...
Andrew Bridgen: Let me make a little progress and I am sure the theme will become clear. That funding difference is putting the children of North West Leicestershire at a major disadvantage. The two biggest senior schools in my constituency-Ashby and King Edward-are disadvantaged by nearly £1 million and £500,000 respectively each year compared with the city of Leicester. That simply is not fair. Perhaps...
Andrew Bridgen: I think we needed to have a shake-up of the Conservative party in North West Leicestershire, which came in 2007. When the people of my constituency make their minds up, they make their minds up, and we had the biggest swing against Labour in those elections, as I pointed out. Even in the year when it was thrown out of office, the Labour council increased council tax by 4.1%, and its...
Andrew Bridgen: Can the Deputy Prime Minister confirm whether the new, reconstituted constituencies will cross current regional boundaries?
Andrew Bridgen: Will my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary please inform the House of the next option for Her Majesty's Government when sanctions against Iran fail?
Andrew Bridgen: I hate to bring the hon. Lady back to reality, but the previous Government halved the amount of manufacturing in our economy, from 22% to 11%. Under them, we built the least number of houses since 1922 in order to support the construction industry, and history will view many of their so-called investments rather harshly and, perhaps, as the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, because they did not...
Andrew Bridgen: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?
Andrew Bridgen: The right hon. Gentleman is speaking passionately about his opposition to unemployment. Surely he must be ashamed to be a member of a party that has formed Governments many times over the past 70 years and that, every time it has left office, has left unemployment higher than when it came to office.
Andrew Bridgen: The hon. Gentleman seems to have the impression that the world has an insatiable appetite to buy UK Government debt. If that is the case, why did at least one Treasury gilt sale fail to be fully taken up?
Andrew Bridgen: Could we not do more to promote local group buying schemes to balance the uncompetitive market and get better pricing?
Andrew Bridgen: Does the hon. Gentleman not appreciate that there is no money for the private sector from the banks because of the legacy of the last Labour Government? The Government are borrowing £3 billion a week-there is no money left for the private sector.
Andrew Bridgen: Does the hon. Gentleman consider it fair that every child in this country is born with approximately £24,000-worth of debt around their neck as a result of the polices of the previous Government?
Andrew Bridgen: Does the hon. Lady think it is fair that in her constituency in Leicester, education is valued at £600 a year more per pupil than in my constituency, despite the fact that I have areas of severe deprivation in mine? Surely she will welcome the pupil premium, as it will rectify the problem.
Andrew Bridgen: The shadow Minister seems to be making a strong argument for reintroducing special schools, which is the opposite of the policy of the previous Government.
Andrew Bridgen: What does the hon. Lady believe to be the underlying level of SEN in the pupil population?