Maiden Speech - Antoinette Sandbach MP

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"Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker for allowing me to make this contribution in this debate.

Antoinette Sandbach

It is a great privilege to be addressing this house on behalf of my constituents in Eddisbury
I arrived ready to be a serious politician but almost the first thing to happen to me was to be selected for the ladies tug of war team. I hope this parliamentary debut does not lead to me being flat on my backside!"

These are the opening words to her Maiden Speech in the Houses of Parliament this week. In her speech Antoinette referred to her predecessor in Eddisbury:

"I wish firstly to pay tribute to my predecessor. I am acutely conscious that Eddisbury has been represented by a number of illustrious members of parliament. The most recent, Stephen O'Brien, who served the constituency of Eddisbury with distinction and dedication for the last 16 years.

His commitment to his constituents and his dedication as a parliamentarian has been accompanied by his achievements in office during the last government as Minister for International Development between 2010 and 2012, as well as the Prime Minister's Envoy for Sahel. Stephen has fought to eradicate the problem of Malaria and worked closely with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and other acknowledged world leaders in tackling this issue. "

The importance of dairy farming to Cheshire:

"The Cheshire plains form the bedrock of the dairy industry. The importance of dairy industry in my constituency is recorded as far back as 1125 by William of Malmesbury.

Concerns about the milk price don't quite go back that far but the fact that it is cheaper to buy a litre of milk than a litre of water is as true 15 years ago as it is today, and it is something on which we do need to take action if we want to ensure that British family farms survive. Farm diversification can be seen in Eddisbury with milk being turned into one of the oldest English cheeses, namely Cheshire cheese, and that entrepreneurial spirit continues with delicious Cheshire ice cream and yoghurt."

The history of Eddisbury:

"Eddisbury is home to one of the oldest Churches in Cheshire dating back to 1190 in Shocklach, and the Scottish Members of Parliament will be interested to know of the link of St Boniface who in the 7th century founded over 150 churches in Scotland.

The Reverend Butler in the 18th Century recorded "St Boniface, by preaching the word of God, reformed manners of the people in the provinces of Angus, Marris, Buchan, Elgin, Murray and Ross" witnessing seatgate in this House over the last few weeks, I am not certain that the reformation of manners he describes was a lasting one.

The link with St Boniface can be seen in St Boniface's church in Bunbury one of many historic buildings in Eddisbury. Beeston and Peckforton castles can be appreciated from the beautiful Sandstone Trail which attracts walkers from throughout the UK. "

The warm welcome from her constituents, especially in Winsford:

"..the real strength of the constituency is the people who live within it, and I want to thank my constituents for the warm welcome they have given to me. Their generosity of spirit can be seen in Winsford,the main town in the constituency."

The steely determination for Cheshire people to get on (and mentions Tarvin!):

"In the numerous villages which are scattered throughout the constituency are small local businesses who typify the determination of those who are employers' employees and business owners, be they a high street shop, a local farm or a business located on one of the many industrial sites we have. Hard work is clearly evident in Eddisbury, and there is a quiet but steely determination for people to get on, to strive and to achieve. You can see that in the streets of Bunbury, Kelsall, Malpas, Tarvin and Tarporley."

Antoinette then includes a number of issues she has already identified such as:

Lack of childcare: "The family and childcare trust has pointed out the particular lack in provision in rural areas. This government's commitment to thirty hours free childcare provides an opportunity for local councils to ensure that there is appropriate provision during school holidays and wrap around care which is vital..."

The West Lothian question: "Aspiration and achievement are admired in Cheshire, and yet they watch as policies which could help them, and their families are placed under threat by MPs from nations which make their own decisions on childcare, health services, and access to education. That cannot be right and the West Lothian question needs to be addressed to ensure English votes for English laws..."

Links with Wales: "Cheshire has strong links into Wales. My constituency is a border constituency and therefore sees firsthand the impacts of devolution. In fact the wonderful village of Audlem, an independently minded part of the constituency held a referendum to join Wales in 2008. Wales did not accept the offer!"

Better Broadband: "Whatever happens in respect of devolution in Scotland and Wales, what will be key for all of us going forward is communication. Eddisbury is 631st out of 650 constituencies for mobile and broadband services and British telecom and the mobile operators have to change their approach to services in my part of Cheshire and improve them so we can build on the strong rural economy we need vastly improved digital communications in order to raise the productivity and to maximize tourism and business opportunities.
In a global economy we need interconnectivity and it is vital the government's broadband infrastructure project delivers..."

A 'Threat' to Mobile Phone operators:

"Mobile telephone operators need to be aware that if they don't take advantage of the mobile infrastructure funding to improve signal in my constituency that I will be campaigning to support proposals to allow roaming across networks. There is no part of the constituency that has an operator which provides a strong signal over all of it. That has to change."

Finally "Madam Deputy Speaker I will be a strong voice for constituency in Westminster and look forward to speaking up for my constituents in the years to come. "

Ed: "Antoinette has laid out her aspiration, which most of us support and it is up to her constituents to make sure she follows them through!"

The full details of Antoinette's maiden speech are available to download here