UK lawmakers could move out of Palace of Westminster

LONDON — British lawmakers could leave the historic Palace of Westminster for six years while it undergoes vital repairs.

A committee is expected to recommend that they leave the central London UNESCO world heritage site — also known as the Houses of Parliament — to enable $5 billion of renovations.

Prime Minister Theresa May has not yet decided whether to support the recommendations, the Guardian reported, citing unnamed sources at Downing Street.

The House of Commons and the House of Lords, which make up the Parliament, both have to approve the decision.

A report last year suggested that moving the lawmakers temporarily to a different location would be cheaper and much quicker than carrying out the repairs with them in the building.

"The roofs are leaking. The stonework is rotting,” senior Parliamentary official Lord Lisvane told the BBC. "I don't think I'm giving away any secrets by saying there are lots of wires, nobody is quite sure where they go," he added.

Members of Parliament could move to a nearby Department of Health building. The Guardian reported that some MPs were concerned about reports that drinking alcohol was banned there — there are a number of bars at the Palace of Westminster.

Peers — politicians who sit in the House of Lords — could move to the nearby Queen Elizabeth II conference center, which is owned by the government.

In April, the House of Commons said that Big Ben, the bell on the clock at the Palace of Westminster, would fall silent for several months to allow urgent repairs to be carried out. The work is expected to start early next year and take three years.

Construction of the current Palace of Westminster ,which sits on the bank of the River Thames, began in 1840 and was completed in 1870. It was built on the site of the old medieval palace.

The existing building is "one of the most significant monuments of neo-Gothic architecture," UNESCO says on its website.

Palace of Westminster Graphic

 


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