Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the House of Commons to attend the South Asia and Middle East (SAME) Forum, hosted by chairman Khalid Nadeem, who kindly invited me.

As you enter the House of Commons, you come through St Stephen’s Hall, which is incredibly impressive, with some fascinating stories to tell.

One such story is revealed in the gold plaque which pays tribute to Miss Marjory Hummes, who chained herself to the statue of Viscount Falkland as a demonstration in support of women’s suffrage, which actually caused part of the statue’s boot to snap off.

Another of St Stephen’s Hall’s fascinating stories is that it is where the House of Commons sat until it was destroyed by the fire of 1834.  What stands there today is very similar to the former.  The brass studs (pictured above) are apparently where the Speaker’s Chair and the Table of the House were before.

As you pass through St Stephen’s Hall, you reach the Central Lobby, which is equally as impressive, but unfortunately you are not allowed to take any photos. 

This particular Middle East Forum session explored the current state of affairs and the future of Afghanistan.  The list of guest speakers included : Ivan Lewis MP, Jim Shannon MP, BBC World Service Journalist Sana Safi, US Analyst Johnathan Paris, Afghan writer Dr Nasir Shansab, South Asia Analyst Mrs Victoria Schofield, former Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner and Rt Hon Lord Alf Dubs drew.

The event itself gave a fascinating insight from several different perspectives.  You can read more about the details of what was discussed during the event here.

Before leaving, I managed to take a quick look at the House of Commons in session, from the Public Viewing Gallery. 

To learn more about the South Asia and Middle East forum, check out their website where detailed information about the sessions is available.  To learn more about the Houses of Parliament, click here.

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