Parliament’s Blue Badge Guides have claimed they are are being “unceremoniously” ousted from the Palace of Westminster because they are “not diverse enough”.
More than 150 guides responsible for organising tours of Parliament are due to be axed by a committee of MPs, who have decided to replace them with an in-house team of just 28 visitor assistants.
The Houses of Parliament administration committee claims that the move will save £300,000 over five years, and in statement said it would establish a "diverse and highly skilled team”.
But the Blue Badge Guides, who have spent years learning the history of the estate, have pointed out that their replacements will receive just six weeks training and will be asked to learn a generic script.
A lot have had careers. Mainly female, lots of different nationalities, but predominantly white
They add that the decision appears to stem from the fact that most of the current guides are “predominantly white”.
Jeff Chalker, a 64-year-old guide, said: “We are being replaced by youngsters who will earn £21,000 a year, probably won’t speak more than one language and will be learning from a script”.
“We do tend to be older - about 50,” he told The Daily Mail, adding: “A lot have had careers. Mainly female, lots of different nationalities, but predominantly white.”
Meanwhile, another guide claimed that London MPs were prepared to rail against the committee’s decision, warning that they had kicked a “hornet’s nest”.
It is understood that as many as 40 MPs and peers have complained about the overhaul, while Mark King, chair of the British Guild of Tourist Guides, said that their ejection from the estate would be “a very sad day”.
A House of Commons spokesman said: “Bringing our tour guides in-house will end the use of casual working arrangements and create 28 substantive new jobs with full employment benefits.
“It will save public money and ensure we continue to offer the public high-quality and informative tours of the Houses of Parliament.”