Corporation of the City of London

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The Corporation of the City of London have also the right, of presenting petitions to the House of Commons at the Bar by their Sheriffs. It is a ceremony of historic interest and impressive form, and so rare that a member might be in the House of Commons for many years without having witnessed it.

The most recent occasion upon which this ceremony was enacted was on 16 February 1948. The previous petition was seen in the Session of 1926, when a petition against the proposed demolition of City churches was presented, and before that the privilege had not been availed of for 22 years.

The Sheriffs come with their petition wearing Court dress and scarlet gowns and gold chains of office, and are accompanied by time City Remembrancer in wig and gown. They are escorted to the Bar by the Sergeant-at-Arms, carrying the Mace on his shoulder.

The Bar is marked by a brass rod which is stretched across this technical boundary of the Chamber. At the upper end of the Chamber the Speaker, robed in silk gown and full-bottomed wig, sits in his high chair. He alone has the right of speech on this occasion. He says, "Mr. Sheriff, what have you got there " and the senior Sheriff answers :

" A petition from the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, which we are ordered to present to the honourable House." The petition is given to the Clerk of the House, who, on the motion of one of the members of the City, reads it to the House.

The Sheriffs and the Remembrancer then bow three times and retire from the Bar, appearing later in seats for strangers of distinction "under the clock." The Sheriffs have dinner at the House that evening and invite a large party of members to join them.

Also following an ancient custom, a bottle of wine is given to the doorkeeper and each of his attendants.

The right of presenting petitions at the Bar may probably now be regarded as the privilege solely of the Corporation of the City of London. All other petitions must be presented by a member.

The privilege was shared by the Corporation of the City of Dublin, and by it alone of all the municipalities of the United Kingdom, from 1813, but in this case it is regarded as having lapsed since the creation of the Irish Free State.

The Remembrancer has Parliamentary duties, involving a constant watching of all Bills introduced, or proposed to be introduced, to see whether they are likely to affect the interests of the City Corporation.

These duties necessitate constant communications with the various departments, the Ministers, and the permanent officials. For this purpose the officials Of both Houses of Parliament give him facilities of admission and attendance, and in the House of Commons he has the privilege of a seat "under the clock."