I wonder if any colleagues, or any regular readers, have ever tried to find the “Parliamentary Rifle Range”. For some years, while I was still an MP, there were regular requests for this apparently anachronistic facility, somewhere in the basement, to be replaced with a creche for the children of staff and members of both Houses. One Conservative MP naughtily suggested that the two roles could be combined.
A few weeks back, I spotted the following exchange in the Commons:
9. Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What the cost to the House of Commons Service of the rifle range on the parliamentary estate was in the latest year for which figures are available. 
John Thurso: The range is situated in the House of Lords, so there is no direct cost to the House of Commons other than in respect of that percentage of the estate which is paid for by the House of Commons.
Diana Johnson: Given the continued sniping about some of the family-friendly measures that have been introduced, such as the crèche, and the need for the House of Commons and the House of Lords to make cuts to their budgets, are we not shooting ourselves in the foot by continuing to pay for a rifle range in the House of Lords?
That seemed to throw the responsibility in our direction, so I initiated an exchange here, with the Chairman of Committees in the Lords:
House of Lords: Rifle Range
- To ask the Chairman of Committees what was the cost to the House of Lords of the rifle range on the parliamentary estate in the latest year for which figures are available.[HL4463]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): No such figures are available. The rifle range uses minimal amounts of lighting, but it is not possible to calculate the particular costs attributable to the rifle range. The House does not incur any other costs in relation to the rifle range, other than in respect of that percentage of general estate costs which is paid for by the House.
More mystery. If this facility costs the taxpayer almost nothing, who runs this outfit? Who is responsible for the security of the rifles and their ammunition? Surely selected members are not permitted to wander round the building with them? Is this not a potential weakness in our otherwise tight security? And who pays for that security? I tried phoning the Rifle Range (ext 3350 if you want to know), to get answers to these questions, but it rang without anyone answering.
This is all very unsettling. If the House authorities are not responsible, who is? To whom should I target my questions now?