Maiden speech

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A maiden speech is the first speech given by a newly elected or appointed member of a legislature or parliament.

Traditions surrounding maiden speeches vary from country to country. In many Westminster system governments, there is a convention that maiden speeches should be relatively uncontroversial, often consisting of a general statement of the politician's beliefs and background rather than a partisan comment on a current topic. [1]

This convention is not always followed, however. For example, the maiden speeches of Pauline Hanson in the Australian House of Representatives in 1996, [2] and Richard Nixon in the United States House of Representatives in 1947, [3] broke the tradition.[ further explanation needed ] Margaret Thatcher's maiden speech in the House of Commons in 1959 included the successful introduction of the bill which became the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960.

There is also a strong convention in some countries, such as in the Netherlands, that maiden speeches should not be subjected to interruption or interjection and should not be attacked or dismissed by subsequent speakers. Another convention in the British House of Commons is that a Member of Parliament will include tribute in a maiden speech to previous incumbents of their seat. [1]

Some countries, notably Australia, no longer formally describe a politician's first speech as a 'maiden' speech, referring only to it as a 'first' speech. The Australian Parliament website and Hansard records no longer use 'maiden' as a term; the word remains common in discourse and colloquial use.

UK House of Commons

The first maiden speeches following general elections were:

2010 25 May 2010 Richard Harrington Con [4]
2015 27 May 2015 Brendan O'Hara SNP [5]
2017 21 June 2017 Vicky Ford Con [6]
2019 19 December 2019 Colum Eastwood SDLP [7]

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  1. 1 2 "Maiden speeches: guidance for new Members" (PDF). Commons briefing note. UK House of Commons. 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-03-04. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  2. "Pauline Hanson's 1996 maiden speech to parliament: Full transcript". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2016-09-14. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  3. "Congressman Richard Nixon's Maiden Speech To The House Of Representatives". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  4. "Parliamentary debates". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) . House of Commons. 25 May 2010. col. 80–82.
  5. "Parliamentary debates". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) . House of Commons. 27 May 2015. col. 109–111.
  6. "Debate on the Address". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) . United Kingdom: House of Commons. 21 June 2017. col. 137–139.
  7. "Debate on the Address - Hansard". Retrieved 2020-01-21.