Colleagues, I want to begin this Session by marking the terrorist attack in London on 29 November during which Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt lost their lives. I am sure the whole House will join with me in sending our condolences to their families.
The House has directed the Speaker to make a statement at the beginning of each Session about the duties and responsibilities of hon. Members. I begin by reminding hon. Members of their duty to observe the code of conduct agreed by the House and to behave with civility and fairness in all their dealings. We all have duties to our constituents, but we are also part of a wider parliamentary community. I consider it essential that all hon. Members, both new and returning, undertake the Valuing Everyone training. The behaviour code applies to Members as it applies to others who visit or work in Parliament, and provides clear guidance. Unacceptable behaviour will be dealt with seriously, independently and with effective sanctions.
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 upon us all to exercise that privilege responsibly. Members must be mindful of the impact of what they say, not only on other Members but on others who follow our proceedings, and Members should be heard courteously, whatever their views. That privilege 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.
Parliament should be open to those whom it represents. We should seek to explain its work to those who elect us and to make them welcome here. The security of this building and those who work and visit here depends upon us all. 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 to all hon. Members, those newly elected and those returning, and all those who work in this House.