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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005, 12:23 GMT
True cost of the 'men in tights'
Hunt protesters invade the Commons
The Serjeant at Arms is responsible for Commons security
The cost of kitting out the new House of Commons Serjeant at Arms came to almost 9,000, it has been disclosed.

New Serjeant Peter Grant Peterkin's uniform includes court dress, morning suit and undress uniform.

The secrets of his wardrobe were revealed following a request under the Freedom of Information Act made by The Times newspaper.

In total, the Commons spent 19,000 in 2004 on uniforms for the Serjeant and his 40 staff, including doorkeepers.

Patent shoes

Deputies and assistants and badge messengers who deliver missives to MPs also require uniforms.

The Times discovered that Savile Row tailors Johns and Pegg were responsible for the Serjeant's new uniform, which cost 8,908.39.

The court dress includes a jacket called a coatee, with a wig bag, lace ruff, frilly lace cuffs, waistcoat, knee breeches, silk stockings, black patent shoes and a gilt fine-blade sword.

The clothes are made of a silk-wool blend cloth known as barathea.

The more regular everyday "undress uniform" includes a black jacket, waistcoat, cashmere striped trousers, a white shirt and black tie.

'Bygone age'

The Serjeant at Arms is responsible for maintaining law and order in and around the Commons, and also performs some administrative duties.

But following the security breach which saw eight pro-hunt protesters storm into the Commons chamber last September, it has been suggested the "antiquated" arrangements should be updated.

Commons leader Peter Hain said "The blunt truth is that the House of Commons is operating as if in a bygone age. "

The Serjeant assists the Speaker and during the speaker's procession walks ahead carrying the Mace.

The Serjeant's sword symbolises authority and power.

When the House is sitting the Serjeant, or Deputy Serjeant, sits in a chair at the Bar of the House.

The Serjeant at Arms in the Lords performs similar ceremonial duties but is far less powerful than his counterpart in the Commons.

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