It allows their guests to bypass the miles-long queue, which was temporarily paused on Friday due to overwhelming demand from people eager to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s coffin and pay their repsects to the late monarch who reigned for 70 years.
It’s symbolic that hard-working security guards, cleaners and catering staff in Parliament are treated as second class citizens
Mark Serwotka, PCS union
Most Parliamentary staff can also avoid the line and bring one guest.
But people who work directly for MPs and peers, such as parliamentary researchers, cannot.
They and people employed by contractors in Parliament – such as cleaners, security guards and caterers – must queue with the public to attend the lying in state.
It has led to accusations from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union that they are being treated as “second class citizens”.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It’s symbolic that hard-working security guards, cleaners and catering staff in Parliament are treated as second class citizens.
“As we usher in a new era, it’s time for them to be treated as equals and at least given a pay rise to help them through the cost-of-living crisis and beyond.”
Walthamstow residents please email me by 8pm tonight if you would like to be included in this ballot. pic.twitter.com/wuNUgIuOcK
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) September 11, 2022
Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, said she was giving away her guest tickets in a ballot for her constituents to enter.
Among the MPs who have filed past the Queen’s coffin to pay their respects are former prime minister Theresa May and deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, who are members of the Royal Company of Archers, stood vigil at the Queen’s coffin on Thursday.
On Friday, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) paused the queue to Westminster Hall for “at least six hours” after Southwark Park reached capacity, with the estimated queueing time for mourners having risen to at least 14 hours.
Mourners were urged not to join the line until at least 4pm.