HC Deb 15 January 2003 vol 397 cc607-8W
Janet Anderson

To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will make a statement on his plans for Westminster Hall. [89869]

Sir Archy Kirkwood

The Commission has no plans for Westminster Hall. It has, however, been aware of growing pressure for the better welcome and reception of constituents and other visitors to the Palace of Westminster and to give them a better understanding of the work of Parliament. The Commission agrees with the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons that a Visitor Centre would be desirable; such facilities are provided in many other Parliaments around the world. We therefore commissioned a feasibility study from the consultants Haley Sharpe and the conservation architects Purcell Miller Tritton. That study reviewed options for the siting of such a centre, and proposed a scheme consisting of a new security/reception building at the western end of the Jubilee Cafe and elements of a Visitor Centre in the accommodation outside the west wall of Westminster Hall, with the option of providing further facilities in Victoria Tower Gardens.

The Commission considered the consultants' report, recognised the sensitivity of the Westminster Hall location, and asked the consultants to carry out further studies of possible sites outside the Parliamentary Estate. In due course the Commission will consider the results of these studies, together with the views of the Modernisation and Finance and Services Committees, the Domestic Committees, the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association United Kingdom Branch, the Inter-Parliamentary Union British Group and individual hon. Members. Any final decision would need to be agreed with the authorities of the House of Lords.

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