HC Deb 28 March 1983 vol 40 cc18-a
33. Mr. Dormand

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will make a statement on the progress being made in providing improved office accommodation for hon. Members.

Mr. Biffen

The Services Committee has agreed a report on phase 1 of the development of the Bridge street site for parliamentary purposes. It is hoped that the report will be published before Easter.

Mr. Dormand

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the possibility of a general election within the next few months will not in any way affect the work that will be done on the new office accommodation on that site? What progress is being made in making additional office accommodation for hon. Members available in the Palace of Westminster?

Mr. Biffen

I can promise the publication of the report and, I hope, a debate shortly thereafter. I can promise absolutely nothing whatsoever about the date or outcome of the general election. I shall consider the hon. Gentleman's point about improving the office accommodation within the Palace of Westminster and write to him.

Mr. Freud

Does the Leader of the House accept that new Members of Parliament such as my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) and the new hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. O'Brien) have the rnost urgent need for office accommodation? Would it be possible to have a temporary office for such Members so that they could spend at least the first few weeks with a desk and a telephone?

Mr. Biffen

I understand the hon. Gentleman's reference to temporary accommodation. I shall refer it to the appropriate members of the Services Committee.

Sir Kenneth Lewis

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when I first entered the House all I had was a small locker? Since we have been given desks, my mail has increased, my work has increased, the votes in this place have increased, and I do not believe that the Government are under any more control now than they were then.

Mr. Biffen

I cannot deny my hon. Friend his boyhood reminiscences. I am by no means sure that even were we to reverse the recent accommodation development we should necessarily reverse the burdens of our correspondence.

Mr. Hooley

Will the Lord President confirm that the offer of £15 million by the Secretary of State for the Environment for the new accommodation still stands?

Mr. Biffen

The Government's position on finance will be made clear at the time of the debate.