Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): Congratulations on your election, Madam Deputy Speaker. In speaking to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Roger Mullin) as one of the “problems” from the other side of the House, I congratulate him on a fine opening speech.
I stand before you today not as someone who has long pursued a career in politics, but as someone who was inspired many years ago to make the most of their life. My parents were decent, hard-working people who worked every hour God sent to build something for themselves and, more importantly, for their children. They talked to me not only about making your own way, but about helping people along the way.
The keener observers among you will notice that I am a little older than some of my young, vibrant colleagues, but 23 years building a business is responsible for that. I am older but certainly no wiser; my colleagues are of a very high calibre. They have also come from a very diverse range of backgrounds, careers and experiences, and that strikes at the very heart of the myth that the Conservative party is a party of privilege.
I wish to pay tribute to my predecessor, Anne McIntosh, who worked so hard and was a great champion of the farming industry. She did an excellent job as the Chair of the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She was a strong voice, and a willing and active participant in this Chamber.
It is, of course, a huge honour to represent Thirsk and Malton, a place I have lived all my life. It is a place of distinct and stunning scenery, from Filey, with its immaculate gardens and broad, smooth beaches to picture-postcard villages and market towns such as Malton, racing’s northern home and Yorkshire’s food capital. It has Thirsk, the real-life home of James Herriot and the birthplace of Thomas Lord, who set up Lord’s cricket club and the MCC; Pickering, the gateway to the heather-scented North York Moors; and Easingwold, my home town, the place I was brought up. In short, it is God’s own county, and the true and original country of the white rose.
We are all here to represent our constituencies and to get the best deal, but in my experience we cannot win if the other side loses. It only breeds resentment, division and future conflict. I come to this House wanting a fair deal for our farmers, our businesses, our councils, our schools and our hospitals. I also want to help to build a fairer society and a fairer deal for the north and, in particular, for North Yorkshire. The vibrancy of our economy is critical. Never forget that everything here is provided by business people who go out and take risks, work twice the hours for half the money and put their life savings on the line. More often than not, they will never see them again.
Ronald Reagan once said that virtually all our economic growth is achieved by entrepreneurs and their small businesses. I have heard a lot of talk about productivity in this Chamber over the past couple of weeks and the way to increase productivity is to increase competition. We must make it easier and more rewarding to start a business and invest, and we do not help the poor by destroying the rich.
As our economy grows, the benefits should be felt by everyone. Over time, I believe that we should work with business and work towards introducing a living wage so that everybody gets a decent standard of living. I welcome the Government’s drive to cut red tape. Governments should do less, not more, but must keep stable conditions in our economy. I also welcome the Government’s programme of investment in our railways and in our roads. I would certainly welcome investment in the A64 in our neck of the woods. It is a huge bottleneck and an accident blackspot.
If the price of devolution to North Yorkshire is a metro mayor, I will pay that price. One of the most important things we need is rural broadband and better mobile phone coverage. We heard talk about 4G and 5G, but where I live 1G is the result and that leaves many businesses at a disadvantage. Local businesses compete locally but also nationally and internationally and we need to give them a level playing field.