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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 10:36 GMT
Lady Thatcher statue homeless
Lady Thatcher
The marble iron lady is a weighty problem
A loving home is being sought for a solid marble statue of the former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

The 1.8-tonne sculpture was commissioned to stand alongside other former premiers in the Members' Lobby of the House of Commons.

I don't like her politically but she certainly was unique as the first ever woman prime minister

Tony Banks
But, despite it being finished already, Westminster rules mean that it cannot take its place until five years after its subject's death.

Labour MP Tony Banks, chairman of the House of Commons works of art committee, says he is hoping to get the rules changed so that it can take it place in the near future.

He said: "I don't like her politically but she certainly was unique as the first ever woman prime minister.

"I think I stand a reasonably good chance of getting her into Members Lobby while she's still alive."

Grantham home

Alternative locations have already been looked at, including the newish MPs' offices, Portcullis House.

But that was ruled out because the cost of strengthening the floors would have been higher than to get the sculpture done in the first place, said Mr Banks.

"It weighs about 1.8 tonnes - you cannot move it easily around the country," Mr Banks told Radio 4's Today programme, adding that he was looking for a prestigious temporary home in London.

But one alternative resting place is being offered by Tory MP Quentin Davies, who represents the birthplace of the UK's longest serving prime minister of the 20th Century.

Tony Blair with Lord Wilson statue
Tony Blair with Lord Wilson statue in Huddersfield
Mr Davies told Today he thought it would be "rather strange" were the statue to go into Members' Lobby while Lady Thatcher was still alive.

He said that if it could not go to its intended location at Westminster, it should go to Grantham, where it would join the statue of Isaac Newton, Grantham's other most famous product.

Mr Davies paid tribute to her political abilities and achievements in "turning round" the country during the 1980s.

Mr Banks said that the sculpture - "a fine piece of art" - included the handbag Lady Thatcher made her trademark at domestic and oversees political events.

Lady Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990. She continues to be active in the Conservative party, most notably backing Iain Duncan Smith in the recent leadership elections.

Lady Thatcher, and husband Dennis, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this month.

See also:

13 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Thatchers celebrate 50 years together
04 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Thatcher defends Blair boy
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Thatcher comments 'encourage' racism
21 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Thatcher backs Duncan Smith
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