Retiring MP Sir Alan Beith thanked Northumberland voters for giving him the opportunity to represent the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency for longer than any previous MP in a farewell speech to the House of Commons yesterday.
He has served the constituency since November 1973, winning 11 elections and spending 41½ years in Parliament.
Sir Alan said: “My primary concerns in that time have been those of my constituents in the over 100 towns and villages which make up the Berwick constituency. Like many Members, I have derived real satisfaction from helping constituents who have been ill-served by the bureaucracy of state or local government, or by powerful private businesses.
“In political life, there are things we know we have helped to achieve, and they are the things we know would not have happened but for our own efforts. In that category, I place examples like the dualling of the A1, the new high school being built in Alnwick and the fact that the RAF has kept its crucial command-and-control and training facilities at RAF Boulmer in my constituency. For that, I called on the help of an invaluable parliamentary tool: The National Audit Office. It is not often realised how helpful that body is to Parliament and MPs.”
Sir Alan also commented on the significant contribution the Liberal Democrats have made to the Coalition Government, claiming around 75 per cent of the last Liberal Democrat manifesto has now being delivered.
He said of the A1 dualling work and the new high school buildings for Alnwick: “These were certainly made possible by Liberal Democrat involvement in the coalition Government, achieving what previous Governments had failed to do. I am proud to have been a supporter of the coalition and, in my view, becoming involved in it was the right thing for the Liberal Democrats to do, in order to provide stability for the country at a time of crisis, to take tough but necessary decisions to reduce the deficit, to temper austerity with fairness and to maintain long-term investment. Many of those things would not have been possible had we not taken that decision to take part in the coalition.”
In a final word to the voters of the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency, Sir Alan said: “I hope they will take my advice and return another Liberal Democrat to maintain the liberal philosophical tradition and the Liberal tradition of vigorous local representation which I have sought to uphold in this House.”