HC Deb 10 March 1986 vol 93 cc661-2
45. Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the Lord Privy Seal what was the cost of running the House of Commons in 1985; how it compares with the previous five years; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Biffen

The estimated cost of running the House of Commons in the financial year 1985–86 is £63.2 million.

With permission, I will arrange for comparable figures for the previous five years to be set out in the Official Report.

Mr. Bruinvels

I thank my right hon. Friend for that informative answer. Does he agree that it is a matter of great concern that the House is costing more and more to run?

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

How does my hon Friend know?

Mr. Bruinvels

In 1984–85 the House sat for 1,566 hours—an average of nine hours and six minutes a day. Does my right hon. Friend think that we should finish earlier in the evening—perhaps going back to 10 o'clock? [Hon. Members: "No."] Does he agree that the cost of providing all these taxis—[Interruption.]—for all except those who ask the questions and take part in debates—us, the parliamentarians—is too high and that the only way to reduce it is to finish earlier?

Mr. Biffen

The average daily hours of sitting have changed very little during the past five years. If my hon. Friend studies class XIII, vote 2, he will discover that easily the largest single component is Members' expenses.

Mr. Stokes

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, much as we enjoy hearing frequently from my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels), it would save money if he asked rather fewer questions?

Mr. Biffen

As both of my hon. Friends are members of the Synod, I can say, "How these Christians love each other."

Following are the figures:

Estimated cost of running the House of Commons
£ million
1980–81 34.2
1981–82 41.8
1982–83 45.0
1983–84 50.8
1984–85 56.8

[These figures include expenditure on Members' pay and allowances, stationery and printing supplies, computer services and costs borne on the House of Commons Administration Vote. They do not include the parliamentary works programme of the Property Services Agency, details of which are only available for the Palace of Westminster as a whole.]

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