MPs have spoken of their shock after a man, believed to be a rough sleeper, died just yards from the entrance to Parliament.
Police were called to Westminster tube station just after 7.15am on Wednesday, following reports of an “unresponsive” man in an area where rough sleepers are known to gather, just outside a Commons side entrance.
Despite attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Parliamentary staff arriving at work were diverted away from the entrance, which was cordoned off by police officers.
The incident sparked shock and outrage among politcians, who say the government must act now to tackle rising homelessness and rough sleeping.
Neil Coyle, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on homelessness, told HuffPost UK: ”We have seen growing problems since 2010, as MPs, journalists and others who pass through Westminster every day will know all too well.
“This government now has on its doorstep a reminder of just how bad things are, and if they continue to ignore this growing problem, incidents like this will become more regular.
“I think members of the public will believe this is utterly unacceptable and it is time for the government to commit to action to ending rough sleeping and homelessness – many of the root causes of which we know already.
“It is not good enough for ministers to keep passing the buck.”
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck said she believed the man could have been someone she had spoken to in the past.
“I never walk past anyone I see sleeping rough, I always try to help, so it is likely to be someone I have spoken to in the past. It is so upsetting,” she added.
“How anyone in government can stand there and say they are dealing with this issue is beyond me, when I have seen a vast increase in the number of people on Victoria Street alone in the four years since I became an MP.”
A Met Police spokesperson, who did not confirm whether the man was a rough sleeper, said the death was not being treated as suspicious and file would be prepared for the coroner.
“Police were called by the London Ambulance Service at 7.17am to reports of an unresponsive male in the underpass of exit 3 of Westminster underground station,” the force said.
“Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended. The man was pronounced dead at the scene at 7.33am.”
Latest figures show rough sleeping has risen by more than 70% in the last three years and levels are at their highest on record.