Parliament At Risk Of ‘Catastrophic Event’


The warning comes from a parliamentary committee of MPs and peers, which recommends politicians should move out for the work to take place.

Under the plans, the Commons chamber would be shifted to the Department of Health’s current offices, while the Lords would move to the nearby Queen Elizabeth II conference centre.

The Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster warned a decision on what to do could not be delayed any further and suggested the work, estimated to take six years, should start in 2023.

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Their report said: “The Palace of Westminster, a masterpiece of Victorian and medieval architecture and engineering, faces an impending crisis which we cannot responsibly ignore.

“It is impossible to say when this will happen, but there is a substantial and growing risk of either a single, catastrophic event, such as a major fire, or a succession of incremental failures in essential systems which would lead to Parliament no longer being able to occupy the Palace.”

A Deloitte study last year highlighted the poor condition of the Palace, with potentially deadly fire risks, collapsing roofs, crumbling walls, leaking pipes and a large amount of asbestos.

The committee rejected the prospect of carrying out the repairs without politicians leaving the building, or completing the renovations in stages with each chamber moving out in turn.

The “full decant” option, with both Houses moving out temporarily, was estimated by Deloitte to cost between £3bn and £4.3bn, with the most likely figure being around £3.5bn.

The joint committee’s report said there was no risk of the building collapsing, despite “extensive erosion and water damage”.

But there were major issues with the services and utilities installed in the building, it said.

“The main problem lies in the building’s mechanical and electrical services: the vast network of pipes, cables and machinery that carry heat, ventilation, air conditioning, power, water, data and dozens of other essential services around the building,” the report said.

“Many of these systems were replaced in the late 1940s and reached the end of their projected life in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The patch-and-mend approach which has seen the building through the decades since then is no longer sustainable. Intervention on a much larger scale is now required.

“Unless an intensive programme of major remedial work is undertaken soon, it is likely that the building will become uninhabitable.”

Downing Street said Theresa May has not yet seen the report.

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: “The PM’s view is that we should carefully consider the proposals and will want to hear the views of MPs before deciding on the direction.

“We will need to look at the way forward in discussion with Parliament.”

News Source SkyNews

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