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  The MiP files: Christmas at the Commons!
Updated 24 December 2002, 09.25

What's parliament all about?

We wanted to know, so we recruited a man on the inside to provide us with exclusive info and secret goss every Tuesday.

You can also ask him questions and get him to track down your MP. Go to the bottom of the page for how.

Happy Christmas from the House of Commons!

This photograph is on the front of the Christmas cards politicians have been sending out this year.

So I thought you ought to get to see it too.

All the MPs have cleared off now for a bit of a break.

But they'll still be thinking about really important matters and crucial decisions.

Like whether they prefer Girls Aloud or One True Voice.

Truth is, the really good MPs will be working hard even during the holidays.

For them, it's a chance to spend time in their constituencies talking to the people who elect them.

But I expect they'll also find a bit of time for some turkey and Christmas pud!

In the 1600s, Christmas was banned for a while by an Act of Parliament.

That was when the royal family was overthrown by a man called Oliver Cromwell.

The royal family returned a few years later though - and lifted the ban.

There were big queues at the House of Commons shop last week as MPs did some last minute Christmas shopping.

You can get all sorts of things in there - biscuits, drinks, jam, soap: not the sort of stuff I'm hoping for on Christmas Day, to be honest.

And things were getting quite heated as the queue got longer and longer!

A group of dads dressed as Father Christmas turned up in Westminster last week.

They want more rights for fathers in court cases about their kids - so thought they'd get their point across by dressing up.

The real Father Christmas was not available for comment.

Anna, 11, from Wakefield, has some questions about the House of Commons.

Do they have fire drills, she asks? And what about the carpet - what colour is it, how often does it get vacuumed and when did they last get a new one?

Well, the carpet in the Commons is green, Anna - but if you look carefully there are also red lines separating the two sides.

That goes back to the days when MPs carried swords - and the lines are two sword lengths apart.

In other words, it was a way of trying to stop fights breaking out!

My friends who provide info on parliament tell me the carpet gets a clean every day, and was last replaced about 10 years ago.

As for fire drills, they make sure all is in working order - and the politicians know where to go in an emergency - on a regular basis.

It's been worked out that last year, more than 34 million Christmas cards were recycled, along with more than a million Christmas trees.

Seems like that's a good point for me to say: have a very happy holiday!

Each week our MiP will give you the chance to have your MP identified.

Just send us your name and postcode using the boxes at the bottom and he'll do the rest.

This week, Katy, 11, from Lewisham, south-east London gets her MP identified.

Joan Ruddock
Where are you from?
Originally from South Wales, I came to London to go to college
School nickname:
I didn't have a nickname at school though people might have given me one behind my back.

Greatest achievement:
Becoming the first full time minister for women, which started a process inside government that gave a boost to getting more equality for women.
I am inspired by other women campaigners - too numerous to list.
Last movie I saw:
Gosford Park.
Football team:
I am not a keen follower of football but I go occasionally to Millwall as the new Den is in my constituency.
MP I admire:
I admire quite a few of my colleagues but someone special is Oona King, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in London.
Were you interested in politics as a child?
I got interested in politics when I was your age but it was a long time before I decided to be a full time politician.
Why does politics matter?
Politics matters to me because I care about how people live.
What one thing would you change tomorrow?
I would like to end poverty - but that is not something any one politician could do.


Got a question for our Man in Parliament?

Want to know who your MP is?

Send stuff to him using this form!

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Any comments or questions for our MiP

Send us your details if you'd like us to hunt out your MP! We'll put a new one up each week.

More InfoBORDER=0
PicturesPhotos of the top MPs
Find OutHow does Parliament work?


Past StoriesBORDER=0
MiP file: The Queen comes into town
The MiP files: Why Blair listens to Foo Fighters!
The MiP files: Threat to cod and chips!
The MiP files: How much is spent on you?
The MiP files: Anger about pet shop plans
The MiP files: Inside Tony Blair's house!


Web Links
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Also in The MiP files now:
MiP Files: The prime minister's crucial week
MiP file: Tory leader faces off with PM
MiP files: A new leader for the Tories?
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