Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the House of Commons at the Houses of Parliament to attend the Middle East Forum, hosted by chairman Khalid Nadeem, who kindly invited me.
On entry through the Cromwell Green entrance to the Houses of Parliament, you pass through airport-style security, which can take up to 45 minutes.
As you enter the House of Commons, you come through St Stephen’s Hall, which is incredibly impressive, with some fascinating stories to tell.
One such story is revealed in the gold plaque (pictured above) which pays tribute to Miss Marjory Hummes, who chained herself to the statue of Viscount Falkland as a demonstration in support of women’s suffrage, which actually caused part of the statue’s boot to snap off.
Another of St Stephen’s Hall’s fascinating stories is that it is where the where the House of Commons sat until it was destroyed by the fire of 1834. What stands there today is very similar to the former. The brass studs (pictured above) are apparently where the Speaker’s Chair and the Table of the House were before.
As you pass through St Stephen’s Hall, you reach the Central Lobby, which is equally as impressive, but unfortunately you are not allowed to take any photos.
This particular Middle East Forum session explored the current state of affairs and the future of Afghanistan. The list of guest speakers included : Ivan Lewis MP, Jim Shannon MP, BBC World Service Journalist Sana Safi, US Analyst Johnathan Paris, Afghan writer Dr Nasir Shansab, South Asia Analyst Mrs Victoria Schofield, former Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner and Rt Hon Lord Alf Dubs drew.
The event itself gave a fascinating insight from several different perspectives. You can read more about the details of what was discussed during the event here.
Before leaving, I managed to take a quick look at the House of Commons in session, from the Public Viewing Gallery. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos from it.
Finally, as the weather was so lovely, a quick stroll around to soak some of it up was on the cards. There’s nothing like London in the sunshine!