11 DECEMBER 1964, Page 8

Second Thoughts I had some doubts about printing my article

'First Thoughts' on maiden speeches in-the House of Commons. I feared that the primitive tribal initiation rites of our system of democracy might be incomprehensible, even to some of the readers of the Spectator. I need not have worried. The BBC promptly asked if they could put out a shortened version—on their Russian service.

Charles Pannell, now Minister of Public Build- ing and Works, and for many years one of the most learned students of parliamentary lore, tells me that in days gone by maiden speakers could either ask for the indulgence of the House, in which case they received it, and made a non- controversial speech, or alternatively, not ask for such indulgence, in which case their speech was treated in the ordinary way. The famous maiden speech of F. E. Smith came into the second category. Certainly Keir Hardie was interrupted, although well received. There seems a great deal to be said for this solution and it would have avoided one, or two rather unattractive scenes when the House felt moved to quarrel with maiden speeches in the first weeks of this Parliament.