All quiet on the Westminster front

I was in Westminster yesterday to catch up on paperwork and  some research.  The Palace was, as one might expect, fairly quiet, as it tends to be in August, though by no means deserted.  During recesses, parliamentary offices continue to be staffed and some parliamentarians are around.  I popped over, as I tend to, to the snack bar (the Despatch Box, pictured) in the Atrium in Portcullis House – it serves an excellent cup of tea and it is a valuable social space.  It is fascinating watching the comings and goings.   (The Atrium is to pass-holders what Central Lobby is to members of the public.)   It was moderately busy.         

The most notable change that takes place at Westminster during the recess is not so much the disappearance of members, but rather the switch to a normal office hours culture.  This is most notable in respect of dining facilities.  They run on the assumption that there will not be anyone around beyond 5.00 or 6.00 p.m.  After that time, one has to pop out to find an alternative place to eat or get a cup of tea.  When one of the Houses is sitting, the facilities stay open until late evening.

The limited opportunities for eating aside, I rather like the Palace during the summer.  There is no pressure, either in respect of masses of people or of business (though I need to work on drafting some amendments and written questions), and I like just being at my desk getting on with work.  As regular readers know, I also have a pleasant view.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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7 Responses to All quiet on the Westminster front

  1. Dean B says:

    “As regular readers know, I also have a pleasant view.”
    One might call it, The Norton View.

  2. Princeps Senatus says:

    If anyhing, it’s almost as if somebody forgot to tell MPs and their staff that the House has risen for recess. I passed by the Debate for lunch and the place was heaving with people. Not a seat to be had!!!
    And so many MPs are still in Westminster. I have seen atleast three committee chairs around. It may be recess, but their noses are to the grindstone. I do not envy our MPs. They have to put up with public opprobrium, while carrying out their jobs. Let’s elect benefit cheats as back-benchers and wear them out, I say.
    From my perspective, the advantage of summer recess is that the staff are more likely to be in tshirts and shorts as poosed to the stuffy suits that we normally see when the House is sitting. It creates a more relaxed atmosphere around the place.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Princeps Senatus: One of the problems during recesses is certainly finding somewhetre to eat at lunchtime. I tend to get a very late lunch simply to avoid the rush. I have noticed it’s not just the staff in casual wear. Some MPs dress down during the recess as well. Though some peers go a bit wild and avoid ties, members of the Upper House are less likely to do so.

  3. maudie33 says:

    I think Portcullis House ugly. And atriums are only attractive when the scenery is pleasantly attractive. The Palace is a different kettle of fish altogether.

    @Lord Norton: Has something happened to the Lords of the Blog website as I am unable to add posts. I can add this post but not on the LOTB.


  4. maudie33 says:

    I do apologise, Lord Norton. Nothing is wrong with LOTB. It was something to do with my computer.

    • Lord Norton says:

      maude: I checked when I saw your first comment and everything appeared okay on LOTB. There was no evidence of you sending anything. (Sometime there’s a delay because of moderation or occasionally the comments of a regular go into the spam category and have to be spotted and retrieved.) Glad to hear all is resolved. Someone else who comments regularly on LOTB seems to attribute delays to conspiracy theory…. Actually, there’s two of them.

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