Representing the people of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland is a huge privilege and as part of my role I spend a big chunk of my week working in the incredible surroundings of the Palace of Westminster. This historic place is place is full of links to the development of our democracy and I thought I should explain a little bit about how everything works in Westminster and share some of the incredible interiors and objects that it’s too easy for MPs to take for granted.
I thought I would start with the hub of Parliament, Central Lobby. This amazing space lies between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, so it truly is at the centre of our political system. In line with tradition, any member of the public can, without and appointment, turn up at the desk and request to meet their MP to ‘lobby’ them: the fantastic staff will then try to contact the MP to see if they are able to come to Central Lobby to meet their constituent. Whilst the reality of a busy schedule of meetings and committees in Westminster means it’s best to make an appointment if you would like to meet me it is undoubtedly an interesting tradition.
Like much of the Palace of Westminster, there are also some stunning decorative features in Central Lobby too – four mosaics above the doors depict the patron saints of each part of the UK: St George for England, St Andrew for Scotland, St David for Wales and St Patrick for Ireland. More practical features include its own Post Office where my staff and I can send letters.
On a practical level this is often the space where TV interviews take place and it is also the place which sees the start of each day’s parliamentary business when the Speaker’s procession passes through en route to the House of Commons.
In a place full of fascinating rooms, halls, windows, architecture, paintings and more this "lobby" stands out and it is also the one place I am guaranteed to pass through almost every single day I'm here.