Starmer praises diversity among new MPs in first speech to Parliament as PM

Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports on Parliament returning for the first time since the General Election

New Prime Minister Keir Starmer praised diversity among new MPs as he spoke for the first time in the Commons as PM, while Rishi Sunak said the Conservatives "will take up the role of the official opposition".

The two leaders have now swapped sides, with Starmer and his MPs taking their seats on the government benches of the Commons.

Starmer said the new parliament was "the most diverse by race and gender this country has ever seen".

He also praised that there's now the "largest cohort of LGBTQ+ MPs of any parliament in the world."

The PM vowed to “put an end to a politics that has too often seemed self-serving and self-obsessed”.

Starmer also payed tribute to veteran MP Diane Abbott, who is the new "Mother of the House" - a role occupied by the longest continuously serving female member of Parliament.

Sunak told MPs in his speech he was "sorry" for the party's defeat, and congratulated Starmer on his win.

“Can I start by congratulating the Prime Minister on his election victory and as he takes on his formidable task, he and his family deserve the good wishes of all of us in this House", he said.

As all the different party leaders gave speeches, Reform UK leader Nigel Farage spoke in the Commons for the first time, describing himself and his four other MPs as "the new kids on the block".

Farage was met with sighs across the chamber as he used his speech to hit out at former Speaker John Bercow over Brexit, who he accused of "besmirch[ing] the office so dreadfully in doing his best to overturn the biggest democratic result in the history of the country."

A record number of new MPs arrived in Parliament on Tuesday, as the process of swearing them in begins.

The Commons welcomes 335 new members today, which surpasses the 1945 record of 327. There are also an additional 15 people returning to Parliament after some time away, which brings the total number to 350.

ITV News spoke to some of the new members as they arrived on Tuesday - Gideon Amos, the new Lib Dem MP for Taunton and Wellington, said he was "really excited" to get started, and that Tuesday has "got the first week of term feel about it."

Katie Lamb, one of the few new Conservative MPs, said: "It's a much smaller class than I'd hoped to come in with, and there are lots of people I met during the candidate process who aren't here."

Many MPs arrived in Westminster for the first time on Monday, beginning to find their way around the estate.

Tuesday begins the process of swearing in which will last three days, and before that the Speaker of the House of Commons will also be elected.

To be officially sworn in MPs have to take a parliamentary oath and then sign a book called the 'Test Roll'.

Government MPs go first, followed by some other senior figures. MPs are not allowed to speak in debates, vote or receive their salary until they make an oath or solemn affirmation of allegiance to the Crown.

Upon their arrival at the Commons, a welcome pack is issued to each MP containing key resources, information and guidance to help them start their new jobs at Parliament.

They are also given a key, attached to a coloured tag, to their own locker.

Eventually all MPs will have their own office, but in the meantime, hot-desking spaces and lockers are provided so they "can start helping their constituents immediately," according to Parliament.

On their first day, every MP will be paired up with a “buddy," who will not have a political affiliation and will be available to help brief them on their role, to help them navigate the estate and give advice on parliamentary procedure and etiquette.

The MPs will also meet HR and IT staff as they work to get their support teams established.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle was re-elected as Speaker on Tuesday, being dragged to the Speaker's chair by other MPs as part of a tradition dating back hundreds of years.

As mentioned by the prime minister during his speech, this parliament is record breaking in the number of female MPs and members from ethnic minorities taking office.

Women now make up 40.5% of the Commons, compared with 35% in the last parliament. While there are now 90 minority ethnic MPs, up from 66.

Starmer said he would strive to build a “real partnership” with the regional leaders. Credit: PA

Prime Minister Keir Starmer's new cabinet met for the second time on Tuesday morning, and the PM also led a meeting with regional mayors.

The Prime Minister and his deputy Angela Rayner held a meeting with 11 regional leaders, including Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, and the only Conservative mayor, Tees Valley’s Lord Ben Houchen.

The Labour party won 412 of the 650 Commons seats at the election last Thursday.

The parliamentary year will formally start following the State Opening of Parliament, which will be held on July 17.

The King's Speech at the State Opening will set out the government's proposed policies and legislation for the coming session.