HC Deb 25 June 1973 vol 858 cc1206-76

7.0 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. James Prior)

I beg to move, That this House approves the construction of a new parliamentary building in due course.

Mr. Speaker

I think that it will be convenient if, with that, we take the next motion, That this House approves the construction of the proposed new Spence and Webster parliamentary building in due course. I have not selected the three amendments to the first motion. They are, first, in line 1, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'is not prepared to countenance the construction of a costly new parliamentary building until the question of providing additional accommodation by the conversion of existing buildings in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster has been more thoroughly investigated.' Secondly, in line 1, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'declines to spend what will undoubtedly turn out to be £90,000,000 on itself, especially at a time when it is itself stoking the fires of envy and malice with such loathsome effect in society at large; and more especially in view of the fact that the whole idea of this beehive of misdirected activity would be the antithesis of all that the House should be; and reaffirms its settled convictions that honourable Members want less rather than more of their work done on the rump and more rather than less done on the hoof; that the neglect of the Chamber and the Lobby indicates a rotten decadence in Parliamentary life; and that too many honourable Members suffer from too much rather than too little in the way of information, research, facilities and similar pretentious rubbish.' Thirdly, in line 2 at end add: 'provided that it occupies the whole site from Bridge Street to the Ministry of Defence, is used for the House of Commons and all its necessary appurtenant accommodation—leaving the Palace of Westminster for the House of Lords and as a constitutional history museum—Spence and Webster being instructed accordingly.' The terms of the business motion accepted by the House earlier today preclude me from selecting the amendments to the second motion. The first is in the name of the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford), in line 1, after construction ', insert 'with modifications'. The second amendment is in the name of the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Ford) in line 1 leave out from 'of' to end and add: 'a new Parliamentary Building to the design of the joint Third Prize Winner, entry No. 158 by Paffard Keatinge-Clay in due course.'

Mr. Prior

The House has three related reports of the Services Committee before it this evening. The first, last Session's Fifth Report, recommends that, subject to certain detailed modifications on such matters as height and building line, and further consideration of the security aspect, work should start as soon as possible on the construction of the new parliamentary building designed by Messrs. Spence and Webster which won the Commonwealth architectural competition.

Next there is the First Report of this Session's Services Committee which expresses the view that, irrespective of the decision on the proposed new parliamentary building, additional accommodation is urgently required to meet the needs of Members, their secretaries and the supporting services given by the House; and that the Norman Shaw (North) building is suitable for that purpose.

Thirdly, and most recently, the Committee has reported, in its Fourth Report this Session, on the possible conversion to parliamentary use of the existing buildings on the Bridge Street site, other than the Norman Shaw (North) building, in the light of a feasibility study prepared by the Department of the Environment, and has come to the conclusion that the accommodation resulting would be uneconomical and would not meet Members' needs; and the Government accept that view.

The purpose of the two motions which I have tabled for debate this evening is to enable the House to consider whether, in the context of these reports, there is in principle a need for a new parliamentary building, and, if so, whether it should be the Spence-Webster design. I hope that by doing so I have met the general wishes of the House.

The first of the two motions accordingly deals with the broad issue of principle whether the House considers there is any need at all for a new parliamentary building.

I know that the view is strongly held by some hon. Members on both sides of the House that, however convenient in some ways further office accommodation for Members might be, it could threaten important corporate aspects of the work of the House. They see Members spending their time engaged on paper work in their individual offices and less time in and around the Chamber. That view is forcefully expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Ire-monger) in his amendment, the second to the first motion. I do not see my hon. Friend in the Chamber now. Others may feel that, whatever design we adopt, its cost would outweight the benefits. Those who hold such views will no doubt vote against the first motion.

If the first motion is defeated, there would then seem little purpose in seeking a decision of the House on the particular design recommended by the Services Committee. If, however, the first motion is carried, the House will then want to come to a decision whether the new parliamentary building should be that recommended by the Services Committee; in other words, the Spence-Webster design.

This is only a short debate. The general arguments for and against a new parliamentary building and, indeed, the Spence-Webster design, are familiar to the House and were debated at some length on the motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack) on 9th March. I do not, therefore, propose to take up the time of the House by going over the general ground again, but merely to emphasise certain aspects of the choices before the House on the latest information available and to give a brief indication of the Government's view. With the permission of the House, I should hope to wind up the debate very shortly at the end.

First, as to timing, in his statement of 21st May my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that in any event no public expenditure could be incurred on the proposed new parliamentary building during the present or the next financial year.

I think it necessary that I should also make it clear to the House that, if my right hon. Friend found it possible to provide finance for work to begin on a new parliamentary building in the year 1975–76 on the Bridge Street site, it would also be necessary before any substantial progress could be made to arrange for the alternative accommodation that is to be provided for the police now occupying Cannon Row Police Station to be built.

If the Norman Shaw (North) building is to be used, as proposed, for parliamentary purposes—I shall be saying a little more about that later in my speech —the police who might otherwise have used that building will have to be found satisfactory accommodation elsewhere in the vicinity. It is important to have them in the vicinity. This could take at least three years from the date on which the decision is taken—hence the importance of reaching a decision tonight. Time spent on going back to the drawing board if the House wanted to do that, or in waiting for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to find the money, would not all be lost.

Secondly, I think that I should bring up to date the latest information that we have about the costs of the proposed Spence-Webster building. The latest figures, based on 31st March 1973 prices, are that the overall cost of the building and all—and I emphasise all—its associated works, including a new Underground station approach and ticket office and the reaccommodation of the police at Cannon Row, would be slightly more than £33 million. The cost of the building itself would be £11 million. This new parliamentary building would accommodate 450 Members in single rooms, 450 secretaries and about 300 supporting staff of the House.

Next, with regard to the Norman Shaw (North) building, the Government accept the Services Committee's view that the House is in urgent need of further accommodation. Accordingly, and irrespective of the decision on a new parliamentary building, we are prepared to go ahead as soon as possible with the adaptation of this building if the House so wishes.

The date of occupation would depend to a great extent on what conditions are acceptable to Members. If they feel that it is essential to have better and faster lifts, I am advised that there will have to be some major structural alterations and that these would take until about the middle of next year to complete, and that even then the actual installations of the lifts would have to take place after occupation. If, however, Members are prepared to accept the building more or less as it stands with a minimum of most essential work and to make do indefinitely with the existing lifts and lavatories, I think that we could have the building ready for occupation very much sooner.

Having dealt with those particular points, I now come to the Government's position on the main issues. The first motion, in the Government's view, is that, as the public expenditure position allows, there is a genuine need for a new parliamentary building which will provide better working conditions for the staff of the House and Members' secretaries as well as for Members themselves.

The duties and responsibilities of Members, and what constituents expect of them, collectively and individually, have expanded greatly in recent years. By international standards, and by the standard of office accommodation generally in this country, our working conditions here are indisputably poor, and I think that the rest of us should at least have the choice between the nineteenth century and modern facilities.

The Norman Shaw (North) building will, I believe, be of considerable help to Members. Its use will at least prevent most Members from having to share a room, either there or in the House itself, with one other or, exceptionally, two other Members. But it can be no real substitute in the long term for a purpose-built building: nor can it provide the improvements which we would like to see in the working conditions of those who serve the House and us. When I say "serve the House and us", I think that the most pressing need of all is to try to improve the conditions of our secretaries and others in the House.

As regards the Spence-Webster design, it would not, I think, be appropriate for the Government to express a collective view other than their willingness to be guided by the decision of the House. Everyone must, I think, make up his own mind about the look of the proposed building. Expert opinion, as in other fields, has been sharply divided—from The Times which described it as a superb building to the Daily Telegraph which described it as little short of calamitous. My personal view—it is no more than a personal view—is that the winning design meets the needs of the House and I favour it. But I am no judge of architecture, so I am not entering into an argument about the merits of the particular building.

Mr. Robert Mellish (Bermondsey)

Whatever building is put up, there will be objections.

Mr. Prior

I think that is absolutely true.

If the House objects to the motion on the Spence-Webster design, I see no reason why there should not be subsequent modifications—indeed, some have been suggested by the Services Committee—if these are considered necessary to meet user needs. In the interval before work is begun, it will be only natural for some adjustment to be necessary and I am therefore accepting the sense of the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford). The Government's atti- tude is that, as the public expenditure position allows, this matter is one for the House and not for the Government to decide.

7.11 p.m.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

I am grateful to the Labour Party for having asked me to occupy this position tonight. May I say, with all due modesty, that there is some justice in it? After all, I set up the competition. If I was in at the beginning—I will not say at the birth—I should be in at the consummation. But at least I am here, and I have had a long and continuing association with this matter.

I come by the site almost every morning. As I hold very strongly that with any work of art, whether music or architecture, one has to live with it for some time to find out whether one likes it, I can now say that the thing satisfies me, whatever other people may say. I speak with conviction, although I grant that others who have studied the matter for a long time, such as the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke), also have strong views the other way. The hon. Member made a long disquisition when we discussed this matter on 9th March, but his views were concerned largely with the development of Parliament Square right out to Storey's Gate and a wider vista than merely the parliamentary building. The parliamentary building has to be the start.

I am glad that the House has turned up in some force tonight, but I must make it clear that I speak for myself on this matter; there is a free vote. However, it would often be far better to have three-line Whips on such matters as this than on some meaningless amendments to major Bills. On a matter like this, hon. Members should be here to stand up and be counted.

I have been associated over many years with the conditions of Members, both in my party and in the wider context of the House. There are many facilities here today which did not exist when I came. Some older Members might think that the modern Member was comparatively well looked after. There are hon. Members who continually complain about things in the House who when the time comes—on the Services Committee, on Private Members Day on Friday or at Question Time—are notorious for their absence. I noticed the same tendency when I was in engineering: those who moaned most did not take much part in remedying a situation. Yet looking round the House tonight, I recognise many hon. Members on both sides who have had a continuing interest in this matter and to whom the vote tonight will be of great importance.

We use high-falutin' phrases like "the heart of the Commonwealth", and we should recognise that this kind of debate is a contribution to that concept. What we do tonight is important.

I must make it clear from the beginning that I support the new building. I agree with the assessors that it is a solution of outstanding merit. When the House rejected the Holford plan, the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), as the responsible Minister, decided that there would be an inquiry to end all inquiries. As a result, the Martin-Buchanan proposals came before the House. I was the Minister who received that report, on which we have had many discussions.

In our previous debate, the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) said that, instead of having a competition, we might have given this project to a distinguished private architect. In the complex of parliamentary buildings which was envisaged, including the Foreign Office, the Home Office and the parliamentary building, it was proposed to give one to a competition, another to a Ministry of Works architect, Mr. Eric Bedford, and the third to a private architect. So we met all ideologies. Both Eric Bedford and Mr. Denys Lasdun were made the assessors of the parliamentary building so that it would be known that there was largely a single mind working across the whole conception.

It was agreed that there should be a Commonwealth competition. The only dissident voice was that of the present Prime Minister, who thought that the competition should be completely international. But it was put to me that, probably in the centre of the Commonwealth, a Japanese architect, for example, would not have been very popular with the Australians.

This matter started eight years ago and, after a great deal of work and disappointment, we have the result of the competition. We should remember that 1,000 individuals and firms from all over the Commonwealth expressed interest in this and that 246 entries were received. The assessors invited seven to go forward and the final verdict was unanimous. I know that people can put down individual amendments objecting to certain parts of the competition, but the result represents a knowledgeable consensus.

It would be a devastating blow against the encouragement of young architects and the need to improve modern architecture if we lightly turned aside from all this work which has gone on at such expense and over such a long period. We should never all agree on a building even if there were another competition.

If the second motion is defeated, there could be another long-drawn-out process, taking eight years. Even modest works involving the roof space have been put back for two years, and if we put this matter back for another eight years, we might have one or two more intakes of Members like the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack), who thinks that the world of thought on this subject began when he arrived here. I think that he is convinced in his view, and he may be right, but he will not feel that the other people are right when the second intake from now arrives after another election. As is always the case, there can never be a unanimous feeling about this.

With inflation and a general escalation of costs, in eight years' time the cost of this new building will be astronomical. When the cost of Concorde was first conveyed to the Cabinet in 1964 there was a sum which we could have paid in compensation which seemed so outrageous that we thought that we had better get on with the thing. But it would have been cheap if we had got rid of it then. These costs will escalate.

There will never be unanimity of view. It was said by the mediæval clergy about Wren's St. Pauls. Coventry Cathedral was greeted with derision. No doubt the majority of people regard it with admiration. Tourists trek to it from all over the world.

The new building is, above all, functional. It provides 450 individual rooms and provides for 450 secretaries. Once the building is erected, the modifications can come from the inside. What one does with the interior is largely flexible. Therefore, it is no use carping about this matter. We ought to imagine how the building will look in situ and whether it will be suitable.

