Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster Contents

2The need for the work

Challenging the case for the Restoration and Renewal Programme

32.At the outset of our inquiry, we decided that it would be important to challenge the fundamental assumptions underlying the Restoration and Renewal (R&R) Programme. Like many Members in both Houses, we began our work being extremely sceptical of the scale of the problem in the Palace, and the reported extent and costs of the works which needed to be carried out. Many of the problems experienced by those who work in the building regularly are relatively minor so it might appear, at first glance, that a ‘make do and mend’ approach could continue to serve both Houses well. Many MPs and Peers and their staff have offices in other buildings, so do not experience some of the persistent problems which occur in the Palace.

33.Rather than take the information presented to us at face value, we therefore spent many hours digesting and scrutinising the need for the work, requesting additional information from officials in both Houses, challenging the assumptions made to date, and seeking further opinions on the problems present within the building. In addition to listening to the staff employed by both Houses who maintain and service the building, we have sought evidence from respected institutions, including bodies of engineers, architects and surveyors, as well as those involved in the restoration and conservation of historic buildings.

34.As we progressed with our inquiry, the need for the work and the case for the R&R Programme became overwhelmingly apparent. The weight of opinion provided to us by experts has made it impossible to ignore the fact that the Palace of Westminster does now need a significant renovation programme, and that the works are becoming increasingly urgent. The work required may not necessarily be immediately visible, as much of it lies beneath the building in the basements, or hidden away beneath floorboards, in wall cavities or in roof voids. However, the fact that much of the work is hidden from view makes its necessity no less pressing, and does not reduce the potential risks which might arise if it is ignored. In this Chapter we therefore set out some background information about the size and scale of the Palace of Westminster and the need for the work.

The Palace of Westminster: a small town

35.The Palace of Westminster is in many ways like a small village or town. It is not one, single building, as built in the mid-19th Century: it includes several modern additions, constructed either within the courtyards or on top of or adjacent to existing structures. The Palace also contains a wide variety of different types of accommodation, both inside and out. This ranges from grand spaces such as the Chambers of the two Houses and Westminster Hall, to office accommodation, formal meeting rooms, informal meeting spaces, ceremonial spaces, cafeterias, restaurants, visitor areas, security screening, car parking, workshops, kitchens and a whole lot more. It is fair to say that the variety and complexity of the different types of space in the Palace of Westminster, and the intensity of their use, is unmatched anywhere else in the UK. All these different functions place different demands on the fabric of the building.

36.In places, the building contains up to six or seven floors, including the additional mezzanine floors in some areas and the basement. The Principal Floor in particular contains many ceremonial and formal areas, linked by fine corridors and lobbies with high ceilings. Table 2 provides some key facts about the building.

Table 2: The Palace of Westminster in numbers


Approximate number/unit


28 acres

This figure represents the gross internal area of the Palace of Westminster, including all the floors, plant work, hallways, storage spaces and the underground car park (but not the external walls or courtyards).

Number of floors

6 or 7 (it varies in different parts of the Palace)

This includes the Basement, Ground, Principal, Mezzanine, First, Second and Third floors.

Number of rooms

More than 1,100

Number of windows

Approximately 4,000 (of which approximately 3,800 are original bronze windows)

Area of roofs

5 acres

(This represents the ‘plan area’ of the roofs, which is the area of the roofs as seen from above.)

Number of boilers

3 main boilers and 1 summer boiler (these are large, commercial boilers)

Number of plant rooms

128 (80% within the basement)

Number of distribution risers




Fan coil units


Other heaters (electric, oil and unidentified)


Number of air handling units


Number of electric distribution boards


Number of heat exchangers


Basement corridors

1 mile

Pipework: steam system

7 miles

Pipework: low temperature hot water

4 miles

Pipework: chilled water

3 miles


Approximately 250 miles, made up of:

1 mile high voltage cabling
90 miles low voltage cabling
2 miles earthing
1 mile lightning protection
2 miles system clocks cabling
50 miles fire system cabling
45 miles security systems cabling
7 miles annunciator cabling
45 miles building management systems cabling
7 miles division bell cabling

