Home Somerset business Restoring the Palace of Westminster without relocating MPs could take 76 years

Restoring the Palace of Westminster without relocating MPs could take 76 years

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Restoring the Palace of Westminster without finding a new home for MPs could take up to 76 years, with the repair bill reaching £22billion, according to a new report.

In an initial assessment of the cost and timing of the actions needed to save the palace, and an analysis of the impact of keeping MPs in place, the project sponsor and implementing authority considered a series of possible scenarios for carrying out the work.

The cheapest option would involve a “full settling” of the palace for 12-20 years, with the work costing between £7-13billion.

In this scenario, with MPs elsewhere most of the time, the report estimates that restoration would take between 19 and 28 years.

If MPs were to maintain a ‘continuous presence’ in the palace, where ‘all essential and highly desirable functions could be accommodated but in a more condensed space’, he found that the works would cost more and take longer.

The bedroom in the House of Lords which could accommodate House of Commons business during renovations (Toby Melville/PA)

In one scenario, business would remain in the House of Commons “until such a point is reached where all operations are transferred to another space in the Palace of Westminster (assumed to be the House of Lords), to allow the rest of the work to continue,” the report said.

He estimated this would increase restoration costs to between £9.5 billion and £18.5 billion, which would take 26 to 43 years.

And in a third possible scenario – which would be the most expensive and time-consuming – the cases would remain within the House “for the duration of the restoration and renewal program”, without “any transfer”.

It is estimated that this would cost between £11 billion and £22 billion and take between 46 and 76 years.

“In this scenario, we assumed an extended holiday period (mid-July to mid-October) and that there would be no recalls to the historic House of Commons Chamber during this period,” adds the report.

The study found that there would be ‘a number of key risks’ associated with a ‘continuous presence scenario’, including fire safety; compliance with health and safety legislation; noise and vibration; no provision for a recall from the House of Commons; and changes in parliamentary business, including working methods and possible changes in parliamentary procedure.

All costs are quoted in current prices and exclude the impact on the House of Commons and House of Lords budgets.

The Commons and Lords committees agreed that the body overseeing the project would be scrapped, and this was confirmed in the report.

But that wouldn’t be until a replacement was arranged.

Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union which represents workers in Parliament, said: ‘It is clear from the report that a full settling will be cheaper, faster and safer.

“From a taxpayer and security perspective, this is the only credible plan.

“We cannot allow the false emotional attachments of some to get in the way of restoring the home safely, quickly and in a way that recognizes staff concerns and maximizes taxpayer dollars.

“I am sure this will be fully supported by the new Minister for Civil Service Efficiency. To come to any other conclusion would be perverse.