Accessibility upgrades to the Houses of Parliament could include the installation of tip-up seats instead of the iconic green benches in the House of Commons which would allow disabled MPs to sit alongside peers, according to a parliamentary official.
According to a report by a national newspaper, commons clerk David Natzler said that although there are challenges to improving disabled access in the ageing building the £4bn refurbishment would allow for the installation of cinema-style seats to improve wheelchair access.
Currently, wheelchair users have to sit in the middle of the Lords and Commons chambers. Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has now lobbied for accessible benches to be installed for disabled members.
A letter from Mr Natzler to Sir Vince, reported by The Independent, said: “As you will know, the Palace in particular presents formidable challenges to disability access, and the debate on the Restoration and Renewal offers a chance to discuss the prospects of radically improved facilities.
“Wheelchair access in the Commons chamber is indeed poor and we have long planned to examine how it could be better in a restored Chamber, along the lines you set out of tip-up seats.”
Campaigners want to push forward with disabled access while they have the chance during the major refurbishment. MPs produced a report recently saying it would be “an error for Parliament to miss this rare opportunity” to improve access.
Sir Vince declared that one of his political missions is to fight for equal opportunities for all and added that the Houses of Parliament must “act as a beacon for that ambition.”