I happen to agree with one of the Greater London Council's criticisms—though with not much else—that it would probably be better to put it further back to allow for another traffic lane. I hoped at one stage that Parliament would have a precinct of its own and that the bridge would be closed. I have spent long enough on town planning to remember the Abercrombie plan in 1945 and the missed opportunities and bungled undertakings. If our fathers had been a little more adventurous and visionary, we should be in a far better position today.

People have criticised this proposal. The Royal Fine Art Commission thinks that it is fairly good, but the GLC does not think very much of it. However, I cannot take my view of architecture from the GLC, especially when passing by Waterloo. Most hon. Members who know no different probably think that it is a multi-storey car park with which one is struck as one turns around the corner. It is a traffic hazard. One has to look around both sides of it. On one occasion I was looking so much to the right that I did not take due cognisance of the left, and a Mercedes slid in front of me and I slid into the back of that. I was insured, but I lost my no-claims bonus, so I speak feelingly.

When considering costs we should consider what that monstrosity will cost. I am told that the tender accepted was for £3,850,421. Hon. Members should go and look at it. It will be an eyesore. It will be an offence to London for ever. Why has the GLC done this? It has taken purely the utilitarian view that it can increase office accommodation on that site, but it could easily have weeded out some of its departments and taken them out of the area. It need not have approached the matter like that. That thing disfigures the approach to the House. It has a complete want of symmetry and a certain inconsistency. There is nothing beautiful about it. I hope that the GLC will not tell us how to plan the new parliamentary building.

The House ought to consider having a planning and amenities committee to plan the precincts of this place, by which I mean anything in view of the House. If we had had such a committee we might have avoided that terrible extension of St. Thomas's Hospital, which will cost about £22 million. I have heard all sorts of views about that. But nothing that we do tonight will be as bad as the extension of County Hall and St. Thomas's Hospital. No one in the House would have settled for those.

Hon. Members tend to venerate this place. Over the years it grows on us. For about 30 years it was an ambition of mine to come to the House. I became a Member far later than I should have liked, because of the war. I know some of the history of this place. Hon. Members take their constituents around Parliament. Whatever the newspapers may say, throughout history, as far back as the time of Samuel Pepys, most of the great writers have viewed this place with some derision. It may be said that the population view it with a degree of affectionate contempt. But whenever a real crisis occurs people say "Recall Parliament." Those of us who have struggled through many General Elections to become Members do not underrate our position here and how much responsibility rests upon us. Continuing generations of Members have felt the same.

Less will be said tonight than was said about Sir Charles Barry's building when he put that up. We now regard it as a hallowed building. We venerate it. Whenever anything is produced it is suggested that it was almost divinely inspired. The clock tower merely happens to be left because money ran out and there was no further vote. Yet that thing, standing on its own, is referred to as an act of genius. But Barry intended to bring the whole of the thing around New Palace Yard. We have lived with that for a very long time.

When Charles Barry was awarded first place in the competition it led to a lively newspaper war between the Goths and the Classicists, with those who felt that there should be no restrictions intervening. The anti-Goths continued their attacks after the award for Barry's design was announced. It is worth noting that the original design was very different from the building as executed. That says something for modification. More unpleasant were the fierce personal attacks on Barry. When the award was announced he was subjected to a campaign of most bitter personal attack. Anonymous letters were published calling his style "highly ornamented and meretricious" and "dangerously artistic". No one has called the new proposal dangerously artistic. It was hinted that the judges were incompetent amateurs and that Barry owed his award to a personal friendship with the Chief Commissioners.

Even in relation to this proposal, the name of one of the architects being the same as that of another distinguished architect has also led to comment, although anyone who knows how the competition was run will know that it has nothing to do with that.

The disguntled defeated competitors held an exhibition of their rejected designs and petitioned Parliament to upset the award. I hope that we are more civilised nowadays.

Once the building was started, Barry had to deal with a succession of select committees and consultants. The notorious Dr. Reid was appointed to plan the ventilation of the building, with an authority independent of Barry's. He wanted one-third of the whole cubic capacity for flues, ducts and so on. The dispute between the two men ended only after an arbitrator was called in and reported in Barry's favour. Barry then had to contend with a Committee of Inquiry set up by the Lords—we have not yet had that—which was then overruled by a Committee of the House of Commons.

The Royal Fine Art Commission, under Prince Albert, advised on the decoration of the building. We have not brought in His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Barry also had to contend with criticisms from Members about the acoustics of the Chamber, and these forced him to lower the ceiling, thus ruining the proportions of the room. The final blow—I hope that this will not happen to us—must have been the long and sometimes acrimonious correspondence, extending over many years, with the Treasury over his pay. One of its ploys was not to answer his letters. It took four years for him to receive a reply to one. Times never change. Eventually he Was forced to accept a lower percentage than was usual.

The current controversy has been proceeding for eight years, since I originally set up the competition. The Minister said that even if we agreed to the building which won the competition it could not be completed until the end of 1980. That was the position the last time we debated the matter. Now two years have been added on to that figure, and, therefore, we are thinking in terms of a completion 10 years from now. If we say "no" tonight we are probably saying goodbye to a new building on this scale in the lifetime of many of us. I had always hoped to live to see something more than a drawing on a board.

If we reject the proposal tonight there will have to be a new competition, new plans will have to be submitted and the arguments will all be repeated. A future General Election will bring in new Members and the whole process will never end. I have long believed that the House should be master of its own building and planning procedures. George V said in opening the County Hall building that a public authority meanly housed was a public authority meanly esteemed. There are many things about this place which are mean and contemptible. I happen to be one of those who are for going into Europe. This new project will be one of the complementary buildings which will maintain our place in Europe and to which statesmen might very well come from all over the world.

We need this building now as a symbol of the faith we have in the new era into which we are moving. The plans provide not only for accommodation for hon. Members but also for an open space. Hon. Members should consider the building from ground level and should think how it will appear when viewed along with Richmond Terrace. Then they will see the sort of vista of which this site is capable. Too many hon. Members judge it by what they saw on television and from merely from looking down on things. This facility is greatly needed in this area, which is an area as great as Leicester Square.

I do not wish to talk for long tonight [Interruption.] I do not speak as long or as often as some of my interrupters. The Leader of the House has fairly set out the issues. We now have to pass the first motion. I do not think there is any doubt that we shall pass that because it merely says that we shall have a new building. The crunch comes when we have to decide that the building is the one which won the competition. I hope we shall decide in its favour. Some of the greatest assessors in the world have said that it is a building of outstanding merit. We have to look at many of the things that have been with us for a long time, things that we have come to know and to love. All we have to decide tonight is how the building will look in situ. I have tried to imagine it with the best judgment I can muster and I think that it will justify in the honest light of history all the claims that I make for it tonight.

7.35 p.m.

Mr. Brian Batsford (Ealing, South)

I do not find it easy to follow the speech by the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) because he is such an authority on the subject. In my remarks I should like to take up what he said about competitions in general and some of his remarks about Barry. The mere fact that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has tonight put down these two motions indicates that there are two sides to the matter, namely, whether we want a new parliamentary building and, if we do, whether we accept the winning design.

I do not intend to waste much time on the first motion because I have always thought that the accommodation and facilities provided for Members were totally inadequate. I have always believed that we needed a new building, new rooms and new facilities to cope with the pressure of work.

In many ways it is ludicrous an irrelevant to put down the first motion tonight. What have all those hundreds of architects, the Department of the Environment and even the Services Committee of this House been doing all these years if it had not been agreed that we need a new building on the Bridge Street site? As the right hon. Member for Leeds, West said, the House approved a building on the Bridge Street site on 20th January 1969. I believe that it was he or the right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) who appointed the assessors in the competition. Why is it that, long after the winning design has been selected, after a tremendous amount of work has been put into it, we are still now trying to decide whether the parliamentary building is necessary?

I come now to the second motion. I tried to put down an amendment to it but the amendment was not accepted. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has accepted the principle. He asks us in the motion either to accept or reject, as it stands, the winning design by Spence and Webster. We should be most careful tonight if we are to support or reject such an uncompromising motion. I wanted to insert the words "with modifications". The architects have already made modifications recommended by the Services Committee and I believe that it could recommend a lot more.

The design is the result of a competition. The system of architectural competitions has been acknowledged and accepted all over the world. It is not something we can lightly reject. We agreed on the system four years ago. A large number of famous buildings have been designed as a result of competitions. The right hon. Member for Leeds, West mentioned Coventry Cathedral. There was also the Anglican Cathedral at Liverpool which was designed by Gilbert Scott, whose son, Giles Gilbert Scott, designed the Chamber we are now in. Liverpool Cathedral when eventually built bore no resemblance to the original design which won the competition. Other buildings which have been designed in competitions are County Hall and the Royal Exchange, which was designed by Tite, who was at one time the Member for Bath in this House. There are others. The RIBA building was designed by Grey-Wornum as a result of a competition. Then, of course, there is this building. We all know of the argument and discussion about it, not only in Parliament and public but also in the architectural profession.

We have been reminded that 1,000 British and Commonwealth architects were interested in the competition for the new building. We have been reminded that 264 designs were considered by the well-known assessors and that seven, final designs were seen by hon. Members and a winning one was selected. That was approved over a year ago by the Services Committee by a majority of 11 to 3 but it has taken all this time before we could debate the report.

If we reject the second motion tonight we shall be saying goodbye for ever to the design which won the competition. What is the alternative? If we commissioned an individual architect to do the work, I could visualise a lot of danger. I cannot see any leading architects accepting such a commission after what has happened and we had broken the whole principle of architectural competition.

If we voted against the motion after only a three-hour debate on a Monday evening—not, I am glad to say, in a sparsely attended House—it would be an insult to the architects, to the assessors, to the Royal Fine Art Commission and to everybody connected with the competition.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Barry. It is extraordinary how history repeats itself. On 4th February 1836 there was a debate in the House on the new parliamentary building. I should like to quote something which was said then, and which is one of the few things the right hon. Gentleman did not quote on the subject. I quote from Volume 3, page 2492 of the Mirror of Parliament, because there was not an official HANSARD then. Sir Robert Peel said: If we consent to quash all the proceedings, my belief is that we should be striking a more fatal blow against the principle of competition and against the adjudication by impartial commissioners than has ever before been struck—we shall postpone the execution of the work for an indefinite period—we should injure the character of the profession. We are in an identical position tonight. No doubt some hon. Members would like to see the architectural profession insulted.

Of course, examples of bad architecture exist all over London. I agree that there are some particularly obnoxious ones on the other side of the river. I do not accept at all the criticism of the Greater London Council about our new building when it accepted that frightful thing put up in the middle of the round-about over there.

Much of the indifferent building which exists and is being put up today is not the fault of the architects but results from the restrictions and regulations under which so many of them have to work, restrictions imposed by local and national Government and the terrible rising costs which they must face.

I have always thought that architecture should be courageous; like all other arts it should be courageous. It took an enormous amount of courage for Gibb's great classical Radcliffe building to be put down in the centre of Gothic Oxford. It took even more courage for the vast edifice of which this Chamber forms a part to be built between St. James's Park and the river. Architecture should also reflect the age in which it is built.

It would be a negation of that courage if we were to put on the other side of Bridge Street an insignificant building, purposely innocuous so as not to offend Parliament Square. Parliament Square is a conglomeration of buildings. How it has ever managed to endure and suffer the Middlesex Guildhall all these years, I do not know. But far worse than the buildings around Parliament Square are the big things that go round it in the form of transport.

Hon. Members probably know that I am as much a conservationist or preservationist as anyone in the House. But I see no justification for trying to preserve that "polyglot" of buildings in Bridge Street. Still less do I see any justification for converting them at great expense to provide a temporary solution.

While we are talking about temporary solutions, I wonder whether my right hon. Friend has ever considered the possibility of a ship. Why should not we buy a second-hand liner, take off the funnel, the mast and even the superstructure and float it up the Thames and anchor it outside Mr. Speaker's Steps? It would provide a great deal of accommodation for Members in the cabins and, in those famous words, "would go up and down with the tide".

The reason for my amendment was quite simple. I do not believe that we should abandon all the work that has been done. We were told by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there could be no expenditure on the building for two years. Could not we use those two years for a reassessment? We should remember the number of changes that have taken place since the design was made. The Bryden Treasury building on the other side of the square has been cleaned since the designs were made and presents an entirely different face to both Parliament Street and Parliament Square. It would provide a much lighter reflection in the new building.

A worse change than that has been the change on the site itself. When the architects first designed the building they assumed that Richmond Terrace and Norman Shaw (North) would be demolished, and they assumed all along that a vast Home Office block would be built on the site beyond the new building. In 1970 there was the Willis inquiry, which I believe reported in November of the same year, but it was not until last autumn that the Government accepted the Willis recommendations, and Richmond Terrace and Norman Shaw were saved. I contend that, if the architects had known of that earlier, they might have produced quite a different design.

But, more important still, a very large proportion of the £33 million cost which my right hon. Friend has mentioned results from the fact that because of the saving of those buildings we do not have all the services which would have been on the site if the Home Office building had gone ahead.

