Commons to close?

RECEIVED this from Gallery News earlier today: 

House of Commons may have to close

The House of Commons is facing the possibility of closure for up to 
three years.

MPs could be moved out while a major refit of the Commons takes place, 
the House of Commons Commission has announced.

Such is the scale of necessary work – costing ‘hundreds of millions of 
pounds’ – that restricting it to summer recesses would take 25
years.

The Commission is ordering a feasibility study to ‘examine whether 
substantial savings in cost, time and risk could be made by
moving some operations of both Houses out of the Palace for a period to 
enable modernisation to be carried out continuously until
its completion’.

The £250,000 feasibility study is expected to report in the middle of 
next year, with the work expected to start after that, once
budgets have been agreed.

Liberal Democrat  MP Nick Harvey, a spokesman for the House of Commons 
commission, said, ” The complete project will take
many years and involve considerable cost.”

More than 500 miles of water pipes, electrical cables and telephone 
wires need to be replaced in what would be the biggest programme of 
works since 1947, when the Commons last underwent a major refit.

There were 33 leaks from hot water pipes in the past month and there is 
also a problem with asbestos, which needs to be removed.

A Commons spokeswoman said much of the infrastructure in the Commons had 
reached the end of its ‘economic life’.

” Work has to be done all the time but there comes a point when you have 
to do major replacement,” she told BBC News.

During the Second World War MPs briefly met in the House of Lords 
chamber.

Another option might be to set up a temporary chamber in the Queen 
Elizabeth II conference centre.

My personal preference would be for them to take 25 years and do it during summer recess, but I may be in a minority on that one.

Any suggestions of where the Commons should meet temporarily? Keep it clean, please.

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24 Comments

Filed under Parliament

24 responses to “Commons to close?

  1. To be honest, I’d rather see that amount of money invested in social housing – both building more and repairing and refitting some that’s in pretty horrific condition.

    When that’s done, then maybe you might be able to have a brand spanking new chamber…..

  2. davidc

    100’s of millions ?

    how long before that becomes 100’s of billions ?

    i assume this will be a pfi or even a ppp funded project just to keep the pbr under 40% or is it 50% or 60% now – so hard to keep up.

  3. Matt

    Tom,

    I know this would probably be even more unpopular than a 25 year wait, but what about moving the Commons upstairs to CR14? It has a capacity of 170, which would be woefully poor for PMQs, but would easily suffice for most oral questions and debates. CR14 has all the convenience of still being in the Palace of Westminster, low cost, and you could commandeer the neigbouring committee rooms as voting lobbies.

    Maybe PMQs could be scheduled in the Lords chamber (which would inconvenience and annoy them less) and the rest of business could be taken in CR14. Perhaps any other big issues or debates could be scheduled in the Lords on an ad hoc and/or emergency-priority basis as well.

    I know it’s unrealistic, but it has a tiny grain of possibility that’s quite attractive (to me at least). Alternatively exercise your mandate and turf the Lords out into CR14 or the Royal Gallery – that’s got plenty of space.

  4. Our spare room’s usually free.

  5. John

    Can’t they just close it and make you lot redundant.
    They could carry out the repairs with the money saved.

  6. Good idea. Then we can get the army in to run things. That worked in lots of South American countries, after all…

  7. John

    What army Tom?????
    Our lads are away fighting pointless wars………..

    Alternatively, they’ve got a nice function room upstairs at our local, the George and Dragon……reasonable rates too….

  8. James

    I think John has a point Tom.
    With Europe deciding most of the rules/laws and the Civil Servants carrying them out, you’re virtually redundant anyway.

  9. James

    What’s wrong with video conferencing?
    Work from home (save the planet and be with the kids)
    Save the taxpayers a fortune.
    Dunno how you would catch the Speaker’s eye though to ask a question.
    Perhaps wear a bright tie?

  10. Johnny Norfolk

    All this sort of thing should be cancelled. What money has the Labour government saved by cutting back like we all have had to.

    You are all not of this world.

  11. Mo Daniels

    Isnt it obvious, simply transfer powers to the Scottish Government in Edinburgh, they are doing such a great job for Scotland at the moment, excuse me, I think I am going to be sick…………

  12. Chris' Wills

    Now what harm would it do for you to take a longer recess, say 2 years.

    Bring in a few thousand workers to gut the place and rebuild it to NuLabor standards in those two years.

    Be ready for the next parliament and no new laws or rules for two years, actually let things settle down a bit and perhaps then through out the stuff that doesn’t work.

    Any emergencies and you could all assemble in the SECC.

  13. hopisen

    I’ve said on my blog – Hire the State of Play/House of Cards set from Paul Abbott and set it up in Westminster hall. Insta-Commons!

  14. Paul

    Who produces Gallery News anyway? This has been bugging me for years…

  15. Chris

    What about Church House, the home of the Church of England’s Synod? They hire it out, it has a capacity of 670 in arrangement similar to most other parliaments, and it is just around the corner from the palace.

    It is also surrounded by capacious civil service office blocks that could accomodate the office space lost during the renovation.

    If they say no, then just advise them that the bishops won’t need to return to the Lords once the building works are complete.

  16. steve

    Just do what they do with schools these days, knock it down and build a inpractical glass monstrosticy!

    Where is Kevin McCloud when you need him.

  17. Andrew F

    I’ve got it! The House of Commons… On Tour! You could travel the country, entertaining the plebes with your orratory as you go.

    Selling the TV rights would be interesting. My thoughts: each MP hooked up to an electrode, to be shocked by members of the public whenever they say something ridiculous. It’d put a serious dent in government debt, if nothing else.

  18. Peter Metcalfe

    Is the millenium dome still available?

  19. Simon

    It should move to Middlesborough, or Jarrow, or Barrow-in-Furnace. Bring regeneration as lobbyists, staffers and media have to relocate. Chic restaurants will open, building anf house values will soar and coke dealers will be in heaven. It’s obvious.

  20. Martin Cullip

    Great stuff Andrew F: “Selling the TV rights would be interesting. My thoughts: each MP hooked up to an electrode, to be shocked by members of the public whenever they say something ridiculous.”

    THAT would get the public more willing to get involved in the democratic process as you were asking in your previous blog post Tom.

    What number suffix do I dial to electrocute Dawn Prim & Proper? 😉

  21. Outside The Debate. Use the fountains as a place for the dispatch box.

  22. Blackacre

    Easy – alternate between the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the European Parliament in Strasbourg. In fact, move to Strasbourg fully – will be nearer the centres of power (but not so near as to get in the way of decision making) and will finish the charade of the Euro Parliament moving every couple of weeks from Brussels.

  23. Pointless war Afghanistan, I think not. Bringing democracy to this ancient land and routing the Taliban, women wandering gaily throughout Kabul ‘burkaless’, votes for all ‘hard-working’ Kabul families. How dare you say its pointless.

  24. “There were 33 leaks from hot water pipes in the past month”

    Well at least the pipes are more discreet than the cabinet.

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