HC Deb 13 September 2004 vol 424 c999 4.20 pm
Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You may not be aware of a serious security lapse at Buckingham Palace this afternoon, when protesters gained access to the balcony used by the royal family. In the light of what is an extremely alarming development in the current security situation, Mr. Speaker, have you any information on whether the Home Secretary plans to make a statement to the House this afternoon or this evening?

Mr. Speaker

I was not aware of the incident, because I have been in the Chair. Nor am I aware of whether a statement is to be made.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Deputy Leader of the House confirmed today that we would be returning regularly in September as part of the programme of Government business. I wonder if you have had time to look at the staircase leading from just outside the Tea Room to the lower ground floor, and to establish whether it is safe.

A good deal of the building has been cordoned off on health and safety grounds. Anyone visiting a building site in a similar condition to some parts of the Palace of Westminster would be issued with a hard hat. As far as I know, most Members have not been issued with such a hat.

Mr. Speaker

I make no mention of the House's decision to come back for a fortnight; that is up to the House. However, I take the hon. Gentleman's point. I am concerned about the fact that some parts of the Palace of Westminster leave a lot to be desired in terms of health and safety. It is not only the safety of Members with which I concern myself, but that of staff and visitors to the House—and, indeed, those who are working in this environment. I shall therefore invite my officers who are responsible to ask for a health and safety report on the situation around the Palace. I am certainly not happy that the situation exists, and I do not think that this is a good environment to invite people to enter. I look forward to answers to many of the questions that Members have raised.