HC Deb 07 November 1945 vol 415 cc1274-6
45. Mr. Maxton

asked the Prime Minister whether he will provide an opportunity to discuss the decision of the last Parliament to rebuild the House of Commons on the old site, since it is increasingly obvious that even the most economical use of that site will not provide the accommodation or amenities necessary for the efficient working of Parliament in modern conditions.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

I have been asked to reply. No, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is convinced that there is no general desire amongst Members—[Hon. Members: "Oh"]—Hon. Members might wait until I have finished—that the House of Commons should be placed on a new site.

Mr. McGovern

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the fact that democracy has thrown up hundreds of new Members into this House, whose opinion m this matter has not been registered, if he thinks it is good to create in the minds of the public the view that we need never expect a full attendance of Members in this House, and that seating accommodation will not be found for every Member coming to the House of Commons?

Mr. Morrison

The main point involved in the hon. Gentleman's original Question is the site, and the Government are convinced—we may be wrong—that there is no general feeling amongst the House to move the site. It is perfectly true that democracy has thrown up hundreds of new Members; it has also thrown out hundreds of old ones. I do not know that either of those considerations is conclusive.

Mr. Stokes

May I ask my right hon. Friend, while recognising that there is no desire to move the site, to ask the Prime Minister to reconsider the plans that have been submitted to the House, in accordance with which work has already been started, which give totally inadequate room?

Mr. Maxton

Will the right hon. Gentleman note the dissent which the House accorded to the first part of his answer, and that the second part of his answer did not alter the substance of the first part at all? Would he consider, apart from granting an opportunity for discussion, setting up a Committee to examine the plans that have been passed?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Morrison

We are dealing with the site. I did notice dissent when I was half way through my answer, but I noticed a different situation when the answer was concluded.

Mr. Eden

May I ask whether these plans, to which my hon. Friends below the Gangway are now taking exception, were not, in fact, evolved by representatives of all parties in this House, with very long experience of our Parliamentary procedure?

Mr. Morrison

They were examined by a Committee which was representative of all parties in the last Parliament. One of the difficulties is that the work of preparation has reached a certain point, and I am not sure that on a matter of this kind the judgment of the last House—which had a good deal of experience of the physical use of the House—would necessarily be worse than the judgment of the present House of Commons. If there were a wide feeling that the matter should be reconsidered, the Government would consider the point, but I think it would be highly inconvenient if the preparations now being made were interrupted.

Mr. Maxton

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Speaker

We must get on to the next Question; we have been on this one long enough.

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