HC Deb 10 March 1986 vol 93 cc662-3
46. Mr. Willie W. Hamilton

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will initiate an inquiry into the use of all accommodation within the Palace of Westminster, and related matters.

Mr. Biffen

I have no proposals to initiate such an inquiry.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a disproportionate allocation of space between the House of Lords and the House of Commons, bearing in mind the respective workloads? Would he care to visit the Terrace level after 7 pm each night and see how the Dining Rooms are swarming with outsiders? Each of those rooms is booked until the end of 1987, I believe, and a letter has gone out to all hon. Members from the Chairman of the appropriate Committee saying that, because of the possible abuse, all bookings have been cancelled and that, in future, deposits will be much increased. Will the right hon. Gentleman examine this great and continuing abuse of facilities in the House?

Mr. Biffen

As the hon. Gentleman developed his supplementary question, he strayed somewhat wide of the original point. The House might like to know that approximately two thirds of the space available in the Palace of Westminster is available to the House of Commons and that any alteration in the balance between the Commons and the Lords can come about only as a result of joint discussions.

Mr. Ryman

Is the Leader of the House aware that there are some very strange people—[Laughter.]

Mr. Willie W. Hamilton

He is right.

Mr. Ryman

—using the House of Commons Car Park and that it is extremely difficult to park a car because, apart from Conservative Members of Parliament, there is an abundance of research assistants, secretaries and other peculiar people there who are usurping places that are normally reserved for us? Can the right hon. Gentleman ensure that there is sufficient parking space for hon. Members, and not for the various sycophants who hang on?

Mr. Biffen

Before I answer that point, I wish to tell the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) that I shall look into the second point which he raised and be in touch with him. I shall see that the matter of the proper use of car parking facilities is referred to the relevant section of the Services Committee.

Mr. Williams

We are grateful to the Leader of the House for the information that he gave about the proportion of resource usage between the Lords and the Commons. Is that allocation kept under constant and active review? If not, might it not be time to initiate a review of the balance of the resources between the two Houses?

Mr. Biffen

I shall bear that point in mind, but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman realises that one cannot undertake that unilaterally. Although he might wish to have the House of Lords sent to Milton Keynes or somewhere suitably distant—occasionally, those sentiments are not confined to him—there is a long historic balance in these matters, and we must consider them carefully. However, I take full account of what the right hon. Gentleman said.

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