Telephone cabling

50 miles

Network cabling

110 miles

Broadcasting / sound cabling

30 miles

Source: Information provided by the Parliamentary Estates Directorate. Further information about the Palace of Westminster can be found in the Palace of Westminster, Mechanical and Electrical, and Fabric of the building factsheets available on the Restoration and Renewal Programme website.

infographic showing size of Palace of Westminster, amount of windows, cabling and other building services

Figure 2: Map of the Parliamentary Estate and surrounding area

Map of Parliamentary Estate and surrounding areas

Source: Google with data from SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA, GEBCO

The wider Parliamentary Estate

37.As with any small town, the Palace of Westminster also has its surrounding areas, and the Parliamentary Estate consists of more than just the Palace. Parliament occupies several buildings in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster, which provide accommodation and services for Members and staff of both Houses. These buildings extend from Norman Shaw North at the most northerly part of the Estate to 7 Millbank at the most southerly end. Figure 2 shows some of the buildings which make up the wider Parliamentary Estate.

The current state of the Palace of Westminster

38.Despite media reports about the Palace of Westminster ‘falling down’, the actual structure of the building is fundamentally stable. Surveys conducted for the Parliamentary authorities have confirmed that the majority of the building and its foundations are in good condition.34 However, it is the services within the building which pose a real and ever increasing risk to the continuing functioning of Parliament. The majority of the works required involve the ‘back of house’ services which are collectively known as the mechanical and electrical (M&E) services.

The mechanical and electrical services

39.The term ‘M&E services’ includes a number of different services which are essential to the effective running of the building, outlined in Box 1.

Box 1: M&E services

  • Gas supplies
  • Steam heating
  • Low temperature hot water space heating
  • Chilled water cooling (air conditioning)
  • Condenser water heat rejection
  • Ducted ventilation and air conditioning
  • Rain water drainage
  • Sewage and waste water drainage
  • Mains water supplies
  • Softened water supplies
  • Domestic hot water supplies
  • Hydrants
  • Hose reels
  • Fire detection
  • Voice alarm
  • Utility supply
  • Main switchgear and sub mains
  • Small power
  • Lighting
  • Equipment power supplies
  • Building controls
  • Annunciators
  • Division bells
  • Broadcast systems
  • Closed-circuit television systems
  • Access control
  • Security detection
  • Police communications
  • Telecommunications and data services

Source: Information provided by the Restoration and Renewal Programme Team.

40.The current location of many of these services within the Palace has been determined by the layout for heating and ventilation designed in the Victorian era. Under the supervision of Dr David Boswell Reid (a ventilation engineer), an extensive labyrinth of vertical and horizontal air shafts and tunnels were incorporated into the fabric of the building. Reid’s first attempts to address heating and ventilation issues in the building were mostly unsuccessful and new primary services for heating, cooling and ventilation were inserted into these areas in the 1860s, with further renewals of the services taking place in the early 20th Century and again in the 1940s.35

41.While the basements, riser shafts, under-floor compartments and roof spaces initially provided sufficient space for the various services required by Parliament, over time new systems have been installed on top of old, so that these spaces now contain a bewildering mix of various M&E services, from Victorian steam pipes to 21st Century data cables. The spaces have become extremely congested and a lot of the services are now largely uncharted. In many instances, it is not known what the cables or pipes are, where they go, or even whether they are redundant or not.36

Previous attempts to address the problem

42.Throughout the course of our inquiry, many people have asked how the M&E services have been allowed to deteriorate to the condition that they are in today. This is an issue which we, as a Committee, also explored in a lot of detail with Parliamentary officials, who told us that there were several reasons for the deterioration of the M&E services within the Palace.

