Palace of Westminster (Access)

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th July 1991.

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Photo of Mr Simon Coombs Mr Simon Coombs , Swindon 12:00 am, 15th July 1991

To ask the Lord President of the Council what plans he has to extend public access to the Palace during recesses.

Photo of Mr Simon Coombs Mr Simon Coombs , Swindon

Will my right hon. Friend give some consideration to the fact that the Palace of Westminster is a most attractive proposition for all tourists who come to London during the summer? Will he consider the implications of making access to the Palace during the summer recess available on a commercial basis so that some of the costs of the upkeep of the Palace can be defrayed by the substantial income that would be received?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Chair, Privileges Committee, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House Lords (Privy Council Office), Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Privy Council Office), Chair, Privileges Committee

My hon. Friend will know that there are security implications about general access. Any decision to reopen the Line of Route to the general public, other than under the arrangements that we have at present, would have security implications that would need to be considered by the relevant Committees of both Houses before being put to the three authorities responsible for Westminster Hall. Succesive Administrations have accepted that the costs of upkeep of the Palace should be a charge on public funds. I understand the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee, when it last looked at the proposal that my hon. Friend made, rejected it. However, I accept that it could look at the suggestion again.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

When the recess comes, will the Leader of the House spend some time finding out why so little has been done to improve access to the building for those with disabilities, particularly those in wheelchairs or using crutches and those with sight difficulities? Will he also look at the lack of Braille editions of the guides and other literature available for visitors? Does he accept that, until we can give people with disabilities full access to this building, we cannot say this is truly a public place, as it ought to be?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Chair, Privileges Committee, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House Lords (Privy Council Office), Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Privy Council Office), Chair, Privileges Committee

A number of improvements have recently been agreed by the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee. It is proposed that a comprehensive study should be carried out to identify other practicable and acceptable proposals for further access for the disabled.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

Before my right hon. Friend considers making further proposals for access to the Palace of Westminster, will he find time to consider the standard of dress of visitors who are now coming in here? Recently some of them have appeared to be practically naked.

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Chair, Privileges Committee, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House Lords (Privy Council Office), Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Privy Council Office), Chair, Privileges Committee

I assume that my hon. Friend is not referring to hon. Members in this place. I do not know what proposals he has in mind. If there are any particular matters that he wishes to raise, I shall be happy to consider them.