DARLINGTON’S new MP renewed her calls for social network websites to be regulated and a schools building programme to be carried out, during her maiden speech yesterday.
Jenny Chapman’s first speech in Parliament – following her election last month – featured two topics close to her heart.
The Labour MP opened her speech with a call for tighter legislation to prevent sexual offenders registering on the internet under false names.
It comes after 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall, who lived in Mrs Chapman’s previous council ward of Cockerton, died after meeting convicted sex offender Peter Chapman via the internet.
The MP said: “Ashleigh made one fatal error in her life. She was groomed by Peter Chapman.
“I wrote to Jack Straw at the time of the trial and I hope the Government will ensure registered sex offenders register who they are online and take any breach seriously.”
She also called for the new Government to go through with the Building Schools for the Future programme in Darlington. It was given money last year to refurbish schools but a date for the final stage before funding is released has not yet been confirmed.
Mrs Chapman said: “Our schools have some of the fastest improving results in the country.
“Our schools have achieved this despite the fact that three of our secondary school buildings are in serious disrepair.”
Mrs Chapman was voted in as the town’s first female MP, replacing Alan Milburn, who had served since 1992.
During her address, Mrs Chapman praised her predecessor as well as a number of other ventures in the town.
They included Teesside University’s plans to open a campus in Darlington, a campaign to honour the world’s first black professional footballer, Arthur Wharton, and its role in the country’s first railways and first national newspaper.
She said: “Above all else in his political life, I believe Alan worked to make sure we are rewarded according to who we are, not what we are.
“Alan believes in social mobility, fair access to the professions and encouraging access to higher education for everyone regardless of background.
“It is no coincidence that Darlington is to be home to a new university run by Teesside University, this year’s university of the year.”