43.The first, and most important, aspect to note is that M&E systems have a finite life. The lifespan of different M&E services is variable but is typically in the order of 25–30 years, and the services therefore need to be replaced on a regular, cyclical basis. Even with constant maintenance, they cannot be expected to last much longer.37

44.The second reason is that the condition of the services in the Palace has been exacerbated by many decades of neglect since the post-War rebuild.38 There are various explanations for this, but a key driver of the deterioration has been the overriding need to avoid causing any significant disruption to the work of Parliament. This means that any work which causes noise or vibration, or which involves the temporary disconnection of services, has had to be confined to recesses. In the 1990s, this meant that the longest continuous window available for major works was the 10–12 week summer recess. Since the introduction of the Commons’ September sitting in 2003, this period has fallen to around seven weeks.39 Even when Parliament is in recess, it must be possible to bring both Chambers back into use at short notice, in the event of a recall. The potential of a recall of Parliament is not an insignificant issue. Both Houses have been recalled more than 25 times since 1948, most recently in June 2016, September 2014, August 2013, April 2013 and August 2011.

45.These reasons combined mean that the need to complete works quickly and with the minimum of disturbance has generally taken precedence over other considerations such as cost, efficiency and quality. So rolling maintenance and patch repairs to existing systems, even those which are life-expired, has generally been preferred to full-scale replacement. A further consequence of the need to complete work quickly has been the haphazard installation of systems in suboptimal locations, often on top of older, existing systems, and the failure to remove redundant elements.

46.The gradual decline of the building has also been a consequence of how Parliament has prioritised its buildings budget. As the Pre-Feasibility Study noted:

“the [M&E] systems, although increasingly antiquated, continued to work; a higher priority was given to more visible aspects of maintenance, such as the condition of stonework; and management effort was focused on the acquisition and development of Parliamentary outbuildings.”40

The latter point needs to be understood in the context of the growing gap between the demands of a modern Parliament and the constraints imposed by its antiquated home. Lack of suitable office accommodation for Members and staff has been one of the most obvious signs of this particular tension at least since the 1960s, and the acquisition of additional buildings to provide more office space has therefore been a high priority for Parliament.

47.A further exacerbating factor has been the lack of institutional knowledge of the M&E plant and the uncertainties regarding the exact condition of the systems. The Pre-Feasibility Study noted that:

“When serious attention was given to M&E issues towards the end of the 1990s the precise condition of the basement systems was unknown, but the fact that they had not been renewed for almost 50 years (longer in some instances) was known to the Parliamentary Works Directorate and its maintenance teams”.41

The state of the mechanical and electrical services

48.The gradual neglect of the growing backlog of works has left the Palace of Westminster with a potentially catastrophic mix of services, particularly in the basements. Most people who visit the basements for even a short tour are instantly filled with concern at the number and mix of various services which are crammed into small, confined spaces. The heat and the smell are intense. Steam systems, gas lines and water pipes are often laid one on top of another, alongside electricity wires, broadcasting cables and other vulnerable equipment. The lack of records means that it is not always possible to know which cables and pipes are redundant and which are live. Leaks from the steam system and rainwater entering the building are frequent and if they were to occur in the wrong place—for example next to a major power supply or in an asbestos-filled area—have the potential to cause major damage to the Palace as well as significant disruption to the work of both Houses.

49.Although the main boilers were replaced in 2004, the pipes which carry steam onwards from the boilers date in some cases from the 1930s and otherwise from between 1947 and 1952. The pipes are known to be corroding and sampling suggests that in some cases they are being narrowed by limescale deposits. The 2012 Pre-Feasibility Study reported that, despite “a precautionary reduction in steam pressure in 2004, and other remedial work since 2009, leaks of steam occur continuously while the system is in operation”. In fact, the report noted that there are around seven or eight significant incidents each year, mainly in the autumn when the heating is turned back on.42

50.Staff of the Parliamentary Estates Directorate do an excellent job of monitoring the services and in preventing and repairing problems as much as is possible. There is a limit, however, to what they can achieve with such an antiquated and dilapidated system. Minor events often go unnoticed by those working in the building, because steam leaks are generally repaired quickly by the maintenance teams without an impact on the operations of Parliament. However, a fracture in a confined space could lead to a “sudden release of steam at very high temperature which would destroy other services (such as electricity or computer cabling and water pipes) and distribute asbestos fibres.” In 2005, consultants warned that such an event in the vicinity of the plant room servicing the House of Commons Chamber could put that Chamber out of action for a number of months.43

