HC Deb 29 May 1962 vol 660 cc1160-2
Mr. Speaker

I have a statement to make to the House.

In accordance with the recommendation made to me in the Answer of the Leader of the House to a question from the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) on 18th April this year, I propose to appoint an ad hoc Committee with the terms of reference following, namely: To consider and recommend how best an area of approximately 40,000 sq. ft. on the Bridge Street site might be used for permanent accommodation for the purposes of the House of Commons. The following hon. Members have agreed to serve on the Committee: the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) as Chairman, and the hon. Members for East Grinstead (Mrs. Emmet);Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley);Truro (Mr. G. Wilson);Southend, West (Mr. Channon);Blackburn (Mrs. Castle);Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell);Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn);and the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen).

Mr. C. Pannell

Mr. Speaker, may I ask you a question arising from that statement?

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Pannell

While I am very happy to serve on any Committee that you set up, Sir., I did understand, in the course of the arguments between the usual channels, that the terms of reference of this Committee were to he somewhat wider, and would take cognisance not only of the dim and distant future of the other side of the road, but of the day-to-day affairs of the House, including the prospective building we have in mind up top "here. I do not know whether I am right in asking you, Mr. Speaker, or whether I should ask the Leader of the House, whether the terms of reference could not be reconsidered.

Mr. Speaker

All I am trying to do is to follow what I thought was the agreed view of the House. In those circumstances, it is probably best that that question should be addressed to the Minister. I thought that those were agreed terms of reference.

Mr. S. Silverman

I hear references made to the agreed opinion of the House and to the discussions that have taken place through the usual channels. For the benefit of those who do not participate in those communications, may we know what this is all about, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. SpeakerI do not know whether it would, perhaps, help the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) to read in HANSARD what I said, but I think that the statement makes plain what it is about. If it did not, I am sorry. But if there is a difficulty about it in some way, I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would address his question to the Leader of the House, because I am slightly crippled by my office for dealing with the matter otherwise.

Mrs. Castle

You said, Mr. Speaker, that it would be appropriate for us to address our questions to the Minister, and I assume that you mean the Leader of the House. If so, would this be the time to do so? As this is the moment of the announcement, and as some hon. Members on this side have been to see the Leader of the House and have put to him a very strong case for the widening of the terms of reference of the Committee, in the interests of all hon. Members who have many day-to-day problems of accommodation, which were previously dealt with by the Advisory Committee which had the honour of serving you, Sir—and, I think, serving you with considerable effectiveness—may I take this opportunity to ask a question of the Leader of the House now?

Mr. Speaker

I dismiss anybody's idea that I am not intensely grateful for the services of the hon. Lady and other hon. Members on that Committee last year. Listening to this discussion, it seems to me that there is rather more to it than can be dealt with on a wholly irregular basis. I think that a question on another occasion would be more appropriate, because we cannot debate the revision of the terms of reference now with much grace.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. fain Macleod)

Perhaps it would be appropriate for me, Mr. Speaker, to say just a sentence or two about this matter.

As I understand the position, what you have just announced to the House carries out the announcement made on 18th April. I think that we all want to get advice, whatever the future Accommodation Committee may be, on the question of the Bridge Street site. With that, I think everybody is agreed. I therefore thought that it appropriate not to take any action in the matter by way of response to the hon. Members concerned until you, Mr. Speaker, had made that announcement.

Now that the announcement has been made, perhaps I might communicate with the hon. Members on the wider questions that they have raised.