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Tobias Ellwood told Parliamentary rules can’t be waived over TA uniform
AN MP was frustrated at being told he could not wear his Territorial Army uniform in Parliament on a day set aside to honour the reserve forces.
Tobias Ellwood wanted to take part in Uniform To Work Day, which encourages employers to support reservists in the run-up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday, June 28.
He was among members who wanted to wear their uniforms when the House of Commons was packed for Prime Minister's Questions.
But the Commons’ Speaker, John Bercow, said long-standing rules barred the wearing of uniforms in the chamber.
Mr Ellwood said the Speaker’s decision was “frustrating”.
“We have an opportunity to wear our uniforms with pride and say we’re reservists but also have a day job. This is happening up and down the country,” he said.
He added: “We were allowed to wear uniform around the building but not inside the chamber.
“It seems a small thing but I think if we’re encouraging employers to support the reservists, which is so important – because we require employers to be tolerant to reservists taking the time off for training or deployment – this day should be marked with pride.”
New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne, who is also in the TA and served in Iraq, said he had taken part in the day “as usual” by wearing uniform around Westminster.
He said he had never questioned the rule that forbids uniform or decorations in the chamber.
The Speaker's response
A statement from the Speaker’s spokesperson said: “The Speaker gave careful consideration to the question of whether the traditional prohibition on military uniforms in the chamber of the House of Commons might be waived for Wear Your Uniform to Work Day and consulted the deputy speakers.
“The Speaker fully recognises the important contribution of reservists to the defence of the realm and the wish to celebrate that contribution, but does not feel that the tradition of centuries should be set aside.
“In the 1939-45 war the rule was waived for MPs on active service – but in 1945 the House quite deliberately resumed its former practice. There are many and complex roots for the tradition.
“MPs are free to wear their uniforms in the precincts and in the division lobbies.”