Parliament suspended to mark the Centenary of the end of the First World War

At 13:45 on 06 November 2018 Parliament was suspended for ninety minutes so that members could attend a service to mark the Centenary of the end of the First World War. I joined with members of both houses and the public at St Margaret’s Church to remember the bravery and sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the First World War.

264 MPs served in the First World War, with 22 of these making the ultimate sacrifice, whilst of the 323 members of the Lords who served, 24 were killed. These figures do not include the many House Staff and Members’ sons who also lost their lives in the fighting. All their lives are honoured by a memorial in Westminster Hall.

The centenary of the conflict is a good time to reflect on how democracy operated in a time of crisis and how the balance between the security and liberties was managed. MPs travelled back and forth from the front line to debate and vote on key legislation in Parliament which shaped the course of the war.

The role that women played in the war must not be forgotten. The Munitions of War Act 1915 facilitated a huge increase in women entering the workplace. This moment also offers the chance to share some of the stories of individual courage, such as that of 2nd Viscountess Rhonnda. Viscountess survived the sinking of the Lusitania and helped to rally women to serve both on the Home Front and in France. She also went on to fight a famous test case in an attempt to take her seat in the House of Lords and was an active champion of women’s suffrage.