Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for allowing me the opportunity to deliver my maiden speech in the House. May I compliment preceding speakers from across the country who have given their own maiden speeches today? The right hon. Member for Oldham West and Royton (Mr Meacher) did not make his maiden speech, but I compliment him on a speech he made in the House some time ago on post offices, and on speaking against the then Government.
I begin my speech by acknowledging and paying tribute to my predecessor, Tom Levitt, who was MP for High Peak for 13 years from 1997. In my seven years as a candidate in High Peak, he always treated me with the courtesy befitting a Member of the House. A steadfastly loyal Member of Parliament, and an assiduous attender of debates, he took the decision late last year not to stand for re-election-an action to which he referred in his maiden speech 13 years ago as "the chicken run".