The British Parliament through the eyes of the servants

UK — a strange collection of characters of a long-vanished Empire. So it seems to many observers from the outside. The Queen, peers, judges in wigs, ravens of the tower... However, domestically, the characters are all satisfied. And while some continue to "serve" the lords, others anxious to serve them.

In the British Parliament building to go was surprisingly easy. At the service entrance in the Palace of Westminster I printed out a badge with photo and indicating the time of entrance. Name and surname did not ask, writes to invite me Daniel Laurent, a 32-year-old Frenchman working in the personnel expenditure of the Parliament for the fourth year.


We are located on the River terrace restaurant overlooking the Thames. The restaurant belongs to the wing of the house of lords, and it is not allowed to ordinary tourists, and not every member of Parliament can be here — and the chairs are shiny metal plate with the inscription: Peers Only for peers").

— I never thought I'd work in the Palace of Westminster. I have five years worked in London as a Manager in pubs, was a supervisor in the restaurant. Received a lot, but the extra money never hinder: live in London is expensive. One day, looking through ads on employment, found a job in the house of lords. It's rare here, few leaves. It is believed that there is a stable job in the country: any firm may close, and the Parliament — never. And I decided to try it.

From the terrace you have views of the symbols of the British capital: Ferris wheel London eye, St Thomas ' hospital, Westminster bridge over which the moving red double-Decker buses.

For working here history of the metropolis. And despite the fact that to serve in Parliament, mostly foreigners, " says Daniel, Algerians, Italians, Nigerians, Russians and so on. Sometimes on a work visa, but most resident someone married well, someone came to study and stayed. But the British parliamentary staff is very little, except that among managers, the majority of them, below the ladder they stand disagree.

To get the service of the Parliament, it is necessary to work in the UK for five years and have a guarantor among managers. Daniel vouched for his friend Alfie from the house of Commons. After interviewing the security service for four months, studied the biography and contacts of the candidate. Daniel was adopted under the contract to the position of the 0-Hours ("zero hours"), allowing to serve in any Department where it takes people on an hourly basis.

I was unreal happy: I will work side by side with peers of England!


Each employee of the Parliament has its own level — the grade (A to I).Low — I, which even do not have perfect knowledge of the language. But the higher the level, the greater demands and wider benefits. Grade increases for qualifications or length of service every five years. For the extraordinary transition to a new level it is necessary to pass examinations, including language examinations. In the house of lords always meet and, if necessary, provide a teacher who will teach language or specialty to successfully pass the exam.

Permanent employees of the Parliament of the day must work out the appropriate number of hours and fixed each in a certain place: reading room, guest room, restaurant, conference rooms, warehouse, permits office, Department of conservation, office cleaning and so on. Removing the same hall or preparing the particular tea is Lord, to serve until retirement, never having changed "base". Workers such as Daniel, in the position of "zero hours" in the Parliament only five percent. Contractors move between departments, substituting for sick colleagues in any of them, or performing work that requires additional staff.

— My first work place was the kitchen: issued shockproof shoes (suddenly a plate dropped on your foot!) and sent to wash the dishes aristocracy." There I witnessed a quarrel of two dishwashers. One worked for five years and the second twenty. And younger were outraged that all these five years she just puts the dishes on the shelf, and would like to wash. Just before the fight never came. In this important work, I was short. Soon I was entrusted to carry to the lords of the tea, " Daniel thinks, and continues. Yes, you can feel important, even serving tea. Seem to do minor work, but poorly brewed tea can spoil the mood of the Lord, and imagine what law he will.

— Peers serve very interesting to attend their meetings, listen to how to make the political weather, learn the finer points of the law, or financial transactions. However, these meetings can arrange a test. Suppose I served the Lord, he drank tea and left the office, and remained on the table paper. I picked them up and took it to his office. And would have been delayed a bit — would you read or, worse, copied. I would be thanked for their cooperation and calculated. There will never criticize: say thank you and dismissed.

Daniel's day starts at 4:30 in the morning. He needs to open all living areas, spread out towels for bartenders, check clean uniform, open the cashier in the gift shop, and perform many other small work before to do the main job. To the arrival in the house of lords should all be ready.


