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House of Commons Hansard
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Joint Committee on the Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill
26 November 2018
Volume 650

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I beg to move,

That this House concurs with the Lords Message of Tuesday 23 October, that it is expedient that a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider and report on the Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill presented to both Houses on Thursday 18 October 2018 (Cm 9710), and that the Committee should report on the draft Bill by Thursday 28 March 2019;

That a Select Committee of six Members be appointed to join with a committee to be appointed by the Lords for this purpose;

That the Committee shall have power:

(i) to send for persons, papers and records;

(ii) to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House;

(iii) to report from time to time;

(iv) to appoint specialist advisers; and

(v) to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom.

That the quorum of the Committee shall be three; and

That Neil Gray, Meg Hillier, Mr David Jones, Sir Edward Leigh, Dame Caroline Spelman and Mark Tami be members of the Committee.

As a unique UNESCO world heritage site, with more than 7,500 people working in here and more than 1 million visitors each year, the Palace of Westminster is an asset to our nation and the seat of our democracy. Members of both Houses have made their views clear on how best to carry out the restoration of the Palace of Westminster, and the Government are responding accordingly. Since becoming Leader of the House of Commons, I have been determined to get on with the job in hand, as this place is in urgent need of repair. So last month, the Government published the draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill, giving effect to the resolutions passed earlier this year.

The draft Bill facilitates the decision taken by Parliament to set up a sponsor board and delivery authority to progress a programme of comprehensive works on the Palace of Westminster. The Bill has been developed in close consultation with the House authorities, and will put in place the rigorous and transparent governance structure we need to drive the work forward, while ensuring that we focus on value for money for the taxpayer. The sponsor body will have a majority of parliamentarians on its board, alongside experienced external members. Once a concept design, proposed funding envelope and estimated schedule for the programme have been developed as part of an outline business case, they will need to be approved by both Houses. The sponsor body will also be required, should there be any changes afterwards, to return to Parliament for approval to make any significant changes to the approved proposals in respect of the Palace. The Government agree with Parliament that there can be no blank cheque for this work and it must represent good value for taxpayers’ money. So Parliament will be given the opportunity to vote on the annual expenditure of the sponsor body and the delivery authority, through the estimates process.

Currently, there is a shadow sponsor board in place, which convened its first meeting in September. The board is expected to meet monthly, but in the early days and around the transition to statutory status, more time commitment is likely to be required. The most senior official in each of the shadow bodies, the sponsor board and the delivery authority will act as its senior responsible officer during the shadow phase. As SRO, he or she will be accountable to the two accounting officers in each House for the parts of the programme that they have accountability for.

To conclude, we need to ensure that we achieve the aims of a restoration and renewal programme that is sufficiently independent, transparent and accountable to Parliament. I am extremely grateful to all those Members who have agreed to play their part in the Joint Committee, and in particular to my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Dame Caroline Spelman), who has agreed to Chair the Committee. Should the House agree to the motion, I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the Joint Committee’s work.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House concurs with the Lords Message of Tuesday 23 October, that it is expedient that a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider and report on the Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill presented to both Houses on Thursday 18 October 2018 (Cm 9710), and that the Committee should report on the draft Bill by Thursday 28 March 2019.

Ordered,

That a Select Committee of six Members be appointed to join with a committee to be appointed by the Lords for this purpose;

That the Committee shall have power:

(i) to send for persons, papers and records;

(ii) to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House;

(iii) to report from time to time;

(iv) to appoint specialist advisers; and

(v) to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom.

That the quorum of the Committee shall be three; and

That Neil Gray, Meg Hillier, Mr David Jones, Sir Edward Leigh, Dame Caroline Spelman and Mark Tami be members of the Committee.—(Andrea Leadsom.)