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Westminster Repair Bill Could Reach £22bn And Take 76 Years If MPs And Peers Don't Decant

The new report found repair costs could soar

3 min read

An extensive new report has claimed costs for the vital repair works could soar if MPs choose to remain in the Palace of Westminster.

Details of the latest study come after the project was thrown into chaos following the disbanding of the Sponsor Body which had been established to lead on the works.

The House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions had agreed to scrap the group amid concerns that estimated costs were ballooning.

MPs, including new Commons leader Mark Spencer, argued the works should be carried out while MPs, peers and staff continue to work on the estate.

The new report, which was produced following the most extensive study yet of the repair project, found that without a decant the costs could balloon to between £11bn and 22bn and take an additional 27 to 48 years.

Alternative proposals include a full decant of the Palace for between 12 and 20 years, with costs estimated to be between £7bn and £13bn.

A hybrid version of the plan could see MPs remain in place "until such a pointed is reached whereby all operations are transferred to another space within the Palace of Westminster... to allow the rest of the work to proceed."

Under that scenario, the group believed works would cost between £9.5bn and £18.5bn and would take 26 to 43 years.

The report had been prepared before the Commons and Lords Commission chose to begin winding down the Sponsor Body while consultations are made on how to proceed with the works.

But Garry Graham, deputy general of the Prospect union, said a full decant was the "only credible plan" based on cost and safety considerations.

"We cannot allow the faux emotional attachments of some to get in the way of the restoration of the house being achieved safely, expeditiously and in a way that recognises the concerns of staff and achieves value for money for the taxpayer."

Graham added that working around MPs and peers, as proposed by some parliamentarians, would be "perverse".

Writing for The House, Conservative MP Edward Leigh, who serves on the Sponsor Body, claimed problems were "answered with the most expensive and invasive solution possible", including proposals to level the nearby Richmond House to build an exact replica of the Commons Chamber rather than reducing the size of the voting lobbies "by the odd foot or two".

But a source close to the restoration programme has pointed out that the northern estate programme was never within the scope of Restoration and Renewal, and that the emerging scheme for the Palace was a response to objectives set by Parliament and confirmed by both Commissions following a strategic review of the programme in 2020.

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