The Palace of Westminster should be turned into â€œa museum of democracyâ€ and plans should begin for the building of a 21st century parliamentary building, a senior Liberal Democrat said today.
A question time, party deputy leader in the Lords Lord McNally, said: â€œIf the Palace were turned over to a museum of democracy and plans were set in hand to build a 21st century parliament, the new building would not have the influence of turning thinking into old thinking.
â€œIt would invigorate the whole of our democracy by putting our parliamentarians into a 21st century and radical frame of mind.â€
Chairman of Committees crossbencher Lord Brabazon of Tara replied: â€œI donâ€™t, on the whole, agree with you.â€
Tory former consumer affairs minister Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes protested about the booth set up on nearby College Green for sale of tourist admission tickets to the Palace of Westminster during the summer break.
She said: â€œSome people have described it as a cross between a hot-dog stand and a hoopla stall,â€ adding: â€œDo you really believe it is in keeping with the dignity and beauty of the Houses of Parliament?â€
Lord Brabazon said that, whatever its limitations, the design had been approved by a joint parliamentary steering group, in conjunction with the Parliamentary Estates director.
He added: â€œI appreciate that it might not be to everyoneâ€™s taste but the architect liked it.
â€œGiven security considerations and pressure on space within the Palace of Westminster, a ticket office outside the Palace is necessary. Options for creating a permanent office are being taken forward.â€
Tory former minister Lord Cope of Berkeley said Lord McNally â€œwas calling for this Parliament to imitate the Scottish Parliament in setting up a new building.
â€œApart from the expense, which I think in Scotland has risen from Â£40 million to Â£400 million so far, I donâ€™t think it has enhanced the behaviour of the Scottish Parliament.â€
Lord Brabazon replied: â€œIâ€™m sure there are lessons to be learned from the building of the Scottish Parliament and no doubt in relation to the building of a Supreme Court.â€
Former Liberal Party leader and ex-Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Lord Steel of Aikwood said: â€œAfter the building of this Palace, Benjamin Disraeli suggested that the architect should be hanged.â€
Lord Brabazon replied: â€œI donâ€™t think weâ€™d go that far with the architect of the ticket booth across the road.â€
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