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Restoration and Renewal: Disabled Stakeholders

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 21 January 2021

This is a vital issue. The programme is committed to improving accessibility in its detailed work on the outline business case, which will form the scope for the restoration and renewal project. It is engaging regularly on this issue with the House administrations, with representatives of staff with disabilities, and with independent accessibility and inclusion technical experts.

I thank the right hon. Member for his answer. Our historic Houses of Parliament are rightly an attraction for visitors from all over the world, but they are also a place of work for thousands of employees, including MPs’ staff. My assistant, Harry, uses a motorised wheelchair, and I have seen at first hand how he is unable to navigate most of the building on his own, facing difficult doors, steps and other obstacles. Despite the best efforts of the House staff to mitigate these issues over the past seven months, he is still not able to move around the building independently. Will the right hon. Member agree to meet me and Harry to discuss the renovation project, and to ensure that additional views are taken into account to make our Parliament a truly modern workplace for everybody?

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this important issue and Harry’s case. Of course I will be more than happy to meet both of them. The programme has established an accessibility and inclusion panel that meets monthly, with representation from both Houses’ diversity and inclusion teams and from ParliAble, which, as she will know, is the workplace equality network for parliamentary staff with disabilities. The recently established public engagement strategy identifies accessibility topics, and engaging with disabled people is a particular priority. Plans are also being developed to engage more broadly with all staff working in Parliament, including of course those with disabilities. But in the short term, I shall look forward to meeting her and Harry.