Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North 12:00 am, 3rd April 1995

To ask the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee how much it is planned to spend on House of Commons services in the coming year; upon which main projects; and if he will make a statement. [15721]

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

The estimates for the House of Commons administration and works services for 1995–96 were laid before the House on 23 March 1995, making provision of £73.3 million and £49.9 million respectively for the two votes. Major projects are identified in the annual reports of the Commission.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

May I ask my right hon. Friend to find room in that £82 million of expenditure to apply for planning permission for the Terrace marquee, so that it may be open all the year round instead of only eight months a year? [Interruption.] Is my right hon. Friend aware, and is the House aware [Interruption.]—perhaps the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) is not—that that facility is popular, and that it can be used all the year round because there is heating in it? Might it he used to accommodate the children and other people who want to eat their sandwiches at some times of the day?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

My hon. Friend's interesting suggestion has met with a mixed reception from the House. He may like to refer the matter to the Chairman of the Catering Committee who, I am sure, will be only too anxious to consider it carefully.

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Chesterfield

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this year is the 700th anniversary of the summoning of the first Parliament by Edward I, on 27 November 1295? If there is money available for projects, should it not he devoted to improving the facilities for those who visit the House? We still call them "strangers" rather than "electors", so we have not even caught up with 1832, and we still allow them to freeze in the streets when they come to visit Members of Parliament.

There are facilities in Westminster Hall. The security arguments are much less compelling than they were, with the end of the cold war and with the ceasefire in Northern Ireland. We really should treat the people who come to see Members with a lot more care and respect, over and above the changes that the right hon. Gentleman announced today for some eating facilities in the Westminster Hall annexe.

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

The right hon. Gentleman raises an important point, and several other hon. Members earlier raised points akin to his. The Director of Works is preparing proposals. I should be misleading the House if I suggested that that will happen quickly, but I take note of the fact that an influential and large number of Members wish to press ahead with it at the earliest date.