Joint Statement from the House of Commons and House of Lords Commissions
14 June 2022
Members of the Commons and Lords Commissions have approved a new approach for how the programme to restore and renew the Palace of Westminster should be governed and delivered.
Read the full report on the Commission website [House of Commons Commission - Summary - Committees - UK Parliament]
This new approach prioritises:
- the commencement of safety-critical works as soon as possible;
- ensuring maximum value for money, especially in the current economic climate; and
- establishing a governance structure that is receptive to Parliament’s requirements as a working legislature and is accountable to Parliament.
The proposals are set out in the report [https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/22640/documents/166417/default/] and it is the intention that they will be put to Members of both Houses for debate and decision before the summer recess.
This new approach builds on the decisions made jointly by the Commissions in March and is informed by advice from an independent panel with expertise and significant experience in conservation of historic buildings, health and safety and major infrastructure projects.
The Commissions are united by a deep sense of responsibility to secure the future of this special place, while keeping the people who visit and work within it safe. In light of this commitment, the Commissions have agreed that the programme of works should initially focus on the following priority areas:
- Fire safety and protection
- Replacement of mechanical, electrical, drainage and plumbing, and data and communications systems
- Asbestos management and wider health and safety issues
- Conservation of the building fabric including stonework.
Subject to agreement of the Commissions’ recommendations by the two Houses, the programme will develop options, guided by the R&R Delivery Authority, which will include a variety of ways in which the works can be delivered, including minimising the time and extent to which Members and staff are asked to move out of the Palace and different levels of ambition for the works.
This new approach proposes that a new vision for the programme is agreed, but that the strategy for delivering the works is reviewed periodically to allow for changes in priorities and requirements.
Members of both Houses will be invited to consider the joint Commission recommendation that the R&R Sponsor Body and Board be replaced and this client function brought in-house, as a new joint department of both Houses.
The Commissions have endorsed a new two-tier oversight structure which integrates the governance of the R&R programme into the existing governance structures in Parliament but which will maintain the independence of the Delivery Authority.
Under the proposed structure the two Commissions will jointly have oversight of the programme. They have proposed delegating authority to an R&R Programme Board which will combine parliamentary representation with independent major project and heritage conservation expertise. As part of this new approach, there will be much wider, enhanced and more meaningful engagement with all communities within Parliament, so that the voices of Members, their staff, parliamentary staff and the public can feed into the next phase of the programme. The Commissions recognise the need for political advocacy for any major public sector project and this will be factored into the new governance arrangements.
Subject to the approval of the two Houses to motions giving effect to the proposals set out in the Commissions’ report before the summer recess, the intention is that the necessary legislative changes will be initiated in the autumn.
The Commissions extend their thanks to the Sponsor Board members for their work to date and all those involved in this transition period, including the members of the Independent Advice and Assurance Panel, and teams working in the Sponsor Body, Delivery Authority and Parliament.
The Palace of Westminster is recognisable to millions across the world; it is a global landmark, a powerful symbol of our democracy and a witness to the unfolding of our nation’s history. The Commissions are committed to preserving the Palace and keeping the people who visit and work within it safe. The Commissions know Members share this ambition and hope they will support the proposed changes to ensure that this precious building is preserved for the whole nation.