To know the lords in the corridors of Parliament is not easy. When there are meetings, they are dressed in a simple braid play and look like ordinary businessmen.

— All have * badges, " explains Daniel. — The lords across the card three red diagonal lines, the Ministers of the green. The employees — one line, and its color indicates the home service: house of lords — the red bar, the house of Commons is green. There are more techniques, for example electricians or programmers, they have a yellow stripe. The contractors performing the work, independent from the parliamentary wing stripe gray. There is a clear separation, where anyone can walk. For example, contractors are not supposed to be on the floor Peers only. Or there are several stairs, which for all time of existence of this building saw the lords and cleaners.

In the British Parliament you can always tell whose territory you're in. Carpet, upholstery, chairs, lines on the floor in two different parts of the building: red — the color of the house of lords, green for the house of Commons. The difference is not only in color but in atmosphere and attitude of the staff, which surprised Daniel when he first started.

— In the house of Commons a strict hierarchy, as in many solid companies. The person performs the work for the agreed salary. If you're a waiter, only the waiter. Got paid and no thank you. In the house of lords, not so, Lord may come, to ask, how's it going, encourage. Happened: I finished work, got changed and go to the exit. To meet the Lord, whom I served in the morning. "Oh," said, " how glad I am to see you. Come to me on reception!" Well, I came as a guest. It is very stimulating.

People who worked in the house of lords until retirement, receives an additional prize of 25,000 pounds.

— My friend Kim, the bartender is originally from Africa, has worked in Parliament for 25 years. During vacations, he always goes to his native village, and there he was greeted as a king, only an important person can work in the British Parliament. Kim says that as soon as you be given a pension award, he will go home and live there like a millionaire. In our work, the good thing is that no matter what part of the world you live, citizen of whatever country may be, you are guaranteed to receive a parliamentary pension.

Each chamber has its own personnel Department and the accounting Department, each with its own system of relations with the employer and wages. The salaries of the staff in the house of Commons is calculated from taxpayers, and in the house of lords — from the personal budget peers. At the end of the year, the Lord writes the check, the amount is distributed between the staff departments as quarterly premiums.

— I the first time worked so hard, became the best employee of the year. It's like "McDonald's". Except that the picture on the wall of fame did not hang, but the local newspaper printed. I was pleasantly surprised when I received the award from different departments from different lords. As an employee of Parliament Daniel can bring up to six guests, for whom warrants. As an employee of the house of lords has the right to treat them in the River restaurant "parliamentary wine and even dinner. The staff of the house of Commons can come to this restaurant only after hours as ordinary guests.


River restaurant overlooking the river Thames, the interior is more reminiscent of the Soviet canteen is self-service and order it more than affordable. At one table, you can see the dinner of Lord and drinking tea cleaner. The menu always has dishes for vegetarians and vegans, but the main feature — there is no value added tax. So lunch here two times cheaper than the average for London, but food can only be ordered by those who work in Parliament.

While we were drinking wine on the terrace and enjoyed walking along the Thames ferries, we were joined by Alfie, one of the leading managers of the house of Commons. Alfie is an Englishman, working in Parliament for 10 years, has a grade B. On the badge above the photo strips half red, half green. This means that now Alfie is doing some work for the house of lords and therefore can be on the terrace River restaurant. And then I witnessed a hot dispute between employees of different wards about where the working conditions better.

— In the house of Commons you are not perceived as a person with dreams and thoughts kept repeating to Daniel in response to caustic comments Alfie about the power of the lords.

— Only as a machine for feeding and cleaning — stuff only.

— But you were hired to do this, Alfie was unfazed.

But in the house of lords permanent waste budget. In the year for two million pounds just for the catering. What? In an expensive hotel, the quality of work is higher than yours. And yet you keep people on the contract, because for the hour you have to pay to 8.60 lbs. And in the house of Commons the unions has ensured that all employees were in the state, and as a result they are paid a minimum of £ 15 per hour.

— Who can I be on your staff? Master dry cleaning from six in the morning till six in the evening? And here I'll decide what to do. We have more freedom — do not give up Daniel.