51.In recent years, the state of the vertical risers has caused particular concern. Of the 98 risers in the Palace, almost all contain asbestos. At the time of the Pre-Feasibility Study in 2012, 20 of the risers were classified as “complex” (meaning that they housed more than one service) and “essential”. In 2007, 10 were assessed as “requiring attention at the earliest opportunity”. In addition to the asbestos problem, there was a general difficulty in accessing the risers, which were not built with service maintenance in mind. There were few access points to the risers and the shafts were typically congested with multiple services, obstructing the ladders that had sometimes been provided. There was also little to prevent fire spreading vertically through the risers.44

52.In 2000, a basement condition survey highlighted the fact that much of the equipment was antiquated and would need to be replaced within 5–10 years (that is, before 2010). Various lines of investigation were begun and studies commissioned, but throughout the 2000s little progress was made. By 2008, there was growing concern about the widening scope and escalating costs of tackling the M&E services, so it was decided to revisit the assumptions behind the work completed so far, and to challenge the previously-agreed assumption that the work must be carried out without disrupting the business of Parliament.45

53. A feasibility study of decant options was therefore conducted by consultants and officials from both Houses. It reported in July 2009 and concluded that the previous approach to modernising the M&E services (namely scheduling all necessary work over a ten-year period without disrupting the work of Parliament) entailed high risks to business continuity. As an alternative, the study suggested that modernisation of primary and secondary services (and other improvements) should be delivered over a shorter period. Such a strategy would require an acceptance that Parliamentary functions would have to be relocated while the work was carried out.46

54.The 2012 Pre-Feasibility Study reported that, in the light of this advice, “the authorities of both Houses agreed to halt previous plans, adopt a medium-term strategy to buy time, and to begin work on a fully integrated long-term strategy.”47 The R&R Programme is a result of the development of that long-term strategy.

Current work to tackle the mechanical and electrical services

55.The medium-term programme to tackle the M&E services began on site in 2010 and was completed in the summer of 2016. Its aim was to upgrade some of the most critical plant rooms and risers. The programme has refurbished the selected areas, removed asbestos, replaced plant work and ensured that the selected areas are fit for purpose for the next 20 years. However, the programme has only replaced plant work in the selected risers and plant rooms, not the adjacent plant, so new installations have been connected to existing, older infrastructure.

56.Although the medium-term programme of works has allowed Parliament to buy time and to address the services at the greatest immediate risk, the need to fundamentally overhaul the M&E services has not gone away. Most of the M&E services throughout the building are operating way past their expected expiry date, we still do not know where many of the cables and pipes run (or whether they are still live) and most of the services are buried within cavities too small and congested to access properly, often surrounded by dangerous asbestos. Alan Baxter Ltd, an engineering consultancy which has worked within the Palace for a number of years, described the condition of the M&E services as follows:

“The M&E services which by their nature spread everywhere in particular are in a complete state of disorganisation, because of ad-hoc discrete and local alterations which have meant that, as in many other buildings, there is no overall clarity and strategy. Many cables and pipes in parts of the building are unidentifiable. Fundamentally these services need complete renewal in a way which will confirm a clear strategy can be maintained, going forward, as the services are altered and extended into the future.”48

57.Within this context, the current works to try to rectify the problems simply cannot keep pace with the rate at which the services are continuing to fail. It is like trying to fill a bathtub with a thimble while the water is draining out of the plughole at the other end. Put simply, under the current medium-term approach, the risk of significant failure will continue to grow more quickly than it can be mitigated. Although it is impossible to say when a crisis might strike, there is a substantial and growing risk of either a single, catastrophic event, or a succession of incremental failures in essential systems, which would lead to Parliament no longer being able to sit in the Palace.

