It was a solemn Westminster Hall that I walked through on Monday April 10th. I went to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, the place of worship in Parliament used for hundreds of years, and a haven of contemplation for many of those who work there. While most attention is paid to Members of Parliament, Commons and Lords, Westminster is a place of work for our own staff, civil servants, Parliament’s clerks, library staff, and researchers- all in all perhaps some five or six thousand work there regularly.

And for our security staff. Parliament’s own, and the Metropolitan Police, who provide the armed response to any threat.

I went to the chapel to pay my respects, on behalf of all my constituents in NE Bedfordshire to PC Keith Palmer, who lay in rest in one of the country’s holiest places before his funeral at Southwark Cathedral the same day. In this quiet place, with two police officers standing at either end of the coffin, heads bowed, there was a steady stream of his colleagues, other security personnel, MPs and staff at Parliament. We had lost one of our own family, and for MPs in particular we will live with the awareness that the friendly faces we see every day all around where we work are prepared to die for our right to be there on your behalf. It is a sobering thought.

It should be for all of us. The line between a free society and one of restriction is a thin one, and the need for CCTV, surveillance and increased powers provokes much controversy and discussion. We live under a threat, though history tells us that this is not new. Threats may be different in kind, from Nazi bombs to the IRA, but our response will be the same. Mostly threats come from those who want to force you to do something you do not want and have no say in. Our response should be a renewed determination to take part on our society, at whatever level, and prove that no democracy will never be cowed by such threats.