Our Man in Westminster: Perk rarely used by MPs that’s not to be sneezed at

 

As MPs go into the House of Commons debating chamber, they pass what looks like a sentry box, in which there is a shelf, on which lies a snuff box.

It is made from wood taken from the frame of the old chamber door, which was hit by a German bomb in 1941, and has a silver plate on the lid inscribed with the name of every holder of the office of Principal Doorkeeper for the past 70 years.

There has been free snuff on offer for MPs since they banned smoking in the Chamber, in 1693.

This perk was spotted by Rehman Chishti, the Conservative MP  for Gillingham and Rainham, who slapped in a written question wanting to know how much the perk costs the taxpayer. The answer is nothing: the Principal Doorkeeper pays for it out of his own pocket.

But before anyone gets indignant on the Principle Doorkeeper’s behalf, the incumbent, Robin Fell, has no problem with the arrangement, since he has never had to fill the snuff box since his appointment in April 2011. His predecessor, Graham Dear, bequeathed him a full box, and it is still half full. “It hasn’t made a big impact on my emolument,” Mr Fell observed.

Personal declaration: Mr Fell let me sample the snuff. It has quite a kick.

Van Rompuy: love him or hate him

You would think that Herman van Rompuy would have drawn the appropriate lesson form British Gas’s recent experience.

Someone in the power company’s communications department thought it would take some of the sting out of a 9.2 per cent price increase if it held a question-and-answer session on Twitter. It was, as they say, a social media car crash.

But that did not deter Mr van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, from inviting questions on Twitter on Monday, though the reaction from the dedicated EU-haters cannot have been hard to predict.

“What are your views on democracy? Have you heard of it?” asked one. “Marmite: love it or hate it?” asked another. Rompuy Pumpuy, as he is affectionately known, actually answered that one. “Never had Marmite, but would love to taste it,” he revealed.

The A1 could put Miliband on the map

Political trivia from Mike Smithson, the internet’s top political betting expert: the last three party leaders to win outright majorities in general elections – Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair – all represented constituencies along the A1. So does Ed Miliband. Interesting, but meaningless.

The pitfalls of modern etiquette

A footnote to last week’s argument about whether it is polite to offer a heavily pregnant woman a seat, which was set off when The Independent’s sister paper, i, noted that the Business Minister, Jo Swinson, was left standing through Prime Minister’s Questions.

Travelling to work on Monday, I saw a woman offer her seat to a fellow passenger, only to be told in a loud voice: “I’m not pregnant. I’ve just got a fat stomach.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities