POLITICS

Jo Cox's Maiden Speech To Parliament: 'We Are Far More United Than The Things That Divide Us'

MP's first Commons address championed the benefits of immigration

17/06/2016 08:44 | Updated 17 June 2016

"Thank you, Mr Speaker; it is a great privilege to be called to make my maiden speech in this most important of debates, and I congratulate many others who have made outstanding maiden speeches today.

"I am sure that many right hon. and hon. Members will claim that their constituencies consist of two halves or numerous parochial parts; I am another in that respect, and Batley and Spen is very much that kind of constituency. It is a joy to represent such a diverse community.

"Batley and Spen is a gathering of typically independent, no-nonsense and proud Yorkshire towns and villages. Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

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Jo Cox delivers her maiden speech to Parliament on June 3, 2015

"My constituency is also home to Fox’s Biscuits and Lion Confectionery, so I am sure you will not think it an indulgence, Mr Speaker, if I describe Batley and Spen as a constituency with an industrial heart wrapped in a very rich and pleasant Yorkshire landscape—geographical, historical and cultural.

"The spirit of non-conformity is as prevalent now in my part of west Yorkshire as it was in the time of my two immediate predecessors, Mike Wood and Elizabeth Peacock. They were both known for offering their own brand of independent, non-conformist service, albeit in very different ways. I intend to maintain that established tradition in my own unique style.

"Of course, Batley is a town that has sent Labour MPs to this place for the best part of a hundred years. One of them, Dr Broughton, is of course famously credited with bringing down a Government, so I respectfully put the right hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite on notice. The Spen valley has a far more chequered political history, alternately sending Labour and Conservative MPs here to Westminster for much of the 20th century. Nothing made me prouder on 8 May than to be sent to this place with an increased Labour majority, proving again that in my neck of the woods non-conformity is what we do best.

"As I have already alluded to, we make things in Batley and Spen; we do so now, just as we did historically. Batley and Spen has a high proportion of people working in manufacturing, and we can boast the full range of industries, including high-skilled, precision engineering. We manufacture all sorts, from beds to biscuits, and from carpets to lathes. We also have some of the best fish and chips in the country, and some of the best curries in the world.

"However, what many of our businesses are lacking is confidence: confidence to expand; confidence to borrow; confidence to grow; and the confidence to fuel a real economic recovery that benefits everybody, offering decent jobs, paying decent wages and bridging the skills gap. Key to changing that situation is a fundamental shift in attitude towards regional economic regeneration. It is time to give city and county regions the powers and resources they need to promote growth, and I will happily work with all of those who are genuinely committed to building an economic powerhouse in the north. This agenda has to have at its centre a commitment to connect towns and villages in constituencies like mine to thriving city hubs, and to deliver a financial offer inthe forthcoming July Budget that gives this worthy goal a real chance ofsuccess. Yorkshire folk are not fools: talk about devolving power to cities andregions, while simultaneously stripping them of the resources to deliver andsubjecting northern councils such as Kirklees to the harshest of cuts, is not compatible with a worthy commitment to building a northern powerhouse to drive growth and prosperity.

What surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us Jo Cox

"Businesses in my constituency want help to address the skills mismatch at local level which leaves employers with staff shortages and young people without jobs. They want access to reliable sources of finance, including a network of local banks. They want to connect to a regional infrastructure thatworks for them, not rail price hikes of more than 126% and endless delays to key transport projects such as the electrification of the line from Manchester to Leeds. Many businesses in Yorkshire want the security and stability of Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, a cause I look forward to championing passionately in this place and elsewhere.

"The key question is: will the Government’s actions match their northern powerhouse rhetoric? HS2 is not the only acid test. There are two bigger challenges. First, will the Government really devolve all the powers anddecisions that could and should be taken locally and regionally? My test will be this: if there is a compelling reason for this to be a national decision then so be it; if not, it should be devolved. Secondly, will the Government really take the whole range of their decisions—on transport, research and development, planning, education and skills—in the interests of rebalancing the economy and growing the north?

"I am Batley and Spen born and bred, and I could not be prouder of that. I amproud that I was made in Yorkshire and I am proud of the things we make inYorkshire. Britain should be proud of that, too. I look forward to representing the great people of Batley and Spen here over the next five years."

