Jacob Rees-Mogg Predicts £20 Billion Cost Of Parliament's Refurbishment
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has said costs of refurbishing the Houses of Parliament could spiral to £20 billion – five times original estimates.
The senior Conservative’s suggested price-tag comes as the findings of a 10-month review into the vast tax-payer funded project were released with financial information heavily redacted.
Rees-Mogg told MPs in the Commons this morning that he had picked up that costs could be between £10 billion and £20 billion, which he said would not be acceptable to the tax-payer considering the recent spend on the Covid response.
Previously the project was estimated to cost around £4 billion.
The scheme’s Sponsor Body, which led the review into the project, does not recognise Mr Rees-Mogg’s figures.
However, the public have not been provided with any meaningful costs as there are black lines over references to the finances and arrangements around creating a temporary House of Lords chamber and new atrium at the QEII Conference Centre and for the Commons chamber at Richmond House, on Whitehall.
Entries on graphs for adjusted capital costs have also been hidden.
Rees-Mogg said in the Commons today: “We have suddenly heard talk of costs of £10 billion to £20 billion coming up. We cannot say that to our constituents. We in this House have the responsibility to protect taxpayers’ money.
“The other place, it must be remembered, does not. We are responsible, responsive and answerable to our constituents. Yes, we need to redo the wiring. Yes, we need to ensure that this place is safe and secure, but we must not turn this House of Commons into Disneyland.”
The plan for Parliament to be refurbished was passed into law two years ago, and some criticised the review which was commissioned last May was an unhelpful delay.
The Grade I listed building is riddled with asbestos, old leaking pipes and electrics, and costs millions ever year to maintain.
The review recommend that the focus should now be on creating the financial case for two options rather than the original four.
It will focus on a do-minimal approach of essential repair works to the Parliamentary estate, and a more ambitious ‘stretch’ option that would include the full removal of asbestos where possible, rather than making it safe but keeping it in place. It would also look to make buildings more energy efficient, add temperature control and a glass roof between Portcullis House and a suite of MPs offices at building Norman Shaw North.
It is understood the redacted Strategic Review document has caused upset behind the scenes with concern that significant chunks of it have been redacted.
A senior Commons source told PoliticsHome: “It’s tax payers money and tax payers are entitled to know what the broad costs would be.”