HC Deb 15 November 1965 vol 720 cc654-6
5. Mr. Robert Cooke

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works why stage three of the roof scheme of improvements to the Palace of Westminster has been postponed, and for how long; and why the factors causing the postponement have not resulted in a change of completion date for the Star Chamber Court scheme.

The Minister of Public Building and Works (Mr. Charles Pannell)

The start on stage three would have meant my going to the Chancellor for £80,000 when there was a general retrenchment. Postponement is to April, 1966. The contract for the Star Chamber Court scheme had already been let prior to the Chancellor's measures.

Mr. Cooke

Is not this just juggling with figures, and will not hon. Members be inconvenienced by the putting off of this vital stage three of the roof scheme?

Mr. Pannell

No, Sir. The Answer to another Question will show that we have not been tardy in recognising the needs of Members.

6. Mr. Robert Cooke

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will state the total sum expended upon improvements to the Commons part of the Palace of Westminster in the years 1952 to 1964; and how many square feet of accommodation have been made available to hon. Members, Ministers and the House of Commons Library by virtue of this expenditure.

Mr. C. Pannell

Just over £300,000 to provide 3,750 sq. ft. of additional accommodation for Members, 2,100 sq. ft. for Ministers, and 4,150 sq. ft. for the House of Commons Library. That makes about 6,000 sq. ft. for Members.

Mr. Cooke

Does the Minister agree that on the present rate of progress, if it is kept up, hon. Members will be pretty well off in about five years?

Mr. Pannell

That sounds all right, but if the hon. Gentleman will look at what has been done since he will see that we have done very much better in the last 12 months. Schemes in progress or planning will give 14,000 sq. ft. of usable office space at a cost of £460,000. Details of this are as follows: the south block of the roof space to be completed at the end of this month, which will provide an additional 3,400 sq. ft. of space for Members and possibly 1,700 sq. ft. for the Fees Office; and the new Star Chamber Court building, due to be completed in the early part of 1967, which will provide a further 9,000 sq. ft. of usable office space.