'We need you': Speaker of the House wants more veterans employed in Parliament

The Speaker of the House of Commons has called for more military veterans to work at the Palace of Westminster.

In an exclusive interview with Forces News, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who is an Honorary Colonel, said there is a range of jobs available and he wants the number of ex-forces personnel working in Parliament to return to the levels seen many years ago.

Whether it’s as parliamentary security, doorkeepers, chefs, engineers or maintenance workers, Mr Speaker said: "The House of Commons represents the United Kingdom, but of course we’ve people who’ve served in our armed forces, not only the bravery that they’ve served for their country, it’s also the importance of the skills they’ve got and we should be recruiting those skills."

Years ago the number of veterans working in Parliament was much higher. So why have levels dropped?

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: "I think somewhere along the way we’ve probably lost people who used to say: 'Have you ever thought about the Commons?' It’s that engagement that takes place, it’s been lost."

His Deputy Chief of Staff is a former Lieutenant Colonel from 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.

Scott Awad has to make sure the Speaker is ready to arrive in the House of Commons chamber on time and then assist him on when to call MPs who wish to speak.

He has had to memorise the names of all 650 MPs and said parliament is "much smaller than you might expect".

"When it's full it’s really quite a claustrophobic and intimidating environment and especially when you're stood next to the Speaker and he's relying on you to be able to understand what order he should be calling people in and help him spot," he said.

"He is trying to keep order and he needs to rely on us… there is a calmness under pressure from operations, exercises, 21 years in the military, so there is a calmness under pressure he enjoys."

Al Gage is Deputy Operations Manager, Deployable and Reactive Team in Parliamentary Security.

He is a former Sergeant in 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment and said: "Why do I think this place is suitable for ex-military? It’s because you never know what’s coming - it’s a constantly changing environment.

"It’s a real eye-opener when you come here but to be able to continue to serve in some capacity is what I really enjoy about it."

Matt Hay is a Senior Doorkeeper in the House of Commons and was a platoon Sergeant in 1st Battalion Scots Guards.

He said: "The main role is security, to make sure there is no interrupted process inside the chamber and to make sure no one other than accredited personnel will go inside the chamber."

Sir Lindsay Hoyle in his role as the Speaker of the House of Commons (Picture: Parliament TV).
Sir Lindsay Hoyle in his role as the Speaker of the House of Commons (Picture: Parliament TV).

There are of course many MPs who are former service personnel, including Sarah Atherton who is the Member of Parliament for Wrexham.

She worked in the Intelligence Corps and said the Speaker’s initiative is "absolutely great".

She added: "We’ve had veterans and ex-military personnel working here for many years now but I’d really like to see those numbers going up."

The veterans in parliament that spoke to Forces News described how daunting and challenging it can be to begin the process of leaving the military after many years and they offered advice for anyone in that position - which you can watch below.

Watch: Veterans offer tips to military leavers.

There is strong competition for jobs at the most powerful place in the land, according to the man who does the interviews.

Ross Carlin, Deputy Principal Doorkeeper in the House of Commons, said: "For our recent application there were around about 100 submitted online, that was whittled down to 30 and then to 10 to interview for two posts."

Sir Lindsay Hoyle is a big supporter of the military and pushed Parliament to sign the Military Covenant when he realised it hadn’t already been done.

His message to veterans is clear: "You’ve served your country, why shouldn’t we be giving you that second career as well?

"And I’ve got to say we need you, so please, don’t overlook the Houses of Parliament.

"We want you to be part of it, you could be part of our future…we also want to say thank you for serving your country."