1 Lord Gascoigne debates involving HM Treasury

Mon 13th Nov 2023

King’s Speech

Lord Gascoigne Excerpts
Monday 13th November 2023

(8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gascoigne Portrait Lord Gascoigne (Con) (Maiden Speech)
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My Lords, it is the honour of a lifetime to rise to speak for the first time in your Lordships’ House. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be granted such a privilege. Before entering, I was repeatedly assured that everyone in the House would be warm and welcoming, and I assumed such words were akin to those given by your dentist just prior to them unveiling drilling equipment last seen in the digging of the Channel Tunnel. However, I have been genuinely struck by the friendliness from all around the House, and I thank your Lordships for the exceptionally warm words today as well. Although it has been a few months since I was introduced, every day before entering your Lordships’ Chamber the heart beats a little faster—especially right now—and I constantly expect to be tapped on the shoulder, followed by, “Excuse me sir, but you shouldn’t be here”.

I would like to pay tribute to Garter, Black Rod, the doorkeepers and those working in the House for being so kind and helpful. I also thank my supporters, the noble Lords, Lord Udny-Lister and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, both of whom I have worked with closely and known professionally and personally for many years. Both taught me much about politics and life: to be respectful, kind, stand up for what you believe in, work hard but enjoy life and your family, and that, crucially, politics is the arena in which we can make things better. I thank my noble friend Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury, who, when he chose to cease working for the late Lady Thatcher, must have thought that would be the end of tough gigs—yet ended up having to mentor me. But he has done so with enormous energy, grace, and kindness, and given me a lot of time and sage advice.

Throughout my time in politics, and indeed my life, I have had the privilege of so many who have imparted their help, support and opinions—some not always friendly. To everyone on my journey, I say thank you. That especially goes to my family, who are watching on the parliament channel—or at least I hope so. When I have not always been around as much as I wanted due to the pressure of work over recent years, they have always been there for me and tolerated me, especially my wife, Clare, who is here in the Gallery, and our most beautiful three year-old daughter, Sophia, who is an incredible jolt of life and fuel to want to live, and we have another on the way. Although I lost my dad when I was much younger, I am sure he will be cheering me on.

I was born in the early 1980s and grew up in sunny Lancashire, in the former mill town of Nelson, surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside, including Pendle Hill, from which the area takes its name. My dad worked for the council, among other things, and my mum ran a nursery. Although we did not have much money as a family, what we did have in abundance was love and humour. Like the noble Lord, Lord Lee of Trafford, and the late noble Lords, Lord Greaves and Lord Waddington, I am not the first person with links to Pendle to sit in this place. I hope that I am not the last, because like so many northern towns and areas, these places need strong advocates. While Pendle is rich in its history and beauty of the local countryside, it faces many challenges. Yet there are opportunities, and I was struck by elements of the gracious Speech which looked way into the future: trade deals, achieving net zero, AI. These are going to shape the lives of everyone, especially young people such as my three year-old daughter and her generation.

I am aware of the wealth of knowledge in your Lordships’ House. For my part, I have had the privilege of working in local government for the Mayor of London, in the Foreign Office for the Foreign Secretary, and in No. 10 for the Prime Minister. Although I know that Boris Johnson can be controversial to some—though he is not alone in that—I was proud to have worked with him in all three of those roles and grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to fight for three things about which I care passionately.

The first is the right for quality education for all girls around the world. This is a righteous cause in itself, often taken for granted in the West, but one which makes absolute sense to this country and elsewhere for social, economic or demographic means. The second is levelling up. When I first went into politics, I felt that the north was seen as a separate, neglected partner in the UK, but I firmly believe that a truly United Kingdom means equal opportunity across all the country. While much work has begun over recent years, much more still needs to be done.

The third, and most important to me, is conservation: tackling the evils of the illegal wildlife trade and promoting better animal welfare and the wonders of the natural world. Over many years, I am proud of having worked with a number of brilliant, inspiring and passionate campaigners and charities, as well as those in Whitehall. While I recognise that there are those who remain unconvinced, tackling pollution, creating better animal welfare, and protecting and restoring nature are things that matter. They are crucial to food production and to our air, health and economic security, not to mention the beauty and benefits that a green and pleasant land gives to the soul. Furthermore, these things also unlock huge opportunities and economic growth. I firmly believe that we can revitalise parts of the country, create new jobs and growth, increase exports and tourism, and reduce bills, as well as protecting nature and the beauty of this land and the world.

I am pleased that this Conservative Party, under successive leaders, has led the way in putting these issues front and centre, which this King’s Speech has continued with the animal welfare Bill, not to mention a commitment to continue to tackle biodiversity loss. I look forward to doing all I can to support the Government to tackle all these issues and many more.

Finally, I assure noble Lords that I will be committed and respectful and that I will play my part. In all the days ahead, I look forward to working alongside your Lordships, learning the ropes and doing all we can together to move this great country forward.