MPs vote to leave Houses of Parliament during refit, facing ‘at risk’ register too

Houses of Parliament courtesy of UK GovMPs have voted to leave the Palace of Westminster while a proposed multi-billion pound refurbishment of the historic building takes place, as MPs have been warned by Historic England (HE) that the Palace of Westminster could be placed on Britain’s ‘at risk’ register.

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

The BBC writes:

The Commons approved a motion calling for a ‘full and timely decant’, designed to allow essential repairs, by 236 votes to 220. The planned move, part of a proposed £5.6bn modernisation, will not take effect until 2025 at the earliest. Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said the era of ‘patch and mend’ had to end. The Lords will debate and vote on their views on the future of the building next week.

Although the government has said the decision is a matter for Parliament, Mrs Leadsom said the iconic building faced ‘critical risks’, with 60 episodes in recent years which could have led to a serious fire.

While any full-scale restoration programme would be likely to see MPs and peers leave for a ‘significant’ amount of time, she said the Palace of Westminster ‘will always remain the home of Parliament’ and this would be guaranteed in future legislation. While Parliament needed to get on with the matter, she said the business planning must be rigorous to ensure value for money for the taxpayer.

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The Guardian writes:

A briefing note drawn up for politicians by Historic England that has been seen by the Guardian, also claims that [failure to address the issue] could place parliament’s Unesco world heritage site status in jeopardy. The public body, which has a statutory duty to advise ministers on all matters relating to the historic environment, is concerned that MPs may back a motion that would push back any decision on comprehensive works until the end of the parliament. ‘If the first motion were passed, by 2022 a decade of clear warnings would have been unheeded,’ the group has written. ‘A delay until then would make it necessary for Historic England, knowing what we do now, to assess the palace for inclusion (as a whole or in part) on the heritage-at-risk register. We would assess the site as we do any other. Unesco might take a similar view in respect of world heritage site status…’

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