Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:34 pm on 24th March 2020.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough 6:34 pm, 24th March 2020

I will certainly not dwell on the exact dimensions. I was making the simple, general point that there might cheaper options than the proposal to demolish Richmond House and build a permanent replica Chamber.

The other point that the new sponsor body has to consider is what will happen when the House of Lords is moved to QEII. It would be possible to place the Lords quite cheaply and simply in that building at a relatively small cost. There is already a large conference chamber there, which holds up to 700 people—big enough even for the House of Lords. Their lordships may have to forgo their planned rooftop terrace dining room, which would cost £200 million, but, given the present crisis facing the nation, I am sure that they will be prepared to do that.

Even more cheaply—speaking in very general terms, Madam Deputy Speaker, to comply with your ruling—it may not even be necessary to have a temporary Chamber erected in the courtyard of Richmond House. Having commissioned architects to work on this subject, I can say that it would be perfectly possible for this Chamber to move temporarily to the House of Lords Chamber, as we did in the second world war, with a line of route through Westminster Hall and Saint Stephen’s Chapel.

To sum up, there are many cheaper alternatives that must and should be explored by the sponsor body, as our primary concern is to save public money, carry out these works as expeditiously as possible and not waste time, perhaps until 2027, waiting for a replica Chamber to be built. We should get on with the work now and preserve this historic building.