News UPDATE! MPs and peers could vacate Parliament amid urgent repairs

News UPDATE! MPs and peers could vacate Parliament amid urgent repairs


A senior parliamentary committee will be to urge that all MPs and peers vacate both Houses of Parliament for six years to allow for urgent repairs.

The report will suggest they relocate to nearby buildings, as early to enable the £4bn restoration project.
It will urge the Department of Health’s headquarters for MPs, and the QEII conference centre for the Lords.

Both Houses of Parliament would have to approve the move that is viewed as cheapest and the quickest solution.

Rotting stonework, leaking roofs

Parts of the Palace of Westminster are riddled with asbestos, frail stonework and ageing electrics and wiring, it has been said the Grade I-listed building would be knocked down if it wasn’t shielded.

The stonework is rotting. We must do a great deal more in fire compartmentation,” according to Lord Lisvane, once the most senior Commons official.

“The Victorians left us tons of images of statues and all the remainder of it but really good strategies, so we know where the emptiness are, we really do not have.”

He included: “All of the facilities, whether it’s electricity, IT, comms, sewage, fresh water, high pressure steam, central heating, all of that, have only been put one over the other.

“I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets by saying there are bunches of cables, nobody is quite sure where they go.”

Move in tandem

Sixty years since Parliament’s last major refurbishment, a committee of peers and MPs wants all members of

Lords and the Commons to go out of Parliament in tandem.

Some of the members of the restoration committee were sceptical of the need for a total move initially, rather than having the repairs in stages to allow members to stay in situ.

After more than a year touring the crumbling parts and interviewing experts, a source explained that the weight of evidence swayed them of the pressing requirement for actions.

The plan would be to relocate on Whitehall to the Department of Health’s headquarters, assembling a debating chamber that is temporary in the courtyard where they might continue to form and scrutinise our laws, vote, deliver statements and hold PMQs.

Short walk

Under the committee’s strategies, the House of Lords would be relocated to the nearby QEII conference centre, now a commercial place having an abundance of large conference rooms.

As it is actually owned by the government, the center could fairly readily be turned into a second chamber to shape laws and challenge the executive.

Both sites are only a short walk from Parliament.

Members of both Houses of Parliament are expected to vote after they analyze and assimilate the report of the committee.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “We are awaiting a report and will respond in due course.”

One promoter of the “absolute decant”, anticipating some resistance from MPs and peers at the scale of the wholesale relocation, the first since 1941, said in private that it’d be “a real test of political guts” to get the plan through but that future generations would thank them for it.