Parliamentary privileges

Issue section: 
(319)

MPs have just been awarded an extra four days of holiday for 2008, taking their total to 91.

This surely means that they have far more work to fit into their increasingly limited working days.

Perhaps as a result, the Commons authorities have ordered that "staff and other users should be prepared to give way to members when queuing for retail and catering services, the post office, travel office or when using other facilities such as lifts, photocopiers, telephone cubicles, etc."

There are approximately eight parliamentary workers per elected representative in the Commons, and legislators already have exclusive access to a number of bars and restaurants in the building.

As Unite rep Kevin Flack asked, "What will they want us to do next? Doff our caps?"

An indication of the mood among workers can be seen on one official-looking edict in the parliamentary kitchens. "Do not leave dirty cups and mugs from downstairs in this kitchen. It is unfair to expect someone else to take them downstairs for you," it begins. It is followed by an amendment, taped to the notice: "In the unlikely event that a member of parliament wishes to tidy up, you must of course give them preference."