Today we are marking the 80th anniversary of the destruction of the House of Commons Chamber by the Luftwaffe during what was the biggest air raid on London of the second world war. This morning the Lord Speaker and I laid wreaths at the memorial in Westminster Hall in memory of the three members of staff who lost their lives that night. On the way into the Chamber today, my procession paused at the entrance arch to commemorate the raid. Colleagues will know that Winston Churchill ordered that the arch be retained in its bomb-damaged state as an enduring reminder of the ordeal Westminster suffered during the war. We remember those who gave their lives to defend this place and all it represents, and thank friends and allies from across the Commonwealth who helped rebuild what was lost. This renewed Chamber will always remain a symbol of the resilience of democracy in the face of adversity.
As colleagues will know, the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee is elected each Session. Nominations are open now and will close at 5 pm on Tuesday 18 May. Nomination forms are available from the Vote Office, on the intranet, or by emailing the Public Bill Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Candidates need the support of no fewer than 10 Members from a party represented in government and no fewer than 10 Members from a party not represented in government or from no party. Only Members from a party not represented in government may be candidates. If a ballot is necessary I will announce the arrangements in due course.
That the Speaker do issue his Warrant to the Clerk of the Crown to make out a new Writ for the electing of a Member to serve in this present Parliament for the County constituency of Chesham and Amersham in the room of Dame Cheryl Elise Kendall Gillan, deceased.—(Mark Spencer.)