Keynote Speech at Chelmsford Business Showcase

On Wednesday morning, after getting back to Chelmsford at 1am after late votes in the House of Commons, I gave the key note speech at Chelmsford's Fantastic business Showcase.

Below is a copy of my speech:


Thank you very much for inviting me to speak today

It is a great privilege to be the Member of Parliament for Chelmsford and to represent a constituency that is bubbling with innovation, entrepreneurship and ambition.

We are England’s newest city. The past few years have seen spectacular changes: sparkling new shops and restaurants, stunning new homes, and many new businesses both large and small.

In Chelmsford, inward investment is a reality. We are open for business.

Chelmsford is not resting on past successes; it is looking forward to the decades ahead.

The City Council is working on its Local Plan; they have started a massive new project to redevelop Riverside Leisure Centre and are already putting together the bid to be City of Culture in 2025. It’s no wonder that Chelmsford was recently ranked as one of the happiest places in Britain.

All this is only possible by local politicians working hand in hand with local stakeholders, local people and local businesses.

I would like to give a big thank you to the businesses here today- after all politicians don’t create jobs, businesses do.

In Britain today there are record levels of employment, three million more jobs have been created since 2010.

Unemployment is at its lowest level for 40 years. Last month the number of people seeking jobs in Chelmsford was just 850.

Since 2010 over a million new businesses have been created, including 5,610 here in Chelmsford. Last year 1,300 new businesses were started up in Chelmsford, this is well above the national average.

Politicians don’t create jobs but can help create the environment that enables businesses to flourish.

And today, in a highly competitive world, a business friendly environment is vital.

Whilst there is much to be proud of economically, especially with jobs, there are concerns about productivity. Productivity in Britain is 20% below that of France and Germany. There is a significant productivity gap between London, the South East and the rest of the UK.

This is why the Government will soon be publishing the Industrial Strategy White Paper.

This will underpin the Government’s commitment to deliver a stronger economy, to support Innovation, to nurture our start-ups and help them scale up.

The paper will identify key priority sectors especially in those developing technologies where we already have world leading expertise: autonomous vehicles, space and satellites, Green-Tech, Agri-Tech, Bio-Tech and life sciences. The Industrial strategy will also commit to invest in world class infrastructure, skills and research.

Supporting Innovation, skills and investment in infrastructure is all vital for Chelmsford too.

Innovation, Chelmsford has a strong tradition. We are “Radio City”. Nearly one hundred years ago Marconi sent out the world’s first ever radio broadcast from Chelmsford. That heritage continues today with many local experts in wireless technology, from the world leading radar team at BAE in Great Baddow, to the space team at Teledyne e2v – do remember that every time you see a photograph of our planet taken from outer space, the chances are that this picture was taken with technology made in Chelmsford.

This Summer I was elected onto Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee. In today’s digital economy, Science, Research and Technological innovation will be key to our future prosperity. This Government is investing £4.7bn into Science and Research, more than any Government for 40 years.

On skills, in today’s competitive world, skills matter. As a new MP, I’ve been visiting many of Chelmsford’s schools. That spirit of engineering, of scientific inquisitiveness is very much alive and kicking in the schools here in Chelmsford.

All bar one of Chelmsford schools are rated good or outstanding. That is a remarkable achievement.

And in Chelmsford the learning doesn’t finish at the end of school. Of the 1 million apprenticeships created since 2010, 3,890 have been based here in Chelmsford.

There is also the excellent news that Chelmsford will be the home to a new Medical School at Anglia Ruskin University. This is the first medical school training doctors in Essex and the first of a new generation across the whole of the UK.

Students will benefit from a state of the art building with a £20 million investment. And because doctors who have already qualified want to be involved in teaching and training and research I am told that more first class doctors from all across the country and overseas are already wanting to come and work in our local health service.

On Infrastructure. People in Chelmsford spend too much time in traffic jams and on delayed trains. Modern infrastructure is required for a modern economy.

