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"The House of Commons is the ultimate defender of all our liberties"

Yesterday we highlighted Ann Widdecombe's final speech to the House of Commons. Today we publish four extracts from Sir Patrick Cormack's final speech to the Commons, after forty years as an MP.

The media are hell-bent on destroying the Commons: "I believe that what is so important at the moment is that people outside should begin to regain their confidence in this place. I would say to the fourth estate, which sometimes seems hell-bent on destroying the other three, that the House of Commons is the ultimate defender of all our liberties. Of the people I have known in this place over the past 40 years, the overwhelming majority of men and women, in whatever part of the House they have sat, have been true public servants who have come here for what they can put into it, and not for what they can get out of it. I hope that that will be recognised when the furore of recent months dies down."

Darling's Budget does not address the nation's problems nor does it bring hope to the poor: "When one makes a maiden speech, one is supposed to be non-controversial. I do not want to be particularly controversial today, because I have been here long enough to know that no party ever has the monopoly of wisdom, virtue, or any other quality, good or bad. I remember opposing policies of my own party, such as the poll tax-I will not go into a great list-and I know that we have made mistakes in the past. However, I say, against that background, that this is the least substantial Budget that I have ever known. It is skimpy, it is bare, and it does not address the nation's problems. At a time when interest on our debt is more than twice what total public expenditure was in 1970, it behoves us all to recognise the seriousness of our position... Benjamin Disraeli-I make no apology for being a devotee of the great man-once said that one of the great objects of our party was to elevate the condition of the people. Does this Budget give an opportunity to elevate the condition of the people? I fear that the answer has to be no. One of the most moving speeches that I heard in this place was made by John Nott-Sir John Nott, as he now is-in moving the Loyal Address. He said that the real poor of the 20th century are those without hope. Does this Budget bring hope? I fear that the answer, again, has to be no."

Gordon Brown's reverse Midas touch: "Much has been made of the Prime Minister's great contribution as Chancellor. I do not believe that he was a great Chancellor. In the middle ages, people used to search for the philosopher's stone-the material that was going to turn base metal into gold. The Chancellor discovered how to turn gold into base metal: he sold it at bargain basement prices. Perhaps that is why he has always looked rather lugubrious ever since. I hope that at the general election, in spite of the dire condition of the nation's finances, we will have some fun and some spirited debating. I hope that the Prime Minister will be able to be a bit cheerful about it. He reminds me of a character from a programme of my childhood, "ITMA"-Mona Lott, who said it was being so cheerful as kept her going."

Let us hope that the centrality of the House of Commons chamber will one day be restored: "The Select Committee system has developed very well, but what has declined has been the importance and centrality of this Chamber. As I prepare to leave it, I want to express the hope that those who come will not only regard being here as an enormous honour and privilege, as I said a few moments ago, but that they will want to inject some life into the Chamber. It is deeply disappointing that it is so sparsely populated this afternoon, although there are more here now than there have been on the other days of the Budget debate. It is tremendously important that they should recognise that to contribute in this Chamber, and to tread in the footsteps of those giants of old, is not only a privilege but a duty-a duty that they owe, and we all owe, to our constituents."



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