Steven Paterson’s Maiden Speech 0

We are pleased to be able to present our new MP at Westminster for the Stirling Constituency’s maiden speech at Westminster, made on 1st July 2015 during a debate on equal pay and gender equality.

A great speech, he did himself and the Stirling Constituency proud.

It has been great to see all of #team56 settling in so well at Westminster and doing what they said they would, standing up for Scotland and giving her a voice in Parliament.

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  • Speech, full text

    Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is a great pleasure to be called to give my maiden speech in the House of Commons. I stand here as the Member of Parliament for the Stirling constituency, and I am privileged and humbled to be so. I am from the village of Cambusbarron; I was born and raised in the area.


    I begin by following many of my colleagues in thanking the members of staff here in the House of Commons, who have helped us new Members to get to grips with


    the bamboozling workings, traditions and conventions of this place. They have displayed remarkable patience and been a great help. The staff here are a credit to this place.


    I next want to put on record my appreciation of my predecessor as MP—Anne McGuire. Anne was elected in 1997. In that election, she defeated, as part of the new Labour landslide, one Michael Forsyth MP, who was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time, so it was quite an achievement. Michael Forsyth had won two elections previously by a very narrow margin, so it was a win that Anne should be proud of. Anne held a number of ministerial positions under the Blair and Brown Governments, most notably as Minister for disabled people. I wish her well in the future.


    Given the maiden speeches I have heard in recent weeks, I can only conclude that there are a great many beautiful constituencies in the country, especially in the country of Scotland. However, I contend that, for spectacular scenic beauty, the Stirling constituency takes some beating. It covers approximately 800 square miles and stretches from Tyndrum, Crianlarich and Killin in the highland north, and down the Loch Lomond side to Blanefield, Strathblane and Mugdock. East along the Carron valley and the Gargunnock hills are the former mining villages of Plean, Cowie and Fallin and the historic city of Stirling, and back to the north-west are the old burghs of Bridge of Allan, Dunblane and Callander, with many other villages in between. There is incredible scenic beauty to be found in the constituency, including the majesty of Loch Lomond, the Trossachs, the towering peaks of Ben Ledi and Ben More, and the Ochil hills.


    The constituency also boasts excellence in education, including Stirling University—of which I am a graduate—and Forth Valley College. Tourism is a major industry. I used to work at the National Wallace monument and I will work hard to support that industry.


    There is remarkable history to be found in the Stirling constituency. The geographic position of the town—it is now a city—at the lowest crossing point of the River Forth meant that, in historic times, Stirling was of vital strategic importance, and through the royal palace and fortress of Stirling castle it has had a long history of being the administrative capital of Scotland. If it becomes necessary for this House of Commons to up sticks and move, the Stirling constituency is more than capable of hosting it and being the capital once again.


    Stirling was also the site of many important battles that turned the political tides of their day. The confrontation between the Picts and the Scots that led to the unifying of Scotland as one nation is reputed to have taken place where the university now stands. Wallace and Murray’s famous victory at Stirling bridge, the civil war at Sauchieburn and the Jacobite clash at Sheriffmuir bear witness to Stirling’s importance in Scotland’s story.


    The most famous, of course, is the battle of Bannockburn, where a force superior only in numbers was defeated by a skilful and determined force with superior tactics and better knowledge of the terrain. I know that many in this House are keen on parliamentary history, so I should say that, following that battle, Robert the Bruce convened a Parliament in my constituency, at Cambuskenneth Abbey. It was a fine example of a powerful and independent Scottish Parliament.


    In more modern history, just a few years ago Stirling was remarkable for having a local council controlled by a formal coalition between Labour and the Tories. Alas, such an alliance is no surprise whatsoever to anyone in Scotland these days. It is a sad fact that the sleekit connivance between Labour and Tory that I witnessed routinely as a Stirling councillor is also too often shown here in Westminster when Scottish issues are being debated.


    In preparing for this speech I looked at the maiden speeches of some of my predecessors as representatives of the Stirling area. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was MP for the Stirling Burghs from 1868 to 1908. His first recorded speech was in May 1873 during a debate about complaints received from military authorities about the then system for punishing drunkenness. Apparently, fines for drunkenness among soldiers had accrued an enormous sum of £60,000 and the authorities did not know what to do with it. It was originally supposed to reward the “sober and well-living soldier”, but apparently not enough of them could be found. The House appears to have deferred the decision on that occasion, although it is thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day wanted to get his hands on the money.


    After 37 years as an MP for Stirling, Campbell-Bannerman became Prime Minister in 1905 and held the position for his last three years as a Member of this House. He is the only representative of Stirling to become Prime Minister—and so he will remain, because I have no desire whatsoever to serve either for 40 years or as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In all seriousness, the people of Scotland returned 56 SNP MPs from a possible 59. They gave us a job of work to do and that is what we will do.


    Turning to the subject of today’s debate, I share the disappointment expressed by many Members that we have to debate the fact that there is a gender pay gap at all in this day and age, in 2015. The Scottish Government have led the way, as some of my hon. Friends have said, and I hope that, in summing up, the Minister will give an undertaking to look at what has been achieved in Scotland under its current powers and to see whether best practice can be found there. As hon. Members would expect, I fully support the devolution of further powers in this area as in many others, because the Scottish Government are making a difference in areas where they have powers.


    Finally, it is my honour to be the MP for the Stirling constituency and to represent the people of that constituency, and I will do that to the best of my ability. I will, if I may, paraphrase Mr Speaker himself by saying that the voice of the Stirling constituency in this Parliament will be heard.