Renovations

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th November 1996.

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Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby 12:00 am, 25th November 1996

To ask the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee what representations he has received in respect of expenditure on renovations in the Palace of Westminster during the summer recess. [4032]

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

I have received one representation.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

In these times of cuts in social benefits, and when local authorities cannot get the resources to provide proper community care, was it not exorbitant for the House to spend £17 million, including £6 million on the kitchen in the Members Cafeteria? Every summer recess, the interior of the House resembles nothing more than one huge building site, and much of the work is repetitive and unnecessary. Is it not a higher priority to provide an escalator for elderly members of the public who have to tramp huffing and puffing up the stairs to reach the Strangers Gallery?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

I quite understand and share the hon. Gentleman's desire for as much economy as possible. He must realise that what he proposes was fully debated in the House on 12 July 1994 and carried unanimously. We could not have continued without being closed down eventually, as we were clearly defying health and safety regulations. Everything that is done in the House is much more expensive than it would be elsewhere because this is a grade I listed building.

Photo of Mr Colin Shepherd Mr Colin Shepherd , Hereford

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is right that the House should no longer hide behind Crown immunity and that it should face up to its responsibilities, and that much of the expenditure incurred to which the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) referred was related to improving the conditions of those who work in the Palace? Should we not comply with the legislation with which we make others outside comply?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

We must now return to Transport questions and to Question 12 from Sir Mark Lennox-Boyd.

I call Mr. Jim Cunningham on Question 13.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I rise because of the other question.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. We always return to the original questions when we have finished.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. Question 28 was withdrawn. We now return to Transport questions. Sir Mark Lennox-Boyd is not in his place; Mr. Jim Cunningham is.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

I was rising for Question 27, Madam Speaker.