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The Chamber: Repair Of Ceiling

Volume 413: debated on Monday 6 October 1980

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3.3 p.m.

My Lords, in my last Statement to the House shortly before the Summer Recess, I expressed the hope that we would be able to return to our usual Parliament Chamber in October. To my relief, this has indeed proved possible and I am sure that the whole House is relieved and thankful.

Technically, the project has so far gone well. The temporary ceiling which also provides a working platform is now installed and I think that the House will agree that the supporting scaffolding, while certainly visible, is not obtrusive or offensive. There is no interference with our usual layout, I am assured, both on the Floor of the Chamber and in the Galleries. The acoustics, air conditioning, and heating are, I am told, as good as they were, so I can but hope that the House will find that our working conditions here in the Chamber are back to normal and are satisfactory.

So far as the future is concerned, I can as yet, I am afraid, add little to my previous Statement. Now that the working platform is in position the Property Services Agency are commissioning a full investigatory report by consultants on the state of the ceiling, which should be in their hands by the end of the year. We can then expect that, after consultation with our Administration Committee, the PSA will thereafter put in hand the remedial action required—and it may indeed be substantial—to repair and restore the ceiling. I will of course keep the House informed.

My Lords, we shall all be concerned to know about costs and the time the job will take. But the Property Services Agency must first wait for the consultants' report before they can make any proposals to us. In the meantime, it is nice to be back again, and I think the House would like to join me in expressing our thanks to the PSA and the staff of the House for getting the Chamber ready for us in time for our return from the Recess.

My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for his Statement. I am sure we can endorse that we are relieved and thankful that we are able to use the Chamber today. Those concerned have done a wonderful job. It has been mentioned to me in passing that for some acoustics problems may create difficulties. I hope not. I think they have done a wonderful job. All I can say is let us have good debates, because I would hate to go back to that other place—not "the other place"!

My Lords, from these Benches we should like to endorse everything that has been said. The Property Services Agency and the staff of the House have done a remarkable job and we ought to be very grateful to them.