5. What consideration is being given to a temporary relocation of Parliament to enable refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster. (902437)
I announced in a written statement on 17 December 2013 that the contract had been awarded for an independent appraisal of the options for restoring and renewing the palace, in co-operation with the House of Lords. A temporary relocation of Parliament is one of the options being analysed. Other options include a phased programme of less disruptive interventions or a partial relocation. No decisions on the matter are expected in this Parliament, and certainly not before the report is received.
I fear that once again we are kicking an issue into the long grass. Sadly, we have lost the opportunity to relocate to east London now that the Olympic park is soon to reopen. Would not a relocation to somewhere such as, say, Birmingham, in the centre of the country—[Interruption.] It could be Birmingham or any other city that Members may wish to suggest. Would that not only speed up the improvement of this place but modernise ways of working and change the culture of this place once and for all?
Confident in the Union of the United Kingdom, I would of course offer Inverness as a place we might all like to go to, which would save the taxpayer a considerable amount in travel expenses. The really important thing is to get this right. The independent options appraisal will ensure that we have a true understanding of the scale of the problem and the different costs of different solutions. I suggest to all Members that we wait to see what the outcome of that is and then make a decision based on fact and best value for the taxpayer.