Gallery: It's all gone quiet over there!

Political hacks are not normally coy in noting MPs’ spending priorities, but a strange silence has settled on the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

During the long summer recess, Westminster’s finest were decamped to an outbuilding while their offices were upgraded to comply with health and safety rules.

On their return to their more spacious offices, the 200 reporters were surprised to hear that the cost, over budget because of the discovery and removal of asbestos, exceeded £7m, all to be borne by the taxpayer, though this is one item which the hacks have been reluctant to report.

On the minus side, journalists have lost their separate bar, which is now part of a revamped cafeteria, which they have to share (up to 5pm every day) with non-hacks such as researchers.

On the plus side is the fact that the refurbishment removes any threat of the press being evicted from the building.

If provincial newspaper employers had to pay commercial rent instead of enjoying free accommodation, they would remove all of their journalists which, of course, is why MPs, who like to see their speeches reported in local and regional newspapers, acted to keep them there.

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