UK Lawmakers May Vacate Parliament Amid Urgent Repairs

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UK Lawmakers May Vacate Parliament Amid Urgent Repairs

The Palace of Westminster will take about 4 years to repair. (File Photo)


London:  Britain's MPs and peers may have to move out of their historic Palace of Westminster Parliament complex after a senior parliamentary committee recommended essential repairs this week.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to officially give the go-ahead for the plans drafted by the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster, which had been studying the options of bringing the 19th century complex up to modern standards.

The report suggests parliamentarians be relocated to nearby buildings by as 2020 to enable the 4-billion restoration project expected to last up to six years.

It recommends the Department of Health's headquarters for MPs, and Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre across the road from the Palace to house the Lords temporarily.

It will mark the first time MPs would move out of their chamber since it was bombed during World War II.

Described as the biggest restoration project of its kind, the plan will be subject to a parliamentary vote.

But the committee has warned that a rejection of its plan could prove a "catastrophic failure" for the site.

"The roofs are leaking. The stonework is rotting. We need to do a great deal more in fire compartmentation. The Victorians left us lots of pictures of statues and all the rest of it but really good plans, so we know where the voids are, we really don't have," said Lord Lisvane, a senior parliamentary official.

According to 'The Times', after nearly 14 months of deliberation, MPs and peers on a restoration committee will recommend that both houses be moved out between 2022 and 2028.

Some committee members expect the cost of works to rise higher than the 3.5 billion pounds estimated by management consultancy Deloitte to 3.9 billion pounds.

The most expensive of the options put forward by Deloitte involved MPs remaining in the palace while works took place over 32 years.

This was estimated at 5.7 billion pounds, rising to 7.1 billion pounds assuming maximum risk and inflation.

This option was rejected by the committee.

MPs agreed that much of the building work would be done with materials sourced from within the UK - something that would not have been possible before Brexit.

The refurbishment will include replacing heating, ventilation, electrical, water and drainage systems, the installation of fire safety systems and the removal of significant amounts of asbestos, which has limited the ability to undertake conservation and renovation work in the past.

It will also involve repair and enhancement of the palace's 4,000 windows, and extensive conservation and renewal of stonework.

Cast ironwork on the roof will also be restored.

The move of the Commons to Richmond House, the home of the UK's health department, will require a temporary debating chamber, with likely locations being its central courtyard or a new structure outside.

Parliamentary lawyers have reportedly found a way around a ban on alcohol being served in Richmond House despite part of the lease involving an Islamic bond or suquq.

 


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