TWO cafes below parliament could soon become history under new plans unveiled by the Government today.
The plans will expand the office space available to parliament staff and politicians locally and from abroad.
“We are pleased to announce that the integrity of Parliament House in Main Street will be restored to its former glory,” said the Gibraltar Government today.
“This follows the decision to take back the commercial premises on the ground floor and return the area to its original use.”
“The cost of the surrender of the leases will be openly reported to Parliament itself in due course, given that all that exists at present is an agreement in principle.”
Offices will now be expanded to allow more space for the Speaker and Secretary.
They will be better suited rather than the cramped ones being used at the moment.
Opposition politicians could now get their own office and meeting rooms as suggested by the Commission on Democratic and Political Reform of 2013.
Originally it was suggested to do them across the road in the Main Guard now used by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust.
The meeting rooms could be used for MPs to discuss policy, attend citizens’ needs and for visting foreign dignitaries.
The plans could now include a new internal lift so that people with mobility problems can attend sessions.
It was originally proposed to be external but this move could allow it to be placed inside the building.
The expansion will take into consideration the history of the current Parliament.
It was built in 1817 to be the Exchange and Commercial Library, for civilian residents of Gibraltar.
The locals could not be members of the Garrison Library which was just for military officers during colonial rule.
The Exchange Committee was the voice of the people of Gibraltar and pushed for political reform for decades.
It was then updated to become the Gibraltar Legislative Council in 1950.
In 1969, Gibraltar’s new constitution established the building as the House of Assembly.
It only changed name to Parliament under the 2006 Constition, and was refurbished soon after.
The Government has continued to improve the facilities of parliament and introduced live online video of meetings in 2011.