Postal Services Bill

Part of Planning (Developer Bonds) – in the House of Commons at 4:01 pm on 27th October 2010.

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Photo of Jonathan Lord Jonathan Lord Conservative, Woking 4:01 pm, 27th October 2010

I had hoped to make my maiden speech last Friday on my private Member's Bill, to pay homage in some small way to the great lady, the former Member for Finchley, who famously made her maiden speech on Second Reading of her successful private Member's Bill. I am grateful to colleagues on both sides of the House for giving it its Second Reading without objection, and I am happy today to support the Second Reading of this Bill.

Let me begin by thanking my predecessor, Humfrey Malins, for his long record of service to his constituents and to this House. He was an extremely assiduous constituency MP for Croydon, North-West and then for Woking. He was listened to with great interest in this House, particularly on home affairs, on which he spoke with the legal experience of a solicitor, a district judge and a Crown recorder. He was a shadow Minister for immigration and asylum for five years, and I believe that it is typical of the man that when he lost his seat in Croydon in the general election of 1992, he immediately set about founding the Immigration Advisory Service, which to this day provides free legal advice on matters of asylum and immigration. In 1997, he was re-elected to Parliament as the MP for Woking and received a CBE for his services to immigration policy.

Humfrey was extremely well liked by his constituents and, I believe, by Members on both sides of the House. He remains a great lover of sport. Having played against the All Blacks in his youth, he went on to found and captain the parliamentary rugby union team and later captained the parliamentary golf society. There are many fine golf courses in the constituency of Woking, and I hope that Humfrey keeps up his many friendships in our town and in our villages by playing them as often as possible.

My constituency of Woking has an ancient past but a passion to succeed in the present. Although it boasts the ruins of Woking palace, which was one of Henry VIII's favourite hunting lodges, it came into being as a modern town by Act of Parliament. In the 1840s, London's churchyards were running out of burial space, so the Metropolitan Interments Act 1850 forbade any further burials in London and encouraged the building of cemeteries outside the city. A further Act of Parliament in 1852 set up the London Necropolis Company, which went on to purchase 2,000 acres of land at Brookwood in Woking.

Brookwood cemetery remains a beautiful and tranquil place, a place of truly national significance and importance. I believe that it is worthy of more support both locally and nationally. One of those interred there was Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, an oriental scholar who was reputedly fluent in 50 languages. In 1889, he founded the Woking Shah Jahan mosque, which was the first purpose-built mosque in western Europe. For many years, it was the focus of the development of Islam in this country. I celebrate the fact that Woking has its first Asian mayor, Councillor Mohammed Iqbal. I pledged with him to serve the residents of our borough, and in particular our British Muslim population. It is worth noting that Dr Leitner, the founder of the first mosque in England, was Jewish. That is an interesting and wonderful thing that we should bear in mind as we seek peace and reconciliation in the world.

H. G. Wells was another famous citizen of Woking. On one of my first home surgery visits, I visited a modest, semi-detached villa in the heart of Woking, only to be told that it was the very house where H. G. Wells had penned "The War of the Worlds", which envisaged Martians landing on beautiful Horsell common and laying waste to the whole of Woking and, indeed, vast swathes of southern England. We now celebrate H. G. Wells's imagination with a large, modern, Martian tripod sculpture in the centre of our town.

While we are proud of our Victorian, literary and cultural heritage, we also look forward to the future. Woking borough council is innovative and has an acknowledged national reputation for leading on green issues and renewable energy. Our businesses strive to succeed-none more so than McLaren, which, building on its success in Formula 1, is now an even larger enterprise that is going to build a sports car for the road. I would very much like to own one of McLaren's new sports cars, but unfortunately my parliamentary salary and my wife forbid it.

Woking has a vast panoply of charitable organisations, all of which are willing to make the big society a success. It is a great honour to represent Woking in Parliament, and I hope to do so for many years to come-