Exclusive: Review Into Parliament's Restoration Decides MPs Will Still Have To Leave
Politicians are still going to be asked to leave Parliament when restoration work gets underway on the Grade I historic building, despite hopes among some MPs that a 10-month review would determine they could stay.
PoliticsHome can reveal that MPs are to be told tomorrow they will be presented with two options on how the restoration of Parliament will proceed. They will get a vote once a scoping exercise is carried out and costs have been calculated. So far costs are estimated at £4bn, and are expected to rise.
One plan is to carry out vital and essential work through a so-called "do minimal" approach, while the other involves adding value to the building with improved spaces such as a glass roof between two parts of the Parliamentary estate. This is being called the "stretch" option.
An earlier plan to demolish part of Richmond House, on Whitehall, and build a new Commons chamber, is now believed to be on the back burner, according to sources. Instead, the existing building will be adapted to provide a chamber, which will not have two voting lobbies.
Last May, the Sponsor Body in charge of the restoration programme announced it would “review options for how the restoration programme should be carried out," including looking at "new ways of working developed in response to the health crisis caused by Covid-19”.
This was almost two years after MPs voted for a full decant from Parliament and left many confused as to why the process was being delayed.
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has been cautious about the refurbishment of Parliament. Two years ago he said he couldn't support the proposal as Richmond House would have to be demolished to make way for a replica chamber in its courtyard and the costs would be considerable.
The former public accounts committee chair Sir Edward Leigh has been a vocal critic of the cost of the restoration, and previously said “saving public money” should be the primary concern.
He wanted the Sponsor Body's board to consider temporarily moving MPs to the House of Lords, rather than leave the premises entirely.