HC Deb 02 July 1984 vol 63 cc12-3
27. Mr. Janner

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will ask the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) to consider the matter of access to the public galleries.

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

I know of no general desire of hon. Members for a change in the present arrangements.

Mr. Janner

In that case, will the right hon. Gentleman go to the Upper Committee Corridor and look at the brilliant caricature by P. C. Ian Nuttall of the long line of supplicant Members queueing up at the Admission Order Office, led by myself on my knees, seeking tickets for the Gallery? Will he look around the Galleries in this Chamber and see the number of empty seats that are allocated to the other place and to distinguished strangers and are never taken up? Will he seek some way to make those seats available, if not to the public, to guests of hon. Members?

Mr. Biffen

I find the prospect of the hon. and learned Gentleman on his knees somewhat improbable. I shall, of course, draw his points to the attention of the Accommodation and Administration Sub-committee.

Mr. Dykes

Now that we have a newly elected European Parliament, will my right hon. Friend perhaps look again at the question of access——

Mr. Skinner

An Assembly, not a Parliament.

Mr. Dykes

Will my right hon. Friend consider the question of access—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has as much right as anyone else to ask questions.

Mr. Dykes

Despite the fact that there are now more Labour Members in the European Parliament than before, will my right hon. Friend consider the question of access to the Public Gallery and to other public and semi-public places by MEPs?

Mr. Biffen

My hon. Friend's question raises fairly wide-ranging and somewhat controversial issues which have already been considered by the House, but I shall draw his points to the attention of the Accommodation and Administration Sub-committee.

Mr. Bermingham

Now that the Lord Privy Seal has, as an experimental gesture, granted access to the Gallery by the blind and their accompanying guide dogs, will he extend the experiment to include those with other forms of physical handicap? It is disgraceful that handicapped people should have such difficulty in gaining access to the Public Galleries in this place.

Mr. Biffen

Arrangements exist for handicapped other than the blind. If the hon. Gentleman has in mind other forms of handicap, perhaps he will get in touch with me.