The weekend debate: Should former MPs get to keep their parliamentary passes?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

This week saw the revelation in the Independent that there are now 326 former MPs who hold Former Members’ Passes.

The passes allow them access to bring guests into the House of Commons and book restaurants with family in the Palace of Westminster. The Independent raises worries that former MPs may be using these passes to further there lobbying careers.

Former speaker Michael Martin introduced the scheme to allow former MPs to keep up with friends in Parliament but should former MPs have passes at all?

Why should our Parliament be used as a social club for MPs who have resigned or been kicked out by voters and in some cases even committed a criminal offence?

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliament.


  • Tony Dawson 17th Dec '11 - 9:12am

    Their there (sic)!

    It is, after all, the oldest Gentlemen’s Club in Britain.

  • David from Ealing 17th Dec '11 - 9:50am

    No is the answer.

  • Nigel Ashton 17th Dec '11 - 10:16am


  • Not a very good topic for debate 🙂


  • A definite “No”. They would not be allowed to keep their passes or their swipe cards in any other organisation in the UK – they would have to hand them in on their departure. By all means let them have some kind of ID card (with picture) which gives them some limited concessions as former MPs (such as those cards which university Alumni hold).

  • Sorry Hywel, I’ll try and do better next time! Suggestions are welcome.

  • Sue Doughty 17th Dec '11 - 2:01pm

    OK, I’ve got one but never use it for lobbying. Hardly use it for restaurant facilities. Can’t take friends only family and can only use the restaurant facilities at times when the House is more or less empty. Better restaurants are available. The pass does not allow me free access to all areas such as the excellent library facilities or indeed to the floors where members have their offices. So in summary – I can use restaurants only when there’s no one else there but I can buy a cup of tea. Can’t walk around the building. Can’t take friends to dinner. Can’t use the library or book a meeting room. I can by-pass security and since I’ve already been vetted it makes sense.
    No problem with having the pass taken away, but in fairness I see very few ex members walking around the building thanks to the excellent work by the late Patsy Calton MP in ensuring that that all the more obvious gentlemen’s club attractions are not available to ex members.

  • Alan Muhammed Alan Muhammed 17th Dec '11 - 6:03pm

    As Sue Doughty says above, it’s a fairly useless pass beyond getting through the doors. You could argue that the rules are not strictly enforced i.e. if you were at a certain lunch place at a certain time that you shouldn’t be at, would it get noticed? But, it’s too big a risk to reputation.

    It’s also unlike other workplaces in the sense that, you know exactly who replaced you and I don’t imagine it’d be pleasant bumping into them – they’d sure raise the alarm if they suspected you shouldn’t be there.

  • Unless there is a reason for the practice which clearly benefits democracy and the institution, the answer has to be no. However slight the personal benefits, MPs should be more mindful of how it looks to the public – and it looks like an old boys’ club.

  • simon wilson 18th Dec '11 - 5:28pm

    @Sue Doughty-If it is so useless, why bother having it?

    Surely there are enough former MPs around Westminster as members of the House of Lords as it is.

    This is something the party should be against.

  • Sue Doughty 18th Dec '11 - 6:41pm

    I agree. The other issue is the use of researchers passes.

  • No

    When any normal person leaves a job they quite rightly and understandably lose access to their former place of work. I doubt this would be different if the former place of work happened to have a canteen so i see no reason why former MPs should have a pass which allows them access to the Houses of Parliament.

  • Margaret A. Rutter 19th Dec '11 - 9:17pm

    When I left the Ministry of Defence I handed my pass in. However, I can obtain a day pass to visit friends still working there, and am permited to use the canteen with the person I am visiting. Why not use this procedure for former MPs?

  • Or you could try opening the House to the public to which it belongs.

  • LondonLiberal 20th Dec '11 - 12:04pm

    actually, david, i think it’s technically a royal palace and so belongs to the Queen. As indeed, do we.

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