70% 'Gender-Neutral' Toilet Quota Part of £13-Billion Parliament Revamp in UK
16:15 GMT 24.11.2022 (Updated: 16:28 GMT 24.11.2022)
© AP Photo / Kin CheungA woman poses for a photograph in front of the Houses of Parliament
© AP Photo / Kin Cheung
The price estimate for refurbishing the Westminster Parliament has risen more than three-fold from the original £4 billion, with some estimating it could eventually run to £20 billion after 70 years of works.
British parliamentary authorities are set to spend part of their £13 billion refurbishment budget on 'gender-neutral' toilets.
Documents leaked to a British daily newspaper reveal that the two Diversity and Inclusion teams for the House of Commons and House of Lords had ruled that new buildings on the parliamentary estate must have at least "70 percent gender-neutral toilets with a 30 percent split between either male and female facilities."
The unisex conveniences were needed so that "all staff can be their authentic selves at work, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression," the two committees insisted.
The teams also set a ten percent minimum target for gender-neutral dunnies in the existing parts of the site, including the 19th-century Palace of Westminster — the main building that includes the chambers of the upper and lower houses.
The leaked document drew derision from Conservatives. For his part, North-East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary and leader of the Commons, slammed the quota as an example of "woke ideas from pointless committees."
"Restoration and renewal is meant to be about restoring the fabric of the Palace of Westminster," he said. "This has been done spectacularly well for the Elizabeth Tower which is now restored and resplendent."
"It is not about the latest woke ideas from pointless committees doing unnecessary jobs," Rees-Mogg stressed. "Their salaries could be saved and devoted to some physical building works."
The UK Parliament said that the options for the restoration and renewal project were still "being looked at" and would be presented to both houses "in due course".
"We continuously work to provide an inclusive working environment where everyone feels welcome, respected and valued," it said, highlighting that there were already "a range of single-sex and gender-neutral toilet facilities" across the estate.
"The figures quoted in the document were developed in 2019 as guidance only and are currently under review," the statement insisted, stressing that: "Any final decision on future design requirements would need approval from members through the appropriate governance channels in both Houses."
Only one of the 650 seats in the House of Commons is occupied by an open transgender MP, Conservative MP Jamie Wallis — who continues to dress as a man at work and uses male pronouns.
MPs already face criticism for the generous expenses they receive on top of their £84,000 annual salaries — along with heavily subsidized gourmet food and alcohol at the many restaurants and bars on site.
The cost of the renewal project was originally estimated at £4 billion, but has risen more than three-fold as MPs and Lords refuse to transfer to a temporary home while the works are carried out. Some estimate that the works could take 70 years to complete, with an eventual price tag of £20 billion.