Restoration of the Palace of Westminster: Sustainable Procurement

Restoration and Renewal Client Board – in the House of Commons at 9:34 am on 26 January 2023.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield 9:34, 26 January 2023

What steps the board is taking to plan for a sustainable procurement policy for restoration of the Palace of Westminster.

Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Chair, Administration Committee, Chair, Administration Committee

The delivery authority leads on procurement for the restoration and renewal programme. The delivery authority’s procurement policy includes sustainability as one of the criteria to consider when making procurement decisions. The aim is to deliver a refurbishment programme that ensures efficient and responsible resource consumption, helps to develop construction and craft skills nationally, and increases social mobility—for example, through taking on apprentices.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

What a mess we are in with both Houses. What a mess restoration and renewal is in. I campaigned for putting a lot of the work on the river, but that pales into insignificance when we see the mess we are in. People locally—my constituents—say, “Quite honestly, you people in Parliament couldn’t organise a proverbial in a brewery!” The fact is that we look ridiculous in this House because, whether it is sustainable or non-sustainable, we simply seem to be making no progress at all.

Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Chair, Administration Committee, Chair, Administration Committee

Forgive me, Mr Speaker. I am not sure what the question was there, but I shall try to answer. I share the hon. Gentleman’s desire with regard to the Thames, because I know we have a passion for the Thames. I want to see the River Thames thrive: I want to see it thrive with fish for personal reasons, but I also want to see it thrive with commercial endeavour. Despite the hon. Gentleman’s frustrations, the delivery authority is looking at conducting feasibility studies on using the Thames to deliver construction materials, and I can write to him further about that. I am not sure I can help him with his frustrations immediately, but perhaps in the future we will ease them somewhat.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Conservative, South Northamptonshire

I often agree with Mr Sheerman, and this is no exception. I would like to ask my hon. Friend—a very good friend—what on earth we are doing. Why are we not out of this place or making plans to remove ourselves to somewhere else while restoration and renewal carries on? Are we ever going to do it, or are we just going to wait until asbestos, a sewage leak, a fire or some other disaster befalls us?

Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Chair, Administration Committee, Chair, Administration Committee

I thank my right hon. Friend for her—incredibly helpful—question, and I shall try to answer it as best I can. The delivery authority is working tirelessly to deliver a programme to renew and restore the Palace of Westminster, and there are enormous complexities here, as she knows. I do not want to stray into politics, but ultimately any restoration of this place will have to be funded, and we do need to find a mechanism for funding that the Treasury feels comfortable signing off. As far as the plans are concerned, progress is being made, and I am more than happy to keep my right hon. Friend informed, despite her fierce questioning.