Westminster Life: Part of a living, breathing institution

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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This week BBC2 aired its second episode of a four part documentary series: ‘Inside the House of Commons – lifting the lid.’ (with a brief speaking part for me presenting a pitch to a Parliamentary backbench committee!)

The aim of the programme is to give people an exclusive behind the 
scenes glimpse at what really goes on in Parliament - the heart of our democracy 
and the “Mother of Parliaments.”

The programme has been highly praised and I thought it did a great job of showing people elements of Parliament that many on the outside don’t get to see.

Visually spectacular, it demonstrates that the House of Commons is a living breathing institution and not a museum.

When I first arrived in Parliament in 2005 it was quite a daunting experience.

The new intake of MPs were greeted by Parliament’s ushers and quickly given a security pass.

For the first weeks my office was run from a committee room which I shared with a dozen other MPs, whilst the handover of offices was taking place between the old MPs and the new ones.

Parliament itself is an awe-inspiring place. I still feel extremely privileged to be able to walk in there on behalf of the residents of Peterborough – a city which has sent an MP to Parliament since Tudor times.

With 1,100 rooms, 3 miles of corridors and 6,000 people working across the Parliamentary estate it is a hive of activity and very easy to get lost. I am still finding new rooms and corridors I didn’t know existed after 10 years.

The documentary did a great job in emphasising the history of the palace of Westminster, and how this history provides the foundations for our modern democracy.

The building itself always throws up a few surprises. For example when building work was being undertaken a few years ago, a clump of feathers wrapped in a ball was found in the roof of Westminster Hall. On closer inspection, the builders discovered it was a tennis ball that had been used by Henry VIII!

Representing the residents of Peterborough in the last ten years has been the biggest honour of my life time.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is giving tours of Parliament with the very people who put me there in the first place.

The documentary was a great way of lifting the lid on the way our democracy works, and how the building exists to serve every single person in the UK.