Bill begins costly process to refurbish parliament

10 May 19

A bill has been laid before parliament proposing the refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster to prevent a Notre-Dame style tragedy.

The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) bill was put before MPs on 8 May and will allow MPs to vote on the design, cost and timing of building works.

The Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom told parliament: “The tragic fire at Notre-Dame has served as a reminder of the risks to this historic and iconic building.

“The recent incidents in the Palace of Westminster, including falling masonry, have further highlighted the urgency of the works to restore and renew the Palace of Westminster.”

Speaking during prime minister questions – before the bill was laid – Theresa May said the legislation would be a “huge step towards its protection,” but added: “It is imperative that parliament keeps the total bill as low as possible”.

Both the House of Lords and the House of Commons agreed in 2018 that the most cost-effective way of refurbishing parliamentary buildings would be to move temporarily to the Northern Estate – beyond the Palace of Westminster – while works on parliament go ahead.

Before parliamentary business can be moved to the Northern Estate, the buildings there must also be improved and work could begin in 2020 so that the refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster can begin in 2025.

MPs will move temporarily to Richmond House in the Northern Estate, which was formerly the Department of Health. Designs for the hall were unveiled this week.

The BBC has reported that refurbishments to the Northern Estate could cost between £1.4bn and £1.6bn while the work on the Palace of Westminster is due to cost £4bn and be completed by the 2030s.

Untec, the union representing construction economists in France, has estimated that repair and restoration work on Notre-Dame will cost a maximum of €600m (£517m).

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