Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Home News Disorder! Disorder! Mr Speaker strives to move House

Disorder! Disorder! Mr Speaker strives to move House

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A CALL for Parliament to be moved to the North of England is being made by former government minister Sir Norman Lamb. Although he mentions no specific location, one possible choice for the Commons might be Manchester. But, as anyone who’s moved house knows, things don’t always go smoothly . . .

‘GOOD morning. I’m Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons.’

– ‘Morning, guv. I’m Harry Heavit, head of Heavit & Throe Removals.’

‘I see your vans have arrived here in Manchester from Westminster, Mr Heavit. Can we get them unloaded?’

– ‘Okay, guv, let’s just look at the manifest: One House of Commons chamber with various furniture, fixtures, fittings and accoutrements, plus 649 MPs. The MPs are coming up separately on our special removals train – should be here soon. Right, lads, start unloading!’

‘Can you be as quick as possible? I’ve got to start the new session of Parliament at 2pm.’

– ‘Righto, guv. Here’s the first stuff coming off now. Looks like some sort of standard lamp.’

‘Heavens, it’s the ceremonial Commons mace – and it’s broken in two!’

– ‘Sorry about that, guv. It was bubble-wrapped, but things get a bit bumpy on the roads these days. Potholes, you know. Parliament should pass a law about that. Anyhow, the insurance will cover the breakage.’

‘But the mace is 360 years old.’

– ‘Good job it wasn’t new. Won’t cost much to replace it then. You’re covered for up to £500 – that should do it. What’s coming off the van now? Oh, it’s that battered old trunk.’

‘That’s the Commons Despatch Box.’

‘Ah. Well, we put some cups and saucers in there and packed them in with pages we tore from a tatty old book that was lying round. Hope that was okay.’

‘Let’s have a look. Bloody hell! That “tatty old book” was my signed first edition of Erskine May’s Parliamentary Procedures. It was priceless.’

– ‘Sorry, guv.’

‘Look, just get the MPs’ benches unloaded. They’ve got to be installed in the new building straight away.’

– ‘Let’s look at the manifest. Benches?  No, guv, no benches mentioned here.’

‘What do you mean? The green leather benches were dismantled in London and left ready for loading.’

– ‘I remember them lying about, guv. Some of my lads reclined on them to eat their butties – quite the little Rees-Moggs they were. But they weren’t marked for us. Oh, hang on, looks like they were designated as air freight.’

‘Air freight?’

– ‘That’s right, operated by our aviation division, HeavitJet. And they’ve been shipped to, let’s see . . . Manchester.’

‘Phew. Can you collect them from the airport?’

– ‘Sorry, guv. It’s Manchester, New Hampshire.’

‘You’re telling me the Commons benches have been sent to the United States?’

– ‘Yes, guv, it happens. Paperwork mix-up, you know. Don’t worry. They’ll be back in a few days. And we’ve got plenty of wooden crates we can let you have for sitting on in the meantime.’

‘What about the Speaker’s chair? My chair. It’s big, like a throne.’

– ‘We’ll fix you up with two crates, one on top of the other – problem solved, guv. Anyhow, here’s more stuff off the vans. Let’s see what’s in this box. Looks like a big cushion and a load of dressing gowns.’

‘Oh no! That’s not ours! That’s the Lord Speaker’s woolsack from the House of Lords and their lordships’ robes!’

– ‘Sorry, guvnor. Another mix-up. Never mind, we’re making progress. There’s a big wooden structure coming off the vans now.’

‘That’s the Press Gallery. Can you get it into the new building straight away?’

– ‘Will do. But what about all these blokes typing away on their laptops, guv?’

‘Oh hell, they’re parliamentary sketch writers from the newspapers! That’s John Crace of the Guardian, Quentin Letts of the Times, Henry Deedes of the Mail, Tom Peck of the Independent and Michael Deacon of the Telegraph.’

– ‘Well, guv, they were so engrossed in their writing we couldn’t move them, so we just packed them along with the gallery. Oh, look – the MPs have arrived from the station. I’ll get my lads to check ’em over.’

‘Well?’

‘Well, guv, a few of them are a bit the worse for wear. It was a free bar on the train, apparently. One’s got himself locked in the toilet and another is stuck in a luggage rack.

‘But there’s a bigger problem. The manifest says 649 MPs, but we’ve only counted 639. We’re missing ten, including one Prime Minister and one Leader of the Opposition. They must have wandered off when the train halted at Rugby.

‘Don’t worry, though, guv. You’re covered for lost or misplaced goods under our new-for-old insurance. We’ll get you some replacement MPs as soon as possible.’

‘So I’ve got no ceremonial mace, no benches and not enough MPs. This is a fine way to start a new Parliament.’

– ‘Yes, guv. But think of all those amusing sketches in the papers tomorrow. Anyhow, I don’t suppose you’ll be leaving me and my lads a tip now, will you?’

‘Yes, I’ll give you a tip, Mr Heavit. Look out for the the first Bill in the new session of Parliament, sponsored by myself: The Abolition of Incompetent Removal Firms Act.’

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Weaver Sheridan
Weaver Sheridan is an amateur local historian and wannabe best-selling novelist.

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