Parliament Grows Two New Flagpoles
To say that I was astonished by this article on the BBC would be something of an understatement.
Three union flags - rather than the current one - are to be flown above Parliament in future.
Commons Speaker John Bercow said the flags would also be used all year round, rather than just on days when Parliament sits, as happens now.
This brings the Palace of Westminster into line with Whitehall departments.
The moves follow a campaign by Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, praised by Mr Bercow for showing "tenacity reminiscent of a Staffordshire bull terrier".
Currently one union flag is flown from the Victoria Tower of the Palace of Westminster, but not the building's other two flagpoles.
It had occured to me previously that England must be the only nation on earth that doesn't have its national flag flying over the parliament that governs it. With this in mind I wrote to the Black Rod's Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to ask whether the Cross of St George could be flown over Parliament on St George's Day.
This is the reply I received back in 2004 from a Mr Laurence Street at the DCMS:
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport issues guidance to all Government Departments on the days for flying the Union Flag. These include State Opening of Parliament, Remembrance Day and the Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family. On St George’s Day all Government Buildings in England that have more than one flag pole, are instructed to fly the Flag of St George alongside the Union Flag, provided the Union Flag is flown in a superior position.
The Houses of Parliament only has one flagpole, therefore the Union Flag is the only flag flown on the appointed flag flying days. Additionally it is not considered appropriate to fly the St George’s Flag on the Houses of Parliament as the UK Parliament is responsible for issues that affect the entire UK and of course is made up of MPs representing constituencies from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as England.
In Scotland, the Union Flag is flown in the superior position on all Government buildings on the appointed days for flag flying, with the Scottish National Flag, the Saltire being flown on buildings with two or more flag poles. The only exception is St Andrew’s Day, when on buildings with multiple flagpoles the Saltire is flown in the superior position to the Union Flag.
That was fairly unequivocal: "The Houses of Parliament only has one flagpole".
Later I was contacted by Sir Paul Beresford, Black Rods Office, House of Lords, who informed me that Parliament had not flown the English flag on St George's Day:
No, the St George Cross was definitely not flown above Parliament on St George’s Day this year. It could have been if we had two flagpoles, we don’t however and the instruction was only to fly the Union Flag on that day.
One of my colleagues in the Campaign for an English Parliament received the following information from the same Laurence Street:
On St George's Day all Government Buildings in England that have more than one flag pole, are instructed to fly the Flag of St George alongside the Union Flag, provided the Union Flag is flown in a superior position.
The Houses of Parliament has only one flag pole, therefore the Union Flag is the only flag flown on the appointed flag flying days. In certain circumstances the Flag of St George can be flow under the Union Flag with a gap of about 30 cm, however this is not recommended and the House authorities do not consider it appropriate on the Houses of Parliament.
And this from David Lammy at the DCMS in the following year, 2005:
On St George's Day the St George's flag is flown on all Government Buildings in England that have more than one flag pole. This is along side the Union flag, with the Union flag in a superior position. The St George's flag is not flown on the Houses of Parliament as it is a Royal Palace and therefore only flies the Union flag and the Royal Standard in line with other Palaces. The Houses of Parliament only has one flagpole, therefore the Union flag is the only flag flown on the appointed flag flying days.
Again, fairly unequivocal: "The Houses of Parliament only has one flagpole".
Funny that Parliament now has three flagpoles, soon all to be flying the Union flag.
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I am writing in response to your post "Parliament Grows Two New Flagpoles", made on 18 January. I have made some research, and I have reached the conclusion that the BBC article in question is
Many moons ago when the CEP blog was called “Who Do You Think You’re Kidding Mr Prescott”, several of you participated in a campaign to have the Cross of St George flown above Parliament on St George’s Day. Does anyone remember ...