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House of Commons Commission

Volume 647: debated on Thursday 18 October 2018

The right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, was asked—

Northern Estate Programme

Work has started on changes to Commissioner’s Yard Gate, where an additional secure vehicle access point for deliveries and construction traffic is being constructed. Planning approval and listed building consent have been obtained for preparatory work on 1 Derby Gate. This building will be refurbished and adapted to make it suitable to be used for accommodation for Members, and I believe work will start around the end of this month, when the last occupants are moved out.

We missed an opportunity with the refurbishment of the Elizabeth Tower, when the work was given to a known blacklisting company. May I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman and the House of Commons Commission whether consideration will be given in the contracts being drawn up for the Northern Estate project to ensuring that companies that are unrepentant blacklisters are not allowed to do work on this site?

I think we will continue with the procedures we have used before and pick the suitable candidate to do the suitable work on the basis of a number of measures.

I know from speaking to a number of parliamentary colleagues that certain aspects of the estate, including the Northern Estate, are not great for people with disabilities. What work is being done to make sure this place is more accessible, particularly for colleagues who have a disability?

Sorry—this must be something to do with my antipodean background—but could the hon. Gentleman please repeat the question, because I did not follow it?

I am very popular today. I was saying that a number of parliamentary colleagues who have disabilities find it difficult getting around certain parts of the estate. Given that we are doing this refurbishment work, what can be done to make sure that those with a disability are able to move around more freely and that this place is accessible?

I am Welsh, so God help the hon. Gentleman. Will he confirm that, as part of the Northern Estate refurbishments, he will be doing his utmost, as will the commission, to make sure that we use local procurement, find as much of the workforce as we can from within the United Kingdom and make sure that where there are skills gaps we work with the further and higher education sector to find training for local employees and groups?

That makes eminent sense to me. I know one of the firms particularly well and it is using that approach, particularly for training, including of apprentices, so that we can benefit as a community as well.