Facebook, Waitrose shopping and searching for homes on RightMove: What MPs get up to online while in the office

  • Facebook is the most popular website in Parliament - with 28.5MILLION hits
  • In contrast, Number10.gov.uk was visited just 16,626 times
  • Ocado.com who sell Waitrose food was the most popular supermarket with 115,584 hits - compared with just 10,387 on Asda.com
  • MailOnline was visited 1,398,145 times in Parliament last year
  • Politicians also spent hundreds of hours shopping for holidays and new homes last year

MPs, peers and their staff spend thousands of hours a year on their computers looking at Facebook, buying Waitrose shopping and searching for new homes, it can be revealed.

In contrast, websites run by government departments such as the Home Office and Ministry of Justice got just a handful of hits last year.

The figures have led to accusations that politicians and their staff are wasting taxpayers' money enjoying 'downtime' at their desk.

Get back to work: MPs, peers and their staff spent hundreds of hours shopping online, visiting Facebook, searching for new homes on Rightmove and reading MailOnline

Get back to work: MPs, peers and their staff spent hundreds of hours shopping online, visiting Facebook, searching for new homes on Rightmove and reading MailOnline


  1. Facebook.com - 28,542,054
  2. Google.co.uk and Google.com - 14,398,689
  3. ParliamentLive.tv - 12,194,969
  4. BBC.co.uk - 6,671,605
  5. Twitter.com - 5,302,717
  6. YouTube.com - 3,251,502
  7. Parliament.uk - 3,090,630
  8. PoliticsHome.com - 2,721,154
  9. Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com - 2,458,679
  10. Mail.Google.com - 2,175,751

Although politicians are always keen to portray themselves as a man or woman of the people, they shunned cheaper supermarkets like Asda for upmarket online retailers Ocado, who deliver goods for Waitrose as well as their own products.

In total, MPs, peers and their staff visited Ocado.com 115,584 times last year - compared with just 10,387 recorded hits on Asda.com and 80,074 on Tesco.com.

MarksAndSpencer.com was viewed 204,150 times, while Amazon was the ninth most viewed website overall with 2,458,679 views.

Figures for the most accessed websites in Parliament were released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Facebook was Parliament's most visited website last year with 28.5million hits - twice as many as Google which was in second place.

A spokesman said that some sites such as Facebook automatically refresh so ends up artificially inflating the number of visits.

However, critics pointed out that websites can only auto refresh if politicians and their staff stay logged on.

In total, there are 7,500 computers across the Parliamentary state which are used by MPs, peers and their staff.

MailOnline was visited 1,398,145 times by lawmakers and their staff last year, making it one of the most popular news sites.

Online in Parliament: Peers study an iPad in the House of Lords during the state opening ceremony last year as figures laid bare what peers, MPs and their staff get up to on the internet

Online in Parliament: Peers study an iPad in the House of Lords during the state opening ceremony last year as figures laid bare what peers, MPs and their staff get up to on the internet


They claim to be men and women of the people, but the political class like to do their shopping with some of the most exclusive retailers.

Ocado.com, who deliver Waitrose groceries as well as their own products, is the favourite food website of MPs, peers and their staff.

As the rest of the country tightened their belts and opted for cheaper retailers in the face of austerity, people in Parliament visited the Asda website just 10,387 times, according to the 2012 internet use figures.

Westminster workers also clocked up regular online visits to upmarket retailers M&S, John Lewis and House of Fraser. Amazon was the most visited online retailer overall with 2,458,679 hits from Westminster.

Most accessed shopping websites:

  • MarksAndSpencer.com - 204,150
  • Next.co.uk - 176,457
  • Argos.co.uk - 144,417
  • JohnLewis.com - 117,254
  • Ocado.com - 115,584
  • Sainsburys.co.uk - 112,213
  • Boden.co.uk (clothes retailer) - 86,410
  • Tesco.com - 80,074
  • HouseofFraser.co.uk - 39,656


MPs from all sides routinely criticise the BBC's coverage - yet they're all happy to log on to the Corporation's website.

