Is Amarillo down this corridor?

TAKE A wrong turn in the Palace of Westminster and you enter a world of nooks and crannies which hardly see a soul from day to day.I wager that down some of these dark recesses in the past two weeks will have wandered scores of our new MPs – men and women who are trying to make sense of the labyrinthine layout of the vast acres of the parliamentary estate.

TAKE A wrong turn in the Palace of Westminster and you enter a world of nooks and crannies which hardly see a soul from day to day.

I wager that down some of these dark recesses in the past two weeks will have wandered scores of our new MPs – men and women who are trying to make sense of the labyrinthine layout of the vast acres of the parliamentary estate.

Most have yet to be allocated offices or to hire secretaries and are thus either crammed into makeshift offices off the committee corridor or carpetbagging in some of the larger suites occupied by colleagues who have been in the House for more than a decade.

It's no way to treat our law-makers, but they are better fixed than their predecessors. MPs used to have to share offices, with up to three of them crammed into minute spaces in the attic.


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Over the years, MPs' accommodation has spread into Millbank and Number One Whitehall, with Portcullis House completing the complex complete with especially imported Egyptian trees, water features, restaurants, and a splendid view of the Thames.

Our new MPs will end up with an office – but they are not a guaranteed seat in the Commons. There's only room for just over 400 members, the rest having to crowd behind the Bar of the House, around the Speaker's chair, or up in the galleries.

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The solution is to get rid of the gladitorial debating chamber and replace it with a hemicycle which would allow more civilised proceedings or reduce the number of MPs by 200. Pigs might fly!

WHILE the Rev Ian Paisley looks as pleased as Punch at his Democratic Unionist Party becoming the fourth largest group in the Commons, there's an air of gloom hanging over the Liberal Democrats. They may have gained seats at the election, but failed to make the breakthrough they led us all to expect.

One distinguished party grandee in the East of England says Charles Kennedy "didn't cut the mustard" during the campaign, implying the left of centre "tax `em `til they squeal" policy has to change if the Lib Dems are to make a real breakthrough in the vast London travel-to-work area.

DEFEATED Labour MP Ivan Henderson promises to keep a close eye on the Conservative victor in Harwich, Douglas Carswell. He's even set up an email address, intriguingly entitled ivans_still_here@yahoo.co.uk.

With the current constituency disappearing under boundary changes, to be replaced by new seats Harwich & North Essex and Clacton, could it be that Mr Henderson is contemplating a comeback, even though both divisions are likely to be reasonably safe for the Tories?

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WHAT have the Conservative Party, the UK Independence Party, the Greens, the British National Party, Sinn Fein, and the Communist Party of Great Britain in common? They're all set to campaign for a `no' vote in the referendum on the proposed European constitutional treaty.

Also in the same big tent are Business for Sterling, the Labour Euro-Safeguards Campaign, Trade Unions Against the Single Currency, the Anti-Federalist League, Save Britain's Fish, the Campaign for an Independent Britain, Veritas, and the Democracy Movement.

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