HC Deb 26 January 1981 vol 997 cc636-7
29. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proposals are being considered by the Services Committee for the cleaning and restoration of the Palace of Westminster.

Mr. Pym

The Services Committee made its proposals in its fourth report of last Session. The implementation of the report is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mr. Janner

As the Minister who is responsible in many respects for this great building, will not the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to the sad, sorry and in many respects dangerous state of this structure, and assure the House that he will do what he can to ensure that the recommendations of the Committee are implemented as soon as possible, before the place falls down and becomes infinitely more expensive to maintain and repair?

Mr. Pym

I am sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman uses slightly exaggerated language, because that is not helpful. I observe that there was a report from the Services Committee on the fabric of the building in the last Parliament, as a result of which nothing happened. The Committee returned to the subject in this Parliament, which was right and proper, and it has reported. We are now awaiting the views of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mr. Stokes

Should not the Government make haste to clean the Palace of Westminster, on the excellent military grounds that a smart unit always performs well?

Mr. Pym

It is possible that the House will have to face up to the enormous costs of that, but it is not for me to pronounce on the matter. It is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, and I shall take the opportunity to discuss it with him.

Mr. Chapman

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the Palace of Westminster should have been cleaned up many years ago and that, however limited the resources, the time is now opportune, particularly when that other great building facing Parliament Square—Westminster Abbey—is being cleaned up?

Mr. Pym

As I said, that responsibility belongs to my right hon. Friend. It would not be right for me to go further than I have already done, but I shall take the opportunity of having a word with my right hon. Friend.