HL Deb 21 February 2005 vol 669 cc979-81
Lord Campbell-Savours

asked the Chairman of Committees:

Who authorised the construction of the new building at the north end of Old Palace Yard.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, the joint review of security conducted by the Security Service and the Metropolitan Police recommended that the public search point be moved outside the Palace until the new reception and security building was constructed. The present temporary buildings are located in the only place suitable for this purpose. The recommendation was part of the security report which was agreed by the Joint Committee on Security and endorsed by the House Committee.

Lord Campbell-Savours

My Lords, we have conceded a lot and I presume that the negotiations with the Commons were very tough. What did we get in return from the Commons?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, as I have said, this is only a temporary facility until the new visitor and reception centre is complete. The planned date for opening the new centre is October 2006, at which time the Commons will accommodate the entire facility on their own territory. However, it is clear that there is nowhere else to put the temporary structure.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, is the Chairman of Committees aware that it is already difficult enough in the car park and that the structure represents a further loss of car parking space? What arrangements are being made to compensate for that loss, as well as to review the future car parking situation—we are being told that we may lose all parking facilities at the front of the building?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, car parking is a critical issue. The temporary buildings occupy only three car parking spaces. However, many spaces are available in the Abingdon Street car park, a review of which is currently taking place.

Lord Tomlinson

My Lords, is the Chairman of Committees aware that about only three years ago we spent a vast sum of money resurfacing the whole of that outside square because we had been advised that it is one of the great squares of Europe? How does the addition of these two monstrous buildings add to the appearance of that wonderful square?

The Chairman of Committees

In a word, my Lords, they do not add to the beauty of one of the "world squares"; neither, unfortunately, do the concrete blocks now in place nor the demonstration in Parliament Square. No doubt all such matters will he dealt with.

Lord Campbell-Savours

My Lords, who serves on the Joint Committee? Are any Peers members of it, and were any Peers actively consulted during the Recess?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, membership of the Joint Committee was recently made public for the first time, and I believe that four Peers serve on it.

Lord Richard

My Lords, I am sorry to pursue this a little further, but there is a slight problem. Many Members on these Benches are totally unclear about what consultations actually took place between the other place and this House. Did the proposals go to the committees of this House? Were they consulted, along with the usual channels? How did the consultation take place?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, the Joint Committee on Security is a Joint Committee of both Houses. I repeat that four Members of this House serve on it, along with a similar number of Members from the House of Commons. That committee initially approved the proposals recommended by the joint review of security. The recommendations of the joint review of security were endorsed by the House Committee of this House.

Lord Berkeley

My Lords, can the Chairman of Committees help the House a little further by naming the four Peers serving on the Joint Committee on Security, or is that secret?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, as I have said, who they are is public knowledge: they were set out in a Written Answer in Hansard. not very long ago. They are the Government Deputy Chief Whip, the Opposition Chief Whip, the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip and the noble Lord, Lord Peston.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, given the world security situation today, is this Question not just a storm in a teacup?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, the Question is valid because these buildings have been put up in our car park. That seems to be the principal problem: they are occupying three car parking spaces, which are clearly at a premium.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, did the four Members of the House of Lords serving on the committee ask the House of Commons, as a reciprocal arrangement, for three places in its underground car park?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I do not think they did, but I hope that the car parking situation will improve.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, is the temporary date of October 2006 going to be as temporary as that for the Tea Room at the other end of the Corridor, which has been on loan to the Commons since the 1920s?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, provided that the relevant committees give their approval to the design proposed for the new reception and security building to be located near the entrance to Westminster Hall, I am told that construction could start in around 11 months' time and should be completed by October of next year.

Back to