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Liz’s maiden speech, 10 June 2010

I welcome you to your new position, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech during this important debate on poverty.

It is a great honour to serve as the Member of Parliament for Leicester West. My constituency has a proud history, as part of an open and diverse city that has welcomed people, commerce and ideas. In Roman times, Fosse Way, which still runs through Leicester West, was one of the main routes across Britain. This road helped to bring trade to my constituency in wool and leather during the middle ages, and later in textiles, hosiery and shoemaking-industries for which Leicester was long and rightly famed.

These industries gave birth to the co-operative movement, which still has a strong presence in my constituency today. In 1936, Leicester’s co-operative society hosted the Jarrow marchers on their way to London, providing them with a much-needed change of boots from one of the city’s many shoemaking factories. I am proud to be a member of the Co-operative party and, I might add, a frequent customer at my local Co-op on the Narborough road. Co-operative principles of mutuality and solidarity are at the heart of the Labour movement and my constituency.

Since helping the Jarrow marchers, my constituency has continued to welcome people from throughout the UK, many of whom come to study at Leicester’s excellent universities, and from across the world. Leicester West has been enriched by our Asian communities, from east Africa, Gujarat, Punjab, Pakistan and Bangladesh, by our African-Caribbean community, by people from eastern Europe, including Poland and Ukraine, and more recently by people from Turkey and our new African communities, including those of Somalia, Sierra Leone and Cameroon. All the different communities in Leicester-white, black and Asian, Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim-are what make us a great city and country. As the MP for Leicester West, I will always champion and celebrate the strength that this diversity brings.

To read Liz’s full speech click here and scroll down to 1.39pm