Malcolm Offord has pointed to the closure of his old school as having motivated him in becoming a UK Government minister as he made his maiden speech in the House of Lords.
The financier, who took the title of Lord Offord of Garvel in taking his seat in the Second Chamber, spoke of his upbringing in Greenock during his speech at a Lords Grand Committee on Thursday.
He also takes on responsibility as a junior minister in the Scotland Office, having been awarded the peerage.
Offord faced criticism over the move, having previously stood unsuccessfully for the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP condemned the “rampant cronyism” over the appointment of the Conservative Party donor, whilst the Greens branded it a “disgrace”.
In making his speech, Offord also spoke of his work during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.
“I was born in a modest but homely tenement at 33 Bank Street in Greenock, an industrial town west of Glasgow on the Firth of Clyde,” he told the Committee.
“I was educated at my local schools Ardgowan Primary and Greenock Academy and, my Lords, what a first-class education I received for free.
“I’m not the first alumnus of that school to be associated with this House: my noble friend Baroness Goldie of Bishopton served as a distinguished Head Girl of Greenock Academy as did the wife of my noble friend Lord Leigh of Hurley.”
Offord suggested that the closure of his former school acted as an “egregious example” of “levelling-down” in Scotland.
He told Peers: “I was dismayed when my old school was closed in 2011 having been founded in 1855.
“It was determined by the local council that, with Inverclyde de-populating post-deindustrialisation requiring the local schools to reduce from eight to six, Greenock Academy should be closed because it conferred too great an advantage on the students who were fortunate enough to study there.
“Surely, an egregious example of levelling-down in Scotland, and a personal motivator for me in joining this government’s levelling up agenda.”
Explaining his choice of title, Offord told peers of the history of Garvel and its significance.
He said: “So why Lord Offord of Garvel? If you walk down Bank Street past the Wellpark to my parish church the mighty Mid Kirk, and cross the road to the magnificent Georgian Customs House on the Clyde, and then turn right along the river bank, you will come to Garvel Point.
“Garvel has long been a landmark in Greenock because it is where the deep water is located and it was originally a safe harbour for the fishing fleets before the first industrial revolution transformed the town into a thriving trading port and shipbuilding hub.
“Greenock’s most famous son is the inventor and engineer James Watt and the dock which bears his name remains in use today at Garvel Point.
“In fact, two of the three dry docks on the Clyde were located at Garvel and a recent renovation project has re-purposed one into the award-winning Beacon Theatre.”
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