The £3.5-£4 billion Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme has been established to tackle the significant work that needs to be done to protect and preserve the heritage of the Palace of Westminster and ensure it can continue to serve as home to the UK Parliament in the 21st century and beyond.
MPs are to launch an inquiry into the planned overhaul of the crumbling Houses of Parliament amid concerns about the huge costs, and–maybe of more concern–their own displacement
Chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee Andrew Tyrie said that among the options his committee would be looking at was whether both the Lords and Commons needed to “decant” from the palace at the same time, or whether the work could be done over a longer period with less disruption.
The 1,100-room Palace dates from the mid-1800s and is now one of the most iconic and significant buildings in the world. The previous building was devastated by fire in 1834 but the oldest part of the Parliamentary Estate, Westminster Hall, built in 1099, survived and is still in use today. The Palace is now a Grade I listed building and, with Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church, forms part of the UNESCO Westminster World Heritage Site.
A Joint Select Committee on the Palace of Westminster was appointed in July 2015 to consider an independent options appraisal and make recommendations on a preferred way forward for the restoration and renewal of the building. The Joint Committee published its recommendations on 8 September 2016. Both Houses will now need to consider the main recommendations of the Committee report and agree on a preferred way forward.
Now, Ministers of Parliament (MPs) are rebelling against proposals that they will have to move out of the The Houses of Parliament for an expected five to eight years while the restoration is performed.
Chris Bryant, MP and member of the restoration committee, says that the rebellion risked delaying the project, adding to the cost and putting the building at risk.
Under the original plan drawn up by MPs, peers and consultants Deloitte, the whole of parliament would move out in 2023.
It has been suggested that if MPs and peers stayed, the work would take far longer and cost £6 billion.