Lord Cameron of Lochiel makes maiden speech in House of Lords

UK Government Minister for Scotland addresses safeguarding the union to connect communities in all parts of the UK and help all to realise their full potential

Lord Cameron of Lochiel makes maiden speech in House of Lords

UK Government Minister for Scotland Donald Cameron has today made his maiden speech in the House of Lords.

Minister Cameron, now Lord Cameron of Lochiel, was invited to speak at the end of a debate proposed by Lord McInnes of Kilwinning on the importance of strengthening and safeguarding the union of the UK.

An excerpt from Lord Cameron’s response follows:

My Lords, it is a very great honour for me to be standing here before your lordships, and to be delivering my maiden speech in a debate secured by my noble friend, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning. Can I thank him, not just for his guidance in these last few weeks, but for his stalwart service to Scotland and the United Kingdom in this last decade – service which has been far more pivotal than many people will realise.

Can I also express gratitude to my two noble kinsmen who acted as supporters at my introduction last week, the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, and my noble friend, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton. Having turned back with the rest of the Jacobite army at Derby in 1745, it has only taken Clan Cameron another 279 years to reach the capital.

To those two noble Lords, to Black Rod, to the Clerk of the Parliaments, to the Doorkeepers, and to many others, who have given me invaluable assistance, my heartfelt thanks.

Before turning to the substance of this debate, I believe it is customary to say a few personal words. In terms of my own career, having studied history at university, I practised law in Scotland as an advocate, before being elected in 2016 to represent the Highlands and Islands in the Scottish Parliament.

That too was a great honour, as an MSP representing my home region – a place of wild and staggering beauty but inhabited by communities often challenged by depopulation, lack of connectivity, and a frail local economy. And the task for any elected representative was of course to try and improve the lives of people within those communities.

As someone who has now been given the huge privilege of serving as a UK Government minister, the question for me becomes: what can government do to assist in that endeavour?

Perhaps the answer lies in the islands of the west, if your Lordships might allow me to explain.

If one was to travel along the main road which runs up the spine of the Western Isles, one uses a number of small, stone causeways in order to make one’s way from island to island, causeways which many would never notice, given the majestic views offered on all sides, framed in the ever-changing light for which these islands are renowned.

Minister Donald Cameron in Greenock to visit the Greenock Cruise Terminal and Visitor Centre.

But these slight structures are important in the long, rich story of the Hebrides, and the tides of history which brought cultures and peoples to and from their shores. Gaels from Ireland. Vikings from Norway. Waves of men and women, sweeping in and sweeping out.

And it was the last ebbing away of people from the islands in the twentieth century - as a result of eviction, world war, and emigration – which pre-empted their construction. Quietly, steadily, these causeways were built from the 1940s onwards in a bid to stem depopulation, linking tiny, fragile communities and so ending the isolation of centuries.

A small accomplishment at the very edge of this country, achieved amidst the crashing waves of the Atlantic and the cry of the oyster catcher. And far, far removed from the cut and thrust of metropolitan politics, here in the capital.

But those causeways are just as much part of our great country as the busy thoroughfares of London, and represent one example of what government should be doing everywhere, namely building the causeways for our citizens to walk safely over, both literally and metaphorically.

Government that connects its citizens and communities, and allows them to realise their own potential.

Government that enables and empowers.

Government that ends isolation and ensures that every citizen feels entirely connected to, and part of, our joint efforts. No man is an island, indeed.

And turning to the substance of today’s important debate, that also supplies one argument for the union, and the role of the United Kingdom government in strengthening that union by connecting the nations of the United Kingdom through strategic interventions, thus bridging the gaps between us.

From: Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland