POLITICS

Commons To Review Big Ben Four-Year Silence Plan After Row

Jeremy Corbyn says protection of workers is more important.

16/08/2017 12:03 BST | Updated 17/08/2017 15:10 BST

Plans for Big Ben to fall silent for four years while improvement works are carried out are set to be reviewed by Commons officials.

Theresa May became the most senior official to complain about the proposals, announced by the Parliamentary estate earlier this week, while on a visit to Portsmouth on Wednesday.

Several MPs have raised objections over the bongs of the world’s most iconic clock being paused until 2021 - except on important state occasions - while vital works are carried out on the Elizabeth Tower. 

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said while he would miss the sound of the bells, ensuring the safety of workers - in line with advice from the Trade Union Congress - was paramount.

He added: “If we have to miss Big Ben in reality for a while so that work can be done, well, that’s something we have to go through.

“It’s not a national disaster or catastrophe.”

TUC health and safety expert Hugh Robertson said: “When all 14 tonnes of Big Ben bongs near you, you’ll know it. At nearly 120 decibels, it’s like putting your ear next to a police siren.

PA Wire/PA Images
Theresa May raised concerns about the Big Ben plan on a visit to Portsmouth.

“Protecting workers’ hearing is far from ‘health and safety gone mad’. It’s just plain common sense.”

MPs who signed off the works reportedly told the Daily Mail they “didn’t realise” they famous bells would be silenced for so long.

The improvements will see the clock dismantled piece by piece, with each cog examined and restored. The four dials will be carefully cleaned, the glass repaired, the cast iron framework renewed, and the hands will be removed and refurbished.