BURTON’S MP has secured himself a place in the parliamentary history books by helping appoint one of its top
officials. Andrew Griffiths achieved the honour by becoming one of the first MPs picked by the Speaker of the House of Commons,John Bercow, to help choose the chamber’s new Serjeant at Arms, the official responsible for security and order.
The two Tories, assisted by Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson, MP for East Dunbartonshire and parliamentary private secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and LabourMP Sharon Hodgson, who represents Washington and Sunderland West, unanimously decided that Lawrence Ward should succeed Jill Pay.
“He is a working class, approachable and very likeable person, and we were all of the view he was an excellent candidate,” said Mr Griffiths. “He was chosen because not only has he got a fantastic track record as one of the Deputy Serjeant at Arms, but he also showed a determination not only to
uphold the traditions in Parliament but also to modernise the practices to make itmore effective and also more open and transparent to the public. “Critically, he demonstrated a great understanding of the security challenges that Parliament faces and how to deal with those in the current climate we find ourselves in.”
Mr Griffiths said he was ‘delighted’ to have been among the first MPs to choose a Serjeant at Arms since the position was created in the 1600s. His task was important, given the role’s holder is, according to the Tory, the most important official for MPs after the Speaker and one who welcomes visiting presidents and heads of state. The Serjeant at Arms is also responsible for carrying the mace into the Commons
before each session and is the only figure permitted to carry a sword in the chamber.
Despite the challenge, Mr Griffiths and his colleagues whittled down more than 80 candidates, including those with impressive military backgrounds, such as majors and squadron leaders, as well as police constables. Mr Ward did not have long to wait before he was thrown in at the deep end, marking his first official function by welcoming the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to last week’s State opening of Parliament.