58.Addressing the M&E services will be expensive, and will account for approximately 74% of the cost of the essential works.49 But there is now a real risk of cumulative or catastrophic failure of essential buildings services. This risk is already significant and will continue to rise, despite intensive maintenance activities and recent interim risk reduction work, and the consequences of continuing to ignore the problem are unthinkable.

Other essential works

59.While the M&E services are the main driver for the Restoration and Renewal Programme, there are also a number of other essential works which need to be carried out. The Pre-Feasibility Study set these out in detail, but a brief summary of some of the main issues is below.

Water penetration

60.All those who work within the Palace will be aware that water penetration is a relatively common occurrence in the Palace, ranging from damp patches on walls and ceilings to serious floods. The causes of the water penetration include leaking roofs, faulty guttering, and faults in water tanks, pipes and lavatories.50 While some leaks can be fixed relatively quickly, the complex construction of the Palace means that others can take many days or weeks to trace and repair, and in many areas this can lead to significant damage to the heritage fabric of the building. As heavy rainfall in the summer of 2016 has shown, many of the gutters and culverts are no longer able to cope with the volumes of water involved and flooding is now a frequent occurrence in the Palace.

61.Current work to repair and replace the cast iron roofs will help to prevent water ingress through those roofs, and the gutters attached to those roofs will also be tackled at the same time. However, many of the gutters and downpipes around the Palace are built into the building’s fabric so as to be concealed behind the stonework, and cannot easily be replaced without completely dismantling the surrounding structure. Without a major programme of repairs which addresses these hard-to-reach places, water ingress will continue to cause serious damage to the building. Repairing and replacing old pipes and gutters as part of the R&R Programme would help to reduce the risk of future damage due to water penetration. It would also be a more cost-effective solution than attempting to tackle these problems as a separate project.

62.As for drainage, the Victorian drainage pipes and culverts under the Palace have to cope with waste water, rain water, sewage and cooking by-products on a scale for which they were never originally intended. These are pumped into the London sewers at the North end of the Palace. The drainage system still works, but it requires continual maintenance to keep the channels clear.51

Figure 3: Water leaks in the basement

Photo showing example of water leaks in Palace basement

Figure 4: Water damage caused by a blocked roof gulley

Photo showing an example of water damage caused by blocked roof gulley


63.The Palace of Westminster is riddled with asbestos. The Pre-Feasibility Study noted that asbestos is believed to be present in almost every riser (98 vertical shafts that carry services between floors, most running the full height of the building), as well as in many plant rooms, corridors and under-floor voids. While encapsulated asbestos is deemed to be safe while undisturbed, it is extremely dangerous when it is damaged and fibres become airborne. Such damage may be caused by leaking steam or water, or by drilling, cutting or vibration, which is unavoidable when significant building work is carried out. Accessible asbestos has been encapsulated to make it safe, but it has not always been encapsulated where pipes pass through walls and voids, or under floors. Furthermore, where the encapsulation is damaged, or where cables pass through risers and voids and dislodge asbestos dust and debris, it can present a significant danger.52

64.One example of the danger posed by asbestos was brought home in 2015 when it was thought that asbestos fibres might have been present in the air provided to the House of Commons Chamber. During upgrade work on one of the air ducts which supplies air to the Chamber, a small section of duct was removed and asbestos dust was found to be present within it. Subsequent tests demonstrated that the risk was negligible on that occasion.53 However, if the results were different next time and asbestos fibres were found to have contaminated air ducts, it is easy to see how one of the Chambers, committee rooms or other essential offices might have to be closed down immediately and could be out of action for a significant period of time.

65.The presence of asbestos in the Palace therefore impedes not only the remedial works themselves, but the preparatory investigation and survey work which is necessary to establish the current state of the assets. Asbestos removal must be undertaken in many areas before further work can even be planned. Furthermore, there is a continual threat of cleared areas being re-contaminated from uncleared areas.54 A thorough renovation of the Palace would allow this asbestos to be removed safely and more cost-effectively.

