Magna Carta

19th February 2015
This past week the four surviving original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta were displayed together – for the first time in history – in the Houses of Parliament to mark the 800th year since its sealing. It was incredibly humbling to see these documents united. Magna Carta has been the foundation of liberty and government that Britain has exported throughout the world.
 
Magna Carta embodies principles which have underpinned the establishment of Parliamentary democracy and the legal system. It was a revolutionary document in that it limited arbitrary power, curbed the right to levy taxation without consent, provided ways of holding the executive to account and affirmed the rule of law.
 
Seeing those documents I was reminded that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. It’s Parliament’s job to be forever vigilant on your behalf and as a Member of Parliament I am honoured that I have that job to do for the people of the Epping Forest area. As we see evil forces destroying freedom in other parts of the world, I thought of how, thanks to Magna Carta, we have at Westminster a focal point for national debate. A place to protect freedom of speech, the liberty of the individual and the rule of law.
 
The exhibition of the copies of Magna Carta is just one part of a year-long programme of events and activities taking place across the UK entitled ‘Parliament in the Making’ designed to raise awareness and understanding of the UK’s constitutional heritage. This year also marks 750 years since the Simon de Montfort Parliament (1265) and the 50th anniversary of the state funeral of Winston Churchill – the MP for Epping!
 
The 2015 Anniversaries celebrations remind us of our democratic history with Parliament at the heart of the story. It is so important to remember – especially in an election year – that we all have a role to play in that story. I hope that this year of celebrations will increase public understanding of Parliament and reinforce that it is at the heart of our democracy. Its work matters to everyone.
 
More information on the 2015 Anniversaries and Parliament in the Making programme can be found at www.parliament.uk/2015

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