HL Deb 10 May 1999 vol 600 cc963-4

3.2 p.m.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked the Chairman of Committees:

What facilities are available for the parking of bicycles ridden by Peers' guests arriving at the Peers' Entrance.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, the House does not provide parking facilities of any kind for Peers' guests. However, the House authorities are aware of the problem of bicycle parking near the Palace of Westminster. Some years ago representations were made to Westminster City Council. As a result, there are now 15 bicycle parking spaces in the Abingdon Street car park which are available for anyone to use free of charge.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply, though it is not entirely satisfactory. Should not there be facilities for bicycles seeing that the Government are trying to encourage their use instead of cars aid that Peers' guests who arrive are not, unlike those who arrive by car, taking up an enormous amount of space? Is the noble Lord aware that a fortnight ago a guest of mine arrived and when she asked where she could park her bicycle was told "Nowhere"? When she asked what she should do if she came as the guest of a Peer, she was told that she should not come by bicycle. I am sure that the noble Lord is aware that that is against government policy. Should we not show that we support government policy and encourage as many bicycles as possible to be parked in front of your Lordships' House?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, while many noble Lords will be sympathetic to the general point of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, I do not feel that I should be drawn into questions of government policy on these matters; nor are they matters for your Lordships' committees. I am sorry to hear of the experience which the noble Lord's guest suffered. I shall ensure that that point is brought to the attention of those concerned and that, where there is a query of this kind, the 15 spaces available—very few of which are ever taken up—will be drawn to the person's attention. Abingdon Street is very conveniently placed of course.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that in April 1988 expenses were introduced for Peers who wished to ride their bicycle to this House? Since then only two Peers have claimed those expenses and the reason for that is that they have to originate their journey outside Greater London. Will the noble Lord undertake to look into the expenses system for Peers who wish to ride their bicycle to this House so that all Peers, both those inside and those outside Greater London, are entitled to claim bicycle expenses?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I am advised, though I shall need to write to the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, with the details, that what he said is not entirely accurate. However, I can confirm that there has recently been an increase in the bicycle mileage allowance along with other annual increases. I cannot promise that a vast amount of money is being saved by those who kindly and generously fail to claim their allowance.

Lord Rotherwick

My Lords, does the Chairman of Committees agree with me that, as we are making available bicycle spaces in the Abingdon Street car park, it would be right also to make spaces available for powered two-wheelers as well?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I understand that some accommodation is available. I shall look into the point. If anything needs to be done, I shall seek to ensure that it is done.

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