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Bellamy’s Bar

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

25. Whether the House of Commons Commission plans to respond to the public petition against the closure of Bellamy’s bar. (321531)

The petition has been noted, but the Commission remains of the view, reached on independent advice and after examining a number of options, that Bellamy’s bar is the most suitable available site, and it is proceeding on that basis.

The previous Speaker summoned me in for a dressing down because the Public Accounts Committee had dared to criticise the House of Commons authorities for overspending on Portcullis House. Will he accept, however, that we must insist on value for money not only in the wider Whitehall apparatus but here, and that we have to consider whether it represents value for money to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on equipping facilities for the staff just in order to strip them out? Is there nowhere else in the House where we can deliver this unit more cost-effectively?

A number of alternative sites for the nursery were considered, including Speaker’s Green, North Curtain corridor, Lower Ground Floor secretaries’ area, Cloister Court and the Oratory, the Shooting Gallery, 2 the Abbey Garden basement, 14 Tothill street and 4 Millbank, but 1 Parliament street offered the most suitable accommodation, principally because of the ease of conversion and the proximity to the Chamber.

Will the hon. Gentleman accept my congratulations on the progress that has been made in this matter? I understand there has been a campaign in this place for at least 40 years for facilities of this nature, and it will not just be staff who benefit, but many hon. Members. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that many Members will benefit as a result of these developments, regardless of where they end up being located?

I sincerely hope so. The Commission felt it was important to demonstrate to both new and current Members with small children that the House will help them to combine their parliamentary work with their family responsibilities.