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Parliamentary Works Programme: Cost

Volume 676: debated on Tuesday 19 May 2020

What assessment the sponsor body has made of the potential merits of reducing the cost of the parliamentary works programme as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement. (902788)

I am sure that covid-19 is going to cause all of us to think afresh about many things. For the restoration and renewal project, value for money is clearly vital—indeed, it is a statutory obligation. With the Sponsor Body and the Delivery Authority now substantive, we will conduct a strategic review that will consider the trade-offs and compromises that could be available. But of course, any such decisions would be for Parliament to make.

May I associate myself with the comments made earlier about 650 super-spreaders returning to Parliament?

We are currently spending in the order of several million pounds to repair the roofs and the brickwork, and to stop fire damage to that marvellous building, the Palace of Westminster. That is all correct. However, as my right hon. Friend said, there is perhaps some doubt as to whether R&R will go ahead, so I may I ask him to ensure that huge amounts of money are not now spent on a project that would cost between £4 billion and £8 billion to complete, if it is ever done at all?

I think it is rather more than several million pounds that has had to be spent by Parliament just to keep its own operation going. However, I want to reassure my hon. Friend that the business case would have come before Parliament for decision anyway. It was always envisaged that once the Sponsor Body was set up in law, there would be a review of certain aspects of the programme. But in these current circumstances, and with what we know now, it is right that that review will now be broader and deeper.