But remember the positives, Chelmsford is a very well-connected City. You can be in Liverpool Street in 34 minutes, or at Stansted Airport in half an hour. When Crossrail comes online, people will be able to get from Chelmsford to Heathrow Airport in an hour and a quarter.

Next year the first of a new generation of trains will start to appear on railway lines, £1.4 billion of investment. 55% more seats, with charging points and internet access. Chelmsford commuters will be connected commuters.

But there is more to do. Essex County Council has submitted a bid for funding for a new North East Bypass and Beaulieu Park Station and, should this bid not succeed, I’ve also met with the Department for Transport, Greater Anglia, Network Rail, Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council to look at alternative funding for Beaulieu Park Train Station. I will keep pressing the case for this vital investment in infrastructure.

Now, next week will bring the Chancellor’s first Autumn Budget and I know you will all want to know what is going to be in it. I don’t have a crystal ball.

There are many calls for more spending by the Government especially on the NHS, Schools, Pensions, Wage increases.

In Essex, many people tell me they would like increased policing and the police and crime commissioner is asking the public for their views on whether or not he should increase the police precept locally – do go on his website and give your view.

There is also a real need to resolve some long-standing issues, for example there are a lot of my colleagues support further deep reforms to stimulate more investment in new housing.

Increasing Government spending is challenging as, even though the deficit is down by 2/3, it is still considerable. We spend more money on debt interest than the entire NHS wage bill, more than the entire education budget and more than the entire defence bill.

Any new spending will need to be paid for,

... But that doesn’t necessarily mean tax rises.

There is a lot of media focus on fair taxation and tax collection.

The Government has already collected £160 billion more tax through anti evasion measures. In fact, our tax gap – the difference between what should be collected and what is actually collected is down at 6.5% - one of the lowest in the world.

Cutting taxes can help to stimulate the economy so whilst we reduced corporation tax from 28 to 19%, the amount of tax collected has jumped for £37 billon to £50 billion.

It does needs to be fair.

A decade ago I worked on tax reform policies for the Conservative party. So far this decade tax changes have taken 4 million of the lowest paid workers out of income tax, including 400,000 in the East of England. Altogether 23 million people have benefited by having their taxes cut. Today the top 1% of earners pay 28% of tax – more than was ever the case under a Labour government.

As well as a new industrial strategy and a new budget we are, of course busy, with Brexit.

The Brexit negotiations are the largest and most complex negotiations in a generation.

In the General Election earlier this year I promised that I would do my best to use my previous experience as an MEP to help make sure that the UK/EU negotiations worked for all people in Chelmsford.

Last week I used a short break in Westminster to travel back to Brussels to meet many of my former colleagues, MEPs from many different countries to hear their views. And last night I was in Westminster listening to MPs from all across the UK giving their views.

People in Chelmsford have jobs that depend on trade, especially many of those in financial services and insurance. I believe it is important that we try to retain an amicable relationship with our largest trading partner, the deep partnership that Theresa May suggested in her Florence speech.

This is not easy. The next few weeks will be a highly significant time for the negotiations. There is the added challenge when a large county such as Germany is still doesn’t have its own government. On both sides of the Channel much work is being done. I hope we will be able to progress to discuss the more positive longer term elements of a potential UK/EU relationship.

To conclude, there is a massive amount of positive work going on, in Westminster on the Industrial strategy, budget, the Brexit negotiations and locally, making sure the City of Chelmsford continues to shine and blossom.

I am taking every opportunity to make sure my new Colleagues in Westminster are absolutely clear that Chelmsford is a beacon. We’ve already had visits from the minister for skills who wanted to meet our Apprenticeships, and from the transport minister who wanted to understand our space sector, the defence minister wants to visit our radar experts, the prison minister has told me that he wants to come and learn how the team are turning around our prions and last night I was told the family minister wants to come and cut the ribbon when we open our family hub.

We are going to be busy.

I wish you the very best for your business showcase and as you go through today, please accept my thanks for the jobs, the innovation and the positivity that you bring to the City of Chelmsford. And please do get in touch with me or with one of our wonderful local councillors if there is anything we can do to help.