ALTHOUGH part of the Palace of Westminster which is also known as the Houses of Parliament dates back to the time of William the Conqueror, the Parliament building as we recognise it was not actually finished until 1870 and now it is in a dangerous state (not just from those who populate it).
A committee charged with considering how best to cope with the deterioration of the buildings has now come up with a recommendation that it should be closed for six years from 2020 to allow for a complete refurbishment estimated to cost £4 billion (€4.8 billion), the equivalent of just 12 weeks of the promised savings from leaving the European Union.
According to the report, the buildings are rotten, with leaking roofs, antiquated wiring, fragmenting stonework and apart from being a fire risk, there is also a great deal of asbestos within the framework of the building.
This will be the first proper renovation of the building for 60 years and one of the main problems is that having been built well over a century ago, there are no detailed plans of interior conduits available and updates have tended to slap new wires and pipes on top of old so that the whole structure is riddled with ancient and unused voids.
The committee has recommended that the House of Commons should be moved to the nearby Department of Health building in Whitehall whilst the Lords should move to the government owned QEII conference centre just across the road in Victoria Street.
Any decision to close the Houses of Parliament will have to be voted on in both the Commons and Lords, but the alternative of remaining in the building whilst renovations take place whilst cheaper will have serious health and safety and security implications which mean this option appears unlikely.