I do not believe that we should reject the plan outright tonight. I should like the two young architects concerned, after listening to the debate and reading what hon. Members have said, to think about it again and try to introduce more modifications, bearing in mind that their work has been acclaimed by their profession and by the Royal Fine Art Commission.

It would be wrong to vote against the second motion, and I shall support it.

7.46 p.m.

Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)

It will be helpful to all in this short debate if speeches are brief. Therefore, I say straight away that I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) and with the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford) on the first motion.

There can be little doubt in the mind of the House that we need more accommodation simply in order to operate effi- ciently. It may be that it is a changing society that causes more Members to want more secretaries, research assistants and facilities. This need results in our having more people in the Library to assist us and so on. The situation is totally different from that for which our present building was built.

I agree with the hon. Member for Ealing, South that we cannot simply satisfy our need for more accommodation by trying to convert every building across the way. Usually the capital cost of conversion is a great deal more than the cost of building specifically for a purpose, and there is usually hardly any doubt that the running cost is higher.

I have always held the view, as I did when I was on the Services Committee, that the House should have taken the whole site up to the Defence Department and put a purpose-built building there. That would be the most efficient way of dealing with the problem. With the greatest respect, I do not think that Richmond Terrace should stand in the way of that.

Members may argue on aesthetic grounds but my view is that sometimes something must go in a city as crowded as ours. I should have put on that site a purpose-built building that could be used for the entire House of Commons and all its appurtenances, departments and offices necessary for its proper function. Most organisations in the United Kingdom, whether using factories or office blocks, would have said of a building as inconvenient for their purposes as our present building is that they should simply replace it in toto by a modern building, where they could properly and efficiently perform their functions, which, like the right hon. Gentleman, I believe to be of some importance.

That plan was stopped, not originally because of Richmond Terrace or the Norman Shaw building but because certain Departments in Whitehall wanted some space for themselves. They wanted to get out of the Victorian buildings which, however pleasant they may look from the outside, are also extremely inconvenient for them to work in. That is why half the site became a block of offices. That is why I am sympathetic to the case put forward by the hon. Member for Ealing, South.

I shall vote against the second motion. I believe that the best solution is to create a new design for the whole area and to do the job properly. That would not increase the cost proportionately to the increase in the scale of the building and in the efficiency with which it will operate.

I suggest that there is no reason to reject the verdict of a competition. My amendment—I know that no amendment has been selected—suggested a course which is not uncommon in these circumstances—namely, if the client changes his mind or, as in this case, reverts to what was the client's original mind. It is not uncommon to say, "You are the architects; you have been chosen by fair competition conducted by your colleagues according to the rules set down by your colleagues. We have changed our minds about precisely what we want. We want you to do a proper job on the whole site and not just a job on half the site, which is now completely changed with the patterns of the buildings which will be upon it. Go ahead and redesign accordingly. That is what we now want."

Such an approach would give us a building which would be suited to our purpose.

Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

If that course of action were followed, does my hon. Friend suggest that the new design should be put on display in the House and that a further free vote should take place, with the result that all the difficulties which we are now experiencing would be rehashed?

Mr. English

There are always difficulties in making a political decision. If we say that we object to such a course we would also object to more important issues than one building. I deeply regretted that we had to have two votes—and both were lost—about broadcasting from the House. That is even more important than a parliamentary building.

I should never suggest that this community cannot afford to spend three hours on a debate and 10 minutes on a Division when we are considering erecting a building which will last for a century. That would be taking the alternative argument too far. We have been told that it will take 10 years to build the building which we are discussing and we must remember that it will last for at least a century. We can afford to take a little time on redesigning it, building a proper building and taking out the whole of the House and all its appurtenant departments and offices and making a really efficient job.

Presumably, for historic reasons, we cannot tear down this old Palace. But from the point of view of efficiency it needs to be torn down and we should leave for another place which will meet such purposes as we may think fit. The House of Commons is in a sense the master of this country and it must work efficiently. Surely that is to the good of the population as a whole. Therefore, let us give hon. Members a proper place in which to work and not an extra office over the way.

7.53 p.m.

Mr. Sandys (Streatham)

Like the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), I have been greatly interested in this project ever since its inception. I have been especially interested because, like the right hon. Gentleman, when I was at the Ministry of Works I was responsible for starting the rebuilding of the Chamber after the previous one was destroyed by bombs during the war.

When this project was first debated in the House I urged that the architectural competition should be held in two stages as is now possible under the revised rules of the RIBA. The first stage is in the nature of an ideas competition and is confined to sketches and a general outline of the proposed treatment. Since that involves no detailed work, it attracts a much greater number of entries. Those entries are then examined and discussed and they can be exhibited to the public.

A small number of those entries are then selected to go forward into the second stage. In preparing their final designs the architects are able to take account of the views and criticisms which have been expressed. Nevertheless, that course was not adopted. As a result, we are now faced with a single proposal chosen from a limited number of entries. We have had no opportunity to give guidance or to exercise influence about its design.

Today we must decide between two motions, or perhaps vote against them both. I believe it is agreed that hon. Members must be given proper—and that means better—accommodation in which to perform their important duties and that that accommodation cannot be provided within the Palace of Westminster. Therefore, a new building is necessary. On the other hand, opinions differ about whether we should adopt the Spence and Webster design for the building.

We must also consider whether the plans for the parliamentary building should be decided in isolation or considered in relation to the plans for the new Government offices on the neighbouring site in Whitehall. We are probably all agreed that the winning design has high quality and distinction. However, I am convinced that a building of this kind would not fit happily into the Westminster setting. Its excessive height has been reduced in the amended design by only 5 feet compared with the 25 feet which was recommended by the Greater London Council. The massive appearance of its long, flat and unbroken facade and its prominent glass superstructure would make an overpowering impact upon the whole character of Parliament Square and the historic site of the Palace of Westminster. I consider that the Palace should be left undisturbed by the intrusion of any incongruous new distraction to dominate the scene.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford) said that we should be courageous, but we must also be right. The right hon. Member for Leeds, West said that it was necessary to wait a few years before it became possible to decide whether a new building was liked. I suggest that we must decide that issue before the building is erected and not a few years afterwards. The fact that a horror is in the process of being erected at St. Thomas' Hospital on the other side of the river is no justification for making a mistake.

As the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) said, it was obviously a serious mistake to design the new parliamentary buildings and the large new Government office block on adjoining sites without any regard for one another. Fortunately, as a result of a public inquiry, the Government abandoned the Whitehall office project involving the demolition of Richmond Terrace and other listed buildings of distinction. We are now in a position, therefore, to repair the earlier mistake and to consider the planning of this important area as a whole.

Members of Parliament and civil servants must have adequate accommodation up to modern standards. However, I submit that it does not follow that all the accommodation must be provided in two mammoth blocks. That is the issue. In replanning this combined area, it should prove possible to save Scotland Yard and the Whitehall Club, two tine listed buildings, as well as the attractive view of the river through Derby Gate, and provide the additional accommodation required for parliamentary and Civil Service purposes on the rest of the site. The suggestion that I should like to put to the House is that the accommodation should be provided in several medium-sized buildings, designed with due regard to the character of the existing surroundings.

It will be clear that I am opposed to the adoption of the Spense and Webster design. In my view, it would cause grave injury to the appearance of this world-famous area. On the assumption that the term "parliamentary building" in my right hon. Friend's motion, merely means accommodation for Members of Parliament, which could, if thought desirable, be provided in more than one building and not necessarily in a single giant block, I propose to vote in favour of the first motion and against the second.

8.2 p.m.

Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

I intervene simply as a member of the Services Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) wishes me to make it clear that in no way do I speak for the Liberal Party on this subject, and, therefore, I regret to have to tell the House that I do not do so. My right hon. and hon. Friends remain unconvinced by the arguments I have put to them in private.

It is right to cast our minds back over the history of this subject. We should recall the report of the Select Committee on Accommodation in 1954–20 years ago last month—which, under the chairmanship of the present Speaker, reported to the House that only by an extensive new building could a satisfactory solution be found. Ten years ago another Select Committee report recommended a mock Gothic building. Then in 1968 we had the report of the New Building Subcommittee for which plans were prepared by the then Ministry of Works architect, Mr. Bedford, for a new building around New Palace Yard. That concept did not find favour with the House and never even reached a vote.

All the attempts in the recent past to provide much-needed accommodation have been turned down, largely, it is fair to say, although this is compressing the argument, on grounds of taste. The opposition expressed tonight by the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) and others again comes to the question of taste. I begin to wonder whether there will ever be an occasion when an assembly of 630 people will get a building enthusiastically accepted by all its members.

Mr. C. Pannell

The hon. Gentleman has referred to the mock Gothic building and the recommendations of the Select Committee presided over by Mr. Speaker. I want to make clear now what was not understood at the time—that the idea was to continue Barry's building on the site. No one could have said that it did not conform, but people then did not want to continue the Barry building. They were in favour of an upended matchbox in New Palace Yard.

Mr. Steel

The right hon. Gentleman makes my point. At any time anyone can be found to be against a specific proposal on whatever ground. For example, tonight we have heard the right hon. Member for Streatham and the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) united in their opposition to the proposed building but wanting different things instead. This is the difficulty all along. We can say time and again that we want a new building but the time comes when we have to take a decision on a specific building.

I believe that the capacity of Parliament to develop itself and to control the growing burgeoning of administration is hampered by the lack of facilities for hon. Members. The nature of Members of Parliament has changed. More and more, new Members of Parliament regard them- selves fundamentally as pretty well full-time, whereas it is fair to say that the older generation of Members regarded themselves as part-time and pursued other affairs as well. That has applied to both sides of the House. But that is not realistic today and particularly tomorrow. A Member of Parliament of today, if he is to do his job of checking the executive, has to be equipped to do so. He has to have secretarial assistance and room in which to place his secretary, research assistance and the rest.

When we got a new extension to this building, as we had when the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) was Minister of Public Building and Works—a very good building it was in Star Chamber Court—one of the new facilities we could boast about was that we each had a pink ribbon on which to hang our swords. But the public expects us not to be crowded into over-crowded desk rooms, some of them outside the precincts altogether.

We on the Services Committee are turning our attention to something that has not been mentioned much up to now—accommodation for those who serve us. Some of our own secretaries work in appalling conditions which would not be tolerated in any commercial or public concern other than the Palace of Westminster. Many of the House's staff work in disgraceful conditions. Unless we get some new accommodation, started as quickly as possible, we are being unfair as employers as well as unfair to ourselves in our task here.

I want to make my position clear about the architecture. When the result of the competition was announced and I looked at it for the first time as a member of the Services Committee, I was extremely doubteful and on a snap decision then I might have voted against it. But the more I have listened to the evidence of the assessors and of the Royal Fine Art Commission, and the more adjustments that have been made to the building to meet the demands of criticism and the requests of the Services Committee, the more I have become convinced that this building and its potential is the answer.

Although the right hon. Member for Streatham describes it as an "incongruous new distraction", he must in fairness admit that that epithet could be applied to all kinds of twentieth century buildings which might be erected on the site. But I believe that this building is a bold design. The whole concept of reflecting the buildings round and about is new and exciting. With the one proviso about cost, which is a matter for the Government—and I am sorry that it has been necessary to delay the project for two years—I believe that we should now come to a decision not just that we want a new building but that we have one here with a tremendous potential.

8.9 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

I do not object to the new building, although I think it would look better in Leeds, Ealing, Roxburgh, Selkirk or Peebles. What I do not feel happy about is that the building should occupy the place proposed. It does have considerable imagination but the site is one of the most important in the world, certainly in this country.

I acknowledge that it is an immense and difficult project to design a building which will fit both with this Palace and with the Treasury and the Home Office buildings and all the other buildings in the vicinity. I am afraid that, stretching the point as far as I can, in my humble opinion this building does not match up to those stringent requirements.

I wonder whether we have built our last stone building. It seems incredible that we have no public buildings proposed in the modern idiom in stone. I am saddened that we seem to have turned our back on the skill and craftsmanship which made this building and many other stone buildings and assumed that concrete, steel and glass are the only materials in which modern architects can express their art. I do not believe that to be so. Even if it were so I am not sure that its design comes up to requirements.

A word now about cost. Taking the figure as £10 million which is what it seems to be approximately, although no doubt we shall have a Concorde here too and it will escalate over the years, this works out at £16,000 per hon. Member. I wonder whether this is not too large a sum for us to spend upon ourselves and whether we are really applying it in the right direction. Even assuming that we can afford it——

Dr. John A. Cunningham (Whitehaven)

The hon. Member has been talking about stone-faced buildings and buildings of glass and concrete. Now he talks of cost. Is he aware that stone-faced buildings probably cost twice as much as buildings made of glass and concrete?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman should allow me to complete my short speech. I will deal with the point.

In my opinion, this money could well be spent, perhaps to greater advantage for hon. Members, if we felt that we could readily afford to spend it on ourselves. What would be of the greatest help to hon. Members would be if they could find accommodation which they could afford within a short distance of this House.

