Reverting to the announcement which the right hon. Gentleman made about another possible building scheme, which, we understood, would include some fresh accommodation for the Press Gallery, has he made any progress with that or has he a model of the scheme yet which hon. Members could see?
On the first point, I have assumed that, for any accommodation on the scale we have in mind for over Star Chamber Court, there will be a Committee set up by Mr. Speaker which will probably look at the allocations there. On the second point, we have a model, but it has not yet been let loose from the Department.
The Minister has just said that he has always thought that hon. Members came first. Can he explain why so many rooms which have recently been made available have been made available to the members of the Government, particularly to members of the Government who were not at the time Members of the House, instead of to back-bench Members?
The hon. Gentleman loses the point, which is that members of the Government are Members of the House, and they have responsibilities to their constituents which they discharge in addition to their responsibilities to the Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "So does everyone."] I never suggested that they did not. The hon. Gentleman had better come in when Mr. Speaker calls him. It is my job as Minister of Public Building and Works to allocate rooms to members of the Government. I have no responsibility in allocating rooms to Members of the House.
Do not these questions and answers emphasise the importance of transferring control of this Palace to Parliament itself? Can my right hon. Friend say when he will be prepared to make a statement on this?
No, I do not know. I welcome the approving grunts from the benches opposite to my hon Friend's supplementary question, and I can only say, on the first part of it, that as he knows, I need no reminding. I want to have these things settled as soon as possible.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind, in striking a balance between the Press Gallery and the House, that there is one important distinction, that Members of the House tend to remain roughly the same in number and, therefore, exert the same pressure on this place, whereas in the Press Gallery there is a tendency over the years for resources to accumulate—I am thinking of television, broadcasting and the Commonwealth—and it is no bad thing for Parliament that they should?
I do not want anything I say to be taken as expressing any lack of sympathy with the Press. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have a record in that as well on Select Committees, when hon. Members opposite took no interest at all. I wish nothing to be taken as indicating lack of sympathy towards the Press whose accommodation I want to be extended in this place. I was only making the point that it is sometimes forgotten that Parliament is the Members.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not solely a question of accommodation as such under which the Press Gallery suffers but the ventilation in parts of the Press Gallery—I am not referring to the part which is exposed to the Chamber—is even worse than it is in other parts of the building? Is it not within the realms of possibility to improve it?
In view of the widespread interest in this subject—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and in order to give my right hon. Friend opportunity to make a fuller statement, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.