Angela Crawley, Member of the Parliament for Lanark and Hamilton East, has condemned the ‘astronomical’ cost of the proposed restoration of the Westminster Parliament as ‘unthinkable’ during a time of damaging cuts to public services.
The local MP says reform of Parliament, including abolition of the House of Lords, should clearly be resolved before proposals are finalised, as the outcome of those discussions would change the requirements of the building.
The cost of renovating the Palace of Westminster is expected to run into billions of pounds.
The building, largely constructed in the middle of the 19th Century, is now being proposed for a massive refurbishment as it has been allowed to deteriorate for years. The building is now partly sinking, contains asbestos and has outdated electric cabling.
Commenting, Angela said:
“The cost of restoring Westminster is astronomical and the prospect of spending billions of pounds at a time of swingeing cuts is unthinkable.
“The people coming up with these proposals must live on another planet. Nothing damages the reputation of parliament and politics more than the establishment being seen to look after itself whilst cutting services for the people it is supposed to serve.
“The claimed urgency of the need to repair the building is completely undermined when one of the options being considered would take 32 years to complete. It is also wrong for a project of this scale not to fully consider all options – it should certainly include the option of parliament leaving the premises completely for either a new build or a new location.
“The decision by the Joint Committee to rule out a new build parliament means the UK Parliament will remain crowbarred into an expensive, impractical and archaic building, no matter the cost.
“This should also be an opportunity to reform and modernise the way business is conducted in the Houses of Parliament. It could be a golden opportunity to look at the way politics works at Westminster and a way to modernise the antiquated and out-dated way this building actually works – but the costs are based on a “like for like” refurbishment meaning we would still have the House of Lords and all the Victorian working practices that might have worked in 1916 – but certainly don’t in 2016.
“This cannot become another Westminster stitch-up decided behind closed doors with little or no public awareness or consultation. There needs to be clear lines of accountability and scrutiny at all stages so this doesn’t spiral out of control.