Work v. work

Lord Norton

44101The summer recess is an opportunity to undertake repairs and refurbishment in the Palace.  Over the summer, there has been a substantial workforce in to undertake about twenty different projects.  These have included essential repairs and maintenance as well as the beginning of what appears to be a rolling programme of roof replacement.  Various corridors have been closed off and parts of the Palace look like a building site.  It requires some dexterity at times to negotiate one’s way round. 

At the same, the Palace remains a working parliamentary environment.  Various select committees have met: as I mentioned in an earlier post, more so this year than ever before.  MPs’ offices have continued to be staffed.   It has been necessary to maintain the facilities necessary to enable this work to go on.  Various refreshment outlets remain open, albeit on a reduced scale (the assumption appears to be that no one wants to eat a meal in the Palace beyond mid-afternoon).  One outlet normally open during the summer – the Terrace Cafeteria in the Commons – has been closed for refurbishment, putting some pressure on other outlets.  The Atrium in Portcullis House gets packed around lunchtime as members and staff use the Despatch Box (the snack bar), Debate (the self-service restaurant) or the Adjournment (Members’ restaurant).  One relatively new outlet – Moncrieff’s cafe bar, housed way up in the press building – has been touting for business, with large notice boards close to the entrance to the press section announcing its existence and what it has to offer.   As a result, I did sample its tea, not least because it stays open until 5.30 – the Despatch Box in Portcullis closes at 5.00. 

The Palace during the summer is thus busy, with two major working environments essentially having to co-exist.  At the same time, there are the tours of the Palace as thousands of people come to look round.  The visitors see the principal parts of the Palace in their full glory, unaware that behind some doors lie stacks of chairs or bare floors.   It is quite a major logistical exercise.  This week is the crunch period, as the various works are completed in readiness for both Houses sitting next week.   Furniture is now starting to be returned to its usual place, tarpaulins taken down, and padding removed from the lifts.   That is, assuming I haven’t misunderstood why the lifts are now padded.

12 comments for “Work v. work

  1. franksummers3ba
    08/10/2009 at 4:35 pm

    Dear Baron of Louth,
    I am not an expert but I doubt those in charge have quite gotten aound to padding your cells incrementaly. Certainly when I once argued there were possible signs of decline in Lords I meant something more gradual and less extreme. I do quite enjoy the verbal picture of this seasonal period in the palace. It is very much what we call “inside baseball” and therefore quite enjoyable.

  2. lordnorton
    08/10/2009 at 5:13 pm

    franksummers3ba: The padding is at least flame retardant, helpful I suppose if one my colleagues self-combusts.

    • Croft
      08/10/2009 at 5:53 pm

      Padded (sound proofed?) lifts. I didn’t know the Chief Whips were in charge of palace refurbishments

      • lordnorton
        08/10/2009 at 6:04 pm

        Croft: It is when they get control of the opening and closing mechanism that we shall need to worry.

  3. adrian kidney
    08/10/2009 at 10:12 pm

    Friday’s are best for food. Moncrieff’s do wonderful fish and chips and even better hot pies.

  4. James
    09/10/2009 at 2:51 pm

    Oh Moncrieffs on a friday lunchtime…

    I could so go for that right now.

  5. lordnorton
    09/10/2009 at 3:42 pm

    James: That was my thought exactly this morning as I left Westminster to catch the 11.48 train to Hull!

  6. 09/10/2009 at 4:41 pm

    Another place with chips.

    Is this what HoL really looked like?

    • James
      13/10/2009 at 5:15 pm

      Lords Cafeteria is a bit spartan, actually.

      Good for a fry up, though.

  7. 09/10/2009 at 4:42 pm

    Another place with chips.

    Is this what HoL really looked like?

  8. lordnorton
    09/10/2009 at 5:39 pm

    ladytizzy: In the Bishop’s Bar, there are some pictures of various establishments around the world (well, two or three) that utilise the name of the House of Lords, not all of them as salubrious as the one to which you link. Perhaps I should pass on the details of the link, so that this one can be added to the collection.

  9. franksummers3ba
    10/10/2009 at 3:08 am

    You are discussing things in progress. I will use that as a pretext and segue. The supporters of Obama in this country and those near to being such seem to agree that he was only getting started and that the Prize was a bit like Parliament opening in the state you describe. I am not really a supporter and have had my uncharitable moments today. However, my blog post is I think brief and discharges my sense of obligation to comment everywhere I Vent my political verbage. This is actually quite momentous.

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