Disabled Visitors' Facilities

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15 January 1996.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00, 15 January 1996

To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the House of Commons Commission, what representations he has had about facilities for disabled constituents visiting and lobbying hon. Members. [7476]

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

In the past 12 months, I have received representations from nine hon. Members in the form of parliamentary questions on the subject.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there are several problems for disabled people who come to the House of Commons? Although it is a good idea to put them in Westminster Hall when it is raining so that they can get out of the bad weather, it is also important for disabled people to have the same rights as others to get into Central Lobby to lobby Members of Parliament. Is it not time that work was done to provide ramps at St. Stephen's Entrance and Central Lobby to give disabled people the same rights as others?

Another place to put disabled people has just crossed my mind: we could stick them in the House of Lords as there are now moves to get rid of the peers.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The House's advisers on such matters, and the Committees involved, have not been convinced that it would be possible to put ramps up to Central Lobby from St. Stephen's Entrance, and we have gone to considerable trouble to provide alternative routes.

It is possible to accommodate a larger number of people in Westminster Hall than can be accommodated in Central Lobby at any time. Those facilities were appreciated.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that proper thought is being given to providing toilets and catering facilities for disabled people who come to Westminster Hall? They are often uncomfortable, and something should he done about it.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The object of the Commission is to ensure that disabled people can gain access to all necessary parts of the House, including the restaurants and catering facilities. A great deal of work has gone on, including work to improve lifts so that they are suitable for disabled people. The Commission, when presented with practical proposals that are of help to disabled people, has never hesitated to seek the finance to get them under way.