HC Deb 24 May 1968 vol 765 cc141-2W
Mr. Wellbeloved

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will make the Banqueting House, Whitehall, more widely available for evening functions, such as receptions.

Mr. Mellish

This very fine building has the status of a Royal Palace and my first duty is to open it to the public; any function must interfere as little as possible with the admission of the public and be in keeping with the dignity and traditions of the Banqueting House. After careful consideration, in consultation with the Palace and my colleagues in interested Departments, I have decided to extend the fields from which special users might be chosen so that in future they will cover:

  1. (a) Government receptions:
  2. (b) Registered charities of a national character, normally on distinctive occasions, for fund-raising activities which are in keeping with the dignity and traditions of the building;
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  4. (c) Receptions, normally on distinctive occasions, by non-profit making commercial and industrial organisations for the promotion of export trade or other suitable purposes, supported by the appropriate Minister;
  5. (d) National and international learned societies, professional institutions and cultural organisations, sponsored by the appropriate Minister.

Applications within these spheres will receive sympathetic consideration on their merits, having regard to other demands and to the over-riding need to keep the Banqueting House open to the general public. A charge for the use of the hall will normally be preferred for occasions under (c) and (d). Purely private functions, commercial functions other than these referred to in (c) above, dances and party-political or politically controversial events will still be ruled out.