Palace of Westminster (Bedrooms)

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1984.

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Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North 12:00 am, 17th December 1984

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many bedrooms there are in the Palace of Westminster today compared with 30 years ago; how they are allocated; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

There are 42 bedrooms in the Palace of Westminster, which compares with 38 bedrooms 30 years ago. These rooms are used by those occupying official residences and by staff of the House whose duties may require the provision of overnight accommodation.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the problems of some elderly and unfit Members of Parliament—[H0N. MEMBERS: "Name them."]. It would be unfair at Christmas to name them. Such hon. Members have problems getting to the Division Lobbies from their distant offices in the eight minutes allowed. Will my right hon. Friend consider giving priority to finding offices for hon. Members within the precincts of the House? Will he switch the bedrooms from the House to the distant offices vacated by hon. Members?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

My hon. Friend's question became more uncharitable as it proceeded. In the execution of the Bridge street project, it is hoped that it will be possible to shift some staff from the Palace of Westminster and that accommodation can then be made available to hon. Members. Of course, such allocation and the criteria for it are matters for the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Is not one of the bedrooms occupied by the Lord Chancellor? Does he not sleep more easily in his bed than he should because he does not have the scrutiny of a Select Committee of this House over his Department, as do all other Ministers? Should not his slumber be made uneasy like that of other Ministers?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I suspect that the premise of the question is wrong, and therefore it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the conclusion.