Thank you very much, Dr Huq, for calling me to speak. It is always a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, but particularly when you have been so flexible with your diary in getting here today.
I congratulate my hon. Friend Mr Holden on securing this debate. Agricultural and county shows are hugely important for our economy. They are also one of the most enjoyable parts of rural Britain, whether the shows are large or small. In Harrogate and Knaresborough, we have both types, and I love them both. Thanks are due to the organisers of all these shows up and down our nation. It requires a huge effort and great skill to put these events on, and much of the work is done by volunteers; we should recognise and celebrate them.
I will make an immediate declaration of interests—I spent last Friday at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate. For those who have not visited it yet, it is the largest agricultural show in England and it is, as described, great. There is a 250-acre site in Harrogate. The show is over 160 years old, and there was a wonderful sense of excitement and fun about it.
I will spend a few minutes discussing the ingredients that make agriculture and county shows so special and important. I agree with colleagues that the most significant ingredient is the sense of community and belonging brought about by each show. The Great Yorkshire Show is from Yorkshire, for Yorkshire and, of course, in Yorkshire—it is a part of our Yorkshire identity. Of course, shows across the country are part of and reflect their local community, and that has been made clear in the debate. Some 140,000 people came to the Great Yorkshire Show last week. When I went on Friday, I had a little think about when I first visited, and I think it was in 1973.