The new MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, made his maiden speech in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 27 June).
The Labour MP, who won the seat from Conservative Treasury Minister Simon Kirby on Thursday 8 June, spoke during the debate on the Queen’s speech.
Mr Russell-Moyle was called just after 5.20pm as MPs debated education and local services. As is customary, he paid tribute to his predecessor despite their political differences.
In his four-minute speech Mr Russell-Moyle said: “It is lovely to come back to the House of Commons 15 years later because I did my work experience here as a local comprehensive lad.
“Those opportunities for people from all backgrounds, which allow them to aspire even to be MPs, are vital in an egalitarian society but they are often lacking in the current curriculum which has been imposed on many of our schools by this government.
“Every school in my constituency faces cuts and many secondaries face having half a million pounds stolen from their budgets under the Orwellian description of a ‘fairer funding formula’.
“It promises that some of the poorest schools in my constituency will lose out the most – not fair at all.
“Brighton Kemptown has the third-lowest enrolment of young people into university despite having two universities and a music school in the constituency.
“This contrast of poverty will only get worse unless drastic changes are made.
“Only yesterday, one of my primary schools had to write to parents saying that teaching assistants would go and classes would be merged to make ends meet.
“One school has had to resort to asking parents to supply the very paper the children write on.
“If money can be found for a sweetheart deal with Northern Ireland, a lifeline can be found for the very future of our schools.
“I know that my predecessor, Mr Kirby, cared about sports and education. He sat as an honorary vice-president of one of the local football clubs, Whitehawk FC, which is in my council ward.
“It is a community club that has as much passion, albeit not yet as much success, as one of the other clubs in my constituency, the Seagulls, who have been promoted to the top flight of football for the coming season.
“I also want to praise my predecessor for being described as ‘pure grit’ by the Conservative Home website.
“And in that regard I hope to follow him – I hope to be the grit between the Tory-DUP alliance and its plans for Brexit which will harm my community.
“Mr Kirby said in his maiden speech that 500 years after Brighton was invaded by France, we were suspicious of Europe.
“As we are the headquarters of American Express Europe, I must say that is not the Brighton and Peacehaven I recognise – the place where Queen Victoria set sail for her state visit to France, a city where, last year, almost 70 per cent voted to remain in the EU and that, in the 1930s, hosted international children’s camps and festivals for young people and Kindertransport children, organised by the Woodcraft Folk and Socialist International, as did the towns of Saltdean and Telscombe in my constituency in 1940s.
“To me, it is a constituency that is open and tolerant to the world and the EU, not suspicious of it.
“I spent many years lobbying and negotiating in the EU for the Erasmus programme because I value what youth work does.
“However, youth services have been cut to the bone. The Joff and the Brighton Youth Centre in my constituency both defend many young people from turning to extremism and they are the last line in supporting young people in education.
“Youth services, underfunded and misunderstood, have become the first victim of local government cuts – austerity that harms the most vulnerable and helps only the most wealthy.
“Poor services and housing lead to poor academic attainment, poor health outcomes and a weaker economy – and they limit people’s possibilities.
“I hope that, like many MPs for Kemptown and Peacehaven, I will represent my constituents without fear and without favour.
“I hope that I will be able to do that across the floor so that we build a strong Britain and a strong Brighton through investment, not austerity.
“I want to start that today, not tomorrow, because my constituents cannot wait any more.”