A few weeks ago I blogged about the newly introduced room hire charges levied on those hiring rooms in Parliament for an event. For example, to hire the Pavilion Terrace for just under two hours, the fee is £2700. To hire the Members' Dining Room for the same period of time it is £4500. That is before the catering charges are applied. This makes using parliament unaffordable to most charities and voluntary groups, who must pass on the hire charges to their members.
The introduction of this charge caused a degree of ill feeling on our recent visit, and understandably so. £2700 (or £4500) is not a lot of money to a major plc or international company, keen to impress clients. But to a voluntary group it is a small fortune and it makes parliament inaccessible to those on a low or fixed income.
I have today written to the Chair of the House of Commons Administration Committee, Sir Paul Beresford MP, asking if the charge can be reviewed to ensure ordinary people are still able to enjoy what Parliament has to offer, not just big corporations and the wealthy. I should point out that this isn't a party political issue, all major parties have members of the Administration Committee.
Here is a copy of my letter: