HC Deb 21 July 1970 vol 804 cc216-8
6. Mr. John Wells

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will extend and improve the air conditioning system in the Palace of Westminster.

Mr. Kershaw

At the request of the previous Services Committee, my Department will try out a system of partial air-conditioning in the Smoking Room. The work will be carried out during the Recess. If the experiment is successful, the system could be extended to other specific rooms.

Mr. Wells

Will my hon. Friend examine for the future the smaller dining rooms at the Terrace level and the Library, which is quite revolting at the end of the summer months in the late evenings? Secondly, will British or imported equipment be considered for the preliminary experiment? Will he look into the possibility of using British equipment made in the Maidstone constituency?

Mr. Kershaw

I am afraid that I cannot answer the last part of the question.

Mr. Wells

Why not?

Mr. Kershaw

I will get in touch with my hon. Friend about it. The Services Committee has decided that the Library should be air conditioned, but the trial which is being carried out is in the Member's Dining Room in the first instance, not in the Library.

Mr. Driberg

Did the Parliamentary Secretary say that there was to be partial air conditioning in the smoking room? If so, what does he mean by that? It is already very draughty in the winter.

Mr. Kershaw

It will all be air conditioned, but perhaps it will be more thoroughly done if the Services Committee decides that the experiment is a success.

18. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what works he proposes to carry out in the Palace of Westminster during the summer Recess in order to improve facilities for Members.

Mr. Kershaw

As the list of these works is rather long and detailed, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

We also intend to carry out work necessary to provide desk accommodation for some 75 Members and secretaries in Palace Chambers.

Mr. Lewis

Is my hon. Friend aware that I intended to raise in a supplementary question that there are too many hon. Members who still have not got desks? Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that it is more important that hon. Members should have desks than that they should have separate rooms, and that the sooner we can get to a situation in which every hon. Member has a desk the better?

Secondly, will my hon. Friend give some priority—I do not know whether this is included in his list—to attending to the kitchens, which are antiquated, serving the Member's Dining Room and the Strangers' Dining Room?

Mr. Kershaw

The first point is for the Services Committee.

The construction of a new central stores area to facilitate efficient service in the kitchens is one of the things which will be done.

Mr. Orme

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the time has come for a drastic overhaul of the whole of the facilities in this House? What has happened to the proposals which have constantly been made for major improvements'? Will the Government look at this matter with some urgency?

Mr. Kershaw

The hon. Gentleman must speak, first, to the Services Committee about that.

Following are the details:

  1. 1. Experimental air conditioning installation in the Smoking Room.
  2. 2. Construction of a new Central Stores Area to facilitate the provision of an efficient service to Members by the Refreshment Department.
  3. 3. Works associated with cabling for the new PABX telephone system.
  4. 4. The re-decoration of all floors of St. Stephen's Porch.
  5. 5. Improvements to the lavatories of St. Stephen's Hall and Porch.
  6. 6. Improved inner window units in Committee Rooms 6 and 10.
  7. 7. Improvements to lighting in East and West Writing Room and Members' Room on the upper Committee corridor.
  8. 8. General refurbishing of carpets and upholstery where necessary.