Wednesday, 15 September 2010


We were very lucky on the Parliament trip yesterday to watch the House of Commons in action rather than simply visit an empty chamber. Having witnessed the official procession to the Commons in which the Speaker, John Bercow, was accompanied by the Serjeant-at-Arms carrying her sword and the Parliamentary Mace, we were then able to watch several minutes of questions to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague. The chamber was well attended, and David Milliband, Menzies Campbell and Chris Skidmore (Historian and Nonsuch visitor) could all be spotted. For a record of what was said that afternoon, here is the transcript from Hansard, the relevant TV coverage, and Simon Hoggart's sketch for the Guardian.

PS: Here from the Hansard transcript is one amusing exchange that we witnessed between Hague and Ivan Lewis (Labour MP for Bury South)

Mr Lewis: May I ask the Foreign Secretary a very specific question? We have already seen £560,000 removed from the Foreign Office human rights and democracy budget this year, and not in terms of future spending review decisions. Can the Foreign Secretary assure the House that there will be no further reduction in funding for that part of the Foreign Office budget this year?

Mr Hague: One would not think that the hon. Gentleman had been a member of a Government who reduced funding for human rights and democracy projects in Iran, Sudan, Zambia, Russia and central Asia, all in the course of the last year. There have been no U-turns on any of those subjects. I do not think that having to correct what appears in The Guardian now and again constitutes a U-turn brought about by the Opposition. As for future spending commitments, they will of course be set out in the future, once we have the results of the comprehensive spending review.

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