Holbeach peer plays vital role amidst chaos of terrorist attack

A security cordon in place outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, after a terrorist attack which has so far claimed the lives of four people.  Photo supplied by SWNS News Agency.
A security cordon in place outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, after a terrorist attack which has so far claimed the lives of four people. Photo supplied by SWNS News Agency.
  • Lord Taylor ‘pleased’ to be home after day of death in London
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A leading figure in the Government from Holbeach has relived the part he played as a terrorist attack took place in London.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach was with a parliamentary colleague when it emerged that Khalid Massod had fatally stabbed a police officer outside the House of Commons.

Four people died at the hands of Masood who was shot dead by armed police after he had killed PC Keith Palmer and drove a car at a crowd of people on the pavement of Westminster Bridge on Wednesday.

Lord Taylor, chief whip in the House of Lords where his main role is to look after the welfare of other members, said: “I was talking to a colleague in my office about something entirely different when I heard a general hubbub, pistol shots and police whistles outside.

“I didn’t think anything of it particularly until we were joined by all the people responsible for running the Houses of Parliament when we learned that most of the staff had been moved out of the building.

“When it became apparent that there had been a fatality and it had been a terrorist attack, we stayed at the Palace of Westminster to act as the point of contact for people who had been evacuated to Westminster Abbey.”

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, The Government's Chief Whip in the House of Lords.  Photo: SG100512-227NG.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, The Government's Chief Whip in the House of Lords. Photo: SG100512-227NG.

Lord Taylor and other parliamentary staff spent more than six hours keeping other members of both the House of Commons and Lords up to date as the tragic events unfolded.

He said: “Trying to keep ourselves informed about what was happened proved to be quite important because we were trying to feed this information back to the staff who had been evacuated.

“We were acting in a sort of liaison role and didn’t actually leave the House of Lords until 9.30pm when we were all tired and exhausted.

“Everybody had done their bit and what was really gratifying was that, on Thursday, we met at 11am and had a minute’s silence when the Archbishop of Canterbury joined us in expressing our distress at what had happened.”

When it became apparent that there had been a terrorist attack, we stayed at the Palace of Westminster to act as the point of contact for people who had been evacuated to Westminster Abbey

Lord Taylor of Holbeach

Lord Taylor confirmed that security was being reviewed but he stressed that “the UK Parliament is kept open to everybody”.

He also described “the psychology difficulty” after Wednesday’s attack having been in Brighton when the Provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army) carried out its bombing at the 1984 Conservative Party Conference.

Lord Taylor said: “Myself and Lady Taylor were both obviously pleased to get home and sleep in our own beds as there’s nothing like being back at home in Holbeach after having been through something like this.

“But our thoughts are with all those people who were going about their business and whose lives will never be the same again as a result of what has happened.”

• The leader of South Holland District Council has expressed his sympathy for those killed and injured in the terrorist attack at Westminster.

Coun Gary Porter, who has been a peer (or member of the House of Lords) since November 2015, was in London for meetings as part of his role as chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) when the attack took place.

He said: “I was supposed to be at the House of Lords when it all unfolded.

“But I had an unexpected issue to deal with at the LGA offices in north London which meant that I was running about 45 minutes late in leaving to get back to Westminster.

“It’s a tragedy to hear what’s happened and my heart goes out to those people who have died or been injured.

“But I know that what happened on Wednesday won’t change the way London operates or the way people who go there will enjoy what the city has to offer.”

Meanwhile, a message posted on social media by Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman who represents Kirton, Sutterton and Swineshead, said: “I was one of hundreds of MPs locked in the chamber of the House of Commons for our own safety.

“My staff were similarly held in their office while police, knowing that a colleague had just been murdered, secured the building.

“The officers and staff who work around Westminster deserve the thanks not just of MPs, but of all our constituents too as they protect people, as much as democracy itself.

“Individually, we are all safe but a tiny number pay the ultimate price.”

• South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes has branded the man behind Wednesday’s terrorist attack as a “fanatical person”.

Mr Hayes, who was Security Minister in former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Government, was visiting a factory to Coventry where electric taxis are made when the attack happened.

He said: The threat level in this country is severe and that means an attack is very likely so you can’t say it was a surprise.

“But it was a dreadful shock that the place where I work happened to be the target of it.

“I was quite fortunate in that I wasn’t in and around Westminster, as I normally am, when it happened.

“But I think it really hits home hard when you see people who you know, colleagues and friends, have their normal lives disturbed by one fanatical person. What I conclude from it is that our lives and our normality are really quite fragile.”

Mr Hayes, now a Transport Minister in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government, pledged that the security services were doing everything possible to prevent such attacks.

He said: “Obviously, I don’t want to comment too much on the details of the investigation because that would be inappropriate.

“But we have to understand that these people are enemies of democracy and it’s only through the efforts of the security services that many more people aren’t injured or killed.

“With my knowledge as a former Security Minister, they are working every day to stop these kinds of attacks from happening. But it only takes one person to reap untold damage.”

• Since the attacks in London last week, security measures have been tightened locally where events are held that involve people in military dress.

The Lincolnshire Free Press understands that events that include groups such as Air Cadets’ corps appearing in public cannot be advertised by a specific day, date, time or place in advance.