Detailed plans for the redevelopment of the area between Parliament Street and Cannon Row are now well advanced. Construction work is expected to start next year for completion in 1990. The overall cost is estimated at £31·5 million at cash prices. Plans for the second phase, comprising the area between Cannon Row and the river, are still at an early stage. It would be premature to give a figure of the likely cost.
Can my right hon. Friend tell the House what facilities will be transferred from this building to the new parliamentary building'? In considering the further use of the vacated space in these buildings, will he take account of the fact that many meetings cannot take place in the House because there is so much pressure on Committee Rooms from party Committees and all-party Committees? Will he further consider the need for facilities for interviews between hon. Members and their constituents, particularly because now, on days when there are big lobbies, people have to see constituents in corridors, in quite impossible circumstances?
The accommodation that will be made available by the new building should offer offices for 60 hon. Members and for 100 secretaries. The Services Committee has been considering space being made available by people leaving the Palace of Westminster for the new building. I believe that it will intend that, as far as possible, priority will be given to Members' accommodation rather than additional Committee rooms.
May I offer my usual greetings to the Lord Privy Seal from my dark, damp, dingy desk in the dump known as the Cloisters? Before he gives me his usual answer, which is that he spent many happy hours there, may I offer him a swap for a fortnight so that he can remember how happy were his hours down in the Cloisters, while I work in his office? On a more serious note, is he aware that in Strasbourg, when the new, directly elected Members of the European Parliament arrived, they did not have any offices, but that within nine months offices were provided for 500 Members? Why is it taking so long to build these offices, or is this just another Government filibuster?
The construction time for the premises is going broadly to forecast. As for the hon. Gentleman's first question, I only hope that, when the time comes, he will appreciate the considerable expansion of offices which are implicit in the Bridge street site and that perhaps he will be able to have happier accommodation, although I have to say that his present accommodation was perfectly happy in my day.