The House has directed the Speaker to make a statement at the beginning of each Session about the duties and responsibilities of hon. Members, in place of the Sessional Orders.
I begin by reminding Members of their duty to observe the code of conduct agreed by the House and to uphold the seven principles of public life that underpin it: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
The House asserts its privilege of freedom of speech. It is there to ensure that our constituents can be represented by us without fear or favour. It is an obligation on us all to exercise that privilege responsibly. It is enjoyed by Members of Parliament only in their work in this House: as private individuals we are equal under the law with those whom we represent.
In our proceedings every Member should be heard courteously, whatever views he or she is expressing. Members of this House have a duty to behave with civility and fairness in all their dealings.
Parliament should be open to those whom it represents. We should seek to explain its work to those who elect us, and make them welcome here. But the security of this building and those who work and visit here depends upon all of us. We have a duty to be vigilant, and to assist those whose job it is to maintain this place as a safe place to work.
Before moving to the first business of the new Parliament, I would like to express my very best wishes for the forthcoming Session to all hon. Members—the 182 new Members and those returning—and all those who work here. I also send best wishes to those former Members not returned at the election, and thank them for their service to the country and their commitment to the democratic process, which can sometimes be a bruising experience.