Westminster's favourite barber faces the chop

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The Independent Online
A barber who has been cutting the hair of prime ministers, archbishops and all who work in the Palace of Westminster for a quarter of a century, may be in danger of losing his job, MPs fear. More than 100 parliamentarians, political journalists and others have signed a petition to save the job of Stephen Silverne, 58, who has become an institution at Westminster.

Mr Silverne declined to comment on his position, but MPs fear he is in jeopardy because of plans to introduce a "unisex" salon in the Commons. Leading the campaign to keep him in his job is Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham, who said: "Paris couturiers would die to have the sharp post-classical haircut service Mr Silverne provides. He should be given a peerage, not the sack."

He was backed by David Young, Labour MP for Bolton South-East, who said: "I do not think it is right for a Labour or any other government to get rid of people who have served the House so well for so many years." Mr Young said he would not himself patronise a unisex salon. "I feel strongly that as more ladies come into the Commons they should have the right to have their own hairdresser. But there are male rights, too, for those who do not want a unisex salon."

When Mr Silverne arrived in 1970, there still existed the barber's chair in which Gladstone sat. But now his saloon has been thoroughly modernised. Some women have used his services, including Virginia Bottomley, before she became a minister, and Labour MPs Harriet Harman and Ann Clwyd.

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