‘Almighty ROW' to unfold next week as MPs debate £4BILLION refurbishment of Parliament

Posted on May 2 2019 - 11:52am by admin

The decision to push ahead with the long-delayed restoration bill comes in the wake of the catastrophic Notre Dame blaze. It will allow the next phase of the overhaul of the crumbling building, which experts have warned is at risk of a “catastrophic event” like a major fire, to be triggered. MPs have already voted to move out of the building in 2028 to allow the reconstruction to go ahead.

But Conservative Peter Bone said there would “absolutely” be opposition to the refurbishment plans and they face a rocky passage through the Commons.

“When Parliament was bombed we didn’t leave the Houses of Parliament.

“I think it is a wrong move and the cost of moving somewhere else is enormous.

“It’s not in the interest of democracy. If you move, there are huge costs associated with it.”

The long-delayed Restoration and Renewal Bill, which kick starts the project by creating an independent body to oversee the work, will be introduced in the coming weeks, and could be within days.

A source involved in the project said: “It would be astonishing to see any MP try to block or frustrate the plans to repair and refurbish parliament. We can’t afford to take any risks with the safety of the palace, and must protect the staff and visitors who come here in their millions each year.”

A parliamentary report published three years ago warned that the Palace of Westminster faced an “impending crisis which we cannot responsibly ignore”.

“It is impossible to say when this will happen, but there is a substantial and growing risk of either a single, catastrophic event, such as a major fire, or a succession of incremental failures in essential systems which would lead to Parliament no longer being able to occupy the Palace,” it said.

It found the vast network of pipes, cables and machinery across the estate were last replaced in the 1940s and reached their sell by date in the 1980s. 

Floods, power failures and fire hazards are all problems regularly reported. There is also asbestos across the building and new sewage systems are needed.

MPs have described the devastating blaze at Notre Dame cathedral as a “wake up” call. French investigators believe the fire may have been caused by an electrical short circuit.

But Parliament’s overhaul has lacked momentum and plans to move MPs to a new building have faced intense criticism.

Conservative Sir Edward Leigh said the new bill would allow professionals to be brought in to take control of the project but warned there would an “almighty row” as the scheme develops.

He said: “They should get on with the work now around us. Like everybody else if you have got a problem with your drainage, your electrics, you work around you, you get on with it as quick as you can.”

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