Could MPs be forced to abandon the “crumbling” Palace of Westminster?

John Bercow warns that the building could become unusable if major works are not carried out

MPs could be forced to abandon the Palace of Westminster as years of neglect mean the building is leaky and decrepit.

According to Commons Speaker John Bercow, essential repairs could cost in the region of £3bn, though he admitted the figure was perhaps “on the cautious side”.

The gothic palace was designed by architect John Barry and completed in 1870. Today it suffers from water damage, including leaks and flooding, has crumbling stonework in some places and also contains asbestos.

However, the expensive repairs could mean a temporary move for MPs while the works are carried out.

Speaking at the Hansard Society, Bercow said: “It would be a huge pity if we decided that by the time we had reached the 200th anniversary of the vast fire which consumed the old Parliament and brought this one in to being we had to abandon this site and look elsewhere in order to serve the public interest properly.

“Yet I will tell you in all candour that unless management of the very highest quality and a not inconsequential sum of public money are deployed on this estate over the next ten years that will be the outcome.”

Bercow said he had reservations about moving MPs from Westminster, as the upheaval would mean it could be difficult to return, but he did not rule out moving parliament out of London temporarily.

 

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