Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 15:37 UK
A bevy of maidens

The largest intake of new MPs since 1997 means dozens of maiden speeches.

By convention, MPs steer clear of controversial topics when addressing the House for the first time, instead paying tribute to their predecessors and praising their electors.

Even so, some have managed to stand out. Democracy Live's Ed Lowther picks a handful.

Paul Maynard, Conservative

Paul Maynard

"As far as we can tell, I am the first Member of Parliament to be elected who has cerebral palsy," the new member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys told the House in his parliamentary debut.

Mr Maynard spoke of his delight at seeing Blackpool FC promoted to the Premier League before turning to the topic of the Commons debate: education and health.

He hailed special needs teaching and urged ministers to "put dignity at the heart of all they do in healthcare", noting: "We cannot measure a patient's dignity, but we know when they have lost it."

My Maynard alleged that his condition had been "used against" him in the election campaign, adding that media reports demonstrating ignorance of the nature of cerebral palsy and epilepsy had left him "shocked".

But he warned colleagues not to assume that this would dominate his political activities: "Those who know me know that my interests are wide-ranging and far-reaching, and I will not let it define what I do in this chamber - certainly not."

Jo Johnson, Conservative

Jo Johnson

The brother of Boris, Jo warned MPs expecting mirth from his maiden that they were soon to be disappointed thanks to a "humour-ectomy".

Despite this opening bout of self-deprecation, Mr Johnson went on to deliver a speech festooned with comedic highlights, at one point hailing the "Buff Orpington", a breed of chicken which is "admired by poultry breeders for its gentle contours, colourful plumage and succulent breast meat".

"If it is, in fact, true that he has no sense of humour, someone has written him a great speech," remarked Toby Perkins, the next MP in line to launch his parliamentary career.

Tristram Hunt, Labour

Tristram Hunt

The TV historian who won Stoke-on-Trent for Labour chose to lavish praise on his constituency in his maiden, focusing particularly on its magnificent pottery.

"At the heart of the English enlightenment, and indeed global civilization, Stoke-on-Trent makes its place in history," Mr Hunt revealed.

The establishment of a Wedgwood factory in Etruria, near Shelton, constituted nothing less than "the dawn of industrialisation", he argued.

He went on to extol its contribution in the form of "primitive Methodism", the football of Stanley Matthews, and "the lyricism of Robbie Williams".

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative

Jacob Rees-Mogg

The new MP for North East Somerset, also a keen historian, went further back in time, explaining how Alfred the Great had passed through his constituency on the way to do battle with the Danish occupiers in 878 AD.

Alfred "was able to expel the Danes and his grandson became the first King of England on borders we would recognise to this day", he told his new colleagues.

In fact, he was "the first Eurosceptic", Mr Rees-Mogg concluded.

Susan Jones, Labour

Susan Jones

The new MP for Clwyd South spoke of the plight of native Welsh speakers in the past, when schoolchildren were not only "denied the opportunity to be taught in their own language, but in many cases [were] punished for speaking it".

She explained that, in the 19th Century, children overheard speaking Welsh at school were forced to wear a piece of wood around their necks, known as a "Welsh Not", signifying that they would later be caned.

Ms Jones noted that such punishments were still being meted out in her constituency "as recently as the 1930s and 1940s", adding: "It took decades before its use was finally accepted as mainstream."

Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative

Nadhim Zahawi

"No maiden speech from the member for Stratford-on-Avon would be complete without a quote from our country's greatest poet and playwright," Mr Zahawi asserted.

Dutifully quoting from the first act of Macbeth, he suggested that Shakespeare's witches were a "warning to the three largest parties in this House", their mysterious prophecy inspiring him to issue a plea to fellow politicians.

Despite the "dark economic storm" looming over the UK, amid the "hurly-burly" of tackling the deficit, he urged: "Let us not be tempted by self-interest or party interest but let us instead put our country first."

Caroline Lucas, Green

Caroline Lucas

"What can a single MP achieve?" asked the Green party's first MP, addressing the chamber for the first time.

"A great deal," she reassured colleagues, mentioning scrutiny of bills and government policy, and an enhanced ability to speak up for constituents.

Parliamentary privilege also enabled MPs to raise "issues that cannot be raised elsewhere", she added, citing the recent Trafigura case as "the kind of issue I will hope to pursue".

Her speech culminated with a clarion call to fellow parliamentarians to meet the "historic task" of avoiding "irreversible climate change".

Jack Dromey, Labour

Jack Dromey

The husband of acting opposition leader Harriet Harman opted to defy convention and court political controversy.

On reducing the deficit, Mr Dromey, a former deputy general secretary of the Unite Union, declared: "I will resist any notion of asking those who are least able to bear the burden to pay the price of the misdeeds of the bankers."

He also warned that cuts to university funding would deprive "young working-class kids" from his constituency "of the chance to become the first in their family to go to university".

Louise Bagshawe, Conservative

Louise Bagshawe

In her Commons debut, the best-selling author revealed that Margaret Thatcher had inspired her to enter politics, by teaching her that "politics is in its essence counter-intuitive, and that Conservative means deliver liberal ends".

She also announced that there is a significant Scottish diaspora in her constituency, Corby, which, "perhaps uniquely in England, celebrates a regular highland games".

Ms Bagshawe added: "I am informed by staff at Corby Asda that they sell 17 times more Irn-Bru there than in any other store in England."

Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat

Julian Huppert

A former research scientist, the MP for Cambridge impressed colleagues by holding forth on how "four-stranded DNA structures called G-quadruplexes... control which genes are turned on and off".

He predicted that his specialist subject would seldom arise in debate in the chamber.

But he said he aimed to put his "understanding of how science works" to good use in his new job, pledging to "speak on wider issues of science policy, such as the funding process for both applied and blue-skies research, and on the operation of the DNA database".

Nick Boles, Conservative

Nick Boles

As Mr Boles reached the conclusion of his first speech to the Commons, he displayed a degree of generosity to his party political opponents that may have seemed quite alien to some colleagues on the green leather benches.

The MP for Grantham and Stamford, a constituency which contains Margaret Thatcher's place of birth, extolled the achievements of Labour on promoting equality.

"I will never forget what they, and their recently departed colleagues, did for gay women and gay men such as me," he said.

"This was the Labour party at its best: brave, principled and humane. I thank and salute it, and hope that some day in this place I will have the chance to do something as good."




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