Thursday, 12 June 2008

Postcard from Black Rod

Lt General Sir Michael Willcocks KCB, Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, will probably not be holidaying in Wales this year.

Sir Michael, the man in charge of security in the House of Lords, was rather dismissive of Wales's ability to attract tourists when he appeared before a Lords committee yesterday.

Black Rod was making the case for a special exclusion zone to be set up around Westminster. Parliament Square welcomes 34 million visitors a year, one million of whom visit Parliament itself.

Tory peer Lord Norton suggested that the number of visitors to the National Assembly for Wales was not that much lower.

Black Rod replied scornfully: "Thirty four million tourists as well? To Wales?!" [chuckle]

So why does Parliament merit special protection?

"It is a unique position, a very small area with literally millions of people onto which you then put the scale of demonstrations and I don't think any council building in the north of England has had half a million people marching past it for rural rights and things so I do think we are a very special a) position b) insititution and c) circumstances around us."

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