I know as a Conservative and as one who does not believe in State ownership that it will seem surprising to many if I suggest that I do not see why we should not use this £10 million to buy up a considerable number of leases on houses and flats in the vicinity of Westminster and let them to hon. Members at economic rents for such periods as they belong to this House. That would give them places to work, and it would be far more effective than this new building.

This brings me to the question which has so far been acceptable to all hon. Members: Do we need the building at all? I am a little surprised at the scale of it. It is to provide 450 rooms for Members. We all know that between a quarter to one half of hon. Members hardly ever come to this place except to vote. The other half who are here have rooms, for the most part. If those who do not have rooms and want rooms were to go into their new rooms, who would be left in the Chamber? What is this great volume of extra work which has been cast upon us by an ever-more demanding electorate? We have been managing so far for 140 years in this manner. I have been a Member of this House for 13 years and it is only this year that I have got a room which I share.

Noting how scarcely I have used my room I wonder whether it is really true to say that there is this vast load of office work placed upon us. There are rooms for those who wish to do a great deal of paper-work but I do not believe that our job is to sit in offices doing paper-work. It is perfectly possible to provide facilities for secretaries and dictating staff without going to the extent of providing a room for every Member of the House.

I would welcome the sort of plan which my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) advocated; namely, that there should be extra buildings for staff, for those Members who need rooms, for secretaries, interview rooms, dictating rooms and so on. But I cannot believe that we need extra accommodation on anything like the scale contained in the proposed new building.

It will have the effect of drawing more Members away from the Chamber, from the Smoking Room, the Committee Rooms, the Tea Room, from all the activities which we engage in. If we feel that as a House we are becoming less effective I wonder whether we are right to think that by providing more space, more offices and room for us to do our paper work we shall in some way re-assert the authority of this House over the executive. What we do to the executive and how we control the destiny of this country as a House depends much more upon our will and initiative in this Chamber than it does upon providing us with more thick carpeted plush office space.

8.16 p.m.

Mr. Giles Radice (Chester-le-Street)

My only excuse for intervening is that as a new Member I am perhaps able to look at this concept of a new Parliamentary building without the benefit of years of experience. I hope that that may make up for the fact that I have not earned my spurs as a member of the Duncan Committee or that which was presided over by Mr. Speaker, that I am not a member of the Services Committee and I did not speak in the earlier debate on the parliamentary building although I listened with growing fascination, particularly to the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) who, unfortunately, is not here tonight.

Like the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel), I start from the premise of the Boyle Report which said that most hon. Members must be considered as working here on a full-time basis. I concede that there is a r7ôle for some involvement in other jobs by hon. Members. Judging by the time that the majority of Mem- bers say they spend in parliamentary duties—they gave this in evidence to the Boyle Committee—and also judging by what constituents now expect of them, Members must increasingly be considered as being full-time.

If that is the case, and it was the case that Boyle accepted in giving us increased salaries, it also follows that Members must be equipped for doing a full-time job. The basic requirements for doing that must be a room and a telephone of one's own reasonably near the Chamber, with suitable accommodation for one's secretary and for parliamentary staff. At the moment such accommodation is shocking. I am glad that the Government accept this principle. Any manager or full-time trade union official now takes such facilities for granted, as do Members of Parliament in almost every other Western European country.

To those, like the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), who fear that somehow the provision of reasonable office accommodation will destroy the magic of Parliament, I say that there is a far more serious danger. It is that parliamentarians will fail to live up to the standards which their constituents are increasingly demanding of them. I worked for a Member of Parliament as a research assistant in the early 1960s and I can see the great change that has come about in the demands that constituents now make of Members of Parliament. Having examined the evidence, I do not see how we can provide adequate accommodation without a new parliamentary building. I have heard arguments for our taking over another place, but I do not think we can get that without another civil war.

The only possible alternative, the only one that has been argued seriously tonight or earlier, is that somehow, by in-filling in the Palace of Westminster and by using a building which the police authorities have totally rejected as being inadequate, we can get something of which we might be proud. I welcome the Government's view that there is no proper substitute for a real parliamentary building.

The question then is: should it be the Spence and Webster building? The main arguments against accepting this design are these. First, it is too luxurious and has too many sauna baths and squash courts. That is not a serious argument. It is up to us. If we do not want sauna baths and squash courts, we can vote against them. We can arrange our own provision.

The second argument is that it is too expensive. The figure of £30 million has been banded about. The real cost is the cost for the building of £11½ million, because we would have to spend most of the other expenditure anyway. There never will be a time when it will be right to build a new parliamentary building. There will never be a time when it will not be other than expensive.

The third and most serious argument is that it is aesthetically wrong. We must accept that there are arguments for and against. The present design has won a Commonwealth competition, and the whole House is in debt to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) for setting up the competition. The design won the competition against many entries. It has the support of the Services Committee which has taken representations from a wide variety of authorities. I accept that it may need some modifications, as the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford) argued, but in the end Members have to decide one way or another. I shall vote for both motions in the belief that by doing so I shall be voting to improve the quality of representation in this country.

8.21 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Chapman (Birmingham, Handsworth)

It is appropriate and proper for me to begin by declaring an interest. I am an architect and town planning consultant. When I was fortunate enough to be elected to this House three years ago I was conscious of coming from the third and second most unpopular professions to the most unpopular profession in the eyes of the public. As I am an architect, I might be expected to be against the winning design because I did not design it myself, but, in fact, I am very much in favour of the winning design. Needless to say, I have absolutely no financial interest in the firm that was fortunate enough to win. Indeed, I did not meet the two young architects until after the decision was announced.

I will state my position simply and briefly. We need the accommodation that the Spence and Webster building would provide. The design is the most economic way of providing that accommodation, and any alternative in the sense of converting the existing buildings—Palace Chambers, Bridge Street and the Norman Shaw North building—would be more expensive and less convenient. I believe that it is a very good design of high quality, and I agree with the distinguished assessors and the Royal Fine Art Commission who said: something better than we have been accustomed to seeing before us for quite some time. That in itself is not necessarily a commendation. It is perhaps more a reflection on the poor quality of modern architecture. As a member of the profession of architecture, the criticism I make of modern architecture is that architects have utterly failed to explain to the public why they build in the way they do with the new materials.

The building is in scale with the other buildings around, although it is in a different style. I therefore think that the winning design should be proceeded with as soon as possible. If there is anything I disagree with in the two motions put down by my right hon. Friend it is that I believe we should start the work tomorrow rather than "in due course." I say that for two reasons. First, the longer we leave it the more expensive it will be. Secondly, I do not believe that if we started it tomorrow it would in any way impinge upon Government public spending policy because very little cost would accrue in the first two years of the building work.

If we cannot agree on this building, we shall never agree on another. For that reason the previous Parliament was quite right, four-and-a-half years ago, to say that we should go ahead with the building and leave it to a distinguished group of assessors to advise us on which building we should proceed with. If we vote against both motions we shall be backing down on a principle taken four-and-a-half years ago, as we are perfectly entitled to do, but in doing so we shall be breaking faith with those who expended time and money entering the competition and, perhaps more importantly, doing irreparable harm to the system of open competition.

I wish to make one or two points on costs. First, some wildly exaggerated figures have been bandied about. My right hon. Friend said that the total project would cost about £33 million, of which about £11½ million at current expenditure would be the cost of the construction of the new works. Of that £33 million we have already spent almost £5 million on site acquisition costs.

Secondly, the costs would be spread over at least eight years. Even if we take the total figure of £33 million we are talking about being asked to spend £3½ million to £4 million per year. The longer we leave it the more it will cost. To put the real figure in perspective, the cost to the nation over the next eight years would be approximately the annual cost of the maintenance of our part of the Palace of Westminster, for in maintenance costs—fuel, heating, light, and so on—we spend currently on this building £3½ million a year.

The building design, unlike any conversion job, is much more flexible than would be the conversion of existing buildings. To those people who think that we would be providing for ourselves luxurious accommodation—the Inn on the Park syndrome—rather than, as I believe, adequate accommodation, I say that the swimming pool and the recreational facilities come to about 2 per cent. of the total floor area. I should be willing to give that up in the modifications if people felt very deeply about it.

I conclude by referring to the design. My opinion is no more valid than that of any other hon. Member, but I ask hon. Members to consider one or two matters. First, I respectfully disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) when he said that it would be out of scale with the surrounding buildings. We must agree to differ on that. I think it would be very much in scale. It is no higher. With the exception of Richmond Terrace and one or two other ancillary buildings, it is about the same height as the surrounding buildings.

Secondly, I ask the House to realise that, although the building is in a completely different style from the buildings that surround it, there are no two buildings in Parliament Square that are in the same style. Therefore, ecleticism, which is what Parliament Square is all about, would not suffer by this new building. It would preserve the line of Whitehall, Parliament Street and Bridge Street would open up views at ground level of the old Treasury building facade to the River Thames. That is an important point to consider aesthetically.

I turn to the point about the building's reflective walls. My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) made a point about a stone building. The point I make about this glass building is that because we are building the elevation in glass it will be much more reflective than the model suggests and, therefore, softer in relation to surrounding buildings and more in harmony with them. The more I examine the building the more I am convinced that it is a good design which will make a distinguished contribution on an historic site.

Controversy always surrounds buildings in new styles but they can still become accepted as great works of architecture. We have only to think of the first two Renaissance examples in this country, the Queen's House at Greenwich and the Old Banqueting House in Whitehall by Inigo Jones.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford) talked of Wren's great masterpiece, St. Pauls, which was bitterly opposed by the mediæval clergy. We must also remember that at first there was open hostility to Coventry Cathedral, which is now more and more accepted as a masterpiece by the majority of our nation.

I believe that the proposed new parliamentary building is in its way in that great tradition of English architecture, and I ask the House to raise its eyes and to assert its confidence in our future and the future of this august Chamber. I ask the House to vote for both motions, for if we do I feel that the decision will be something we can all be proud of.

8.32 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

I must say at the outset of my speech that I am against the proposed new parliamentary building. Having said that, I hope I shall not be classified as somebody who adheres to the mediæval clergy.

Ever since I have been in this House I have argued very strongly for better accommodation for Members but in particular—and I am on the record on this point—for better accommodation for the secretaries of this House. We have argued this matter many times. Therefore, because I among others am opposed to the building, it must not be thought that I am against better accommodation and indeed more accommodation for Members' secretaries and staff. It seems to be assumed in some quarters that, if one is against the building, one is against the idea of seeking better conditions for ourselves and our secretaries. That is not a point of view I take.

What I am afraid of is that some hon. Members have now, understandably, reached a position in which they take the view that if we do not vote for this particular building, we shall never at any time get a new building. Therefore, they are prepared to put aside all the questions of what the building will look like, whether it will fit in with the environment and whether it is important to the future of Parliament Square and to Parliament. We are more concerned with whether or not we get a building. I want better accommodation, and ultimately a new building, but I do not want this building.

The hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford) made an interesting speech in which he said that if we do not accept this building we shall be insulting the architect. Then he went on to say that they are young architects and ought to take back the design and have another look at it. Therefore, I suppose he feels that we are insulting the architects in a limited way because he still feels that they should take back the design. I agree with him, but surely it would not be an insult to say that this House by a majority does not agree with their proposed building. We must remember that the building will be with us for a long time. We are all these days more environment conscious and this is very right and proper.

We hear much talk about the experts and it is said that we must agree because the experts say so. Anybody who had ever visited the city of Liverpool can see what the experts have done. I refer to the people who call themselves planners. They have ruined the city. They have taken the guts out of it. The most hideous buildings have been erected by the experts. Let us hear no more talk about experts. Some chaps who merely lay a few bricks a day and some joiners are probably more expert when it comes to knowing what is a nice building than many designers.

My right he Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss), who is not present at the moment, made a very interesting speech in the last debate. Ultimately he fell over backwards to be on everyone's side. But his main point was that he did not intend to be fooled by the experts.

Some of our greatest modern architects say that it is a good building. It does not follow that we should necessarily go along with them. We have seen the results of some of their buildings. They are not very pleasant. They are not what we should contemplate building here.

The GLC has criticised the building. People argue about the hideous building that the GLC has put up across the river, and they point out that St. Thomas' Hospital is also a hideous building. But we ought not to say that the GLC may not be right in this case. It may be that it has learned from its own mistakes.

As happened in the last debate, I want to draw attention to a very interesting article by Jill Craigie, and I refer to her in her own right. About this building she said: The architects, Webster and Spence, devised a vast, rectangular roof of steel girders which they fancifully describe as a 'filigree', thus suggesting intricate delicacy. … But a mere filigree, indicated by delicate lines in the models, would surely collapse if required to carry so massive a weight. The steel girders may well turn out to be very much heavier. This structure, by the way, would be covered with plastic and rises higher than that of the Palace of Westminster. Do we want a plastic-glass-concrete-steel monster in the midst of this square? I do not want that.

