By 2025, the Palace of Westminster will cease to be the location of Parliament (and, one would have to assume, the Parliamentary Review’s Annual Gala Evenings). Owing to heavy and long-needed renovations, both the House of Commons and the House of Lords will be relocating. Here’s a breakdown:
- Parliament is in a structurally hazardous state
- Both Lords and Commons agree on necessity of ‘fundamental’ renovation
- In early 2018, both Houses agreed on the need to relocate by 2025
- Renovations are projected to cost roughly £4bn and last until 2028
- Both Houses likely to relocate nearby, but this is still an open question
Why is Parliament Relocating?
In short, the building is falling apart. Parts of the roof are showing early signs of collapse, and the walls are crumbling. There also exist a significant number of fire hazards and dangerous quantities of asbestos (a substance known to cause severe respiratory damage).
Its dilapidation was never a wholly neglected problem, but the true scale of the problem was first officially recognised by the palace in 2012, after the House of Commons Commission deemed it necessary to treat the problem no longer on an ad hoc basis, but at a “fundamental” level.
Indeed, so egregious was the state of the building that, were it not a building of “the highest heritage value”, it would have been more economical to demolish and rebuild, the report stated.
Since the report in 2012, the verdict has changed little, except that the expected cost of renovations has increased from £1.5bn to roughly £4bn.
Where is it Relocating to?
Here the answer is less clear. Solutions range from temporarily moving a mere “stone’s throw away” to permanently moving the seat of government outside London altogether – indeed, one peer, Tony Greaves, suggested that if this were to happen, the city should lose its capital city status. This, it is argued, would provide much needed economic development to parts of the UK outside of the south-east.
Another option was for the Commons and Lords to take moving out in turns, with one chamber remaining present while the other leaves. However, this was recently concluded as too costly and cumbersome.
As of present, the mostly likely replacement residence for the House of Commons is the nearby Richard House in Whitehall, and for the Lords it will probably be the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, also close by. It is thought that doing this would be logistically simpler and less disruptive than other options discussed so far.
In any case, time is on their side – for no move is expected to take place before 2025. Given that the Parliamentary Review Annual Galas always take place in the Palace of Westminster, we will be following the relocation decision very closely indeed.