WHEN Parliament returned after the summer recess in early October I decided to take the plunge and give my maiden speech on what was only my fifth day in the House of Commons. It was a nerve-racking experience but one that I did genuinely enjoy.

Maiden speeches by tradition follow a particular format, firstly paying tribute to your predecessor and then introducing your constituency to the House. They are always heard in polite silence without the usual combative party political interventions.

I had chosen to speak in the debate on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill and had initially been told that I had 20 minutes to make my mark in parliamentary history. So you can imagine my consternation when this got revised down to ten minutes by the speaker's office and I had only a short time to cull half my beautifully-crafted draft speech. I therefore have two versions of the speech and I am happy to provide any constituent with the full version in addition to the version in Hansard - http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/ cm200607/cmhansrd/cm071008/debtext/71008-0017.htm Despite these drafting problems, all went well when the big moment arrived at 8.29pm. Having paid fulsome tribute to Piara Khabra, I was then able to proudly introduce the unique place that is Ealing Southall to my fellow members of Parliament. With a twinkle in my eye and knowing that there would be no interventions from opposition members I suggested that some members needed no introduction as they had got to know my constituency extremely well in the recent by-election including the leader of the opposition who seemed to like Ealing Southall so much he had visited five times.

However the real enjoyment of a maiden speech is to remind yourself and to tell others what a wonderful place your constituency is - with all its diversity, vibrancy and talent; all the incredible buildings, places, organisations and people that you have this immense privilege to represent.

I was genuinely filled with pride as I spoke about the proud tradition and history that Ealing Southall has of welcoming new arrivals.