Fire safety

66.The ventilation shafts and voids which house most of the M&E services were originally intended to move large volumes of air around the building, thus unintentionally providing an ideal route for a fire to spread quickly.55 In recent years, Parliament has been fortunate in avoiding a major outbreak of fire. However, the Pre-Feasibility Study noted that between 2008 and 2012 (when the Study was produced), 40 minor fires had been recorded, and that there had been some evidence of smoke travelling through architectural voids, “confirming that current compartmentation is unreliable.”56 A fire with potentially more serious implications occurred on the afternoon of 10 June 2016, on the roof of the plant room adjacent to Peers’ Inner Court. The fire was quickly discovered and extinguished, but if the same incident had occurred at night, at a weekend, or in a less prominent location, it could have had far more serious consequences.57

67.Recent examples, such as the 2015 fire at the Clandon Park National Trust property show just how quickly fire can travel through old buildings, from basement to roof, and the complete devastation it can leave behind. The Palace of Westminster’s main problem is the lack of effective fire compartmentation between sections of the building. While ongoing fire safety works in the Palace aim to improve Parliament’s standard of compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, full compartmentation has never been achieved. In particular, the basements are considered to be the highest fire-risk areas due to the congested M&E services crammed into those spaces, the difficulty of access for the London Fire Brigade, and the absence of smoke clearance provision.58

68.Works which can be undertaken in an occupied building are being carried out ahead of the R&R Programme, such as installing high pressure mist systems and replacing the fire detection and voice alarm system. However, recent fire protection work has focussed on ensuring the safety of people within the building. The current fire safety provisions do not provide a sufficient means of protecting the building and its heritage assets.59

Secondary services

69.Secondary services are those which deliver heating and cooling to rooms and corridors, electricity and data services to sockets, and water and drainage to and from bathrooms and kitchens. Limited work on secondary services has taken place in connection with some maintenance work, but the lack of a general programme to upgrade the secondary services in recent decades means that problems have built up. One example of this is the heating system where, although some individual radiators have been replaced, there has been no general programme to replace the first-generation radiators installed after the move away from open fires, or to update the pipework that connects them.60

70.Another example is the electrical system. Despite requirements growing over recent years, electrical distribution capacity is limited by the size of distribution boards, which are often installed in small basement spaces. Many electrical cable conduits are too small to run new cables through, so floors and walls have to be dismantled to access the cables and install new conduits. This is further hampered by not knowing where many of the cables run to and from. In inaccessible and asbestos-affected areas, there are still some cables made of vulcanised India rubber, dating from the 1950s, which is now considered a fire risk. There is also a significant amount of wiring dating from the 1960s, which is still in use way beyond its normal replacement cycle of around 25 years.61

Figure 5: Cabling

Photo showing example of cables and electrical cable conduits

Following rationalisation of the 3,500 cables running through plant room B, some 800 cables proved impossible to remove, in some cases because they could not be identified.

Figure 6: Telephony

Photo showing example telephony cables

This is a current working telephony system. There are approximately 20 of these banks around the Palace, and over 1,400 individual terminal points spread over those 20 banks.

The overall condition of the Palace of Westminster

71.The Pre-Feasibility Study, published in 2012, outlined the full scale of the problem faced within the Palace of Westminster. It said that there was no way of precisely quantifying all the risks to business continuity and health and safety. However, the report noted that fire is generally regarded as the greatest single threat to heritage buildings. While risks arising from long-term underinvestment and dilapidation were also very difficult to quantify, they ranged from high probability but low impact risks (such as frequent minor break-downs and inconvenience) to lower probability but higher impact risks of catastrophic failure. The report said that breakdowns of systems in critical locations on sitting days “would cause significant disruption to the functioning of Parliament.”62

72.The Pre-Feasibility Study therefore concluded the following about the Palace:

