MPs criticised for skipping queue to see Queen lying in state as David Beckham waits with public

·2-min read
MPs criticised for skipping queue to see Queen lying in state as David Beckham waits with public

As members of the public stand in line for hours to see the Queen lying in state, a rule allowing MPs and peers to skip the queue along with up to four guests has drawn criticism.

MPs have been offered four extra tickets to visit Westminster Hall, a House of Commons spokesperson confirmed.

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

David Beckham has drawn praise after it emerged he had waited 13 hours, alongside members of the public, to visit Westminster Hall. Holly Willoughby and Philip Scofield both ‘skipped’ the queue.

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.

Beckham appears to wipe away a tear as he finally enters Westminster Hall (BBC)
Beckham appears to wipe away a tear as he finally enters Westminster Hall (BBC)

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.”

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.