Tag Archives: houses of parliament

From our Lords correspondent: the Bill cometh, but will the building fall down before it can be passed?

And so, the EU Withdrawal Bill came to be debated in the Lords over two days. One hundred and eighty-seven speakers, all heard courteously enough but, at the end of it, it was just the hors d’oeuvres before the real work on the Bill begins.

It seemed to be broadly accepted accepted across the Chamber that the House of Lords does not see its role as stopping Brexit – the lack of an electoral mandate hangs heavy on all corners – and as Dick Newby put it, opening for the Liberal Democrats;

I should

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Does Parliament have the plushest waiting room in the world?

St Stephen’s Hall, Houses of Parliament – some rights reserved by UK Parliament

Despite understandable security measures, it is still easy to visit the Houses of Parliament and watch the proceedings.

I went there this week. You basically present yourself at the Cromwell Green entrance, which is halfway along the building by the big statue of Oliver Cromwell. At the gate, they tend to ask you why you want to come in – but you just have to say “I want to go to the public gallery of the House of Commons (or Lords)” and they’ll let you in (having checked that the queues are not too long). You then get given a green card and are seen by a policeman who gives you a little briefing. You then go through the inevitable airport security check and you are in.

It’s worth noting that it is your right as a citizen to enter Parliament and ask to see your MP at the central lobby. You are advised to book an appointment with your MP for such a meeting, but you don’t have to. Of course, he or she might not be in Parliament if you turn up unannounced, but all UK residents have a right to walk into parliament for such a purpose or to watch proceedings.

Once you are in you do have a surprising amount of freedom to linger and wander through the place, without any “shooing along” from officials. There are officials and security guards around, but it is really quite surprising how free you are to “mooch about” and admire the various paintings, plaques, ceilings etc. You get to stroll through Westminster Hall, which is magnificent and the most historic part of the present Parliamentary buildings. Charles I was tried there.

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

A couple of voices of sanity in the current maelstrom of insanity

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, yesterday answered a question from an MP concerning whether Donald Trump would be invited to address MPs in Parliament if and when he pays his state visit in the UK.

A modicum of research reveals that Bercow gave the only reasonable answer he could: that he would be opposed to such an invitation (can you imagine many MPs turning up to meekly listen to The Donald?). He enlarged that answer with entirely proper reasoning. He emphasised that he spoke for the House of Commons only, that he was only one of three “key holders” of Westminster Hall and of the Royal Gallery. He said, quite rightly, that such an invite is an “earned honour” seldom accorded – not an automatic right. If you look at the list of people who have addressed parliament in Westminster Hall, it is very short. The list of people doing such addresses elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster is somewhat longer. However, I don’t see either George Bushes on the list, for example. Or John F Kennedy (though he was perhaps not President long enough). Not even Dwight D Eisenhower addressed Parliament during his two terms – and he was regarded with vast reverence in this country.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Can Parliament vote against Brexit?

Regardless of the cries of the Brexiteers, the answer is simple. It can, if it wants to. Here’s why;

First and foremost Members of Parliament are representatives, they are not delegates. As representatives, they are free to, and it is their duty to, exercise their own judgement. Members cannot be and should never be prevented from exercising their conscience in casting their votes.

This duty applies in even greater measure to Peers. As (self-proclaimed) trustees of the nation, they must be willing to take decisions counter to the public mood when they consider it to be in the national interest. I cannot …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 114 Comments

When a cabinet minister can’t open a door – from our archive

Liberal Democrat Voice has a fantastic archive of posts going back to our establishment in 2006. Here’s an interesting article from The Voice, which was published in October 2006. You can read the post in its original form, with comments, here:

There is a set of stairs in the mother of all Parliaments. At the top is the committee corridor, and the office of the leader of the Liberal Democrats. In the middle, is the MP’s tea room, and at the bottom, is the most popular restaurant in the palace. It is a busy set of stairs.

Posted in From the LDV Archive | 6 Comments
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