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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 17:32 GMT
Clock call MP ticked off
Portcullis House
Portcullis House has been long embroiled in controversy
Menzies Campbell has had time called on his bid to get more clocks installed in his office building across the road from Big Ben.

The senior Liberal Democrat tabled a series of parliamentary questions complaining about the lack of clocks in Portcullis House, the multi-million pound officeblock for members.

There's a wonderful invention called the wrist-watch which some people find works moderately well

Derek Conway
Mr Campbell was told to "look out of the window" of the building by Conservative MP Derek Conway who chairs the Commons' Accommodation and Works Committee.

Mr Conway said: "There are probably more important things for spending public money on than putting clocks in MPs' offices.

"There's a wonderful invention called the wrist-watch which some people find works moderately well."

Mr Campbell apparently told the Evening Standard newspaper that he wanted to know why MPs were banned from having a clock on the wall of their Portcullis House offices.

Menzies Campbell
Mr Campbell wants more clocks
Mr Conway said that there was a ban on putting new furniture in the building for structural reasons although he added that he doubted that MPs would be "thrown out" for putting a clock on the wall.

"They are not supposed to, but I don't think it would be an imprisonable offence," he said.

Portcullis House, which cost an estimated 235m to build, has been the subject of criticism ever since it was completed.

When they first moved in, MPs complained about the state of the lifts, the toilets and there has even been an infestation of rodents plaguing the politicians.

Legal wrangle

Apart from running over budget - the original estimate for the building was 165m - controversy has also raged over the 150,000 of taxpayers' money for renting fig trees.

The House of Commons also wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on legal wrangling while building the new offices.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) published in February last year revealed that the final cost of Portcullis House included a 10m legal bill for a four year dispute over construction contracts.

See also:

07 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Millions 'lost' on Portcullis legal bill
15 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Inside Portcullis House
25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
MPs' fig tree flamboyancy
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