Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:25 am on 4th February 2021.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:25 am, 4th February 2021

My right hon. Friend is right to say that the pandemic has increased the eternal need to ensure that when it comes to all Government expenditure, but especially restoration and renewal, the taxpayer is only asked to pay for vital works, not gold-plating. I will confess to him that some of the figures I have heard bandied around for the total cost, and some I am seeing requested for budgets at the moment, are eye-watering, and it is hard to believe that that is what is required for the vital works.

The Palace of Westminster must remain the home of our democracy. It is a temple to democracy: that is what our Victorian forebears built it to be. It is one we should be immeasurably proud of and must preserve and use, because we need to carry on our work in this fantastic Palace, not somewhere else. But it has to be said that the “how” should follow the “what” in this regard, not the other way round: the “what” comes after we have worked out “how”, which is why hon. and right hon. Members like my right hon. Friend will have such an important role to play in the coming months in helping to determine the scale of the project—the “what” that is required. We are the ones accountable to constituents, so it is quite right that we will be the Members of Parliament—the Members of this current Parliament—who make the final decisions on how to proceed.