Last night (31 January 2018) I voted for the restoration and renewal of the Houses of Parliament. There were several options put before the Commons as to how this would be done. They included:
• Full decant whilst the restoration process was undertaken and move into other buildings near Parliament Square (£3.87bn);
• Restoration in stages – where the Commons would move into the Lords, the Lords into other premises and then once the restoration of the Commons was completed the process would be reversed (£4.42bn); or
• Restoration whilst both Houses remained on site (£5.67bn).
Each of these options had varying cost levels. The most expensive being remaining in place whilst the work continues and could have seen the work carry on for up to 60 years. Compared with the first, and cheapest option, which will hopefully only last for 6 years.
I voted for the first option, full decant, as this was would have the lowest cost implications meaning that taxpayers get a better deal.
The Palace of Westminster is a UNESCO world heritage site. UNESCO is the United Nations body which declares sites of cultural and historical importance to the world. Its declare purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific and cultural reforms. Only a small handful of buildings are deemed to be world heritage sites and therefore it is important that Parliament is restored for future generations both at home and abroad.
Parliament has been meeting on the same site since 1097 when Westminster Hall was completed by William II. The iconic buildings we currently meet in are much more recent, being completed in 1852, but the Victorian infrastructure is crumbling around us. It has been noted that by 2020 there will be a 50/50 chance of a ‘catastrophic failure’: in other words a fire.
I have always worked hard to make Parliament more accessible for constituents and have supported the new education facilities to let all children know that Parliament is theirs. The restoration and renewal programme will build upon this success. It will see our Parliament become more accessible for people with disabilities and see improvements to our education facilities.
I voted for the lowest cost option. The work needs to be done to protect the buildings for future generations and that is why I voted for Parliament to vacate the premises for a minimum of 6 years. This motion was passed and it is now for the Lords to make their decision.