To ask the Lord Privy Seal if, pursuant to the answer of 16 November, Official Report, column 388, there are any plans to clean the stonework or otherwise improve the appearance of the internal courtyards of the Palace of Westminster.
Yes, the courtyards are included in the stonework restoration programme, but we intend to give a higher priority to the restoration of the south elevation and the Victoria tower.
Although I welcome that answer and recognise that higher priority should be given to the Victoria tower and completing the clean-up of the external elevations of this splendid pile, does my right hon. Friend nevertheless agree that the general appearance of the internal courtyards is dirty and unsightly? If they were cleaned up, it would considerably brighten the environment of those using this Palace and also perhaps throw new light into some of the rooms and corridors.
I am glad that my hon. Friend agrees with our priorities for the stonework restoration programme. I accept that everything is not right with the courtyards. They are swept every day by the cleaning contractors. The Refreshment Department is responsible for taking its rubbish to the collection point in the State Officers Court. There are problems because of the limitations imposed by the building, but I shall draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of the Chairman of the Catering Sub-Committee.