The purple flour...
19 May 2004
Yes, I was in the Chamber for the purple flour episode, watching the PM handle the fifth of Michael Howard's six allotted questions.
I remember being at a briefing meeting a few weeks ago where I was told that, if a suspect substance was thrown into the Chamber, one might then be locked into the Chamber for four hours while the substance was identified and one was then decontaminated. Looking at the powder, which was some distance away, I calculated that contamination would not have been possible in the two seconds that it took me to reach a decision to leave.
I am fond of my parliamentary colleagues; but not so fond that I wanted to spend an enforced four hours in their company being strip searched. I also had a lunchtime meeting on the NHS.
So I left the building. On my way out, I was stopped. Drat; either I was going to be told to go back. Or I was going to be offered counselling. But it was neither; just a journalist who had missed the incident and wanted to be updated.
But what price that screen that has just been put up at great expesne to protect us from powders?
On a more serious note, I suspect that our Parliament is the only building in the world where, at mid-day every Wednesday when it is sitting, all the key people will be in area the size of a tennis court. Of course it is a target; and of course we will have to review security precautions and of course MP's will have to be more careful about whom we admit to the galleries.
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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015