Restoration and Renewal (Report of the Joint Committee)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:55 pm on 31st January 2018.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 3:55 pm, 31st January 2018

As I have made clear, that would not be allowed to happen. We take every step possible to minimise risks. We do not take risks with people’s health and safety. We do not wish to do that. The point I am making is that with every year that passes, it gets more difficult to manage.

What is the next step? Just as the need for works is pressing, so too is the need to be sure that we are acting in the right way, with the right planning and design capabilities in place. The way forward on R and R must be supported by the House. At the same time, we have to be able to justify to our constituents and to taxpayers that we are doing what is necessary to safeguard the Palace of Westminster and that we have thoroughly examined the costs.

I have listened carefully to Members, and I thank all those who have come to drop-in sessions, explored the basements and toured the Palace with the R and R team. I have reflected on all the amendments proposed to the motions I tabled the week before last. Today, there are very clear options before the House.

I turn first to motion 1 on the Order Paper. This motion recognises that, given the scale of the challenge ahead of us, Members must first consider the vast cost associated with any programme of work. With competing demands on our public services, and calls for capital investment in other areas, Parliament will want to think carefully about the impact this will have on the taxpayer, and may ultimately choose to limit spending on the Palace to essential repairs. The case for further work to be done is, however, compelling, and it is important that we do not impede future progress in any decision made today. So this first option also agrees to reviewing the need for comprehensive works before the next general election.

The full cost of an R and R programme under this scenario would not be incurred until late into the next decade.