Matt Rodda, Labour MP for Reading East, had some nice things to say about Reading in his maiden speech on 20 July 2017. It was followed by reminiscences and opinions about Reading from his colleagues.
In his speech in the summer adjournment debate, which took place before the House of Commons broke up for the summer, Matt Rodda ticked many Reading boxes. He mentioned Reading Abbey, the burial of Henry I, the 3 Bs, terraced streets, the Victorian town centre and the local IT industry.
During its long history, Reading has changed beyond all recognition. Once home to one of the largest abbeys in England and the burial place of King Henry I, it later grew to become a light industrial town. Many years ago, our local economy consisted of brewing, biscuit-making and horticulture—the “three B’s”, as they were then known, with the word “bulbs” replacing “horticulture”.
While the terraced streets and Victorian town centre remain, in the late 20th century Reading became home to insurance firms, and more recently the IT industry. Several international IT and telecoms firms are based nearby and they play an important role, both in the local economy and in the economy of the UK as a whole.
He paid tribute to his predecessors as Reading MPs, including his immediate predecessor, the Conservative Rob Wilson.
Some of the MPs who followed him in the debate referred to his speech and their recollections of Reading.
I was at university in Reading, and I spent a lot of time drinking pints in The Nob, going to the kebab shop and eating Champ’s burgers. I studied chemistry and food science, and I think I took the food part a bit too literally.
Improvements at Reading railway station received a positive comment from Richard Graham (Conservative MP for Gloucester) with a request “anything he can do to keep the station working smoothly will be much appreciated.”
Labour colleague Mary Creagh (Wakefield) said that she had “… learnt something about Reading’s history; I thought it was just the prison, but brewing, biscuits and bulbs sounds like a sound base for economic development for his city.”
And finally, Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Michael Ellis mentioned the new MP for Reading East had omitted Rufus Isaacs from the list of his predecessors, saying “… [his] priorities, although more than 100 years ago, also included land reform, before world war one, as well as the legal standing of unions. He was a Liberal member, but history remembers him very kindly.”
MPs return on Tuesday 5 September after the summer recess.