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Amendment 2

Part of Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Lord King of Bridgwater Lord King of Bridgwater Conservative 5:15 pm, 22nd July 2019

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Pickles, who speaks with great authority on this matter. As he rightly declared, he is deeply involved in and knows an enormous amount about what is proposed. But I pick him up on one point he made. Whether or not the application here is out of time for this amendment, I would have thought that nobody in your Lordships’ House would disagree that both this amendment and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, are eminently sensible. It must certainly be right that the sponsor body takes an interest and is informed, as this long restoration and renewal process goes on, of any issues we need to know about; the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, made that point.

There are so many different angles. I will instance one that has not been mentioned at all, about what comes into Victoria Tower Gardens. I happened to be talking to one of the officers of the House, who got very excited about the issue of lying in state. I do not want to anticipate any unfortunate events that may take place at a very senior level in our country, but at some stage there will be a lying-in-state. Anyone familiar with the problems of lying in state in this Parliament, when the queue goes all the way down the back, through Victoria Tower Gardens and over Lambeth Bridge, will ask where on earth the people are going to go. This is just one illustration of the peculiarities and requirements of the extraordinary site on which we stand.

I criticise my noble friend Lord Cormack over one point. He spelled out what he was looking to see from the restoration and renewal of these great parliamentary buildings. We see a forecast of 37 degrees on Thursday, but I saw absolutely no mention in the new proposal of the importance of brilliant air conditioning throughout the Houses of Parliament.

I am a strong supporter of the Holocaust memorial; I was a strong supporter when it was originally proposed. What was not proposed at the same time was that it would be combined with the learning centre. That introduced an entirely new dimension, of course. When the proposal was originally put forward—I understand that the Prime Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Feldman, were involved at one stage—there were three alternative locations for the learning centre that were not Victoria Tower Gardens. The memorial, like other memorials, was to be in Victoria Tower Gardens.

The issue I see arising is that we have had a clear statement about how little space this will take up—the figure given was 7.5%—but it has to be built first. It may be 7.5% when the work is finished. I was surprised that my noble friend Lord Pickles did not seem to think that the learning centre was underground.