TAUNTON Deane MP Rebecca Pow has become one of the first of the new intake of MPs to make her maiden speech in the House of Commons.

Here is the full transcript.

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech. May I first congratulate other hon. Friends and Members on their splendid maiden speeches? They have made me quite nervous, and I wish very good luck to all the others who will follow me.

"I pay tribute to my Liberal Democrat predecessor, Jeremy Browne, who represented Taunton and Taunton Deane for the past 10 years and was a distinguished Minister of State at the Foreign Office and for Home Affairs. He was known as a straight-talking Minister who got things done. He promoted a private Member’s Bill on organ donation and was involved in the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, which shows his diversity. On termination of his office, he remarked that he had heard it said that he was “the only Minister in history to have been sacked for being too supportive of the Government.”—[Official Report, 18 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 816.] I personally knew Jeremy and had a great deal of respect for him. He built a reputation as a caring and conscientious constituency MP and I really hope that I will follow in that vein.

"Apart from occasional interludes, Taunton Deane has traditionally been Conservative and I am honoured to have reinstated that tradition and to have been part of the incredibly successful wider Conservative campaign in the whole south-west. I am also proud to be the very first woman Conservative MP for Taunton and, indeed, for Somerset.

"As an MP and working mum who has latterly run my own business, I was delighted to see in the Gracious Speech the enterprise Bill giving support for small businesses and, in particular, measures in the education and childcare Bill to double the hours of free childcare for three and four year olds, which will really help working women.

"Taunton Deane has one or two colourful characters in its history. Hon. Members may not know that Disraeli stood for election in Taunton in 1835, but he lost. He did not even have so many doors to knock on in those days, but obviously he went on to be a great one nation Tory. How apt that is today.

"Still fondly remembered in the constituency for his larger than life approach is Sir Edward du Cann, who in May 1959 said in a debate in this House that the A303 from London to the south-west had bottlenecks and that it was totally inadequate and in need of improvement. We have debated the issue ever since. I am delighted that years on it is this Government who are so committed to upgrading the A303 and, indeed, the A358, which runs right through my constituency, as well as junction 25 of the M5 and are committed to the wonderful transformation of Taunton railway station. It is going to happen and I will work to ensure that all those things are addressed.

"What of Taunton Deane today? Of course, I am rather biased because I have lived there for nearly 30 years and think there is no better place to hang one’s hat. Between the beautiful Blackdown hills and the Quantock hills runs the fertile vale of Taunton, right in the centre of which is the county town of Taunton itself. Right in the heart of the county town, one can go to watch Somerset play cricket at the County Ground. I was there just yesterday afternoon, watching Chris Gayle hit 15 sixes in an innings. Much money is being spent turning the ground into an international cricket ground, and I hope that in the coming years I will be able to invite Members from both sides of the House to the County Ground to watch Somerset thrash their home sides.

"Taunton is also home to the UK Hydrographic Office, which is globally renowned for producing naval shipping maps and which I very much hope will stay there, and to Somerset’s main hospital. We also have the beautiful town of Wellington, home to international companies, including Swallowfield and Relyon bed company, and fashionable, high-end cloth makers, Fox Brothers. I know that you are known for your sartorial elegance, Mr Deputy Speaker, so perhaps you will come to purchase your next suit there.

"Farming is the lifeblood of our rural areas, with livestock and dairying still very much predominant. Farming is my background, so I understand the challenges and, yes, I have milked many a cow. The Pows have farmed in Somerset for more than six centuries, rivalling even the claim to longevity of my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg). I hope that nature and wildlife can be interwoven into the way in which we produce our food. In that respect, I am so supportive of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Let us bring on the bee pollinator strategy.

"Penultimately, I have to mention flooding. I am sure hon. Members will all remember the devastating flooding on the Somerset levels just a year ago, when thousands of acres of precious land were underwater. Thankfully, the area is blooming again and the rivers are dredged. I pay enormous tribute to the entire Government at that time for the great work they did combating the flooding.

"Finally, I have an overriding ambition to see Taunton Deane become the gateway to the south-west and, indeed, to see the whole south-west pull together, with all the right infrastructure and education and skills, to make us the south-western powerhouse and, indeed, the engine room of this country, playing a much greater role than ever before in the great economy under this Government. I really look forward to playing a part in that myself.

"I am exceedingly grateful for the time you have given me, Mr Deputy Speaker, and for your indulgence for the past few minutes as I made my maiden speech."