Reports have emerged of a new row that has engulfed parliament: where and where not to vape? After complaints of people using e-cigarettes near the chamber, the House of Commons authorities are mulling over how to treat the craze. Some MPs are pushing for a revival of the traditional Smoking Room so they can puff away on their new-fangled devices in a convivial setting.
Alas Mr Steerpike hears that they are likely to be disappointed, as officials have proposed banning e-cigarettes in ‘enclosed areas’. Furthermore, with so many policies in this place, the idea looks like having an unexpected and expensive side effect for the taxpayer.
An internal paper reveals that bosses want to ensure that MPs and staff who use e-cigarettes can vape ‘away from both non-smokers and tobacco smokers, eg by designating an area solely for e-cigarette use’.
That would surely mean a dedicated vaping shelter. The last time a smoking shelter was constructed at the Commons, in 2009, it didn’t come cheap. Labour MP Frank Doran, then chairman of the administration committee, blamed the £21,706 bill on the fact it had to fit in with Pugin style.’We started off thinking we could do something cheap and cheerful, but the process had to go through Westminster City Council and English Heritage, which made it more expensive than one would expect,’ he said at the time.
Just what the taxpayer needs after the recent Westminster gym revamp cost over £1 million.