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Palace Of Westminster (Working Conditions)

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 18 May 1966

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asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will appoint an independent time and motion study team to conduct an inquiry into the working conditions of Members of Parliament, Press and staff, and to prepare a full report on the accommodation in the Commons part of the Palace of Westminster and the uses to which it is put.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Herbert Bowden)

This proposal is for consideration by the Accommodation and Housekeeping Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) which intends to review comprehensively the present allocation of rooms and the use to which they are put in preparation for use by the House of the new Star Court Building and eventually of the new Parliamentary building in Bridge Street. In addition, an O & M study is at present being made into the work and staffing of the Departments of the Clerk of the House, the Speaker and the Serjeant at Arms.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the deplorable conditions under which all people work in this House are causing very grave concern among new hon. Members? Does he not agree that a team of experts may be a way of effecting the improvements which are required as a matter of real urgency?

I am not aware that conditions are deplorable. They could be greatly improved, and there has been considerable improvement in the last few years. The House of Commons Services Committee is working on this. What we require is additional accommodation, not additional advice.

When is the Accommodation Sub-Committee to be set up again? It does not at present exist.

Will this investigation be able to take into account the spacious unused facilities in another place?

No, Sir. The Committee has no responsibility for another place. The House will recall that Her Majesty, in giving the authority to the House, gave it to Mr. Speaker in relation to the House of Commons side of the Palace.

While carrying out what the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price) wants, will the Leader of the House extend the inquiry to the efficiency of the Government and the necessity for 12,000 extra civil servants in the past year?