To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what assessment the Commission has made of the effects of the new visitors reception and security entrance at Cromwell Green on the number of hon. Member-sponsored tours of the House.
The Cromwell Green Entrance opened as the main public entrance to Parliament on
In the six months April to September 2008, there were 65,978 visitors on Member-sponsored tours of the Palace of Westminster. In the equivalent six months in 2007, there were 67,358; and in the same period in 2006 there were 63,919.
The number of hon. Member-sponsored tours is adjusted up or down from time to time by the visitor services team in the light of experience. The most recent adjustment was a reduction in May for new bookings, when the morning maximum was reduced to ensure visitors could be securely accommodated without major overcrowding or delays.
The Commission has not conducted any assessment of the effects of the new visitor reception arrangements on the number of tours sponsored by hon. Members. The parliamentary visitor board (comprising senior officials in both Houses) is conducting a review of visitor handling, to include the operation of the new entrance. This will be taken to the relevant committees in each House in the new year.