I am not certain that I am dedicated to the idea of stone. I too accept the point made by one of my hon. Friends that if we had stone it would be much more expensive and might even cost twice as much. But it would be twice as good to look at, and it would fit in. If we are concerned with putting up a building which is good to look at, which will last a long time and which will be functional at the same time, we ought to consider that.

There were other designs from which we could choose. We could pay the prize money to those who won——

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)

They have already got it.

Mr. Heffer

Then that problem does not arise. But we do not necessarily have to have their building. There were other designs. In my view the design which came second was much better.

I ask this House to support the first proposal, although I am not entirely happy with it, but to reject the second proposal, to look further at the designs and the situation, and to come back with an alternative proposal.

8.40 p.m.

Mr. Jasper More (Ludlow)

Unlike the timorous people denounced by the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), I never derided Coventry Cathedral, for one reason, namely that it had to stand in its own site and dominate that site.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford), I agree that the buildings now standing on the north side of Bridge Street are unworthy of Parliament Square. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) that the proposed and winning design is not worthy to stand in that setting. In saying that I do not mean to be insulting to the architects. I mean merely that we must consider the importance of planning the area as a whole.

Things have change since the competition was instituted, in that we have had the report reprieving Richmond Terrace and part of the Norman Shaw building and altering the future of the whole of the area.

I was one of a small minority on the Services Committee—a distinguished minority, none the less—which voted against the proposed new building. I repeat that this was not intended as any insult to the architects, because I am sure that this is in itself, like Coventry Cathedral, a good building. Perhaps the House should blame itself for not laying down all the right conditions, the first of which should have been that this should be a building which goes well with the Palace of Westminster and fits in with the whole setting of Parliament Square.

I agree very much with my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) that there is much to be said, in spite of any increased costs, for considering a building of stone on this site. My appeal to the House is that we should not be too sefish of our own interests as Members. There is no difficulty about finding accommodation in the House if one wants it. When I had to leave the Whips Office rather suddenly in October 1971, I just wandered round the building till I found a vacant desk and I sat down at it. I have been sitting there happily ever since.

Let us vote in favour of the first motion, not so much for the sake of ourselves but because, as a number of hon. Members have said, including the hon. Member for Walton, this is important for the Officers and Officials of the House who work so hard for us, for our secretaries and for many departments of the House such as the catering staff. Let us vote against the second motion because in so doing, without any insult to the architects, we shall be voting for securing the character of Parliament Square for the generations to come.

8.43 p.m.

Dr. John A. Cunningham (Whitehaven)

I am pleased to have the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. More), although I do not agree with him. I am interested to hear that he is a squatter in the House. I have the privilege of sharing a room here with 13 other hon. Members. We have two squatters in our room. In similar manner to the hon. Gentleman, they arrived, chose a seat and sat. If everyone turns up at once, there are 15 to share 13 desks. This makes the point about overcrowding of the accommodation in the existing House of Commons.

I am a supporter of both motions. The argument against the first motion has gone largely by default. Hardly anyone has spoken against the need for a new parliamentary building. As for the argument against the second motion, no speaker has yet proposed what in the normal course of events could be a realistic alternative. The various views expressed against the second motion, views which fall into the categories of the merits of the building, the cost of the building, or the effect of a parliamentary building on the House, appear to have been advanced to prevent a building from being built. In other words they are arguments against the first motion, though many hon. Members have said they are not against that kind of proposal.

I agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman) that we should proceed with the building not only in due course: we ought to proceed with the building as soon as possible. I particularly take his point about the minimal effect it would have on Government expenditure. His right hon. Friends might take very serious note of that. If we do not proceed with a new parliamentary building as soon as possible, Parliament will be seen in the eyes of many as less and less relevant simply because it will become more and more difficult for the ordinary Member to have any impact on what happens in Whitehall. This is crucial to the whole argument.

People are concerned about the effect on the House. I concede that it might have a very serious effect: it might sweep away some of the cobweb mentality which affects this place at the moment and it might break up some of the debates in the Tea Room or Smoking Room and have the effect of preparing Members more for debates in the Chamber and in Committees—an exceedingly dangerous thing to do, I concede; but it is a serious consideration.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)


Dr. Cunningham

My hon. Friend says "Oh", but he is a London Member and has a London constituency. It is an entirely different consideration for a provincial Member representing a constituency hundreds of miles away, with no home in London, no business interests in London, and with nowhere other than somewhere in the House of Commons to work.

Mr. Spearing

My hon. Friend may be interested to know that my parliamentary business is almost entirely done within the allocated space within the precincts of this House.

Dr. Cunningham

I did not say it was not. The point I am making is that my hon. Friend comes here from home; he can work at home if necessary; he can go back home and develop support for his work from his home. So he is in a much better position, in total, than is a Member representing a provincial constituency. That was my point. I did not mean to impute anything.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Dr. Cunningham

No. I have not referred to the hon. Member and I want to be brief.

I cannot speak with any knowledge of planning or any knowledge of architects. Indeed, in spite of what people may think I do not know any architects. However, I note that the Royal Institute of British Architects has commended the building; I note that the Royal Fine Art Commission has commended the building; I note that the two architects who have spoken in the debate favour the building. I do not think it is really on for right hon. and hon. Members, with vague knowledge of architecture, to say that their views are a good reason for turning it down. My view of the architecture of one of the alternative proposals might not be a favourable one but I would not say that that in itself should be conclusive argument against it.

It was interesting to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) say that we might consider alternatives and ignore what the specialists say. If we followed my hon. Friend's logic we might favour a building of a design by an architect who did not win a place in the competition.

If the House does not support the second motion we shall be in the position of the old woman who lived in a shoe: we should be the old Mother of Parliaments living in a shoe with so many Members of Parliament that she did not know what to do—so she did nothing. That is the danger of the present situation. Above all else, it is important for the relevance and effectiveness of Parliament that we do something effectively, and that means voting for the second motion.

8.50 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)

I could not disagree more than I do with the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Dr. John A. Cunningham).

want to be brief, because I have had the opportunity of deploying certain views on earlier occasions but I should initially like to bring out two points. First, whether we want it or not, we have two years in which to sort ourselves out. The Chancellor has decreed that. Although my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman) might bemoan the fact, it is a fact.

Secondly, we should bear in mind the contradictory argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford), who said that originally this building was conceived as part of a grand design to sweep away the whole of one side of Whitehall, that this building would be at the end of it, and that the architects accepted this as their brief and worked to it.

The result is total incongruity. Therefore, I absolutely endorse what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys). It is an incongruous building. I accept that this is being subjective. I do not necessarily dissociate myself from those who have said that the building in a different setting might have its attractions, but here in Parliament Square it is glaringly incongruous. Indeed, it would obtrude to the detriment and disadvantage of this place which we all love and enjoy.

My main reason for opposing the building and, indeed, the two motions is not merely my personal subjective dislike of its design and my fear of what it would do in being destructive of the harmony of Parliament Square, but that it is seriously open to question whether we need a building at all. My real fear is that if, across the road, we erected a free-standing building with all the elaborate, extravagant facilities that it would incorporate, we should be drawing away from the life of this place. That would indeed be detrimental to Parliament.

Although people make comments about our needing better facilities—we do need better facilities—this legislature does not compare unfavourably in both its personnel and results with legislatures throughout the world. We can all take some pride in the traditions that we have established here.

Every hon. Member has a legitimate right to expect and to demand his own room and, more important, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) pointed out in a most persuasive speech, his secretary has a right to demand proper facilities and space. But I suggest that we should seriously consider, in the terms of the amendment in the names of several right hon. and hon. Members and myself, whether these facilities could not properly be provided in buildings within this vicinity. We have not only Norman Shaw South, but Norman Shaw North, Richmond Terrace and the Middlesex Guildhall. Within the Palace of Westminster we have a number of offices which need not be here. For example, the IPU and some of the stores and workshops housed within this building do not need to be within the Palace of Westminster. If there were a sensible reallocation of space within the Palace of Westminster, if we could take over the whole of those buildings that I have enumerated, and make a parliamentary complex at the end of Whitehall, I believe that we could provide adequately and properly for all our needs, both personal and corporate, and for our secretaries. This proposed solution has not been sufficiently explored. Some of the buildings have been looked at, but not all. They should all be investigated.

We should also consider whether demolition of part of the Bridge Street complex and a wide, green, pleasant space might be a better contribution by Parliament to London, to this country and, indeed, to the Commonwealth than what is proposed to be erected.

I hope that many hon. Members will consider seriously whether a building of this type would enhance our parliamentary rôle and add to the value of the work of Parliament. If they feel that a new building is necessary, fair enough, but they should then decide whether, as they have two years in which to consider the matter, they should go ahead tonight merely because this is the only option open, or whether it would not be better to try to produce something that would be a little more compatible with the glorious architectural heritage which surrounds us in this part of London.

I implore hon. Members on both sides of the House at the very least to vote down this building which we are being offered and which would be resented throughout the United Kingdom both for its extravagance and for its personality, and also to consider seriously whether we need a new building at all.

8.56 p.m.

Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)

I hope that the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack) will forgive me if I do not follow in detail the point he was developing.

I strongly support all those who have argued that we must have proper conditions in which to serve our constituents and the country effectively. That means basically that, if we are to do our work confidentially and with privacy, we and our secretaries must have private accommodation of our own and not be expected to share facilities with others, and it should mean, above all, a proper telephone service for effective communications.

I want to enter a plea on behalf of that gallant band of Members who are struggling to make a go of that outpost of the parliamentary empire, No. 1 Bridge Street as it exists now. We belong to an exclusive band, and sometimes the difficulties with which we contend are not well understood by all our colleagues.

We have become accustomed to the inconvenience of working at that distance, to the sprints that we have to make when the Division bells ring and to the sprints that we have to make when we receive a message—and we do not always receive them—that our constituents are waiting for us in the Central Lobby.

Although we may have learned how to cope with that particular difficulty, in recent months insult has been added to injury, because we in No. 1 have been penalised by not being offered the telephone service that is available to other Members. We have been expected to make do without an automatic message service which I understand has been installed for Members elsewhere.

What is particularly ridiculous about this situation is that by virtue of the fact that we are away from the main building we have to be away from our desks more than others who are working nearer to the Chamber and the Central Lobby. That being so, priority should have been accorded to those who are in No. 1 Bridge Street when the new telephone service with its automatic message system was introduced.

I have raised this matter with the Leader of the House, with officials of the House and with my own Whips. Whenever the matter is raised I am told firmly, but very courteously of course, that if I do not like the conditions in Bridge Street I have an alternative, and that is to move to Dean's Yard. What has happened at Dean's Yard is that an automatic service has been installed, but what is overlooked is that over there one's base is even further away and the inconvenience of getting to the House quickly is even greater.

I should therefore like to enter a plea to the Leader of the House. As, inevitably, there will be a time lag before anything happens to No. 1 Bridge Street, this indignity, this imposition on Members there, should be rectified. It is intolerable that some Members should have a second-class service compared with that enjoyed by their colleagues.

I now wish to revert briefly to the main subject of the debate because I am strongly on the side of those who believe that we must have proper working conditions. I believe that when we argue for these we have to see our arguments in the context of the general political situation, the general malaise in British democracy at the moment.

We should be foolish, when discussing this crucial subject, to overlook the fact that an increasingly well-informed electorate is cynical about the body politic. There is a feeling, which many of us would, of course, contest, that we use the electorate in order to reach this elite exclusive political circle and that, once here, we want to surround ourselves with the best possible working conditions to tackle the executive—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I hope that my hon. Friends will listen to the argument—and that once we have got here we do not maintain the links that we should with our constituents.

If we are to convince the electorate that we are serious in our task of tackling the excutive efficiently, doing properly the job that we are sent here to do, I believe that the case that we should be developing now is much wider than the one with which we seem to have become preoccupied. The priority for which we should be arguing is proper facilities in kind for manning our constituencies while we are here. We should have good, effective communication with our constituents, and that is what is lacking at the moment. The more impersonal and technological society becomes, the more important it is that we should be accessible to ordinary people.

I therefore want to give an extra dimension to this debate by arguing that we should not become so mesmerised by the need for a building, that we overlook that one of the greatest drawbacks to our doing our job properly is the lack of proper on-going facilities for most Members in their constituencies. Therefore, I support those who argue that we must urgently have the basic minimum requirements here for doing properly the job that we have to do, but that is only part of our job, as I see it.

I know that I shall be accused of using a populist argument, but the fact that an argument is popular is no reason for eschewing it. When I look at the immediate needs in my constituency of countless people who do not have a proper place in which to live, let alone work, and who are told that however sad their situation may be, the public funds are not available to build at the necessary rate, the one cautionary note that I would implore the House to bear in mind is that, while the basic amenities must be there and, obviously, we want something that will be in harmony with the general environment, we cannot justify a single penny of expenditure on ourselves in excess of what is absolutely necessary.

One message that must go out from this debate is that we want proper working conditions, but on a functional basis, not on any basis that can be looked on as a self-indulgent extravagance.

