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Palace Of Westminster (Ministerial Rooms)

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 23 November 1961

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will cause arrangements to be made in the allocation of Ministerial rooms in the Palace of Westminster to allow the Leader of the House to be more accessible to hon. Members.

I think that hon. Members are finding that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is as accessible to them as his predecessors have always been.

How can the Prime Minister say that when the previous Leader of the House—indeed, previous Leaders of the House back through Lord Crookshank to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and right back to Lord Morrison—all occupied a room a few steps behind the Chamber, which is armed with an annunciator which indicates which Members are speaking, whereas the present Leader of the House has to go down several flights of stairs or go up in a lift which has been known to stick?

Further than that, the installation of an annunciator in his room would cost anything from£250 to£300, and he needs it if he is intelligently to follow the course of the debate. Will the Prime Minister say who is the best Leader of the House we have got at the present time? Or will he tell us whether the present Home Secretary is a potential Prime Minister? Or is he prepared to define him as deputy Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] Will he bear in mind that in the party political broadcast last evening the present Leader of the House—

The hon. Member must confine himself to matters arising out of the Answer. He seems to be getting rather far away from that.

On a point of order. Surely it would be a gross difficulty if an hon. Member were to be deterred merely by the amount of noise on the opposite side of the House rather than by consideration of the relevancy of the contribution he is making? I was going to finish on this note. The present Leader of the House did say that he wanted policies which were relevant and decisive. This question is relevant and decisive: that he should be as near to the Chamber as possible for the convenience of the House.

Of course, all these very relevant considerations must be taken into account, and what we have tried to do is to serve the convenience of the Leader of the House himself and of the House generally. I have not, in the many years I have been in the House, observed an exceptionally heavy traffic between the Chamber and the room of the Leader of the House. On the other hand, the room which the Leader of the House is at present occupying is, I think, quicker to reach from the Tea Room, the Cafeteria, the Smoking Room, the Library, and the Terrace.