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£4-£6 billion to save the Houses of Palriament

(43 Posts)
MappingTheMind Thu 18-Jun-15 13:38:34

Just seen this on the news. If major works aren't carried out the Pakace of Westminster will subside and crumble but the works will cost the tax payer £4-6 billion.

£4-6 billion could pay for thousands of new schools. Or several hospitals. Or a significant rise in minimum wage. So part of me thinks saving a Palace is a huge waste.

However this is one of the UK's most iconic buildings. London without Big Ben is a sad thought. And it's a stunning building with such amazing history. So part of me thinks it's worth it.

What do others think?

Isitmebut Thu 18-Jun-15 14:15:45

For a start, I'd like a second estimate, as £4-6 bil is seriously covering the builders options and 'sundries'. lol

It is crumbling inside, clearly we are replacing very old 'stuff' we can't get at Ikea, and even if they all moved out at took over Holyrood (guffaw), would we be prepared to bulldoze it, or replace enough to keep it standing for another 20-years?

I see little option other than fix it, does the government not have some Contingency Fund or other to cover it?

If we went to war in the Middle East they'd find the money, so why don't we continue to leave 'the locals' to handle it, and put the money to better use?

sanfairyanne Thu 18-Jun-15 14:43:31

just get a new parliament and put it in manchester. leave that one to slowly crumble or even better, sell it off. as a tourist attraction it must have years of life left in it

MappingTheMind Thu 18-Jun-15 14:46:11

I think the range of £4-6 billion is for different options. £4 billion if all the policians work elsewhere for 6 years and £6 billion if they stay in the building and the works have to take place around them.

Whether the money comes from a government contingency fund or any other government fund doesnt affect the fact it is tax payers' money. The government only gets money from taxes, the government has no access to any money other than public money. No private company would do the work unless we just sold the Palace to them to turn into some high-grossing theme park!

MappingTheMind Thu 18-Jun-15 14:48:47

X post San.I see your point but does anywhere have a suitable building to move parliament too? Wouldnt we end up spending loads building somewhere new in Manchester and paying loads to relocate all the staff? But i quite like the idea of relocating them out of London. Let London be the financial capital and somewhere else be the political capital. Spread the jobs and focus.

Isitmebut Thu 18-Jun-15 15:10:56

MappingTheMind .... I agree with your 'taxpayers money no matter where it comes from' point, but what about if covered by the sale of government owned land elsewhere?

Still our money, but swapping like for like, with a continued historic/tourist attraction premium, for another century or two.

LetThereBeCupcakes Thu 18-Jun-15 15:15:49

It is a huge amount of money, but so long as a British contractor takes on the work, the money isn't "gone". I don't see the problem? It's just moving it around, surely?

Isitmebut Thu 18-Jun-15 15:45:50

'British Contractors for British Heritage work', what a very good point 'recycling' point. lol

In fairness one would easily argue that it could be better used, but equally argued to anyone who owns a home, bills (often unexpected) come up and have to be dealt with, whether out of earnings or put on the credit card - in this case put on the National Debt credit card as a one off expenditure, rather than recurring annual cost via the Budget Deficit.

MappingTheMind Thu 18-Jun-15 16:49:47

EU rules would prohibit any awarding of contracts to British companies only. But lots of dying crafts could be reinvigorated as they would need lots of specialist craftsmen like wood carvers, stone carvers, tile makers.

Isitmebut Sun 21-Jun-15 01:48:37

So we advertise to the EU for specialists in British architecture/restoration. Sorted.

FyreFly Tue 23-Jun-15 10:19:26

I believe the reason it's so high is due to the fact that the building is slowly sinking. It's going to be all the underpinning and consolidation that takes the largest cut of the money. Then add in that the whole thing needs rewiring, replumbing, reroofing, new windows, all the serious structural stuff costs a lot of money, especially when you have to conform to certain standards with a scheduled building. And I haven't even counted the 'window dressing' like restoration of the paintwork and architectural decoration.

£4-6bn to me seems tiny. I estimate it may well double by the end.

And they haven't even factored in the cost and logistics of moving an entire parliament, house of Lords and all their associated staff and offices. How do you even move an entire system of government? I don't know where we'd put them whilst it was ongoing. Holyrood is probably unlikely grin although it is the most sensible choice I can think of.

It would probably be cheaper to knock it down and build a new one tbh, but I personally don't think that's any way to treat your history.

It's all fascinating smile I can't think of any examples where work has been carried out on such a scale, on a building that is still in constant, intense use. Will be watching with great interest to see how it is handled (hopefully well)...

lljkk Tue 23-Jun-15 10:26:53

I'd like the temporary Parliament to go to Sheffield or maybe Leeds & PM has to go, too. If it was planned as a 7 yr move then the costs would come down.
I want them to return to current building.

silveroldie2 Tue 23-Jun-15 16:15:42

I have no problem spending this amount to fix the building. I don't see a temporary parliament in Leeds/Sheffield as realistic at all, think of all the MPs who currently have second homes in London - are you suggesting they all buy third homes in Leeds/Sheffield? Plus all the Government Departments, or most of them, are based in London.

throckenholt Tue 23-Jun-15 17:03:59

I think it should be done (should have been better looked after before this as well).

I think they should move to somewhere in the Midlands (near an airport) for best access for all parts of the country. Move all the admin out there as well.

