The National:

WE all know Westminster is an odd place, stuck in the dark ages with archaic ways of going about parliamentary business.

But I doubt many of us would’ve realised birds of prey are used to catch rodents who have managed to worm their way to the very heights of the Houses of Parliament.

This is what Mhairi Black revealed in a conversation with journalist Graham Spiers at the Edinburgh Fringe on Tuesday.

The SNP MP told the audience how on her first day in office, she encountered a lady holding a "falcon" which she discovered was used to capture rats and mice from upon high.

The hilarious yet worrying story came out as she reflected on the amount of money that was spent on the building to stop it from falling apart.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black: Trans people should not be made into intellectual debate

She told a crowd at the New Town Theatre: “It’s nearly a decade I’ve been walking about there and at least twice things have nearly fallen and nearly hit me, and it just seems to be a case of ‘oh, well that’s life in Westminster’.

“It needs somebody to deal with it.

“On my first day, we were in the central lobby and there was a woman standing with a falcon and nobody else was reacting to it.

“I said ‘what’s this about?’ and she told me it was for catching some of the rodents that had managed to get up high. I’m thinking ‘this is the place that makes health and safety laws’.

“So there’s a lot of things that could be made better [about the place].”

Black also spoke of how the Commons is nowhere near big enough to hold all 650 MPs, yet no one would entertain the idea of making it more functional or introducing a “roaming” Parliament that sat in all regions of the UK, which she felt would make it more “inclusive”.

This seems of little surprise. After all, she said Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told her recently that she was spending time trying to “remove all the cobwebs” from Westminster while he was trying to “put them all back up again”.

Just about sums the place up.