HC Deb 12 April 1960 vol 621 cc1055-8
5. Mr. C. Pannell

asked the Minister of Works whether he will have plans and models prepared setting out his ultimate objectives for the future development of buildings for the use of Members of this House.

6. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Works whether he will place in the Library copies of his plans for making additional secretarial accommodation available under the roof of the Palace of Westminster.

Lord John Hope

I hope to exhibit a model, plans and other particulars of the scheme for providing additional accommodation in the roof space over the Committee Rooms after the Easter recess. In due course, I will also provide information about long-term proposals for providing additional accommodation for hon. Members, but I cannot yet say when I shall be in a position to do this.

Mr. Pannell

While I thank the Minister for that Answer, may I ask him how, after having exhibited the plans or drawings, he proposes to take the sense of the House on this matter? Are we to set up a committee within the House itself to advise the Minister, or does the right hon. Gentleman think that, after all, the Commissioners as envisaged by the Stokes Committee would have been the best means for us to adopt?

Lord John Hope

I think the answer to the hon. Gentleman lies in the undertaking which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House gave during the debate, to discuss with Mr. Speaker and through the usual channels the best method of enabling the House to express its view. This committee will be set up, and I think it will be the one to consider the matter.

Mrs. Castle

Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with his right hon. Friend to ensure that the committee is set up immediately after the Easter Recess.

Lord John Hope

I am sure that note will be taken of the hon. Lady's words.

8. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Works what steps he is taking to provide additional accommodation for the research department of the House of Commons Library.

Lord John Hope

I have received no requests from the authorities of the House to provide additional accommodation for this department.

Mr. Pavitt

Is the Minister satisfied that two rooms and a typist's table are sufficient to meet the research needs of 630 Members of Parliament?

Lord John Hope

The hon. Gentleman should put his point to the authorities of the House.

Mr. C. Pannell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Presumably the Table passed my hon. Friend's Question, and if the Table passes a Question it is assumed that the Minister takes responsibility for it. The right hon. Gentleman answered the Question, but he can hardly run off on a supplementary question with the idea that, although the original Question was properly asked, the supplementary question was not one for him. During the debate referred to the right hon. Gentleman opened on this subject.

Mr. Speaker

The Minister may be right or wrong, but I do not think his error is a point of order for me.

Lord John Hope

I hope I am right, Mr. Speaker.

12. Mr. Hayman

asked the Minister of Works when he expects to be able to provide a filing cabinet for each Member supplied with a desk.

Lord John Hope

I supply filing cabinets at the request of the authorities of the House, who are responsible for their allocation. Twenty cabinets were provided last month and a further fifty are now on order for delivery in about six weeks' time.

Mr. Hayman

Who is the authority in this respect to whom an hon. Member can apply?

Lord John Hope

The hon. Gentleman would find that his best method would be to apply to the Serjeant at Arms, who acts for Mr. Speaker in these matters.

Mrs. Castle

But the Serjeant at Arms and the Deputy Serjeant at Arms do not answer Questions in the House. Is it not a fact that the Minister is able to take refuge behind this fact when he has failed to meet the needs of hon. Members? Ought we not to alter the system, as we proposed in the recent debate, and instead have a House of Commons Commission, the vice-chairman of which could answer such Questions as these in the House?

Lord John Hope

I do not think it necessarily follows that that is the best method. There are ways of getting these points aired. The hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) has found an admirable way of doing it, and other hon. Members can use the same method.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Does my right hon. Friend realise that I at any rate do not want either a desk or a filing cabinet? Is he aware that this attempt to increase the accommodation for hon. Members is nothing more than a ramp on the part of the Left wing to inflate its importance at the public expense?

Lord John Hope

No, Sir; I regret that I cannot agree with my hon. Friend's opinion, but there is no need at all for him to have anything that he does not want.

Mrs. Slater

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that one of the fifty filing cabinets is sent to the women's room so that we can at least keep our filing up to date, if not our education?

Lord John Hope

I rather thought that there was ample filing accommodation in the Ladies' Room already from what I have heard.