On 22 January, by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, UK Parliament hosted a special event to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the parliament called by Simon De Montfort, which met from January to mid-March 1265.
40 members from both Houses of Parliament, representing the whole of the UK, as well as their respective representatives from the UK Youth Parliament were present.
The Montfort parliament was the first time that representatives of both towns and shires were summoned simultaneously to discuss matters of national concern, something which ultimately paved the way for the emergence of the House of Commons. The towns and counties were once again summoned to Westminster Abbey Chapter House, where they met together for the first time for the Montfort parliament.
The Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who said:”Over the past eight centuries the public and their Parliament have shaped society and changed the way we live our lives. The Montfort and Magna Carta anniversaries which we will commemorate in 2015, provide the perfect opportunity to remember the beginning of the UK’s journey to the rights and representation we enjoy today. This ‘re-summoning’ reminds us how far we have come, and that we need to continue to work together to shape our society for future generations.”
The Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza, said:”This symbolic ‘re-summoning’ of the shires and towns brings the story of Simon de Montfort and his 1265 Parliament to life, recognising the emergence of Parliament and local representation. Like the House of Commons, the Lords has Members from every part of the UK. We also have Members with experience and expertise in virtually every area of public policy. I hope celebrating anniversaries like this and highlighting the role Parliament has played and continues to play in the history of our nation will encourage people to find out more, and get involved in the important work that goes on in both Houses throughout the year.”
Dunja Relic, Member of UK Youth Parliament for Hounslow, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be here today not only celebrate Britain’s democratic heritage but to represent the role of its latest development within it – the UK Youth Parliament. It is wonderful to join young people from all over the country who are here to mark such an important date in our history and appreciate its legacy – a democracy which not only chooses our Government but holds it accountable. The UK Youth Parliament follows in that tradition and our work not only holds the Government to account but introduces those values to the next generation of young leaders. Consequently we have the freedom and right to express our views and let our voices be heard whatever our gender, ethnicity or background.”
Video featuring an interview with Professor David Carpenter in the Westminster Abbey Chapter House explaining the connection between Magna Carta, Simon de Montfort and how this laid the foundations of our modern Parliament.
The event was followed by a Special Evensong, which was open to the public, in Westminster Abbey at which the Speakers laid wreaths at the Montfort shield commemorating the pioneers of parliamentary democracy and those who campaigned for the rights and representation that we enjoy today.