9.3 p.m.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

I agree with the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) that we should neither indulge ourselves nor be extravagant, but I believe that we should have some modest new building as soon as possible for our secretaries and the staff of the House—some modest building for our secretaries and the staff of the House. I repeat that phrase because that is the most important consideration of all.

Several hon. Members have said that our constituents demand more of us. But let us examine what they demand of us. First, they demand that we should be available for interviews. Second, they demand that we should attend wine and cheese parties, or the Socialist equivalent. Third, they demand that we should be in our places here. Fourth, they demand that we should be in an assortment of private meetings, gossiping and talking among ourselves and formulating thoughts, so that we may come here and attend Committees of the House.

They do not expect of us that we should lock ourselves away in private rooms, with or without our secretaries. They imagine that we should, first and foremost, be available to them in the constituencies and, second, that we should be right here, as a handful of us are tonight.

Therefore, I oppose the building. I was about to say that I oppose it hook, line and sinker, but one cannot do that with a building.

I have the greatest admiration for the architects. I hope that they sell their concept to a new Brasilia elsewhere. Some of the most specious arguments have been put forward, such as the argument that this is an insult to the architectural profession or to these two estimable chaps. They were given the wrong terms of reference. We do not want what they have done, because they were told to do the wrong job. Many hon. Members have complained about British architects completely forgetting the fact that it is not the architects who are to blame but the miserable patrons and the lousy town planners. It is the patrons who are parsimonious with their money for a variety of reasons, because they are seeking to resell a building at maximum profit or because their squalid council is trying to get the greatest number of houses built and, therefore, the greatest number of of Labour votes—the greatest number of houses as is so noticeable in greater Glasgow.

The British architect today is in a very bad way because of the patrons and the town planners. But these two particular achitects have done an estimable job and I wish them well elsewhere.

9.6 p.m.

Mr. Dick Leonard (Romford)

We have heard some rather bizarre ideas tonight. We had all heard of floating voters. The hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford) wants us to become floating Members. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) wants us to abandon not only the whole of the building but the Chamber as well, and to rebuild across the road. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. John Wells) is so patriotic that he thinks that the building which would be excellent for Brasillia is too good for this country.

Tempted as I am to follow some of those flights of fancy, I shall be brief and, therefore, restrict myself to four points.

My first point concerns the cost of the proposed building. It was suggested in the debate in March, from the Government Front Bench and from the back benches, that it would be cheaper to adapt the existing buildings on the site and some other buildings, and that this would be a means of providing acceptable alternative accommodation for hon. Members.

The Services Committee examined that proposal and found it wanting. Its vote was unequivocal. It said that the accommodation which would result would not be satisfactory for Members' specific requirements and that it would be uneconomic to undertake either of the two projects which the DOE put to the Committee.

So it is now clear that the proposed new building is not only the best solution to the needs of hon. Members but will also be the cheapest way of meeting them.

My second point concerns the suggestion that what is proposed is a luxury building. It has been referred to in the New Statesman as a Grand Babylon Hotel, and by the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack) as an Inn on the Park. It is no such thing. Overwhelmingly, the new building will be a place in which work will be done. In their specification from the Services Committee the architects received a proposal that there should be leisure facilities for Members, and their design provides for a swimming pool, sauna baths and other such recreational facilities. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman) has told us that these recreational facilities will comprise only 2 per cent. of the area of the whole building. In no sense are those facilities essential to the design as a whole. They could easily be scrapped and replaced by entirely functional facilities if that were the wish of the House.

My third point concerns the site of the new building. Around it stands distinguished buildings representing virtually every age in our history, from the 11th century onwards. It is only the modern age which is unrepresented in Parliament Square at present. The site on which the building would be erected is littered with a nondescript collection of buildings which would be no loss if they were swept away.

I have studied the proposals of Messrs. Spence and Webster probably as closely as any other hon. Member of the House. I have had the opportunity three times of watching the slides and projections which the architects have produced to illustrate what the building will look like and the magnificent views which are likely to be obtained from it. I have no hesitation in saying that this will be a magnificent building worthy in every way of the site on which it will stand. It will not be solely or even mainly for the benefit of Members of Parliament. The Services Committee's original brief for the competition was extremely narrow and self-centred. However, the architects have shown themselves more aware of their wider responsibilities to the public than has the House itself. While meeting all the specifications for facilities for hon. Members laid down in the competition, they have succeeded in liberating a large public space—rather larger than the area of Leicester Square—which will for the first time enable the public to be provided with first class amenities when they visit Parliament. After all, it is meant to be for their benefit, not ours.

Tonight a decision must be made. It can only effectively be made by passing both resolutions on the Order Paper. If only the first motion is passed and the second defeated no building will be erected for at least 15 or 20 years. If tonight we say "No" to the second motion, we shall be effectively shackling not only ourselves but our successors for a generation to come.

9.12 p.m.

Mr. Jerry Wiggin (Weston-superMare)

I shall not cover any of the historical matters about the project since they have already been well aired tonight and are well known to hon. Members. Architectural matters are questions of personal judgment. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) made that point in a forceful speech. He is opposed to the building, but I believe it to be a satisfactory and ingenious solution to the problem which was placed before the architects. I believe that the idea of allowing the existing buildings to reflect on the surfaces is probably as good a way of getting over the difficulties of the architectural jigsaw of Parliament Square as any that have been suggested tonight.

Speaker after speaker has acknowledged that facilities are at present appalling, and that includes facilities not just for hon. Members but for their secretaries, and for the staff of the House. Shortly after I came to this place I asked the Deputy Serjeant at Arms to take me on a conducted tour of the entire House. I can assure the House that it was a most interesting and rewarding morning. I confirm that there is scarcely room for the present facilities and functions to be carried out adequately. I confirm that every corner of the building is being used and that those not being used have been considered for use.

I should like to see the judicial functions of the House of Lords moved to the Law Courts. I do not see why barristers should have a dining room in this building. Those matters, however, are but a tiny fraction of the problem which faces us. It is essential if we are to deal in a modern manner with the problems that arise we must have an office building in which to do it. The building that is proposed is in no way a social centre. It is 450 offices. I admit that a swimming pool has been included, but is that unreasonable in a building that will serve about 2,500 people, many of whom have to remain here for 12 or 14 hours a day frequently against their own volition? I do not think that that is either extravagant or pampering the soft flesh of Members of Parliament. It is a perfectly normal thing to provide in a modern building.

No commercial organisation would consider putting up such a building and not putting into it the facilities that are proposed. The Shell Oil Company put up a building far more magnificent, with far greater facilities for swimming, sport and other things, and it is a commercial organisation using its shareholders' money.

I fully accept that if I began to argue in financial terms, talking about commercial rents and the like, I could lead myself into difficulties. But the fact is that I am told that to rent 400,000 sq. ft. in this part of London today would cost about £4,800,000 a year. I am no property developer, and I have no knowledge of the subject, but it strikes me that for a cost of £30 million the country would be obtaining a very economic investment, at a very fair return, by spending the money on the building.

One question has been mentioned by no one tonight. If either motion falls, particularly the first, what is to happen to the site, which we all acknowledge to be important? We all acknowledge that the present buildings are inadequate and out of date. The Government have already bought a considerable part of the site. Therefore, may I suggest that we should know what is to happen if the new parliamentary building does not go there? Is it to be a block for yet another Department? Is it to be offices for civil servants instead of for Members of Parliament? If so, let that be said and let the House know what it is considering.

I intend to vote for both motions. If they are passed, I urge my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to examine very closely the economics of postponing the decision on the building, as it seems that under present circumstances delaying it is likely to increase its net cost and ultimately the taxpayer will have to spend more.

9.18 p.m.

Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

I declare my interest as a member of the Services Committee and a very firm supporter of the new parliamentary building.

The whole debate has centred around individual judgments of what is correct in terms of siting a new building in Parliament Square. The Services Committee and now the House have had the benefit of the views of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Fine Art Commission and many other qualified bodies. We have also had the advantage tonight of the views of that up-and-coming distinguished firm of architectural assessors, Messrs. Cormack, Ridley, Sandys and Heffer, who seem to be telling us that what we must do is to deny posterity the advantage of having in this great site, this permier site of the nation in Parliament Square, the culture, the image of the day's generation, and that we must slavishly follow all that has gone in the past.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman), himself a distinguished member of the architectural profession, spelt out that those were the same arguments as were put against the great efforts of Sir Christopher Wren and all the other people who contributed towards making this capital city of Great Britain a gem in the eyes of the whole world.

I want to turn from that matter of taste to what I believe is the essential ingredient of the whole discussion. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Leonard) that it we turn down the second motion for the Webster-Spence building we shall be putting off for at least 20 years the prospect of having anything at all.

As a member of the Services Committee I have recently been engaged with other hon. Members in inspecting the accommodation which is available for the staff in this building. On that point alone, it would be a disgrace if for the next 20 years we condemn the secretaries, the officers of the House and the people who work in the Refreshment Department—in fact, all the 2,000 people who work in the building serving society, the nation and hon. Members—to the unacceptable conditions in which they have to work and in which they have to rest. So to condemn those people would be a shameful act.

Some hon. Members have spoken as if the new parliamentary building was designed only for hon. Members. That is just not the case and its demonstrates that they have not read the reports and studied the information which is available. The new parliamentary building will provide 450 places for hon. Members, 450 places for secretaries and 380 places for officers and staff. In fact, over 1,200 people would be accommodated in the new building. They would be accommodated not in over-plush or over- accommodated refinement but in essential working conditions.

It is not sufficient to turn down the building on cost alone. That is not sufficient unless we consider the cost of human indignity which we will be responsible for inflicting on those who work in this building. We must have the new building in order that hon. Members may effectively serve democracy and the people. We must have it so that we can provide for those who work here the services and the conditions to which they are entitled and which the law anywhere else would demand that they have.

9.23 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Warren (Hastings)

I shall concentrate my comments entirely on the requirement of the new parliamentary building. During the three years I have been here I have nothing but praise for the marvellous way in which the staff work to support our work. I also have great praise for the work which hon. Members are able to carry out in the appalling conditions in which they find themselves.

It must be said that in this House we have a most inefficient business system. Much of that reflects entirely from the poor premises in which we are working. Many hon. Members have said that the conditions in which we work would not be tolerated in industry or commerce. Some hon. Members have said that they have even been driven to thinking that they might have to leave this place because of their inability to carry out properly the job which they have been sent here to do.

This is about the only institution in the whole of the country which works the crazy hours which are those of the Americans. We work nine to five system which entirely reflects the American approach, but with a five-hour time gap. That is an extraordinary situation. We have three options. First, we can proceed with all haste with the selection which has been offered to us. Secondly—I do not offer this option entirely lightheartedly—we could cut the number of hon. Members by half and use the resources available. Thirdly, we could do nothing at all. That might appeal to some people.

I was disturbed to hear the ease with which my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) is able to deal with his constituents. I find that I—and I am sure that many hon. Members are in the same position—have a lot more to do than my hon. Friend suggested he found necessary.

Some hon. Members have said that because the competition has taken place we must accept its findings. That is not necessarily so. The competition has illustrated the contentions which are present in the House. We should not be turned aside from rejecting the judge's decision if that is what we want to do. I cannot support the brown edifice which is proposed even if it reflects a particular style of achitecture.

One of the failures of architecture in London in the latter half of the 20th century has been that architects have not seen their designs in the environment in which other people have to look at them or listen to them. I am sure that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) has shared with me the experience of being on the Terrace and listening to Big Ben at eight o'clock in the evening, which is now at double time, pealing 16 times. That is an example of how a building has been set up with no consideration of its effect upon others.

Without doubt the building is needed and the need is two fold. We must have a better business base. Our credibility is suffering because of the inadequate conditions in which we work for the public.

Secondly, reform in the business of the House is as essential as a new building in which to work. We work crazy hours and must look at ourselves in the context of trying to improve our work output and not in terms of the facilities we are seeking to give ourselves. I support the motion for a new building but I am much against the venture proposed.

9.25 p.m.

Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley)

I am one of the lucky Members who has a new office over the Tea Room, and I am grateful for it because the last one was in Bridge Street, where we had one outside line shared among eight Members. I have a marvellous new office. There are only a few things wrong with it. The ventilation is appalling and no one can tolerate it in the temperatures of the last few weeks. The telephone system does not work properly, and if it did it still would not be adequate as one line is not enough. If one places a long-distance call, one cannot take any incoming call until it has reached one. The design of the furniture is abysmal. The files will not fit in their cabinets. Labels for them fall off every time one shuts the door. The drawers for pens and rubbers are not deep enough. When one puts a bound HANSARD——

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

Where did the hon. Gentleman get a HANSARD?

Dr. Gilbert

—into the bookshelves upright, one has to take one of the shelves out, so that one loses a whole shelf.

