HC Deb 27 November 1995 vol 267 cc924-5
34. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the House of Commons Commission what proposals the Commission has for expenditure on additional facilities for Members in the Chamber. [678]

Mr. Beith

None, but I am sure that the appropriate domestic Committee would give careful consideration to any proposal that the hon. Gentleman may put forward.

Mr. Banks

It is not a question of proposals that I may put forward. We all know that the facilities provided to Members are appalling. This place is a cross between a gentleman's club and a public school. We have nowhere to sit and write while we listen to these banal questions and pathetic answers. Is it not about time that we pulled this whole wretched place down and started again?

Mr. Beith

Neither I nor the Commission are in favour of pulling down this fine and notable building. Quite a lot of improvements have been secured in and around it over the years. The Commission's view is that its job is not to invent new facilities for Members but to respond to reasonable proposals, which have been carefully examined and, if they are major proposals, have also gained the approval of the House.

Mr. Carrington

Does the right hon. Gentleman occasionally need to phone outside the United Kingdom, on parliamentary business, through the House of Commons telephone system? If so, he will have discovered that it must be done through the House of Commons operator. Should it not be perfectly possible, given the computerised telephone exchange that the House now has, for Members of Parliament to dial abroad directly and for those calls to be billed to them from the PABX system without the direct intervention of the operator?

Mr. Beith

I imagine that it is, but I will inquire and write to the hon. Gentleman.