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Union Flag

Volume 456: debated on Monday 29 January 2007

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2007, Official Report, columns 504-05W, on the Union flag, what health and safety grounds prevent the use of the flagpole on Portcullis House; and what the cost would be of making access to the flagpole safe. (111869)

As I said in my reply to the right hon. Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar) on 24 January 2007, Official Report, column 1763W:

A recent health and safety report identified the following risks.

Access to the flagpole is by ladder but there is no safe means of passing the flag up the ladder; the flag raiser needs to climb over a ventilation duct; lighting is poor and there is no emergency lighting. In addition there are heavy hatch doors with no means of preventing closure and no harness anchorage points.

The flagpole has been used only once since Portcullis House was opened when it was found to be dangerous and it has been non-operational since September 2000. Means of rectifying the health and safety risks are being looked into and when the costs are known a decision will be taken on whether to fly flags from this location. If it is decided to do so, the aim will be to complete the necessary modifications by summer 2007.