A £230m home with everything an MP needs

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Indy Politics

MPs' new £230m Westminster home has everything the 21st-century parliamentarian could possibly want.

MPs' new £230m Westminster home has everything the 21st-century parliamentarian could possibly want.

There are personal fridges, hi-tech light switches and "intelikeys" that bleep to let technically challenged MPs know they are using them correctly.

But while the designers of Portcullis House remembered to include a £75,000 reception desk, they forgot one thing: there is almost nowhere for MPs to keep letters and files.

The first MPs to move in this week discovered they were banned from storing documents in filing cabinets, which are outlawed because they do not conform to the building's clean, oak-panelled style.

At least 33 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion complaining about the ban. They have also lodged a formal protest to the Sergeant at Arms, who administers the House of Commons, about the failure of the building's designers to anticipate the amount of paper they need.

Julia Drown, Labour MP for Swindon South, said: "This is quite a stylish place but it is a place of work. We are trying to manage without filing cabinets but we all have far too much stuff."

MPs, who were yesterday sent flowers welcoming them to the building, were issued with instructions to throw out as much paper as possible before moving in. But despite their efforts, they have found that there is inadequate space. Their anger was fuelled by the discovery that some of the cupboard doors in their offices were false.

MPs have been issued with two-drawer, oak "pedestal" filing units but say they are too small for ordinary files. Some say they would need at least 20 to store their papers, which would fill up their entire rooms.

Lynne Jones, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, has written in protest to the Commons Accommodation and Works Committee, which will meet today to discuss lifting the filing restrictions.

"It's not possible to have a paperless office," she said. "This does raise further questions about the cost of this building."