We have one Parliament but the Palace of Westminster houses two distinct institutions. The House of Commons has its own infrastucture (library, refreshment department, clerks) and so too does the House of Lords. When it was decided that there should be one parliamentary ICT department, an Act of Parliament was necessary to bring it into being. Otherwise, employeees are employed by either the Commons or Lords.
The demarcation between the two Houses is clear, especially on the principal floor, through the colour scheme. The Commons has everything in green – carpet, benches, chairs, screens – and the Lords is in red. Even Westminster Bridge (Commons end) is painted green and Lambeth Bridge (Lords end) is painted red.
There is one exception. One reader reached this site recently through inputting the term ‘Pugin Room House of Lords’. This is rather contentious. The Pugin Room is a small tea room, overlooking the Thames, and is on red carpet. However, it is used by the Commons and not the Lords. It is the subject of a territorial dispute! The Room was given over by the Lords to the Commons in 1906 in return for the use of a committee room.
Since then, the facilities available to the Commons have expanded enormously, not just in terms of office space but also in terms of dining facilties. The Lords would like to reclaim the Pugin Room, and the Chairman of Committees has previously made representations to the Commons about it, but to no avail. The Commons have no intention of giving it up.
It is a running sore. Perhaps we could make it a neutral zone – enabling members of both Houses to use it – and have a different colour for the carpet!