The first recorded Clerk of the House of Commons was Robert de Melton in 1363. We don’t have any records that go back that far, but to mark the occasion our excellent Archives team have produced a display of other historic documents about the role of Clerks over the centuries, which is on the Parliament website.
Last Wednesday morning I appeared on the Today programme on Radio 4, interviewed by Jim Naughtie in the atmospheric setting of Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Parliamentary Estate. It was a great opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and, I hope, to encourage them to find out more about Parliament and the work we all do here.
I was also interviewed by Civil Service World magazine where I talked about my day to day role and how the job has changed over time.
On Wednesday at lunchtime I was “in conversation” with Sir George Young, the Government Chief Whip, in front of an audience in the Robing Room in the House of Lords. George has been a much respected MP since 1974 and has held a wide range of Ministerial offices. He was a most civilised inquisitor, and I am very grateful to him for a most enjoyable occasion.
But the highlight of last week for me was the launch of the Clerk’s Apprentices Scheme. Ten young people from under-represented groups, who may never previously have thought of a career in Parliament, have joined House of Commons Service for a year to work and study for NVQs. They will be working in Departments right across the House Service in such varied roles as select committees, outreach, education, media and communications and finance.
As the House Service’s Diversity Champion I want to make Parliament a more open and inclusive workplace that better reflects the people we serve, and this scheme is one way in which we can make the House more open and accessible. I was so impressed by the Apprentices’ enthusiasm and commitment; and I hope they enjoy their time here, and that for many of them this marks the start of a long and successful career in the House.
The Apprentices’ initiative was set up as part of the Evening Standard’s Ladder for London campaign, and is being run by the House of Commons and the charity City Gateway – see the article featured in the Evening Standard for more details of our involvement.
I’d also like to thank the Diversity and Inclusion team, especially Jo Fletcher, for all their work establishing this scheme. This was a brilliant achievement which they should all be very proud of.
Altogether, this week was an opportunity to reflect on past centuries, but even more to look to the future with confidence – for so many reasons.