THEY’VE been spotted in the posh MSPs’ restaurant, the ladies’ loos and right at the heart of the Holyrood building in the garden lobby.
So far Scottish Parliament bosses have rejected calls to banish its resident mice by getting a cat.
But today pressure for a feline solution to the problem was stepped up after new figures showed a steady increase in the number of reports of mice at the Scottish Parliament despite thousands of pounds a year being spent on pest control.
Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said: “A parliament cat would be a lot cheaper than bills for pest control which isn’t working. There’s a cat at Number Ten, so why not the Scottish Parliament?”
Statistics released in response to a freedom of information request show that in 2011 there were 11 rodent sightings at Holyrood during the year, peaking at seven in August. In 2012, the number of sightings increased to 17. And last year, a total of 21 sightings were recorded in the first ten months.
The parliament spends around £4100 a year on pest control.
After a spate of sightings last summer, Christine Grahame, SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, called for the parliament to get a cat as a “humane deterrent”. But the proposal from Ms Grahame, who is convener of the cross-party group on animal welfare, was rejected by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
Realeasing the figures, the parliament said: “A service is provided to ensure the building remains free from pests. There are a range of measures taken which includes use of tamper-resistant insect and rodent control systems, weekly routine preventative visits and a call-out facility for any sightings.
“The service includes safe and efficient methods of catching, destroying, transporting and safely disposing of pests, ensuring that safe and humane procedures are adopted.”
Ms Dugdale said she had seen a mouse in her office at the parliament a couple of times, usually around 8pm.
She said: “At that time of night, it obviously feels it owns the territory and looks at you as if to say ‘What are you doing here?’
“I think a cat would be the best solution. We’ve been doing it for centuries and it clearly works. The idea may have started off as a bit of fun, but now there is an economic argument because we are spending a lot of money on something that doesn’t appear to be delivering.”
Independent Lothian MSP Margo MacDonald also backed the idea.
She said: “It may be that getting two or three mousers for the building is the only thing that’s going to get rid of the mice.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise there are mice around – we’re right next to a park and we put on so many delicious buffets there is always something to eat.
“If we do get cats, I have quite a big room so one of them could stay there.”
The parliament said: “Like most city centre premises we have pest control measures in place to keep mice at bay. We have traps positioned around the building, but mainly in the basement plant rooms where it is warm and more likely to attract mice. In practice, though, there are few signs of mice in the building and sightings are pretty uncommon.”