23 November 2017

MPs to debate way forward in tackling increasingly urgent works to Palace of Westminster

A date has now been set for MPs to debate the future of the Palace of Westminster, which faces major and increasingly urgent repairs.

On Thursday 11 January 2018, the House of Commons will debate how best to carry out the significant work that needs to be done on the building.

In 2015 the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster was established to examine the possible options for carrying out this work.

The Committee published its report last year, concluding that the Palace of Westminster ‘faces an impending crisis’ which cannot responsibly be ignored. It said that there is a substantial and growing risk of either a single, catastrophic event, such as a major fire, or a succession of incremental failures in essential systems which would lead to Parliament no longer being able to occupy the Palace.

The Government has now announced a date for the House of Commons to hold a debate.

The Government’s motion, which is yet to be published, is expected to allow for a sponsor board and delivery authority to be established, to oversee and deliver the Programme and consider the options for how the work could be delivered.

The Government has indicated that the three likely options are:

  • Full move out – both Houses move out of the Palace for the duration of the works
  • Partial move out – one House will move out at a time
  • A foothold is retained in Parliament, for example in Westminster Hall, during the works.

The Government has also indicated that once the risks, costs and benefits of the options have been explored, and if both Houses agree with the Sponsor Board’s recommended option following a further vote, then the chosen option will be taken forward to the design and delivery phase.

It is expected that the House of Lords will also hold its debate shortly after the Commons.