MPs Vote To Leave Houses Of Parliament For £3.5bn Refurbishment

Palace of Westminster is partly sinking, contains asbestos and has outdated cabling.

MPs have paved the way to move out of the historic Houses of Parliament moving during a restoration programme that could cost at least £3.5bn.

On Wednesday night they voted in support of a “full and timely decant” after deleting sections from a motion which would have allowed them to kick into the long grass the need for “comprehensive works” at the Unesco World Heritage Site.

A body would also be established to provide up-to-date costings of the work and a “realistic” timetable for the repairs.

The amendment was tabled by Public Accounts Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier and was viewed as a way of ensuring more rapid progress to repair the Palace of Westminster compared with two motions tabled by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom.

The restoration and renewal of the Grade I-listed Palace of Westminster is needed as it is partly sinking, contains asbestos and has outdated cabling.

COMMONS Parliament
(PA Graphics)

A 2012 report warned the building could suffer “major, irreversible damage” if significant work to restore it is not carried out.

But the works would mean significant upheaval and could see Parliamentarians moved out of the building for a long period of time while they are undertaken.

Under plans, the Commons would move to Richmond House, on nearby Whitehall, and the Lords would relocate to the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre.

But Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh warned during the debate that Hillier’s amendment could result in MPs leaving Parliament for up to 12 years and effectively authorise the spending of £5 billion during a time of “unparalleled austerity”.

Hillier’s amendment was supported by 236 votes to 220 – majority 16.

The amended motion was then voted upon and approved by 234 votes to 185, majority 49.

Peers are to consider the restoration and renewal of the palace on February 6.

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