British MPs may be ejected from House of Commons

October 16th, 2008 - 2:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 16 (IANS) British Members of Parliament may have to relocate for the first time since World War II to pave way for the biggest ever repairs to the House of Commons.The 350 million pounds renovation plan of the British Parliament will involve replacement of nearly 500 miles of water pipes, electricity and phone cables.

The building is said to have suffered from 33 leaks from hot water pipes in the last month alone.

Nick Harvey, spokesman for the House of Commons Commission, announced Wednesday that it was inviting bids for a 250,000 pounds feasibility study to examine the option of relocating.

The study would examine if “substantial savings in cost, time and risk could be made by moving some operations of both Houses out of the Palace for a period”.

The Times has reported that authorities favour closing down Parliament for the repair work. The other alternative is to carry out repairs during holidays and week-ends, a process which could take at least 25 years to complete.

The feasibility study is expected to be submitted by the middle of next year. The relocation process would be decided by the MPs thereafter.

The present day Houses of Parliament were built after a fire in 1834 destroyed all but Westminster Hall, the crypt of St Stephen’s Chapel and the Jewel Tower.

In 1940, the MPs had to be shifted to Church House, the headquarters of the Church of England after a German bomb hit the steel frame of the House of Commons during World War II. The House was destroyed by another bomb on May 10, 1941.

This time around, the members may be relocated to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, a 1986 concrete monolith across Parliament Square, for two or three years. This location is favoured because it would allow other parliamentary offices in Millbank, as well as Portcullis House and offices above Westminster Tube station, to continue to operate within walking distance of the makeshift “chamber”.

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