Buckingham Palace refit given funding by MPs

Funding for a massive refurbishment of Buckingham Palace has been given the go-ahead by MPs.

Parliament voted by 464 to 56 to approve a rise in the Sovereign Grant, which is paid annually to the Monarch by the Government.

The grant will go up by 66% to pay for the £369m renovation.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn abstained from the vote but his second in command and shadow chancellor John McDonnell voted for the increase.

Two Labour MPs - Rushanara Ali and Dennis Skinner- were among those who opposed the move, along with 46 MPs from the SNP.

The decade-long project includes replacing miles of cable, lead pipes, wiring and boilers, some of which have not been changed for 60 years.

The essential work is needed to avoid the risk of "catastrophic building failure".

Last year a palace statement said: "An independent specialist report concluded that without urgent work there is a risk of serious damage to the palace and the precious Royal Collection items it houses from, amongst other scenarios, fire and water damage."

Work to improve the royal residence will see 100 miles of electrical cabling being replaced, along with 6,500 electrical sockets, 5,000 light fittings, 330 fuse boxes and 2,500 radiators.

Around 30,000 square metres of floorboards - the equivalent of 3.5 football pitches - will be taken up.

The money comes through the crown estate, a portfolio of land and buildings which belong to the monarchy but cannot be sold by them, and the profits go to the Treasury.

The Queen was previously given back 15% of those profits but under the new agreement this will increase to 25%.

In 2015, that amounted to £40.1m, or 62p for every person in the UK.

It had been proposed that the Queen may have to move out of Buckingham Palace while work takes place, but she will now stay for the duration.

Major events such as garden parties, state visits, investitures and changing the guard will not be affected.

Last year, Master of The Queen's Household Tony Johnstone-Burt said the refurbishment would ensure the palace is "fit for purpose" until 2067.

The upgrade will enable longer summer opening hours and more private tours, which could help generate an extra £3.4m a year.

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