The Palace of Westminster is crumbling and could burn down. Should it be demolished?

Rusting roof, wilting walls, broken lifts, leaking pipes and antiquated wiring – that’s the state of the Palace of Westminster presently.

And experts have warned that the Houses of Parliament could deteriorate and burn down if refurbishment isn’t carried out soon. The Houses of Parliament last caught fire in 1834 destroying the building completely.

Problems include 3,000 windows that don’t shut properly, eroding Anston limestone walls and water damage.

A report on the future of the Palace of Westminster published in 2012 stated: “If the Palace were not a listed building of the highest heritage value, its owner would probably be advised to demolish and rebuild.”

According to Richard Ware, the director for the Restoration and Renewal Programme at the Palace of Westminster, the £50m-a-year programme has merely kept the building operational and hasn’t helped in carrying out repair works.

Dr Ware told Business Insider: “The more things become antiquated the changes of a bigger crisis grow. It has already burned down once.”

“There is very little down time and the problem is how on earth you undertake fundamental renovations on the scale required under those circumstances.”

Mel Barlex, the programme’s parliamentary and technical director of estates, said: “When things go wrong you can’t shut the Palace down so you end putting new cables and pipework in without removing the old ones.

“So you eventually shrink the amount of available of space you have and make it more difficult to access the areas that you need to get to.”

He said: “Within six months of my joining I had a member stuck in a lift as a vote was underway. The legislation was ultimately passed by seven votes. That brought home just how serious these issues are.

“The worst problem we’ve had was a flood in 2010. A policeman walking along one of the corridors noticed some water coming in through the ceiling. A pipe had split pouring 30,000 litres of water in 15 minutes, and it took us three weeks to fully recover.”

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