When the building work is finished, move the UK mps (reduced number) back there for national issues, and keep the temporary one (in the midlands) as a parliament for England (to match wales, scotland and NI). And use the rest of the building as a public space - maybe exhibition centre, state entertaining etc.

Kill lots of birds with one stone smile

Mappingthemind Wed 24-Jun-15 15:28:20

But if parliament was moved to the Midlands that would mean moving:
650ish MPs who have either homes or weekday flats in London
1000 House of Commons staff who live in London
800 members of the Lords
600 Lords staff who live in London
The PM and his staff of at least 50 who live in London
Large parts of Government Departments which support ministers and need to be near parliament. Maybe 1000 staff if you leave then policy development staff in London.

You would have to offer relocation packages to all these staff and their families. It would make the bill huge. The new building would need two debating chambers that could house at least 500 people each plus rooms for select committees etc (I think Westminster has about 30 public meeting rooms which can be televised etc). The costs of the relocation and temporary conversation of a property would be eye watering.

Isitmebut Wed 24-Jun-15 15:55:19

An interesting list Mappingthemind,

I was waiting for 'the Lord's a leaping', ending in '...and a partridge in a pear tree'.

Logistically it looks a nightmare for our seat of government to move out of London, so unless a suitable place can be found in London e.g. the old to be premises of HSBC in Canary Wharf (lol), best we swallow the bill. IMO

throckenholt Wed 24-Jun-15 18:38:50

Mappingthemind - yep - and it would go a long way towards rebalancing the hugely disproportionate role London plays in the UK. I think there is a large tendency for London to suck in all the resources because that is where the decision makers live and see as the most important. It would also do a lot to clam down the housing market in the south east.

I also think we should do a huge amount more to discourage development in the south east and spread it out around the country - better for the south east and better for the rest as well.

nooka Thu 25-Jun-15 04:09:30

I'd say the only real issue is why they have only just noticed that there is a huge restoration required. I bet it's been known as an issue for a very long time and just not addressed.

I live in a country that has separate commercial and political capitals, and in my province (British Columbia) one of the results is that parliament is effectively sidelined as the executive don't want to 'waste their time' hanging out with the ordinary MPs/opposition when they could be hobnobbing with business leaders. We've had whole sessions of parliament just not called (how they get away with that s quite beyond me) and the PM equivalent openly contemptuous - this is what she had to say about the political capital:

"I try never to go over there. Because it's sick. It's a sick culture. All they can think about is government and there are no real people in Victoria, and you get captured by this inside-the-beltway debate, and it's really unhealthy."

So I'm not at all sure that sending all the politicians off to Manchester/ Birmingham woudl be a good idea at all. Besides they did try and send a whole load of government offices off to Leeds a few years ago and it didn't work out terribly well.

MappingTheMind Thu 25-Jun-15 10:19:35

That is really interesting Nooka. I am not sure the PM here could get away without attending to his PMQ duties or voting on key legislation but I suppose a move does risk fewer senior ministers engaging with parliament and instead leaving it to underlings.

Throken, I am not sure about the argument that moving parliament would burst the London housing bubble. These are public servants, they do not earn much. The London housing bubble is due to the bankers and foreign investors not the civil servants!

Isitmebut Thu 25-Jun-15 10:39:36

"Besides they did try and send a whole load of government offices off to Leeds a few years ago and it didn't work out terribly well."

Thats right they were never seen again, no one knows what happened, its now known as the Leeds Triangle. lol

Arguably the next 5-years won't be as UK critical as the last, but there is clearly a lot more to the business of government than sitting in a Chamber debating, so keeping the whole 'firm' together and functioning as best they can (with no relocation upheaval), could make a governance difference.

And although tough to quantify, it could mean more to the UK going forward, than could be valued in ££££s.

funnyperson Thu 25-Jun-15 13:44:05

I think they should wait a few years till the country's finances are in better shape and there are fewer children in poverty

Isitmebut Thu 25-Jun-15 14:08:02

funnyperson .... as apparently few wants spending cuts and the National Debt is currently going up at (a budget deficit) £87 billion a year, why do you think we will be in much better shape within a few years - if not even STARTING to pay our National Debt down?

With infrastructure the 'yay' case for NEW projects is to provide economic growth NOW building whatever, and future growth through the effects it may have on our economy e.g. Cross Rail.

With OLD projects, the problem is as they have already found, the longer its left, the more damage done as falls to pieces.

PenelopePitstops Thu 25-Jun-15 14:13:28

Tbh i think we just have to take the hit and get it all fixed. I know that this is probably an unpopular view but the building is part of our heritage and it would be nice to keep it. The tories have mentioned it now because they have 5 years so can at least make a start. If they are replaced it's not like labour can go wwoooa halt the works!

happybubblebrain Thu 25-Jun-15 14:20:11

And meanwhile, back in the real world. People are starving to death or committing suicide because of cuts, disabled people are loosing benefits, children are going without essential things, lots and lots of people are really struggling.

But buildings are more important than people???

Our government is psychopathic.

Nameeman Thu 25-Jun-15 14:26:34

To be fair this isn't a government initiative. According to the news reports it was an independent report on the state of the building which was commissioned by a cross party group of parliamentarians. Parliament doesn't belong to the government of the day.

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