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Judith delivers her maiden speech in Parliament

Maiden Speech - Judith Cummins MP

Madame Deputy Speaker there can be no greater privilege than becoming a member of this House, the mother of all Parliaments, and I am particularly proud to be delivering my maiden speech as the Member for Bradford South.

This great sense of pride and privilege has only been possible because the good people of Bradford South placed their trust, and confidence in me – and Madame Deputy Speaker for that I will be eternally grateful and I promise I will never let them down.

As a woman, I am also proud to be the first to represent Bradford South, and proud to be the first woman Parliamentarian from the transformational Ruskin College.

Madame deputy speaker, my predecessor, Gerry Sutcliffe served Bradford South from 1994 for 22 years, following the untimely and sad death of the hugely respected Bob Cryer.

With Gerry’s departure, this house has lost a generous, approachable and extremely popular Parliamentarian.

Many in this House, from all political parties, will have benefitted from his sound advice, his sharp wit and ... perhaps most importantly… his pearls of wisdom, about this season’s football player transfers. Incidentally you would get the pearls irrespective of whether you actually asked for them!

Madame Deputy Speaker, Bradford South, is one of five constituencies, covering the metropolitan area of Bradford.

We are renowned first and foremost for our proud industrial and cultural heritage.

But, we are also recognised, by the discerning, for other often-underappreciated reasons. For example:

The village of Howarth was home to the great literary Bronte family – a fact known all too well by the Japanese tourists who annually pay homage;

Our creativity is legendary a fact recognised by UNESCO when it bestowed upon Bradford the prestigious UNESCO “City of Film” status;

In the world of British politics few would be aware of the fact that it gave birth to the Independent Labour Party, fighting for social justice, thus giving its Chairman, Keir Hardy, his seat in this House in 1900;

And in the world of Sport I know that all Members will be aware of the fact that we are home to the World Famous Bradford Bulls.

Madame Deputy Speaker, I've spoken about Bradford as a place, but as the cliché goes, a place is only as good as the people who live there, and in that regard I am most fortunate indeed.

The people of Bradford South are a fair-minded, good natured and hard working folk.

And in return they rightly expect:

fairness and justice.

Security and Respect in old age;

A decent education for their families;

Affordable homes to call their own;

Access to free health care on Demand;

And a job that pays a fair day’s wage;

These are fundamental needs that all people in our country should expect.

I promise to dedicate my next 5 years working to ensure that these fundamental needs are respected and upheld for the people of Bradford South.

Sadly, all too often they are beyond the grasp of hard-working people in my constituency and that must change.

I will be campaigning tirelessly for Bradford South until these fundamental needs are met to there fullest.

And it will be on these fundamental needs that I will be holding this Conservative Government to account during this Parliament.

Madame Deputy Speaker I am here today pursuing the same struggle that led Keir Hardy to this house some 115 years ago – the fight for social justice. People living across Bradford deserve Social justice – a phrase that is sometimes over-complicated by academics and commentators alike.

To me, it is not complicated nor is it to the people of Bradford.

By the same token neither is injustice complicated – the upwelling of discomfort in the pit of your stomach in the face of injustice will be familiar to all. AND Yet on pensions we still see injustice.

We would all agree that we need to look after the elderly yet pensioner poverty is still a reality.

Those who have worked hard all their lives, and paid into the system deserve dignity and security in old age. Yet far too many of our older generation are still struggling to get by.

Madame Deputy Speaker, this simply cannot be right and it MUST change.

AND We see injustice in housing.

As a country we need to ensure that ALL our citizens have access to affordable homes.

A home to raise their family, and a home to enjoy their retirement years.

We need a housing sector that delivers for the ordinary people of this country.

And we see injustice in access to healthcare services.

Too few people are able to access timely appointments at their local GP surgeries and NHS dentists.

As a country we need to look after our young and old, our mums and dads, our daughters and sons.

Without good health, so much else becomes increasingly difficult, or even impossible – working a job, looking after our families, playing in the local park.

Good healthcare services, are the cornerstone of a thriving community.

Our healthcare services need to support our local communities.

And at the moment, this is simply not happening. Increased resources for these critical services must be a priority. AND We see injustice in access to further education.

Too few of my constituents are able to access the courses they so desperately need.

Without access they won’t be able to develop the skills critical to a prosperous career in the global market we inhabit.

The reason for this is quite simple, insufficient investment.

Education equips people for a successful and prosperous life, where they get on, and are able to cope with life’s challenges.

In Bradford, we are blessed with two outstanding institutions, Bradford College and Bradford University. They have transformed the life chances, of countless generations, of young people in Bradford over the decades.

But without sufficient resources, their ability to continue, to transform the lives, of Bradford’s people, both young and adult learners, is stunted.

And Madame Deputy Speaker, on Higher education, the abolition of the student maintenance grant announced this week is a backwards step, which will limit aspiration and undermine the concept of One Nation that this government seeks to champion.

AND We see injustice when we look at the number of jobs which pay a fair day’s wage.

The weekly pay in my constituency is significantly below the national average, the consequences of which are stark.

For example, the HMRC’ child poverty figures reveal, that in my constituency, an appalling 28.3% of our children, the future of this country, are stranded in poverty.

Without family incomes rising in line, and indeed above inflation, children are always the first to suffer.

We need these children to become the scientists, the artists, the wealth creators and the inspirational leaders of tomorrow, yet we condemn them to the most deplorable start in life. This must change.

At first sight, yesterday’s budget announcement on the living wage appeared to offer hope for the working poor but closer scrutiny reveals that any benefits accrued will easily be wiped out by deep cuts.

I pledge to stand up for the people of Bradford South against such cynicism, and Madame Deputy Speaker I conclude with words of warning from Martin Luther King:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


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