HC Deb 08 December 1997 vol 302 c403W
Mrs. Gordon

To ask the Chairman of the Catering Committee if he will allow participants of guided tours to use Westminster Hall Cafeteria; and if he make a statement. [18719]

Mr. Dennis Turner

On 12 July 1994, the House approved the First Report of Session 1992–93 from the previous Catering Committee, "Refreshment provision for line of route visitors". One recommendation was that the area currently occupied by the Westminster Hall Cafeteria should be converted to a visitor centre, which would provide light refreshments and toilet facilities for the public, but that this should take place only once a suitable alternative has been found for the present lunchtime users.

Initial discussions between Officials have been held regarding the proposed nature of a visitor centre, and their proposals will be put before my Committee by Easter 1998. However, I do have to advise my hon. Friend that in excess of 500 people, mainly staff, have lunch daily in the Westminster Hall Cafeteria; the other outlets currently available to staff would not be able to accommodate the extra customers if the Westminster Hall Cafeteria was closed before the opening of the new Cafeteria in Portcullis House, which I understand, will not be until 2001. Therefore, it will not be possible to open a visitor centre before then.