§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I venture on behalf, not of myself alone, but also of other Members with whom I have been in consultation, to ask your guidance, Sir, in a difficulty which has reached serious dimensions, and which is of increasing dimensions owing to the very large influx of visitors to the House. No one grudges members of the outside public the pleasure that a, visit to this House affords, even though sometimes it turns this House into something like a section of the Wembley Exhibition. But there must be certain limits. I can only say that this morning I myself and several other hon. Members found it utterly impossible to use the Library of the House for the purpose for which it is intended. While I was there, for a long time there was a continual passage of several hundreds through the Library. I understand—you will guide us in the matter—that the regulation of visitors to the House is entirely in the hands of the Lord Great Chamberlain, and I would ask if you could advise us of any way by which this House can make representations which would affect the decision of the Lord Great Chamberlain with regard to the use that the House makes of its own premises, because I am afraid, if things go on as they are, the Lord Great Chamberlain may have to ask Members of this House to restrict their attendance because, to some extent, they interfere with the movement of visitors. This is a difficulty which has reached very considerable dimensions. It is interfering with the efficiency of our work, particularly in the Library, and I would ask if you could give us any assistance in laying our case before the great authority of the Lord Great Chamberlain, who seems to regulate the matter, to the exclusion of the authority of the House in its own premises.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think it is a bad thing in many ways that the general public should find so much to interest them in visiting the Houses of Parliament. The present circumstances are unusual, and I am certain that Members themselves will be prepared to suffer some little inconvenience, in view of the great interest that is shown by the public. If Members desire to make representations to the Lord Great Chamberlain, he or his deputy, I am sure, is accessible.
With regard to the Library, I think that there is something there that requires my consideration. If it be the case—and I have had other complaints besides that of the right hon. Gentleman—that the work of Members in the Library is made impossible—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—then I propose, immediately the House resumes, to take that matter into my consideration. There must be proper regard given to the work that many Members have to do in the morning in the Library, and I will consider that part of the complaint, because it falls within my own province.
§ Mr. SUTTON
Many Members have received a large number of letters from parties who are coming along during Whitsuntide, and who have never been in London before. They are anxious to visit the 1101.16-e, and I want to ask you, Sir, if it be possible for the House to remain open during Whitsuntide. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is!"] I have made inquiries of the officials, and they say that it will be open only on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday. Many people are coming during the week, and they would like to visit the House.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
We are finding great difficulty in getting tickets for the Strangers' Gallery, because the accommodation is so small, and I would suggest that we might get the use of the side galleries for strangers. These galleries are not used by Members. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Well, we would ask Members, just like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), to put up with the little trouble that accrues from folk coming here. They come a long way, and they think it a great thing to visit the 1473 House. Most of us who come from Scotland are quite prepared to put up with these little inconveniences, and I would ask hon. Members to forego the use of the side galleries in order that strangers might come here.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Interference with the seating in the House is a very large and important question, and I am not prepared to make any change unless it be on the advice of the Select Committee of the House.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I wish very heartily to endorse the remark that has come from Mr. Speaker on this important question. It should be one of the most gratifying features of our Parliamentary life that, having courted the people to be their representatives, every man and woman should be glad to see them come here.
I would plead for the present arrangement to continue. I and the hon. Member for West Rhondda (Mr. John) had the great pleasure of the assistance of 15 other Members this morning, when there was a policeman with each of the 50 drafts going round. We went through the Library, and the children were more interested there than in any other part, of the House. They are children from the schools, and, if they are prevented from seeing the Library—
I want to say, in conclusion, that I hope you will consider the matter in that light, because We went through the Library to-day, and none of the Members who were there made any remark or criticism at all. The children, 900 in number, passed through quite quietly in less than half an hour.