Members' Facilities

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd May 1988.

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Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley 12:00 am, 23rd May 1988

To ask the Lord President of the Council what present plans there are to improve facilities for hon. and right hon. Members within the Palace of Westminster.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I understand that the various Sub-Committees of the Services Committee have considered and are considering a number of suggestions put to them by right hon. and hon. Members for improving facilities within the Palace of Westminster. If the hon. Lady has a particular suggestion to make, I shall of course consider it.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley

One of my suggestions would not be for more unisex bathrooms, but for more equal facilities for men and women in the Palace of Westminster. The Lord President will know, because I have had long correspondence with the Services Committee on the matter what I am referring to. Also, we should have better accommodation for hon. Members and their staff. The accommodation here is disgraceful. If we were subject to the health and safety regulations, most of the accommodation in the Palace would be shut down. We should also have basic facilities for the large number of staff working in the Palace, for example, a shop, so that hon. Members, instead of limping to the back of a queue late at night to get a bottle of milk and a bit of bread—[Interruption]—can shop for these basic necessities, such as toothpaste, tights and whatever else they may need during the day. Will the Lord President look seriously at the provision of such services, particularly a unisex hairdresser, who can do something for women's hair, rather than simply men's hair?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I think that the hon. Lady should apply for an Adjournment debate.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

Provision for a shop is included in the plans for phase 1 of the new building, which is expected to be ready for occupation in 1990. With regard to unisex, or ladies', hairdressing services, and other matters, I have read with great interest the correspondence conducted by the hon. Lady and other hon. Members, which goes back to long before I held this position. The point is well made. The Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee is considering all those matters and will continue to do so. It hopes to reach the best conclusions for the benefit of the House.

Photo of Mr Robin Squire Mr Robin Squire , Hornchurch

Will my right hon. Friend consider improving the facilities for tours? Now that the Palace is becoming ever more popular, the difficulty that Members of Parliament or, in practice their staff, nearly always face is in balancing on the tightrope between hiring guides and arranging for visiting parties. That could be much more easily dealt with if there was one central office dealing with all aspects.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

This was looked at fairly recently, but if my hon. Friend has any suggestions he should in the first instance talk to the Serjeant at Arms.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland

Can the Lord President help by telling me whether my eyes deceive me or whether there is a door. in the ministerial corridor labelled "The Solicitor-General for Scotland"? Given that the Solicitor-General for Scotland does not sit in this House or the other place, how could a door so labelled be justified? If there is such a door, does the right hon Gentleman not think that the least that he could do in return is to allow some period at Scottish Question Time for Scottish Members to ask questions related to the responsibilities of the Solicitor-General for Scotland?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I would need notice of the first part of that question. I shall go and have a look for myself. I do not know whether there is a door so marked, but the arrangements for answering Scottish questions have been dealt with on a number of occasions from the Dispatch Box and I think that they are perfectly satisfactory.

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is not so much the facilities of this place that need improving as the conduct of some hon. Members?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I am responsible for many things, but not for the way in which hon. Members spend their spare time.