A £3.5 billion refurbishment of Parliament is set to see both Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords move to another location while essential maintenance is carried out on the Palace of Westminster. It is understood, however, that The Queen’s consent must be sought before the costly refurbishment can go ahead.
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MP’s voted to allow the move to go ahead last month although the Government admitted that the project may not be able to get started without the royal nod. Former Chief Whip, Lord Young, commented, “As a parliamentary programme, the delivery of the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster is a matter for both Houses of Parliament. I understand that The Queen’s consent may have to be sought in relation to the bill to be brought forward in respect of R&R.”
It is fully expected that The Queen’s consent will be given without a hitch and a project spokesperson said, “Any bill which affects the prerogative, hereditary revenues, personal property or interests of the Crown requires Queen’s consent in both Houses before it is passed. Queen’s consent is usually required for several bills each year.”
The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster. The first royal palace was built on the site in the 11th century and Westminster became the primary residence of the Monarchs of England until a fire destroyed much of the building in 1512.
After this, it served as the home of the Parliament of England. In 1834 a massive fire ravaged through the Houses of Parliament and the only medieval structures to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephens, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower.
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The palace was subsequently rebuilt over the following years starting in 1840 and being completed 30 years later. Further reconstruction work took place following the Second World War including the Commons Chamber which was hit by a bomb in 1941.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is currently partly sinking, contains asbestos and has outdated cabling, with a 2012 report warning “major, irreversible damage” if repairs were not made.
Photo Credit: Chatham House