UK House of Commons may be closed for three years

November 14th, 2007 - 2:20 am ICT by admin  
The 19th century roof of the structure needs a face-lift, and there is also a proposal to replace old electrical wiring in the premises.

The three-year closure is required as a report to the Members of Parliament (MPs) said the work would take 25 years if it was done only during the summer breaks.

The nearby Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre or County Hall could be replacements, the Mirror reported.

Reacting to the proposals, Tory MP Nicholas Winterton termed it as a “joke.”

The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 646 members, who are elected by the first-past-the-post system of election for a maximum of five years.

The House of Commons evolved at some point during the 14th century and has been in continuous existence since. The House of Commons’ legislative powers exceed those of the House of Lords. Moreover, the Government of the United Kingdom is answerable to the House of Commons.

According to the official parliament website, the site where the Parliament now stands has been a centre of authority for over a thousand years. Once the home of the royal family, and still officially a royal palace, the buildings that now make up the modern Houses of Parliament have developed through design, accident and attack.

The first known royal palace to occupy Parliament’s site was Edward the Confessor’s (c1065). Parliament officially remains a royal palace and is still referred to as the ‘Palace of Westminster’. The site was used as a royal residence until Henry VIII moved the royal family out in 1512 following a fire.

The oldest part of Parliament is Westminster Hall. The walls were built in 1097 and the hall is one Europe’s largest medieval halls, with an unsupported roof. It was extensively rebuilt during the 14th century.

Once used as a law court, the hall has held several notable trials, including that of Sir William Wallace (1305), the Gunpowder Plot conspirators (1606) and King Charles I (1649).

The Palace almost completely burnt down in a fire on 16 October 1834, which destroyed everything except Westminster Hall, the crypt of St Stephen’s Chapel and the Jewel Tower.

The Houses of Parliament, as we know them today, were rebuilt after the fire. The process, which incorporated Westminster Hall and the remains of St Stephen’s Chapel, took just over 30 years. The rebuilding was completely finished by 1870.

During the Second World War, on May 10, 1941, a bombing raid destroyed the House of Commons chamber. Architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed a new, five-floor block (with two floors occupied by the chamber). It was used for the first time on 26 October 1950. (ANI)

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