I continue to be fascinated by some of the search-engine terms that result in people being directed to this site. Among recent terms are ‘puzzling questions in the bible’ and ‘men’s massage parlour + cochin’!
Other terms are more straightforward and raise queries that are clearly relevant to the Lords and, more generally, Parliament. One recent one was ‘Are MPs’ salaries taxable?’ (The answer is yes.) Another was ‘death in the House of Lords’. I thought I would comment on this as it relates to a distinctive feature of the Lords and, indeed, the Palace of Westminster.
On paper, the Palace of Westminster rates as among the safest places for staying alive. Formally, no one ever dies in the Palace. Because it is a royal palace and, apparently, the royal coroner has to be present to certify a death, no one is certfied as having died there. Rather, if anyone collapses and dies, they are certified as dead on arrival (DOA) at hospital.
In reality, people do die in the Palace. Some peers have collapsed and died in the chamber – one a few years ago immediately after speaking – as have some MPs. One minister in the Commons was answering a question at the dispatch box when he collapsed. Fortunately, there are several parliamentarians who are doctors and their presence can help save lives. Defibrillators are also now available and staff are trained in first aid. In a recent debate on the Embryology ad Human Fertilisation Bill, a senior member, Lord Brennan, collapsed shortly after he had spoken and his heart stopped. If you are going to collapse, the best place to do it is in the House of Lords when it is debating a medical issue. Within seconds, he was being attended by five doctors, including the minister Lord Darzi, one of the country’s leading surgeons. Lord Brennan has been able to make a full recovery. Had he collapsed in the street, he would be dead. There are some clear advantages to being in the House!