Improving facilities for visitors is a core aim of both Houses of Parliament and one which we support fully. The Administration Committee and Accommodation and Works Committee believe that encouraging people to visit, and providing information for them while they are here, is an integral part of engaging the public with the work of Parliament.
The current facilities are inadequate. They generate long queues in the open air and, despite recent improvements, there is insufficient information available for people on arrival. Security requirements, which must be paramount, have recently resulted in search points being moved outside under a marquee and this has highlighted the shortcomings of the current arrangements.
In this Report, we recommend that there should be a new reception/security building at the north end of Cromwell Green and the west side of the Jubilee Café. We set out how such arrangements would improve the access, welcome and information offered to visitors to the Palace of Westminster and would greatly improve the security arrangements.
In considering these proposals, we recognise the demands for a large-scale interpretative visitor centre. We support this concept but believe that this is not feasible within the Palace of Westminster, and therefore recommend that suitable accommodation outside the building be sought. In the meantime, we believe that there is a compelling case for pressing ahead, at the earliest possible opportunity, with the new building. While this is a less ambitious project, it would nevertheless produce significant advantages for visitors and those who work in the Houses of Parliament, and we believe it could be achieved relatively quickly with the support of both Houses. Our Committees therefore submit this Report to the House for its consideration.