  • Reuters Photographer / Reuters
    Tributes to Labour Party MP Jo Cox are placed on her houseboat in Wapping in London, Britain June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
    Flowers are laid at a statue to Joseph Priestly in Birstall near to the scene where Labour MP Jo Cox was shot on June 16, 2016. A British lawmaker died today after a shock daylight street attack, throwing campaigning for the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union into disarray just a week before the crucial vote. / AFP / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    A message is seen on a floral tribute left near the scene of the murder of Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox in Birstal near Leeds, Britain June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    Police officers conduct a search near the scene of the murder of Labour member of Parliament Jo Cox in Birstal near Leeds, Britain June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
    Police officers examine the crime scene on the pavement outside the library in Birstall, northern England, on June 17, 2016, where Labour MP Jo Cox was shot yesterday. Jo Cox, the British lawmaker murdered on the streets of northern England on June 16, had complained to police earlier this year about 'malicious communications' she received, police said Friday. / AFP / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
    A man arrives to lay flowers at a statue to Joseph Priestly in Birstall, northern England, on June 17, 2016, near to the scene where Labour MP Jo Cox was shot yesterday. Jo Cox, the British lawmaker murdered on the streets of northern England on June 16, had complained to police earlier this year about 'malicious communications' she received, police said Friday. / AFP / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Peter Byrne/PA Wire
    Police and members of the media in Birstall, West Yorkshire, at the scene where Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death in the street outside her constituency advice surgery.
  • Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
    Tributes and candles left for murdered Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox are seen in Parliament Square, London, Britain June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
  • Jane Barlow/PA Wire
    A flag at half mast above the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, after Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
  • Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
    People look at tributes as another writes a message for murdered Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox in Parliament Square, London, Britain June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
  • Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
    A woman wipes away a tear as she looks at tributes left for murdered Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox in Parliament Square, London, Britain June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
  • Neil Hall / Reuters
    People view tributes for Labour Party MP Jo Cox, who was shot dead in the street in northern England, on Parliament Square in London, Britain, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
  • Neil Hall / Reuters
    People view tributes for Labour Party MP Jo Cox, who was shot dead in the street in northern England, on Parliament Square in London, Britain, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
  • Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
    A couple pause as they look at tributes left for murdered Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox in Parliament Square, London, Britain June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    A message is seen on a floral tribute left near the scene of the murder of Labour member of Parliament Jo Cox in Birstal near Leeds, June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    A police officer leaves a floral tribute near the scene of the murder of Labour member of Parliament Jo Cox in Birstal near Leeds, June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
    A woman leaves a floral tribute next to a photograph of murdered Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox in Parliament Square, London, Britain June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
  • Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
    Messages from well wishers for murdered Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox are seen on a board in Parliament Square, London, Britain June 17, 2016 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
  • Neil Hall / Reuters
    People react to tributes to Labour Party MP Jo Cox, who was shot dead in the street in northern England, on Parliament Square in London, Britain, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
  • Neil Hall / Reuters
    People write tributes to Labour Party MP Jo Cox, who was shot dead in the street in northern England, on Parliament Square in London, Britain, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    Labour MP Yvette Cooper (C) hugs a priest at St Peter's Church after a vigil in memory of Jo Cox, a lawmaker for Britain's opposition Labour Party, in Birstall near Leeds, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • Neil Hall / Reuters
    People place tributes for Labour Party MP Jo Cox who was shot dead in the street in northern England, on Parliament Square in London, Britain, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    People leave St Peter's Church after a vigil in memory of Jo Cox, a lawmaker for Britain's opposition Labour Party, in Birstall near Leeds, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    Labour MP Yvette Cooper (L) leaves St Peter's Church after a vigil in memory of Jo Cox, a lawmaker for Britain's opposition Labour Party, in Birstall near Leeds, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
    Floral tributes and candles are placed by a picture of slain Labour MP Jo Cox at a vigil in Parliament square in London on June 16, 2016. Cox died today after a shock daylight street attack, throwing campaigning for the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union into disarray just a week before the crucial vote. / AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    Labour MP Mary Creagh (L) leaves St Peter's Church after a vigil in memory of Jo Cox, a lawmaker for Britain's opposition Labour Party, in Birstall near Leeds, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • Neil Hall / Reuters
    Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivers a speech about murdered MP Jo Cox before the Dinner to the Bankers and Merchants at The Mansion House in London, Britain, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
    A woman cries after attending a vigil at St Peters church in Birstall to slain Labour MP Jo Cox on June 16, 2016. Cox died today after a shock daylight street attack, throwing campaigning for the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union into disarray just a week before the crucial vote. / AFP / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
    Labour MP's Mary Creagh (L) and Caroline Flint (2R) leave St Peters church in Birstall after attending a vigil to slain Labour MP Jo Cox on June 16, 2016. Cox died today after a shock daylight street attack, throwing campaigning for the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union into disarray just a week before the crucial vote. / AFP / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
  • DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) speaks to members of the press as he attends a vigil to slain Labour MP Jo Cox in Parliament square in London on June 16, 2016. Cox died today after a shock daylight street attack, throwing campaigning for the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union into disarray just a week before the crucial vote. / AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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