Taking the battle to the House of Commons for my maiden speech

Huw Merriman in the Commons SUS-151006-132049001
Huw Merriman in the Commons SUS-151006-132049001

Whilst I arrived in Parliament on the first Monday after the election, it was only officially opened for business by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.

During this day of pomp and ceremony, the Queen delivers the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords, where I joined the other 650 members of the House of Commons in the corridor attempting to catch a glimpse and hear the speech.

On the basis that the House of Commons acts as the chief political chamber, this is another one of the oddities of Westminster life though it is fair to say that the vast amount of gold in the House of Lords compliments Her Majesty’s crown jewels better than the more basic wooden interior of the House of Commons!

After the State Opening, I attended my first ever Prime Minister’s Question Time.

I know, perhaps like pantomimes, that some constituents find this a fantastic piece of theatre whereas others find it out of date.

I can see merit in both of these views.

It was certainly very noisy and it is undeniably true that if any school children or workers acted in the same manner then they would probably be marched from their premises.

Following PMQs, the House sat to hear tributes from the Prime Minister and MPs from all sides for Charles Kennedy, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats who sadly died last week.

The tributes were generous and moving and Charles’ 10 year old son was in the gallery to hear them.

I reflected that the House is a better place when MPs come together with a common purpose than when point scoring.

Last Thursday, it was my turn to make my maiden speech in the House of Commons.

This is nerve-wracking experience but one which we all have to do before we are allowed to speak widely in the House or ask questions.

It is traditional to speak kindly of an MP’s predecessor, as I did about Greg Barker and his fine achievements, and wax lyrical about the beauty of the constituency (which is not difficult when hailing from Bexhill and Battle).

I talked in strong terms about a forthcoming battle next year around Europe and facing a hostile takeover from the continent.

A few MPs thought I had gone over the top about the forthcoming European referendum until I mentioned that the subject was the 950th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings!