On Monday, 60 Scouts from across the UK visited the House of Commons as guests of their Member of Parliament for a tour of Westminster and a unique glimpse at the private state rooms of the Speaker.
Started in 1985 by the then Speaker of the House of Commons and a big supporter of Scouting, Lord Wetherall, the Speakers Reception has become one of those traditions enjoyed by Scouts of all ages. Each Member of Parliament is asked to invite 2 or 3 Scouts from their constituency, arrange for them to have a tour of Westminster and to all congregate in the Speakers private state rooms for afternoon tea. Thankfully the tradition has been continued by all subsequent speakers including the current Mr Speaker, Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP.
This is also our opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for the support the Movement receives from MP’s. In saying a few words of thanks to Deputy Madam Speaker Sylvia Heal, I took the opportunity to express our appreciation for their support particularly in respect of the ‘Stop the Rain Tax’ campaign as well as the more discreet support that many MP’s give to local Scout groups within their constituencies and for which they do not always seek recognition.
Naturally, we also laid down a challenge for them to continue this support particularly in ensuring that the Vetting and Barring Scheme is practical for us to implement, the Equalities Bill and as they each finalise their manifestos, ensuring that support for adult volunteering as well as active citizenship which Scouting is keen to encourage for its young people, are at the centre of their proposals. There is, as they say, no such thing as a free lunch or in this case afternoon tea!
It was particularly good to see an excellent contingent of 28 Scouts from Cheshire making the journey to London for the day. This is as a result of very active engagement by the Scout County with all Members of Parliament with constituencies within their County to ensure that Scouting enjoys their full support. Clearly with such a contingent, they have been very successful and you may wish to enquire of them as to how this has been achieved.
A great day had by all and one of those traditions we should be keen to preserve.