Figures revealed workers in Westminster logged on to their website more than 6.6million times last year.

The MailOnline was one of the most viewed websites in Parliament with 1,398,145 hits last year.

But although MPs, peers and their staff regularly log on to read the news - the figures are dwarfed by the sheer number of visits to Facebook.

28.5million views dwarfs the number of hits to all of the main news websites.

  • BBC.co.uk - 6,671,605
  • Guardian.co.uk - 1,951,285
  • DailyMail.co.uk - 1,398,145
  • Telegraph.co.uk - 1,004,998
  • HuffingtonPost.co.uk - 744,345
  • TheTimes.co.uk - 376,396
  • Mirror.co.uk - 256,256
  • Independent.co.uk - 184,061
  • FT.com - 184,009
  • NYTimes.com (New York Times) - 145,436
  • TheSun.co.uk - 97,209

Workers logged onto auction website eBay 994,869 times from their computers in Parliament in 2012.

Speaker's wife Sally Bercow caused controversy earlier this year when it emerged she had been flogging antique furniture from her free home in Parliament.


  • Legislation.gov.uk - 48,052
  • Support.LibDems.org.uk - 47,063
  • Justice.gov.uk - 25,204
  • Royal.gov.uk - 19,042
  • HomeOffice.gov.uk - 18,019
  • Number10.gov.uk - 16,626
  • LevesonInquiry.org.uk - 9,226
  • NHS.uk - 8,072
  • Communities.gov.uk - 6,398

Although the items of furniture were her own, she even invited buyers into the Houses of Parliament to pick up their purchases.

The internet use figures also revealed there were 802,232 visits to games websites - including Farmville, a Facebook game, and an online game of Solitaire.

And when they are not shopping for groceries or playing games, workers in Westminster were logging onto property sites to search for new homes.

MPs are allowed to claim up to £1,450 a month in expenses for a second home in London.

In total, Westminster workers logged on to property websites 948,146 times - with Rightmove the favourite with 611,784 hits.

There were 424,367 visits to holiday websites last year - including websites run by Expedia, LastMinute, FirstChoice and Thomson.

And in further evidence of Westminster's expensive tastes, although MPs, Peers and their staff visited the British Airways website 97,765 times they logged on to EasyJet just 6,049 times.


  • Looking for new jobs at jobs.guardian.co.uk - 82,622 hits
  • Checking the time (presumably because the clock in the bottom right hand corner was broken) - GreenwichMeanTime.com - 71,837 hits, TheTimeNow.com - 5,507 hits
  • Buying a new car - AutoTrader.co.uk - 67,940 hits
  • Watching some television: LoveFilm.com - 67,289 hits
  • I-Am-Bored.com - 21,371 hits
  • Finding a restaurant - 73,915 visits to TopTable and Tastecard

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'It appears that some in Parliament are spending far too much time on websites that have nothing to do with their job.

'The internet is an important resource for Members and their staff when it comes to scrutinising the Government; but taxpayers expect the MPs’ offices to spend their time working, not trawling Facebook.

'It’s important that information publicly available so that taxpayers can see exactly how the time they are paying for is actually being spent.'

A spokesman for the House of Commons said that internet use is closely monitored to ensure it was used appropriately.

The spokesman pointed out that many websites 'auto-refresh' so there will not, for instance, have been 28.5million individual visits to Facebook.

Further, if an inappropriate website is blocked it will still be recorded as a 'visit'.

He said: ‘These figures are unlikely to accurately represent internet use on the Parliamentary estate.

'Many of the visits will be the result of automation on websites and so should not be considered as individual visits, which will be much lower. The figures also include the occasions when access has been blocked by Parliament’s filtering software, but a "visit" recorded nevertheless.’