Parliament backing for amorous pair

By Alex Stevenson

Officials have given their backing to mating in the Palace of Westminster – for peregrine falcons, at least.

Two of these rare birds of prey have taken up residence somewhere in the airy heights of parliament’s many towers and it is hoped they will soon be using the parliamentary estate as a love nest in the near future.

With the support of Labour backbencher Emily Thornberry environmental group Natural England won permission from House authorities to install a nest box for the (hopefully) amorous couple.

Listen to Emily Thornberry on the Palace of Westminster’s newest residents:

A clutch of eggs may be the result, Nigel Ellway of Natural England told politics.co.uk.

“We are now keeping our fingers crossed that they will see the nest box and use it. There’s no guarantee that they will mate this year. It may very well be next year. But if and when they do and lay eggs we are hoping to put in a webcam and broadcast over the Houses of Parliament website.”

Peregrine falcons are extremely rare in Britain – there are an estimated 1,400 breeding pairs in the country, according to the RSPB – but it is not unusual for them to be found in built-up environments.

“The site is an extremely well protected spot, both from the weather perspective and disturbance by people,” Mr Ellway added.

“So they’re not going to be accidentally disturbed by any of the workers in the Houses – the estate people know where it is. And it’s an ideal spot for them because it’s well protected, there’s a constant source of food.”

The pair have attracted cross-party support. An early day motion tabled by Ms Thornberry has attracted the signatures of 39 MPs.

“The idea of having a protected species living on the Palace of Westminster is just wonderful,” she said.

“What is amazing about them is even though we live in such a built-up city, with so little space, nature always finds a way of breaking through.”