The Serjeant at Arms is responsible for security and keeping order within the Commons part of the parliamentary estate. There are also some ceremonial aspects to the role. The Serjeant at Arms directorate is part of the Department of Chamber and Committee Services.
Areas of responsibility in the parliamentary estate
The responsibilities of the Serjeant at Arms apply to the House of Commons chamber, public galleries, committee rooms and the Commons' areas of the parliamentary estate.
The Serjeant at Arms' ceremonial duties involves carrying the House of Commons mace during the Speaker's procession. This is when the Speaker and his staff walk to the House of Commons chamber before each sitting. The Serjeant, or a deputy Serjeant, sits in the Commons chamber and is responsible for security for the duration of the sitting. The Speaker can call upon them to escort people out. The Serjeant at Arms wears a traditional uniform and a sword.
History of the role
The office of Serjeant at Arms dates back to 1415 and the reign of Henry V when the Serjeant was responsible for carrying out the orders of the House of Commons, including making arrests. Today, the Serjeant at Arms performs ceremonial duties that date back to the early days of the office, for example the Serjeant is required to carry the mace in the Speaker's Procession each day and also into the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament.
Serjeant at Arms
Lawrence Ward is the Serjeant at Arms. Mr Ward has worked in the House of Commons since 2002, holding the post of Assistant Serjeant at Arms since 2008. Mr Ward became acting Deputy Serjeant at Arms in November 2011 and took up the post of Serjeant at Arms on 1 May 2012.