On Wednesday evening a group of Leytonstone residents visited The Houses of Parliament and were treated to an informative and highly entertaining personal tour by our member of parliament John Cryer MP.
We met John in Westminster Hall built 1097-99, he came straight from the division lobby where he had been voting on a bill in the commons. John is an excellent and highly knowledgeable speaker and gave us a fascinating history of the parliament buildings, an explanation of how parliament works today, and many anecdotes and stories from behind the scenes at Westminster.
We saw bomb damage from both the IRA attacks of the 1970s and the Luftwaffe from the Second World War. We saw where kings and queens of England where laid in state. We saw where the gunpowder had been deposited in the 1605 gunpowder plot. We saw the statue where the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison chained herself during a protest for women’s rights in 1911. We saw the door Black Rod knocks on during the state opening of parliament by the Queen. We entered the division lobby where members of parliament vote for or against by entering either the ‘Aye’ or the ‘No’ lobbies. While waiting for John we heard the division bell ring calling MPs to a vote in the commons. We entered the commons chamber and stood by the dispatch box where David Cameron, Harold Wilson, Tony Blair, Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, and Clement Atlee among many others have stood and made their speeches. We heard about the seating arrangements and protocol in the commons and found out the origin of the term ‘toeing the line’.
John described the traditions of the commons and shared stories of some of the colourful characters who have been elected over the years.
All of the members of our group felt the event was highly informative as well as wonderfully entertaining. On behalf of FORA I would like to express our appreciation to John for an insiders view of parliament and for being an excellent host.
If you would like to find out more about this topic visit the Parliament website
By Martin Sepion