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Big Ben

House of Commons Commission written question – answered on 15th January 2020.

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Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

To ask the hon. Member representing the House of Commons Commission, if the Commission will allow Big Ben to chime at 11pm GMT on 31 January 2020 to mark the UK leaving the EU; what estimate has been made of the cost of activating the clock mechanism to enable those chimes; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Paul Beresford Paul Beresford Conservative, Mole Valley

The Speaker has indicated that this is a matter for Members of the House of Commons. The House of Commons Commission will respond to any decision of the House on this matter. In the absence of any such decision, the Commission's position on the sounding of Big Ben remains unchanged.

For the Bell to ring on 31 January, the temporary striking mechanism used for Remembrance Sunday and New Year's Eve would need to be reattached and tested to ensure the timing is correct. Alongside this work, a temporary floor of the belfry where Big Ben is housed would also need to be installed, as extensive work is currently taking place in this area. The cost for the temporary floor and installing, testing and striking Big Ben would be approximately £120,000.

In addition to the set-up, the delay to work in the belfry would push back the planned programme of works by two to four weeks, with each week of delays costing approximately £100,000 a week. As such, the minimum cost of sounding Big Ben would be £320,000 but could be much higher (up to £500,000). These costs are based on a notice period of approximately two weeks. Should the project team be required to strike the bell with less notice, these costs would increase substantially.

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