Parliamentary Archives: Fire Hazards

The Senior Deputy Speaker written question – answered on 14th May 2019.

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Photo of Lord Lexden Lord Lexden Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker what assessment has been made of the fire risk to the Parliamentary Archives; and whether consideration is being given to moving them to fire-proof premises.

Photo of Lord Laming Lord Laming Chair, Accommodation Steering Group Committee, Chair, Services Committee

The Senior Deputy Speaker has asked me, as Chairman of the Services Committee, to respond on his behalf.

The last fire risk assessment for Victoria Tower was carried out in 2016. It highlighted several fire safety issues, the majority of which have been dealt with as part of the Fire Safety Improvement Works Programme. This included the upgrade of the fire detection, new fire escape signage, emergency escape lighting and fire doors. There is also inherent fire compartmentation within the tower with the floors providing at least 30 minutes separation between the different levels. The fire risk assessment is scheduled for a review following the recent works and any issues highlighted in this review will be addressed.

Planning work is being undertaken to move the Parliamentary Archives ahead of Restoration and Renewal of the Palace, under the auspices of the Archives Accommodation Programme. The programme is developing requirements and designs for a range of options. The designs will take into account all known fire risks and will meet the necessary British Standards, both for fire mitigation and for archival storage, care and use of such important heritage collections.

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