Police could be replaced by private security guards at Houses of Parliament
The Government is thought to be outsourcing security screening to save money
Saturday 17 May 2014
Security screening at the Houses of Parliament is being outsourced to a private contractor as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures.
The Metropolitan Police Service currently monitors all public entrances to the Palace of Westminster but officers will be replaced by a security firm in April 2015, when Scotland Yard's current contract expires.
The Met will still provide armed police and continue its other work in the Houses of Commons and Lords, while a company takes over "airport-style" searches for visitors.
Tendering is expected to start in spring next year, when the police force will theoretically be able to bit to continue the service.
Companies including G4S could be in line for the lucrative contract, which has sparked fears of a repeat of the security fiasco at the 2012 Olympics, when the firm failed to provide 10,400 security guards on time.
The move aims to make savings to the parliamentary security budget, which currently stands at £24 million.
A joint committee of MPs, peers and industry experts approved splitting the security contract for the first time in history.
The Met Police has a dedicated unit of more than 500 staff dedicated to the Houses of Parliament and has policed the estate since 1839.
Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield, raised concerns about the change in the Commons on Wednesday.
He said there were “rumours” of privatisation but nothing had been confirmed.
The Speaker, John Bercow, said security matters could not be discussed but added: “Suffice it to say that I know about these matters and am very comfortable about the interests of the House.”
When the plans were initially revealed last year, Mr Sheerman wrote that MPs feared Parliament was being “downgraded into a tourist attraction”.
He said efficiency savings were causing “low morale” in parliamentary staff and cleaning contracts had also been privatised.
“To attempt to run our democratic hub as though it was a commercial enterprise is plain wrong and must be stopped,” he wrote in the Yorkshire Post.
“Parliament is not an adjunct to the London Eye or London Dungeons, nor is it a Disneyland on the Thames; it is the heart of British democracy and must be treated as such.”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the force was aware of the decision but declined to comment.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...