HC Deb 24 October 1994 vol 248 c624
27. Mr. Hain

To ask the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee what financial provision will be made for the provision of refreshment facilities for visitors to the House.

Mr. Paul Channon (Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee)

Following the approval by the House of the Catering Committee's report on refreshment provision for Line of Route visitors, the amount of financial provision for a visitors centre will be for decision by the Finance and Services Committee and the House of Commons Commission.

Mr. Hain

Is it not an insult to coachloads of visitors, who have often got up at dawn to get here, that they cannot even get a cup of tea in the House? As Westminster Hall is some kind of mausoleum at the moment, why cannot it be turned into an open area with tables and chairs where people can get a cup of tea and a snack? In that way the House would present a warm and friendly reception to visitors instead of a stiff and snotty one.

Mr. Channon

I know that the hon. Member has been pursuing this case for many years and I pay tribute to him for that. He will recognise that the Catering Committee has recommended that the Westminster Hall cafeteria should be converted into a visitor centre. When that is achieved it will meet a great many of the points made by the hon. Member. That cannot be done at once, of course, because 400 people already use that cafeteria and they must be given somewhere else to eat. We cannot let down the staff and policemen of the House by not providing somewhere else for them to eat.