EXCL Union chief hits out at 'dinosaur' MPs in call for repairs to 'death trap' Parliament
“Dinosaur” MPs are putting parliamentary staff at risk by resisting much-needed restoration and renewal work to the Palace of Westminster, a senior union official has claimed.
Garry Graham, the deputy general secretary of Prospect, which represents clerks and other House staff, said Parliament was a “death trap” in urgent need of repair.
In an article for The House magazine, Mr Graham argued the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should “concentrate minds around the world” – but warned the Palace of Westminster could be “doomed by the short-sightedness” of MPs.
The Commons last year agreed that MPs and staff should move out of the Palace of Westminster to pave the way for a £4bn renovation, which was expected to start in 2022. But according to a report in The Times, the work may not now start until 2028.
The Restoration and Renewal Bill – which sets up an independent body to oversee the project – is expected to be brought forward this month.
Mr Graham said the building is in “dire need of restoration” and said squabbling politicians should put their differences aside and get on with approving the work.
"It is unsurprising that a building dedicated to politics would have its fate determined by politics, and so it has proven,” he said.
“Sadly, there still remains a hard core of committed dinosaurs, determined to obstruct progress so that they can enjoy a few more years on the green benches.
“These relics have mounted a dogged rear-guard action against progress for years and it is time for the sensible majority to see them off.”
Mr Graham also took a swipe at Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh, who recently announced his candidacy to be Speaker with a pledge to keep MPs in the Palace of Westminster during repairs.
He continued: “My plea to MPs then is this: think of the people working alongside you every day. The clerks, the security guards, the tour guides and your own staff. They don’t get a say in this, but they are the ones who will have to work in this death-trap alongside you if you keep bottling this decision.
“As a trade union, Prospect represents people who work in shipyards, airports and nuclear power stations. It is a disgrace that the Palace of Westminster is up there with the most dangerous places our members work. So, get on with the repairs if you don’t want to be the last cohort of MPs ever to sit on those green benches.
“Politics may be in a pretty bad state at the moment, but MPs at least have a chance to show that they can save their own building – not simply selfishly for themselves but for future generations.
“They should regard themselves as custodians with a duty to protect for the future not simply sitting tenants. If they can’t even do that, then God help us all.”