Parliament could burn down like Notre Dame, Tory MP warns

·2-min read
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben at sunset, London, UK
The Houses of Parliament are set to be renovated at the cost of between £7bn and £13bn. (Getty)

Parliament could burn down like Notre Dame cathedral “any day” if it does not receive urgent renovation work, former Tory minister Andrea Leadsom has warned.

The Houses of Parliament are set to be renovated at between £7bn and £13bn but the work has yet to start.

Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire, suggested any further delay could mean the building suffers the same fate as the 850-year-old Notre Dame, in Paris, which was destroyed by a major fire in 2019.

"That is so 'there but for the grace of God'," she told the Radio 4's Week in Westminster programme after saying a fire was averted at parliament five years ago.

"It could burn down today, tomorrow, any day and we've got to make that decision and get on with it."

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 11, 2020: Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Andrea Leadsom leaves 10 Downing Street in central London after attending a Cabinet meeting on 11 February, 2020 in London, England. Prime Minister and his government are expected to give a go-ahead to the HS2 high-speed rail project despite concerns over its cost, which is now estimated at £106 billion, and the potential environmental impact of its construction.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Tory MP Andrea Leadsom has warned Parliament could burn down. (Getty)

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Earlier this year, a report showed that restoring the Palace of Westminster without finding a new home for MPs could take up to 76 years, with a repairs bill reaching £22 billion.

The project’s sponsor body and delivery authority said the cheapest option would involve a “full decant” of the palace for between 12 and 20 years, with the work costing in the region of £7 billion to £13 billion.

In this scenario, with MPs elsewhere for much of the time, the report estimated the restoration would take between 19 and 28 years.

Last week Michael Gove reportedly told the Lord Speaker the House of Lords should relocate outside London during refurbishment works.

The Levelling Up Secretary wrote to Lord McFall of Alcluith suggesting locations including Stoke-on-Trent, Burnley and Sunderland.

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In the letter, reported in the Sunday Times, Gove said he knows “cities and towns across the United Kingdom would be pleased to extend their hospitality to peers”.

He is quoted as saying that having “carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements”, he “will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location”.

The Queen Elizabeth II Centre conference and exhibition space is just a few minutes’ walk from the Palace of Westminster in London.

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