Parliament banishes Christmas carollers

Choirs have been told they are no longer welcome to sing Christmas carols in areas of Parliament because it puts MPs off their lunch.

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning objected to the ban. The choirs come from his constituency and have entertained MPs and staff for the past four years.

He raised the matter as a point of order with Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Penning said: “Last week, out of the blue, an email arrived in my office saying this would be banned in the future as it was inconveniencing members of the House during their lunch.

“Is this something you were aware of, and surely we should be encouraging young people into this House – not barring them.”

Mr Bercow said he was “not previously conscious” of the ruling and would investigate.He told Mr Penning: “On the face of it, you and your constituents have reason to be disconcerted and I will certainly look into the matter.”

In May it was reported that the Foreign Office had launched a consultation on whether Christmas merited a special greeting for embassy officials, after Foreign Secretary David Miliband missed it last year but remembered Ramadan.

Last December a mother-of-three was left shocked when a housing officer suggested she should remove her Christmas lights because they might offend her non-Christian neighbours.

The previous month it had emerged that staff at Salisbury Council had been told not to ask people if they are “singing from the same hymn sheet” because the religious reference might offend atheists.

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