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In their maiden speeches, Richard Drax highlights Britain's "forgotten army" of prison officers as Sarah Newton insists there is nothing “fringe” about Cornwall

Drax Richard Delivering his maiden speech on Wednesday, former soldier and journalist Richard Drax – who gained Dorset South from Labour – said that he had entered public life because he could no longer “sit on my hands and watch our beloved country lose her pride.”

He explained that he is by no means the first Drax to sit in the Commons:

“My foray into politics ends a slight drought of Draxes here in the Commons. In an earlier deluge, six ancestors graced this place between 1679 and 1880—all representing the long-lost seat of Wareham. One, John Sawbridge Erle-Drax MP, spoke only once during the entire 32 years of his parliamentary career, and that was to ask the Speaker of the House to open the window. Unsurprisingly, he was known as the “Silent MP”. After his death, he arranged for The Times to be delivered daily to his mausoleum through a specially built-in letterbox; mine is under construction. In view of his Trappist tendencies, for his descendent to be making his maiden speech a mere eight weeks into the parliamentary Session must seem like indecent haste.”

He went on to speak up for Britain’s prison officers:

“We have two prisons in South Dorset, HMP The Verne and the young offenders institution. I have visited both on several occasions and work closely with the governors and the Prison Officers Association. The POA’s plight has been ignored for too long. As in so many other areas, the pendulum has swung too far in one direction. Today, officers feel powerless to do their job effectively as the prisoners appear to have more rights than they do. With 50% remission as the norm, it is difficult to apply meaningful sanctions to prisoners who do not toe the line. It is important to remember, in my humble opinion, that the Prison Service is just that—a service. Without proper support, officers will continue to feel, as they repeatedly describe themselves, a “forgotten army”.

Newton Sarah Meanwhile, Tuesday saw a maiden speech from Sarah Newton the newly-elected Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth. She proceeded to deliver a robust defence of her home county against its detractors:

“I have often heard colleagues in this House refer to Cornwall as part of the Celtic fringe; no doubt that is intended in a humorous way. While I am very proud of the Celtic culture, sports and traditions of Cornwall, there is absolutely nothing “fringe” about Cornwall or its people. Cornwall throughout the ages has been, and will continue to be, at the cutting edge of important national developments, as well as being at the centre of key moments of our history. The industrial revolution started in Cornwall, and Cornwall is leading the new industrial revolution—that of delivering the renewable and sustainable energy that our future economic security and growth will depend upon. Cornwall’s pioneering and inventive people and enterprises are ready to rise to the challenge of delivering a low-carbon economy and secure energy supplies. They need a Government who understand how to create the right market conditions for enterprise to succeed. I believe that this coalition Government have the determination to do this, and so to unlock potential in Cornwall.”

Jonathan Isaby


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