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Disabled People (Access)

Volume 229: debated on Friday 23 July 1993

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To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee (1) what has been the cost, at current prices, of making the Palace of Westminster more accessible to people with disabilities, both users of the Palace and visitors, since 1 September 1970; and if he will set out the details and cost of each adaptation since that date;(2) what estimates have been made of the costs of adapting the Palace of Westminster to make it fully accessible to people with disabilities, both as users of the Palace and as visitors; and if he will make a statement;(3) if, in considering proposals for adapting the Palace of Westminster to make it fully accessible to people with disabilities, both users of the Palace and visitors, he will examine the possibility of phasing the costs over a period of three, five and seven years; and if he will make a statement.

The Palace of Westminster's Victorian design presents fundamental obstacles to easy access and movement of persons with disabilities. Improvements have nevertheless been made in certain areas, such as the construction and adaptation of lavatories, the installation of a stairlift to the Grand Committee Room in Westminster Hall, and the provision of sound induction loops in the public galleries of the Chamber and a number of Committee Rooms. It is not possible, however, separately to identify all such improvements or their cost.The Accommodation and Works Committee has recently received and given preliminary consideration to a comprehensive consultants' report containing a number of recommendations for improvement. It is to be given further consideration in the autumn with the benefit of advice from the all-party group on disablement and from English Heritage. It is hoped that a phased programme of improvements can be agreed which will be incorporated into the programme of works. Estimates for each of the report's recommendations are being prepared.