— I can walk on your part of the Parliament, and you are our — no.

— So why, tell my staff to go to the territory of the house of lords, if the territory of the house of Commons occupies 60% of the building? When Alfie leaves, Daniel says good-naturedly, but a vengeful one — And still only servants of the house of lords shines a personal invitation to the prom from the Queen...


— When someone retires, " says Daniel — seniority sent him an invitation for the next Royal ball as a guest. On this day, as you would equate to the lords. They say that when you see all these gilded carriages, huge rooms, in which you first carried the champagne, Her Majesty at arm's length, you've a wonderful sense of communion to something great. ... However the ball can not go, and then you will be given a compensation of 200 pounds. But hardly anyone uses it. People cherish these privileges. And love to work in the Parliament is different. We have one Babushkinskaya serves as a cleaner for 30 years. Once at the opening of the regular session hours when she was on duty at the entrance, met the coach and finally had a picture taken with some lady. Then long all showed the. Proud of terrible. And some are just obsessed with work: when intrigue, knock or towels that feel as if it's gold bars. Can report to the authorities that you went for lunch 10 minutes before the allotted time. In short, as in any office.

About all the intricacies of service in Parliament, workers immediately not warned. Perhaps, as Daniel thinks, a complete list of prohibitions and rules nobody knows. For example, in one of the rooms has a private bathroom Queen. The door disguised as a wall panel, and behind it the usual toilet, maybe just Her Royal Highness. Violation of this rule is equivalent to treason and is punishable by a prison term of five years. This is probably only a legend. Himself Daniel "made a mistake" only once, early in his career. When he, a lover of books, first appeared in the hallway of the wing of lords, without hesitation he opened one of the glass library cabinets built along the walls, and pulled out a folio of the eighteenth century. Ascended the guard politely explained that the books in these cabinets — the property of lords, and for employees there is a parliamentary library, which upon request can be accessed. "Crime", fortunately, does not entail punishment

. — To make a slip in easily. But I have studied the local rules and, moreover, I feel in love with this building and its history. I just didn't want to work here until retirement, "admits Danielle," but every year to go is getting harder: Parliament tightens. Stability, perks like season tickets to the gym, kindergarten or social card. I recently spoke with the driver of one Minister, who drives a Jaguar. So the driver said that the work is excellent, the salary is high, car is a beast, but its future depends on which party wins the election. Employees of the house of lords this can not happen. The power is changing, we remain.


Forever live the Rules of conduct in the British Parliament over the centuries. Many traditions have no meaning, but not officially canceled. In the Parliament it is forbidden to say words that may offend other members of Parliament, not to insinuate or openly state that another member of Parliament drunk or lying. The list of forbidden expressions is periodically updated during a session of Parliament. It includes words like "coward," "liar," "bully," "the libertine", "rat", "bastard", "homeless", "pig", "rat", "traitor". If the word is spoken, it will ask you to take back, otherwise punished, or the removal from meetings.

In the territory Parliament banned the duel.

On the territory of the Parliament are not allowed to die: those who suffered a sad fate, transported to the hospital of St. Thomas, located nearby, and is only there to register the death.

The only permitted on — site tobacco- snuff, and only for members of the house of Commons.

In the Parliament are forbidden to enter in knightly armor.

Members of the house of Commons is not to touch the statue of Churchill standing at the entrance to the meeting room.

The Parliament is not allowed with whistles and padlocks.

The meeting of the lower house begins with prayer: all members pray standing, facing the wall.

Tradition has come from the days when the Parliament was decided to carry swords, and a sword at the waist to kneel down hard.

In Parliament you can't wear medals or other insignia showing favor or gratitude of the monarch.

After the meeting, a police officer enters the building and yells: "Who goes home?" A tradition has arisen because members of Parliament had to get home on poorly lit streets.

Leaving the hall, the members of the lower house are bowing to the speaker. This tradition began when the house of Commons met in St. Stephen's chapel and the speaker was sitting near the altar (facing bowed to the altar).

During his address to the speaker the parliamentarian-a man should be in the hat.





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