27 September 2011
The famous green benches of the House of Commons Chamber are often seen on television, as Members of Parliament discuss the big issues of the day. But if you take a tour of the Houses of Parliament and look closely at the furniture and fittings in and around the Commons Chamber, you’ll see engraved the names of countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Pakistan.
After the Chamber was bombed in the Second World War, a number of countries in the British Commonwealth donated gifts to help mark the rebuilding. They did this mainly by paying for materials used to make specific items, or by actually providing the materials and sending them to Britain.
For example, the Speaker’s Chair was a gift of Australia made from their native wood (Australian Black Bean Tree wood).
The Table, which separates the Government from the Opposition on the floor of the House, was made in Canada.
Sitting on opposite sides of the Table are a gift of New Zealand – the despatch boxes, where ministers and shadow ministers stand when they speak in the Chamber.
The entrance doors to the Chamber were gifts of India and Pakistan, and furniture for the voting lobbies made of wood from Uganda and Nigeria.
Other Commonwealth countries contributed to the cost of fitting out the new ministerial offices in the new block. The new Chamber was used for the first time on 26 October 1950.
Posted by Fiona Green, HOP
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