In today’s Daily Telegraph, we learn that Members of Parliament are to get new carpets in their offices.

Portcullis House, where many MPs have their offices, is to have new carpets fitted at a cost of £360,000 to the taxpayer

That sounds scandalous and extravagant, doesn’t it? But let’s do the sums.

First, how much carpet are we talking about? Norman Baker MP asked a pertinent question in the House of Commons 2004:

… how many extra buildings and what additional square feet of office space has been acquired by the parliamentary estate in each year since 1975.

In the answer (given in metric units rather than square feet) we learn that Portcullis House, acquired in 2000, has a net internal area of 20,694 m².

Dividing £360,000 by 20,694 gives us a figure of about £17 per square metre of fitted carpet.

What does carpet cost? Office carpet seems to go for around £11 to £15 per square metre from the prices I can find online.

So £17 for carpet plus underlay plus removal and fitting seems reasonable.

Second, is it a frivolous expense? Portcullis House opened in 2001, and the carpets have not been replaced since [ibid. Telegraph]:

The carpet in Portcullis House was fitted 15 years ago, and now needs to be replaced.

So the story here is that 15-year-old carpet in an office building is being replaced at a very reasonable cost of £17 per square metre.

Be outraged about something that matters.