In addition, there is the question of privacy. We do not need Watergate to bug each other's calls. It will not be news to the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Michael Shaw) that I can hear his telephone conversations, because he can hear mine through the wall in the next office. Yet this is a new office building. It is a scandal. Of course we need the new building. What is more, I give notice to the Leader of the House that not only do we need it but that it will not be adequate when it comes.

Several hon. Members have extolled the virtues of the new building, saying how admirable it will be for us to have research facilities. But there will be no space in it for research assistants for hon. Members.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) is not here because I found some of his arguments seductive. But we are going to need in time the whole of that site properly to service hon. Members. We are going to need proper research facilities, and there is no sign of our getting them. The proposed building is only a halfway house. I have no hesitation in saying that I can defend this expenditure to my constituents as the best investment this country can make for me to defend their interests in this place.

9.29 p.m.

Mr. Man Haselhurst (Middleton and Prestwich)

The opponents of the new parliamentary building fall into three categories. The first category is those who believe that there is no need for further accommodation. They fail to appreciate or to be tolerant of the fact that hon. Members these days are perhaps finding a different work style and see their job in a different rôle from the way in which others have done. It has to be acknowledged by those who say that there is no need for extra facilities that there are other hon. Members who do believe that in order to do their job properly these facilities must be provided, and if those who do not believe them necessary are going to deny them to the House as a whole because of their own feelings, then they are denying them to their colleagues who sincerely believe that their job can only be done in a different way.

I cannot see any danger of a so-called "destruction" of Parliament as we know it in being kept away, if we are, from the Smoking Room and other facilities. Indeed, if I can do my constituency case work more efficiently, I can spend more time in such places.

There is a rising load of casework. New Members coming into the House are finding that more and more of their time is taken up in dealing with constituency cases. If any hon. Member thinks it is too much time I say that it is an absolutely disgraceful comment to make upon the fact that there are voters who put us here in the belief that they will get some personal attention from us.

There are those who say that the cost is not justified. There is surely some confusion here because it is not a matter of the cost of this building. It can be safely assumed that any other alternative parliamentary building which may at some stage be put up will cost at least as much if not more. If we do not have a parliamentary building it is inconceivable that the Government, if not Parliament, will not be responsible for whatever is built on the site across the road. Therefore, a large sum of public money will be expended.

The argument is not so much about cost in this context as about usage of the site. If there is ever to be a new parliamentary building that is the only sensible site for it. There are those who say that the cost may be justified but surely not at this time when the public are concerned about inflation and so on. There never will be a suitable time for any kind of expenditure involving parliamentary work. I say to those people that the public as a whole would support expenditure for this express purpose because the more I talk to my constituents the more I find they are truly appalled that we do not have basic facilities to answer their correspondence efficiently and quickly.

I do not believe there will be any argument from the public that we would be spending money on ourselves. We would be spending money to serve our constituents better. That is the complete answer to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) who was worried about this.

The other category are those who say "Not this building". It has been pointed out already that it is hard to see how we could ever find agrement on a particular building. Wherever matters of art and design are concerned there are bound to be differences of opinion. The only way we can get something on which the vast majority of the House would agree would be if we adopt a lowest common denominator approach. That would be the last possible way of deciding this thing sensibly.

We could go on forever spending money on expedients which no doubt, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman) pointed out would mount up into considerable sums anyway. It is only natural that every Member will not put his personal feelings to the test in such a matter. There must be some regard for architectural opinion as a whole. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) condemned experts. I usually go to experts as a touchstone when I am only a layman.

If I am ill I go to a doctor not because I believe that all doctors are always right but because I believe on the whole that they will be more right than my next-door neighbour. Therefore, I will go to architects to listen to what they say and will take that into account. If I found that architectural opinion as a whole, and architects are a diverse group of people, was against this building I would be much influenced by that. The opposite is true. The bulk of architectural opinion is in favour of this building and that is what certainly guides me. There are many outstanding features to this building not the least of which is nearness.

It is the nearness factor which to my mind completely destroys the case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack) with the various alternatives he suggested. We can only try to take a relevant and right approach in deciding this matter. How can Parliament best decide its public duty in a matter of this kind? It has already given mature consideration to it and a compliment should be paid to the Services Committee which has not so far been congratulated on its splendid job of work. Parliament has a duty with regard to Parliament Square.

Parliament has conducted an international competition within the Commonwealth with distinguished assessors working within prescribed rules. If we veto the product of this procedure what more objective way can we discover for determining what building shall be bequeathed to future generations? If we have another duty it is surely to provide the people's representatives with facilities which enable them to do the job which the public requires of them. We would be gravely mistaken if we did not read the signs when the public are increasingly demanding better services of us. If we pass these motions tonight we can never fairly be accused of failing to conduct this business properly.

9.35 p.m.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

Most hon. Members who have spoken from both sides of the House agree that we need better facilities to do the job we were sent here to do. I support both motions. The probability is that the most modern building the architects might devise will be out of date in 10 years' time. All our great buildings have been objects of fierce debate, and reasons similar to those we have heard advanced tonight have been put forward in favour of or in opposition to them.

The most sensible course for the House to take is that recommended by the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford) which is to support both motions. He said that there would be left to us a degree of flexibility in shaping the new building internally and that there could be further discussions. That is the safe, sure and sensible way to proceed.

In recent years we have heard from our constituents, the newspapers and the television about the growing threat of bureaucracy. As Members of Parliament we have to see middle-grade and senior civil servants and chief officers of town halls. Those are the people the Press and television refer to as "the faceless bureaucrats". When we in turn visit them we discover that their facilities are far superior to our own. It ill behoves us to cavil and complain about bureaucrats and civil servants if we do not have the courage to ask for similar facilities to do our job. That is the challenge.

I detect here and there a frightened attitude. Hon. Members wonder what their constituents will say. Our job is to lead, to have the guts and courage to stand up and say that, if our constituents want us to do our job properly, they must support our demands—which I consider to be minimal—for the facilities necessary for us to carry out the job.

I agree with much of what my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said, although some parts of his speech left me a little worried. He wanted the building to be constructed of old stone. I see the attraction of that, but I remember the late Nye Bevan saying that the trouble with the present structure of the House of Commons and its surroundings was that it more resembled a church than a workshop. The building proposed will he a modern workshop, as it should be, and not a religious construction, and that is one reason why I am in favour of it.

Other Parliaments have been mentioned. Let hon. Members go to see other Parliaments. Let them see the Bundestag, the French Parliament and others. Let them see the staff that is provided for Members of Parliament which is vastly superior in numbers to our staff. The only advantage that the British people have is in the better calibre of their Members of Parliament.

I want to have the best of both worlds. When we have the building and have modified it to suit us better, we shall have an opportunity to do our job efficiently and with dignity. With better provision and more efficient working conditions we shall be enabled to examine the problems that afflict our constituents, the nation and the world. Since we are living in a scientific, technological age we shall need too the proper tools to do our job and to carry out our responsibilities on behalf of our constituents.

9.40 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

I think it is true to say that the last person to speak before the winding-up speech is always extremely unpopular. Therefore, because I wish to support both motions, I should be even more unpopular if I were to prolong arguments which have already been put before the House.

If the debate had gone the other way I would have been culling, in a desperate fashion, the thirty-fifth or forty-fifth reason for having the new building as suggested by the architect, namely that in wartime one could always use it as a hospital. But I have not been obliged to do that because the debate has gone the other way.

The debate has shown beyond doubt that the House is impatient with further delay. I believe that the House will vote by a great majority in favour of both motions. In spite of the long history of this, at times, sad and depressing matter, this debate has been inspiriting. This matter has been before the House in various forms since 1964 when it was under the guidance of the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell). I believe the House has now come to realise that the delay so far has been positively damaging and has not enhanced our reputation in the world or with the British public.

It is timorous, unjustified and untrue to say that the public has the kind of regard for Members of Parliament that it is not prepared to support a sensible amount of expenditure on a new modern building—a building which I happen to think is one of the most brilliant designs put out in recent years by skilled architects.

I believe that the public will accept the decision of the House this evening. The whole nature of Parliament in modern Britain is changing. We are passing from the old style orator such as my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley)—and I pay tribute to him—to the modern technician who works on behalf of his constituents in an effective and functional way. There may be some aspects of this transforma- tion which we regret, but we must face the reality of modern times. Not all politics is bound up with grandiose issues and matters of grand design, frontier-crossing issues in the larger sense, but a great deal of modern politics involves the nitty-gritty, unglamorous side of representing individual constituents with their many problems.

I could not return to my constituents and say that I voted against a modern and inspiring concept just because it cost a reasonable amount of money—reasonable, I must emphasise, if no further unnecessary delay is incurred. I could not go back to them and say that I voted that way because the old traditional features of Parliament must be retained to the exclusion of all the modern exigencies of today's Parliament. If we compare our facilities with those of modern Parliaments throughout the world, we surely cannot vote against these motions.

Let me go into a few figures—and I hope that in working out the mathematics I have included the requisite number of noughts. If the building, with modifications, will encompass 1,200 persons—450 Members of Parliament, 450 secretaries and additional staff with extra rooms, then at a cost of say £12 million, give or take £500,000, the total annual rental per person would be of the order of £12,000. Assuming, say, 400 square feet for each office unit in the building, that would represent a rental per square foot of £1.25. That compares with £5, £6, £7 or £8 in the West End and more in the City of London. Do not let us be conned into thinking that the economics of this proposition are unreasonable. In my view they are extremely reasonable.

The public will be watching this debate with interest, not least because of recent problems affecting the body politic and their representatives which have manifested themselves to the public. Those who take a keen interest in these matters and those of our constituents who need our help in a welfare sense will be watching the debate to see whether their parliamentarians come to a courageous, realistic and long overdue decision.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I understand that the Lord President wishes to catch my eye at 12 minutes to the hour. Mr. Raison.

9.46 p.m.

Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

I speak only because I belong to a very small group which does not think that we need a new building but which rather likes the one before us.

I do not believe in the argument that the case for a building of this size has been made out. I accept fully the right of every hon. Member to have a room of his own if he wishes. But I do not believe that every hon. Member wants a room of his own. I do not, for one. Equally I do not believe that even if every hon. Member wants a room of his own he will want an additional room for his secretary. Many of us share secretaries, and that practice is likely to continue.

I accept the argument that there is a risk that, if we lock ourselves up in little rooms on the other side of Bridge Street, we shall detract from our principal function as Members of Parliament. I have been a Member of this House only since 1970—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] In my experience our weakness is not so much how we handle our constituency correspondence as our failure to thrash out the great issues which need thrashing out. It is curious how much time we spend on other matters when we should be talking between ourselves about policies of great importance. We spend far too much time on the mechanics of politics.

If we commit ourselves to a new building, my view is that the one proposed has certain considerable merits. I have always found Parliament Square curiously disappointing. The Palace of Westminster is one of the great buildings in the country. Westminster Abbey is a fine building. But, strangely, the square as a whole is very much less than the sum of its parts.

I cannot see that this design would be an objectionable intrusion. I believe that the architects have managed to combine a real strength in their building. It has vigour and character and it is greatly superior to the second design. What is more, it has a touch of elegance and style which is appealing.

For all those reasons I intend to vote against the first motion and to support the second one.

9.49 p.m.

Mr. Prior

With the leave of the House I should like to speak for a second time.

It seems from the general tenor of the debate that has taken place that the argument on the first motion—that a new parliamentary building is required—has been largely accepted. Few of the speeches, except for that of my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) and the speeches of one or two other hon. Members, have been against the concept of a new parliamentary building.

My hon. Friend's argument was one that one heard much more 14 or 15 years ago in the House than one hears today. There is no doubt that the weight of business which hon. Members must conduct for their constituents and the many other interests they serve is much greater than it was 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

Even if hon. Members were left out of consideration, it would not be fair to go on asking our secretaries, the Officers of the House and others who serve us to work in the conditions in which they operate today.

I hope that as a temporary measure the Norman Shaw (North) building will help out. I tell hon. Members who were not here at the beginning of the debate that the opportunity that Norman Shaw (North) would provide over a number of years until a new building were available would certainly ease the pressures here considerably.

In answer to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd), the reason why we had not gone ahead with installing a modern telephone service in Bridge Street is simply that, until we decide whether we are to pull Bridge Street down, it is a pointless exercise. If we are to pull Bridge Street down, I should hate to go to the expense of installing new telephone cables and a new telephone system there for a matter of a year or two or three years.

What the House must consider is whether it should be the Spence-Webster building or something else or, in the case of my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), whether it should be more than one. That is the issue before us tonight. Having listened to all the debate, it is difficult to imagine a situation in which there will ever be unanimity. If the second motion is defeated tonight, it is hard to see how any other building will ever find acceptance.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford), in an excellent and constructive speech, said that he was worried that we might tie ourselves too tightly to the new Spence-Webster building. I take the point fully that over the next year or two there is bound to be modification and it would be wrong to tie the hands of the architects to that extent. My hon. Friend was right to warn us about throwing over a competitive designed building. It will be difficult to find any architect of repute who, after reading about this debate and the debates that have gone on in the Chamber, not only recently, but going way back to 1834 or 1835, would want to take on this job.

