Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

MPs defeat Galloway's PMQs bid

Mark Thatcher (right) with (left to right) wife Sarah, son Michael and daughter Amanda outside the home of his late mother, Margaret Thatcher
George Galloway objected to a change in the Commons' sitting times on Wednesday to allow for Baroness Thatcher's funeral
Security barriers are erected near St Paul's Cathedral

MPs have overwhelmingly backed a move to shift the Parliamentary timetable so it does not clash with Baroness Thatcher's funeral.

Respect MP George Galloway and Labour backbencher Dennis Skinner had led a bid to prevent Prime Minister's Questions being dropped and the House's sitting delayed on Wednesday.

However, the changes were passed by 245 votes to 13.

Earlier, family, friends and close political colleagues of Baroness Thatcher paid their respects in a private service in the Palace of Westminster, as she made her final visit to the scene of so many battles and triumphs.

Daughter Carol had tears in her eyes following the brief but emotional service in the crypt chapel of St Mary Undercroft, ahead of the ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral.

Around 150 guests, also including son Sir Mark Thatcher and several members of Lady Thatcher's government, filed past her coffin, many pausing to bow in respect to the UK's first female Prime Minister, who died last week at the age of 87.

On top of the coffin, draped in the Union flag, was a large bouquet of white roses bearing a hand-written card inscribed "Beloved Mother - Always in our Hearts".

As Carol Thatcher left the chapel following the 15-minute service, she paused to wipe away tears before descending the staircase into Westminster Hall. Brother Mark patted her back to comfort her while they walked away, surrounded by family, close friends and senior political figures.

The simple service of reception of the body, led by the Dean of Westminster the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, featured prayers, the psalm O Lord, Thou Hast Sought Me Out and Known Me, and a reading from the Gospel of St John.

Work and Pensions Secretary and former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who was one of the most senior political figures to attend the ceremony, said: "It was very moving, short but moving, very sombre. It's different from tomorrow, because this event was personal. Lots of people were there for personal reasons - each of us summing up what you owe her."

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