Palace of Westminster Could Face Six Years of Work

Major works are needed on the Palace of Westminster, meaning that MPs will have to vacate the site for years to allow the essential repairs to be carried out.

According to a committee of MPs and Peers, if the work is not done then there will be a risk of a ‘catastrophic’ event in the future.

In a report published last week, the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster proposed that all MPs, Peers and staff move out to allow the major programme of works, costing £3.9 billion to be carried out. It is estimated that the work will take around six years.

It proposes that ahead of this, a delivery authority should be established to develop a business case and budget for Parliament’s approval, with a detailed preparatory stage to ensure value for money ahead of the start of works in 2020.

The report concluded that the current ‘patch and mend’ approach is not sustainable, and that the Palace of Westminster “faces an impending crisis which we cannot responsibly ignore.”

It adds that there is an increasing risk of either a single, catastrophic event, such as a gas leak, flooding or a major fire, which would result in Parliament no longer being able to occupy the Palace.

The Committee concluded that the House of Commons could occupy Richmond House, which is the current headquarters of the Department of Health, and the House of Commons’ Northern Estate, while the House of Lords could establish a temporary chamber and supporting offices in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

The committee recommends that the Palace’s M&E systems should be completely replaces, while proper fire safety measures should be installed and improve accessibility and maintenance of the building’s historic fabric.

The report said: “Much of the M&E plant dates from the mid-20th Century; some of it dates from the Victorian era. Many of the systems reached the projected end of their lifecycles in the 1970s and 1980s. They have been patched up year after year, often with new cables and pipes laid on top of old, and with little knowledge of what the existing services are, where they go, or whether they are still live.”


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BDC 309 : Oct 2023