Some hon. Members have asked whether we need the recreational facilities. If we are to build a new building, let us build properly. If it means that we are to have some squash courts and a swimming pool, it may help the figures of some hon. Members. Therefore, on the whole I am in favour of doing the job properly or not at all.

If one is fair about the costings, the cost per head will be about £15,000, putting the building at £11.5 million and the land at £7 million. That is about the same cost per head as the cost of housing a civil servant in the same part of London. I do not think that there are any grounds for saying that it is unduly extravagant.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman), the hon. Member for White-haven (Dr. John A. Cunningham) and other hon. Members expressed their concern about the delay over the next two years. This is an important point. During the next two years we would first develop plans for the scheme. We would plan and start work on new accommodation for the police from Cannon Row. We would prepare to start demolition by getting the site emptied. It would enable London Transport to complete preplanning of the new tube station and it would enable the GLC to complete plans for raising the level of Bridge Street. So the time would not be entirely wasted.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) were very critical about the materials to be used in the new building. I must tell them that stone has been extensively used in the parliamentary building design, in the podium and at street level generally. The bronze, glass and metal are all of high quality and modern materials. The cost of good glass and metal would be about the same as that of good quality stone. As far as I can find out at this hour of the night, no plastic would be used in the construction.

Some hon. Members have argued that a new building would remove interest in the Chamber. That was one of the points of one of my hon. Friend's who said that he felt that we should tend to shut ourselves up in small rooms away from the Chamber. I do not believe that the main reason for the declining attendance in the Chamber and at our debates is that Members are shutting themselves away in their rooms and offices. I believe the chief reason is that Members are much busier and have many more responsibilities.

There may be another reason too. It has been brought out in this debate. If we could confine our speeches to the length of the speeches we have had tonight—and we have had 25 speeches in there hours—it could possibly be that hon. Members would come to the Chamber and take part in debate. If we did this our debates would not go on so long and there would be more time for hon. Members to do other things.

These are matters which the House will have to consider in due course. To my mind it is not only necessary that we modernise our parliamentary buildings, but we should modernise our parliamentary procedures too. We have an important decision to make this evening. It has been a very good debate. The matter is now one for the House to decide.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 68.

Division No. 172.] AYES [9.58 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lomas, Kenneth
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Ford, Ben Longden, Sir Gilbert
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Fortescue, Tim Luce, R. N.
Armstrong, Ernest Fowler, Norman Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Astor, John Fox, Marcus Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Atkins, Humphrey Fraser, John (Norwood) MacArthur, Ian
Atkinson, Norman Freeson, Reginald McBride, Neil
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Gardner, Edward Machin, George
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Garrett, W. E. Mackenzie, Gregor
Batsford, Brian Gilbert, Dr. John Mackie, John
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) McLaren, Martin
Bell, Ronald Glyn, Dr. Alan Maclennan, Robert
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Golding, John McNair-Wilson, Michael
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Gower, Raymond McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Benyon, W. Grant, George (Morpeth) McNamara, J. Kevin
Bidwell, Sydney Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Marquand, David
Bishop, E. S. Gray, Hamish Mason Rt Hn Roy
Blenkinsop, Arthur Gummer, J. Selwyn Mawby, Ray
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Gurden, Harold
Booth, Albert Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Boothroyd, Miss B. (West Brom.) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bossom, Sir Clive Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Millan, Bruce
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hamling, William Miller, Dr. M. S.
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Hannam, John (Exeter) Miscampbell, Norman
Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne, W.) Hardy, Peter Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Harper, Joseph Molloy, William
Brown, Ronald(Shoreditch & F'bury) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Money, Ernie
Buchan, Norman Haselhurst, Alan Monks, Mrs. Connie
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hastings, Stephen Monro, Hector
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Havers, Michael More, Jasper
Carlisle, Mark Hawkins, Paul Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Carmichael, Neil Hayhoe, Barney Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Heffer, Eric S. Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Hicks, Robert Morrison, Charles
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Moyle, Roland
Channon, Paul Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Horam, John Murray, Ronald King
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Hornby, Richard Murton, Oscar
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Clegg, Walter Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas O'Halloran, Michael
Cockeram, Eric Howell, Denis (Small Heath) O'Malley, Brian
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Orme, Stanley
Cohen, Stanley Hughes, Mark (Durham) Oswald, Thomas
Coleman, Donald Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth Sutton)
Concannon, J. D. Hughes, Roy (Newport) Palmer, Arthur
Coombs, Derek Hunt, John Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Hunter Adam Parker, John (Dagenham)
Costain, A. P. Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Parkinson, Cecil
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony James, David Perry, Ernest G.
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Janner Greville Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Crouch, David Jenkins. Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Prescott, John
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) John, Brynmor Price, William (Rugby)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) John, Brynmor Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Davies. Denzil (Llanelly) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Pym, Rt Hn. Francis
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Radice, Giles
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham.S.)
Deakins, Eric Redmond, Robert
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Jones T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Jopling, Michael Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Dempsey, James Judd, Frank Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Doig, Peter Kaberry, Sir Donald Rees, Peter (Dover)
Dormand, J. D. Kaufman, Gerald Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Kerr, Russell Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Drayson, G. B. King, Tom (Bridgwater) Richard, Ivor
Driberg, Tom Knight, Mrs, Jill Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)
Duffy, A. E. P. Knox, David Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc'n&R'dnor)
Dykes, Hugh Lamborn, Harry Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Eadie, Alex Lamond, James Roper, John
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lamont, Norman Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Ellis, Tom Lane, David Rost, Peter
Emery, Peter Latham, Arthur Rowlands, Ted
English, Michael Lawson, George Russell, Sir Ronald
Evans, Fred Leonard, Dick Sandelson, Neville
Ewing, Harry Lestor, Miss Joan Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Faulds, Andrew Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Scott, Nicholas
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Shelton, William (Clapham) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Wallace, George
Shersby, Michael Taverne, Dick Ward, Dame Irene
Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Tebbit, Norman Warren, Kenneth
Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.) Watkins, David
Sillars, James Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Weatherill, Bernard
Sinclair, Sir George Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth) White, Roger (Gravesend)
Skeet, T. H. H. Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy Wiggin, Jerry
Small, William Tinn, James Wilkinson, John
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Tomney, Frank Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Tope, Graham Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Spearing, Nigel Torney, Tom Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Speed, Keith Trew, Peter Winterton, Nicholas
Stallard, A. W. Tugendhat, Christopher Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Steel, David Varley, Eric G. Worsley, Marcus
Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham) Vickers, Dame Joan
Stoddart, David (Swindon) Wainwright, Edwin TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Mr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. James Wellbeloved.
Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Wall, Patrick
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Green, Alan Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Awdry, Daniel Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Grylls, Michael Quennell, Miss J. M.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Raison, Timothy
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Hiley, Joseph Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Biffen, John Hutchison, Michael Clark Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Biggs-Davison, John Iremonger, T. L, Ridsdale, Julian
Body, Richard Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Bray, Ronald Kimball, Marcus Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Kinnock, Neil Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Bullus, Sir Eric Leadbitter, Ted Skinner, Dennis
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Lipton, Marcus Soref, Harold
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Macmillan, Rt.Hn. Maurice (Farnham) Stanbrook, Ivor
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Maddan, Martin Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Marten, Neil Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Maude, Angus Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Mills, Peter (Torrington) Urwin, T. W.
Eyre, Reginald Milne, Edward Waddington, David
Fell, Anthony Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Nabarro, Sir Gerald Woodnutt, Mark
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Normanton, Tom
Fookes, Miss Janet Onslow. Cranley TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Foot, Michael Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Mr. Patrick Cormack and Mr. Roger Moate.
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Pardoe, John

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the construction of a new parliamentary building in due course.

Motion made, and Question,

That this House approves the construction of the proposed new Spence and Webster Parliamentary building in due course.—[Mr. Prior.]

put forthwith pursuant to order.

The House divided: Ayes 208, Noes 144.

Division No. 173.] AYES [10.11 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne, W.) Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Brown, Hugh D. (Q'gow, Provan) Deakins, Eric
Armstrong, Ernest Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey
Astor, John Buchan, Norman Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund
Atkinson, Norman Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Dempsey, James
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Carlisle, Mark Doig, Peter
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Carmichael, Neil Dormand, J. D.
Batsford, Brian Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Drayson, G. B.
Bell, Ronald Clerk, David (Colne Valley) Duffy, A. E. P.
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Dykes, Hugh
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Cockeram, Eric Eadie, Alex
Benyon, W. Coleman, Donald Edwards, Nicholss (Pembroke)
Bidwell, Sydney Concannon, J. D. Ellis, Tom
Bishop, E. S. Coombs, Derek Evans, Fred
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Ewing, Harry
Booth, Albert Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Faulds, Andrew
Boothroyd, Miss B. (West Brom.) Crouch, David Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)
Bossom, Sir Clive Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Fowler, Norman
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Fraser, John (Norwood)
Freeson, Reginald Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Gardner, Edward Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Garrett, W. E. Longden, Sir Gilbert Roper, John
Gilbert, Dr. John Luce, R. N. Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Golding, John Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Rost, Peter
Gower, Raymond Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Rowlands, Ted
Grant, George (Morpeth) MacArthur, Ian Sandelson, Neville
Gurden, Harold McBride, Neil Scott, Nicholas
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mackenzie, Gregor Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Maclennan, Robert Shersby, Michael
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) McNair-Wilson, Michael Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Hamling, William McNamara, J. Kevin Sillars, James
Hardy, Peter Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Sinclair, Sir George
Harper, Joseph Mawby, Ray Skeet, T. H. H.
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Small, William
Haselhurst, Alan Meyer, Sir Anthony Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Hawkins, Paul Millan, Bruce Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Hayhoe, Barney Miller, Dr. M. S. Speed, Keith
Hicks, Robert Miscampbell, Norman Steel, David
Hill, S. James A. (South'pton, Test) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Horam, John Molloy, William Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Money, Ernie Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Morrison, Charles Taverne, Dick
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Moyle, Roland Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Hunt, John O'Halloran, Michael Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Hunter, Adam Orme, Stanley Tinn, James
James, David Oswald, Thomas Tomney, Frank
Janner, Greville Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Tope, Graham
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Palmer, Arthur Tugendhat, Christopher
John, Brynmor Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Varley, Eric G.
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Parkinson, Cecil Wainwright, Edwin
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Perry, Ernest G. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Wall, Patrick
Kaufman, Gerald Prescott, John Watkins, David
Kerr, Russell Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Wiggin, Jerry
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Proudfoot, Wilfred Wilkinson, John
Knox, David Radice, Giles Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Lamborn, Harry Raison, Timothy Winterton, Nicholas
Lamond, James Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Lamont, Norman Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Worsley, Marcus
Lane, David Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Latham, Arthur Rees, Peter (Dover) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lawson, George Rees-Davies, W. R. Mr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. James Wellbeloved
Leonard, Dick Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Richard, Ivor
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Driberg, Tom Hutchison, Michael Clark
Atkins, Humphrey du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Iremonger, T. L.
Awdry, Daniel Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) English, Michael Jopling, Michael
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Eyre, Reginald Judd, Frank
Biffen, John Fell, Anthony Kaberry, Sir Donald
Biggs-Davison, John Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Kimball, Marcus
Body, Richard Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kinnock, Neil
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Fookes, Miss Janet Knight, Mrs. Jill
Bray, Ronald Foot, Michael Lipton, Marcus
Brinton, Sir Tatton Ford, Ben Lomas, Kenneth
Bullus, Sir Eric Fox, Marcus Machin, George
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Mackie, John
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) McLaren, Martin
Channon, Paul Glyn, Dr. Alan Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Gray, Hamish Maddan, Martin
Clegg, Walter Green, Alan Marquand, David
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Marten, Neil
Cohen, Stanley Grylls, Michael Maude, Angus
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Gummer, J. Selwyn Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Cormack, Patrick Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Costain, A. P. Hannam, John (Exeter) Milne, Edward
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Hastings, Stephen Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Havers, Sir Michael Monks, Mrs. Connie
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Heffer, Eric S. Monro, Hector
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hiley. Joseph More, Jasper
Murray, Ronald King Russell, Sir Ronald Urwin, T. W.
Murton, Oscar Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Vickers, Dame Joan
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Shelton, William (Clapham) Waddington, David
Normanton, Tom Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
O'Malley, Brian Short, Rt.Hn.Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Wallace, George
Onslow, Cranley Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Ward, Dame Irene
Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Skinner, Dennis Warren, Kenneth
Pardoe, John Soref, Harold Weatherill, Bernard
Parker, John (Dagenham) Stallard, A. W. Wells, John (Maidstone)
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Stanbrook, Ivor White, Roger (Gravesend)
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Redmond, Robert Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.) Woodnutt, Mark
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Tebbit, Norman Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Ridsdale, Julian Torney, Tom TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Trew, Peter Mr. Roger Moate and Mr. Nigel Spearing.
Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Brc'n & R'dnor) Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the construction of the proposed new Spence and Webster Parliamentary building in due course.