Leaks have become commonplace in politics, but this time there was actual water pouring into the House of Commons.
Monday afternoon’s session was delayed by an hour as water rained through the Commons’ ceiling, with parliament staff rushing to place buckets near the green benches.
Protective coverings were draped over the central table, and police officers entered the room with packages labelled as water-absorbent blankets.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said an air-conditioning unit from a nearby office was the cause of the leak.
With repeated delays to plans to restore the crumbling Palace of Westminster, Conservative MP Flick Drummond said parliament “is a very dangerous place to be”.
“I can tell you, we need to do some restoration very quickly on this, and perhaps I think the only way we are going to do that is to move out now because it’s going to be too expensive,” she added.
“But yes, we have water leaks, we have things falling down from ceilings and downstairs, the electricity cables and gas and water leaks.”
‘One leak where we don’t need an inquiry’
Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans added: “Somebody has just said to me this is one leak where we don’t need an inquiry.”
Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union, which represents parliamentary staff, said the leak shows how urgent action to restore parliament is needed.
He added there is “scope for a catastrophic failure of the building, paralysing the government and its ability to legislate”.
“The cheapest, safest solution with the shortest timescale attached is a full decant, yet ministers have decided that this would be too much disruption,” he said.
“If one leak can cause this much disruption, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that decades of operating with parliament as a building site will cause untold problems.”
This is not the first time water has poured into the Commons, with the same thing happening in April 2019, forcing the sitting to be abandoned.