• Politicians told touching feet of historic statues of past prime ministers is causing damage to structures
• Statues of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher are “seriously under threat”
There is a tradition of politicians laying hands on the images of former prime ministers as they enter the Commons chamber.
But the parliamentary authorities have warned that the statues are now “seriously under threat” from wear and tear.
The House’s deputy curator, Melanie Unwin, told the cross-party Works of Art Committee: “Four statues (Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Margaret Thatcher and David Lloyd George) in the Members’ Lobby are seriously under threat due to the tradition of touching the toes of the statues for good luck.
“There are now cracks and small holes on the surface of the Churchill statue, and substantial loss of surface texture on the other statues.”
The committee agreed that “Do not touch” signs should be used when the House is sitting, and there was “no choice” but to look at installing barriers around the statues, to protect the “integrity of internationally important artworks”.