HC Deb 19 March 1990 vol 169 cc885-6
32. Mr. Skinner

To ask the Lord President of the Council what improvements he intends to make for visitors to the House; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

In respect of the line of route, there is little that I can add to my reply to the hon. Gentleman on 11 December last and to other replies and statements I have made since. The Catering Sub-Committee has, however, recently put forward proposals for providing refreshments on a limited scale to visitors to Parliament. They will have to be studied in terms of their feasibility.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Leader of the House aware that every weekday more than 2,000 visitors come to the House to visit the line of route? Many must wait outside in the pouring rain. Usually several hundred people come to the Lobbies after Parliament has started at 2.30 pm. Several hundred miners are there today. Often pensioners must stand outside. Surely it is time that Westminster Hall, or some other facility, was used to provide shelter from the rain. If the Leader of the House is not happy with Westminster Hall being used for that purpose, I will give him another idea—abolish the House of Lords and use that.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

That may be one of the very things that visitors to the Palace conic to see. Aside from the improvements in prospect for the Sovereign's entrance, we have accelerated the arrangements for admission by duplicating the screening equipment through the use of hand-held screening devices. Clearly, we will examine whether we can do any more.

Mr. William Powell

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that one of the minor facilities appreciated by visitors are the plaques embedded in the floor of Westminster Hall, which celebrate important parts of our national history? Will he take this opportunity to ensure that a plaque is set into the floor to commemorate the great Anglican divine, Dr. Sacheverell, whose sermon "A church in danger" led to a sensational trial in the reign of Queen Anne? Would not it be appropriate for that to be done now, as the Church of England is in as much danger now as it was then?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I fancy that if such long and sophisticated analyses of history were each to be commemorated by plaques of that type, there would be very little room left on the floor.