In a recent post on Lord of the Blogs, Paul Tyler asks where the elusive Parliamentary rifle range is to be found.
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.
Some years ago Nick Clegg said that it was absurd that parliament should have a shooting range and not a creche. A creche has now been provided elsewhere, but the rifle range is still a mystery.
A question in the Commons had elicited the information that it was to be found at the Lords end of the Palace, so was their responsibility. This spurred Lord Tyler to ask what the rifle range cost the House of Lords:
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.
Paul Tyler muses:
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?
* Mary Reid is the Tuesday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.