Joint statement from the House of Lords and House of Commons Commissions
18 March 2022
The Commission members of the two Houses of Parliament have made a united commitment to preserve the Palace of Westminster for future generations.
At a specially convened joint meeting on Thursday (17 March), the Commission members agreed a new approach to the Restoration and Renewal programme that recognises not only their collective duty as custodians of the globally iconic building - part of a UNESCO World Heritage site - but also their responsibility to ensure the safety of all those who work in and visit the Palace.
The joint meeting was organised following concerns over the emerging costs and timescales of the existing approach, and programme governance.
Following discussions, the Commission members agreed the new approach would be guided by the following parameters:
a. A primary commitment to health and safety, including fire safety;
b. Ensuring lessons from previous project activity are embedded in future project activity;
c. Works to improve mechanical, electrical and other essential systems should be prioritised;
d. A shorter life expectancy for the completed works should be considered (i.e. the infrastructure might require further renewal or ongoing upgrades in future decades rather than the current underpinning assumption to avoid this);
e. A wider range of options to decant Members and staff from areas of the building affected by the works needs to be considered;
f. There must be a more integrated and cohesive approach between R&R works and other critical works on the Parliamentary estate;
g. Different levels of ambition for programme scope should be considered to ensure maximum value for money;
h. There should be a broader range and a greater number of options for delivering the works developed prior to down-selection of final options;
i. An incremental approach to the works and the funding should be considered, in line with standard practice for many major public works.
The Commission members agreed to seek independent advice and assurance on the new approach to the works, as well as on proposals to take forward the Commissions’ decisions to replace the Sponsor Body. They also asked the Delivery Authority to place a high priority on continuing with the already planned programme of intrusive surveys, and other necessary work to inform future decisions, as swiftly as possible.
A revised mandate for the works and changes to the sponsorship function will be sought from the two Houses, which is currently planned to take place before the summer recess.