“Its building services (heating, cooling, water, sewage, electricity, cabling for specialised systems) have been kept functioning, albeit with increasing difficulty and growing risks. However, there has been no general renovation of the building and its services since the partial rebuilding of 1945–50 and some of the services are older still. The original basements and vertical shafts are now crammed with pipes and cables making further work difficult and expensive. Asbestos is present throughout the building and, although it remains safe if treated with great care in compliance with safety regulations, it complicates and prolongs any intervention. Much of the work undertaken over the past half-century is undocumented and since many areas are inaccessible, the state of dilapidation and therefore of risk is largely uncharted. The condition of the building impedes modern fire safety approaches and it has proved impossible so far to implement effective fire compartmentation. The original roofs are no longer watertight and there is extensive evidence of penetrating damp in many parts of the Palace as well as damage from interior leaks and floods.”63

73.Since the publication of that report, ongoing maintenance work has continued to address the areas of the building most at risk, and to try to ensure that the building is safe and watertight. However, the fundamental problems with the building cannot be properly addressed in such a piecemeal fashion. Furthermore, continuing rolling maintenance does not allow the services within the building to be repaired in a coherent and strategic manner. Each piece of work has to be scheduled around the working patterns of the House and the cramped constraints of the building, meaning that there is little scope to review the services as a whole or to ‘future-proof’ them.

74.Replacing all the M&E services as part of one programme, on the other hand, would enable the entire infrastructure for the Palace of Westminster to be redesigned and repaired in a coherent and sensible manner. Furthermore, if that new system were designed in a more segmented and orderly fashion, it would allow future repairs to particular areas to be conducted more easily and cost-effectively without having to remove layers of other services in the process. A building-wide approach such as this, with future-proofing designed into the process, should ensure that another programme of this scale is never required again.

75.We endorse the findings of the Pre-Feasibility Study on the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster and conclude that there is a clear and pressing need to tackle the backlog of work required in a comprehensive and strategic manner. The mechanical and electrical services are the main driver for the Restoration and Renewal Programme, but there are many other essential works which should be tackled alongside this work as a matter of urgency, such as works to prevent water penetration, asbestos removal, fire safety works and replacement of secondary services.

76.The longer the essential work is left, the greater the risk becomes that the building might suffer a sudden, catastrophic failure, or that small, incremental failures might make the building uninhabitable. The need to tackle the work speedily has greatly influenced our deliberations on the preferred way in which to deliver the work.

34 There are some localised exceptions to this: the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, the South and East elevations of Cloister Court and Westminster Hall have all experienced some movement. However, all old buildings tend to experience this and work has been carried out in order to stabilise these areas.

35 Henrik Schoenefeldt, How the Palace of Westminster gets rid of all that hot air in the House of Commons (24 March 2015): [accessed 26 July 2016] and Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster: Pre-Feasibility Study and Preliminary Strategic Business Case, October 2012, p 9

37 Ibid., p 50

38 Ibid., pp 14–15, 50

39 September sittings of the House of Commons were first introduced in 2003 and 2004, and re-introduced in 2011. In the intervening years, the summer recess was generally one or two weeks shorter than it had been before 2003. The House of Lords also held September sittings in 2003, 2004, 2011, 2015 and 2016.

41 Ibid., p 15

42 Ibid., p 17

43 Ibid., pp 17–18

44 Ibid., p 18

45 Ibid., pp 15–16

46 Ibid., p 16

47 Ibid., p 16

48 Written evidence from Alan Baxter Ltd (RAR0055)

49 Information provided by the Restoration and Renewal Programme Team. This figure includes the cost of replacing the M&E services, as well as the cost of associated work to access those services and to reinstate and make good any affected building structure or fabric. The percentage is based on the capital costs (construction only) of scenario E1A in the Independent Options Appraisal, based on a P50 confidence level (explained in Chapter 3) and applying the same assumptions as the Independent Options Appraisal.

51 Ibid., p 18

52 Ibid., p 19

53 Written answer by Sir Paul Beresford on 9 June 2015 (1032)

55 Ibid., p 19

56 Ibid., p 20

57 Information provided by the R&R Programme Team.

59 Information provided by the Parliamentary Estates Directorate.

61 Ibid., p 21

62 Ibid., p 27

63 Ibid., p 5

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