New Parliamentary Building

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9 February 1998.

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Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood 12:00, 9 February 1998

What is the (a) current and (b) planned provision in the House of Commons estimates for the cost of constructing the new parliamentary building. [26136]

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Chair, Finance and Services Committee, Chair, Finance and Services Committee

Outturn expenditure on the new parliamentary building is forecast at £35 million for 1997–98. The House of Commons Commission has approved an estimate that includes £95 million for Portcullis house in 1998–99. The total cost forecast is now £250 million, as set out in the written answer given by the hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Sir S. Chapman) on 10 December 1997, Official Report, column 578.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

Is not this a disgraceful waste of public money? The plusher the offices of Members of Parliament become, the less inclined hon. Members are to attend either the Chamber or Committees of the House. Would not the money be much better spent on something useful, such as ensuring that the Jubilee line comes into service on time?

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Chair, Finance and Services Committee, Chair, Finance and Services Committee

The building is expensive because of its situation and because it is a project on which everyone will have their eyes when it is completed. I make no apology for the building's level of finish; when I look along the Thames and see some of the monstrosities that have been allowed to grow up in the past 20 or 30 years, I am happy with the standards that are being applied.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

Is it not high time that Members of Parliament had individual offices that did not contravene the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 and that had normal light—something that many of them still do not have—and that Members of Parliament were able to attend to their constituency and parliamentary interests in a professional and civilised manner without being made to feel like rats in the wainscot?

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Chair, Finance and Services Committee, Chair, Finance and Services Committee

I should like to see the wainscot that could accommodate me, but I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Part of the increased cost of the new building is being spent to ensure that it meets modern security standards and statutory health and safety requirements.

The President of the Council was asked—