What is the building like to work in?

The first thing to be aware of is that Parliament now covers more than just the Palace of Westminster. There are several buildings which house offices for Members of Parliament and those who keep the whole show on the road. Together they are referred to as the Parliamentary Estate.

As a new Member of Parliament I have still visited all the buildings in the estate simply because there has been no need and I have kept to the buildings which I have needed to be in. Other than the Palace of Westminster itself most of my time is spent in 1. Parliament Street where the office I have been allocated is situated. The other principal building is Portcullis House which depending on the route I choose to take I have to pass through to reach the House of Commons.

The Palace of Westminster itself has literally hundreds of rooms and offices and even Members who have been there for several years still have not been in all of them. Just before the House rose for the summer recess I was invited to meet one of the Deputy Speakers (Lindsay Hoyle the MP for Chorley) and after asking two experienced members who were in the vicinity neither of whom knew where his rooms were I along with a colleague I was with finished up asking one of the security staff who pointed us in the right direction. This scenario has been replicated many times in the first few weeks of the new Parliament.

Apart from the sheer size of the buildings the architectural splendour of the Palace of Westminster and the numerous magnificent works of art it contains never fail to impress. I am conscious that many people I suspect most of my constituents will not have visited Westminster and for those who are interested in the architecture and artwork in the Palace the Parliament website has an excellent virtual tour that is well worth viewing.

One further aspect that I had not considered before being elected was the part the public play as visitors. As an MP you have to become used to working in a building that for many ( especially visitors to the UK from abroad) is simply a tourist attraction. It is not an exaggeration to say that at times it is difficult to even walk along the pavement to get into the House because of the number of tourists all busy admiring the magnificent building and taking photographs of it from all angles and then trying to take photos of each other in front of it.