James Harden – 1948 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by James (Richard) Harden, the then Ulster Unionist MP for Armagh, on 20 April 1948.

Although I have not addressed the House before, and I would ask hon. Members for their indulgence on this my first intervention, I could not let such remarks pass as have been made regarding my election, which took place only a short time ago. I would draw the attention of hon. Members to the remarks of my opponent when he seconded my vote of thanks to the returning officer. He said he was completely satisfied with the election and he had no fault to find with it. He went further. He said that, so far as he could see, it had been a perfectly clean and straight fight. After the closing of the polling booths there were one or two small incidents. This election was fought on a very vital question that made the people’s blood rise to a pretty good height. There were incidents on both sides; the incidents were not confined to one side only. If the official opposition candidate says that the election was fair and that he is satisfied, I think that hon. Members of this House must accept that before they accept the remarks of hon. Members for English constituencies.

The reason why I state that so strongly is that on the day of the election, both my opponent and I spent the day touring all the polling booths, and neither he nor I found any fault at all with the way that the election was being run. I am quite convinced, and I think he was too, that each person had a right to go and vote as he thought fit, and as freely as he wished. I thank the House for the indulgence which they have shown me on this my first speech here.