Ruth Cadbury Gives Her Maiden Speech

Celebrates the diversity of her constituency

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Ruth Cadbury MP gave her maiden speech on Tuesday during the Health debate, and one can do no better than reprint it:

I congratulate the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) on her speech. In particular, I congratulate her on reminding us that the less skilled healthcare workers are as important as everyone else who works in the health service. She obviously knows that because of her experience of working in the NHS.

As I am speaking in a health debate, I should declare that my husband is the interim chair of West Middlesex University hospital in my constituency, and will hold that post until September 2015.

As a new Member, I want to thank you, Mr Speaker, and all the parliamentary staff for the welcome that we have received, and the work that staff have done to help us get to grips with this place—its labyrinthine corridors, its archaic customs, and the unavoidable ICT challenges.

I am proud to represent the community that has been my home for more than 30 years, where our sons were born and grew up, and where I was an elected councillor until I stood down last week. Before I focus on my constituency and on the subject of today’s debate, I want to pay tribute to the work of my predecessor, Mary Macleod. We obviously had political differences, but as a councillor I had great respect for the work that she did in the constituency and with local residents. I will continue to work on those issues, among many others. Mary Macleod was also a respected Member of the House. She will be delighted to know that, as part of her legacy, a Select Committee on women and equalities is to be established. That is something that she initiated along with colleagues on both sides of the House as part of her cross-party work on the involvement of women in Parliament.

Many people pass through my constituency, and, indeed, pass over it as they head for Heathrow and points west. Historically, Hounslow was the first stop for the stagecoaches going west, and today, if one looks down from a plane’s right-hand windows as it is approaching Heathrow, there we are. When heading west on the elevated section of the M4, one passes through Brentford, my home town, with its resurgent football club. The Grand Union canal meets the Thames in Brentford and the Piccadilly, District and national rail lines for Hounslow and beyond all pass through, as does the Thames itself whose 5-mile stretch borders the constituency from Isleworth to Chiswick where the boat race ends, and from where, as a member of the Chiswick canoe club, I have set off to kayak downstream, past this very building. It is a stunning way to view London.

Hounslow and Hounslow Heath, Osterley, Isleworth, Brentford and Chiswick are all distinct and wonderful places with their own characteristics, but all have a strong sense of community. Artists and writers including William Hogarth, William Turner and Vincent van Gogh all lived locally for at least some of their lives. Our cultural diversity has been enriched in recent decades by people choosing to make Britain their home and then giving back to Britain. No one epitomises this more than Mo Farah, whose family settled locally after fleeing Somalia.

The local economy is also diverse. We are home to many small and vibrant businesses as well as well known names: GSK, Sky, Brompton bikes and Fuller’s Brewery. Despite being a Quaker, I am not quite a teetotaller, so can categorically state that London Pride is the best bitter brewed in the UK.

We are at the heart of the TV triangle, west London’s emerging media technology industry cluster, and we have Heathrow to the west. As Britain’s premier airport it is of course a major driver of our local economy, but it is also the major source of noise, air pollution and traffic congestion in my constituency—hence my election campaign on Heathrow, “Better not bigger”.

However, despite the economic vibrancy locally, there are growing inequalities within our community—inequalities in income and health inequalities. A home of one’s own is becoming more unattainable and more unaffordable, even for those earning a reasonable income. While unemployment here is relatively low, the route into well paid work with one of our large employers locally is out of reach for far too many people, young and not so young, because they do not have the requisite skills.

I am glad to be making my maiden speech in the health and social care debate. My constituents are concerned that the proposed closure of the accident and emergency departments at Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals will leave Chiswick residents with long journey times to alternatives, and will mean massively increased pressure on West Middlesex University hospital in the centre of the constituency. I therefore thank the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), for committing to meet local MPs to discuss A&E services in west London.

I prepared for this speech by asking my friend, a local GP, what changes she would like to see to enable her to better serve her patients. For her and her colleagues, the overall health and wellbeing of her patients are key. She said that great though the NHS is, it cannot meet the challenges alone. Her top priorities are that people should be better supported, and that we should have better and more joined-up mental health, public health and care services, more investment in early years and, finally, more investment in affordable, good quality housing.

Last week I stepped down as a Hounslow councillor. I have had many lead responsibilities over 25 years, and in recent years I have led on the regeneration of our town centres, the introduction of the London living wage, and building the first new council housing for over 20 years. I am proud of what we achieved and the role I played in our borough, and I am glad that my family are here today, and I know that my late father would be proud.

We are of the dynasty that brought Cadbury chocolate to the world, but the Cadburys are also recognised for their social values, values instilled through our Quaker faith. The Cadburys of the first half of the 20th century knew that we could not expect working people to be productive, healthy and fulfilled unless the whole person and their family are supported with good pay, good training, decent housing and adequate welfare support. They recognised that for the businesses to maintain their prosperity, their employees needed security too. They provided these services for their staff but they also advocated that the state should provide these, for universal health and social services—the hallmark of a civilised society. They provided for their employees until the foundation of the welfare state and the NHS following the success of the Attlee Government in 1945.

My forebears would therefore be shocked to see the steady erosion of that welfare state over the past five years. They would be asking why there was nothing in the Gracious Speech about increasing the supply of adequate affordable housing, about reducing child poverty or about ensuring that local authorities have adequate funding to provide good quality social care and public health services sufficient for the needs of their communities. I am grateful to the people of Brentford and Isleworth for giving me the chance to give them a voice on these and so many other issues, and I look forward to representing them here for many years to come.

You can sign up to email alerts whenever Ruth speaks in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou.

June 3, 2015

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