asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he now expects the restoration of the exterior of the Palace of Westminster to be completed.
The current work on the Terrace elevation and Lord Chancellor's Tower should he completed in November. Plans for the next phase are under consideration and I hope to make an announcement later in the year. There is much still to be done and it will take a number of years to complete this massive task.
As the restoration work which has already been completed has done so much to enhance the architectural heritage of this part of London and proved such a popular tourist focus, we look forward with great anticipation to the completion of the work. May I, as a surveyor, ask my hon. Friend what stone cleaning technique he proposes to use for the remainder of the work —the wet or the dry?
My hon. Friend is right to say that the Palace of Westminster is a major tourist attraction and that it is right to show it at its best. As for cleaning techniques, he rightly says that there are two approaches, one wet, one dry. The wet one heals the affected areas by the steady application of dripping water and the dry one involves a vigorous attack with air and grit. I prefer the former.