Backbench Business — House of Commons Administration and Savings Programme

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:38 pm on 8th November 2012.

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Photo of John Thurso John Thurso Chair, Finance and Services Committee 12:38 pm, 8th November 2012

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and I entirely respect that point of view. I just fundamentally disagree with it, in the nicest possible way. Let us take, for example, the fact that we are putting up the prices for commercial filming in certain parts of the Palace. We have done that for many, many years. All that we are currently doing is making the prices roughly equal to the charges for any other commercial activity. Let us consider another example. My fellow Commissioner, Mr Doran, is Chairman of Mr Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art and has done a power of work to open up the art work in this building by offering specialist tours in secure areas to people who would not otherwise be able to get there. Those tours mean that members of staff have to be assigned to that duty. The choice, it seems to me, is that we either recover the cost of those members of staff so that we can widen the access, or we do not do it and do not pay the staff so that we can stay within budget. An ever-increasing openness of the Palace that takes no account of the costs is plain wrong.