Although I am in there a lot, I do not make a point of sitting at the door and taking notes of the numbers using the lounge.
We do not record the number of customers who use the Queensberry house lounge on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays before 4 pm. We record the number of transactions that take place, but that does not tell us the number of people who use the lounge because a single transaction often involves multiple individuals. Members—as I and a lot of my colleagues do—and their guests can use the Queensberry house lounge as a meeting area without purchasing any refreshments.
I thank Linda Fabiani for that answer, but I am disappointed that she is not counting the customers as they arrive and leave. My conversations with the staff in the lounge suggest that on some days only four or five transactions take place before 4 pm. Does the corporate body accept that figure? Will it consider lifting the restrictions on who can access the lounge before 4 pm?
If our staff tell us that that is the situation, of course we accept it. However, I repeat that there are members who use the lounge as a private meeting place without making any purchases. I have seen members buy coffee at the coffee bar outside and wander into the Queensberry house space.
The corporate body felt that it was very important that members of this Parliament have somewhere they can take people to have a meeting that is private. We felt that the best way of achieving that to the benefit of all was to say that before 4 o’clock the lounge would be for members and invited guests only, in order that there could be a degree of confidentiality for meetings with constituents who come to visit us at the Parliament. The corporate body has not reconsidered that, because we feel that it is a very important principle.