Governance of Restoration and Renewal Contents

Conclusions and recommendations


Specific duties on the Sponsor Body

1.We recommend that Clause 2(4) be amended to place on the Sponsor Body the requirement to take account of “the need” rather than “the desirability” of ensuring educational and other facilities are provided in the restored Palace. We also recommend that a further point be added to the list concerning the need to promote public engagement with and public understanding of Parliament. This should give the Sponsor Body the opportunity to consider how the building can be adapted to enable greater outreach. (Paragraph 53)

2.The comprehensive rebuilding required by the Restoration and Renewal programme will inevitably present challenges for those responsible for the security of the Houses of Parliament. We have every confidence that they will successfully meet those challenges, but they will need the cooperation of the Sponsor Body in order to do so. We recommend that Clause 2(4)(b) of the draft Bill is amended to provide that the Sponsor Body must have regard to the safety and security of the people who work in Parliament and members of the public when carrying out its functions. (Paragraph 69)

3.Members of the public must be able to exercise their democratic right to access the proceedings of Parliament throughout the Restoration and Renewal programme. We recommend clause 2(4)(d) is amended to reflect the fact that this essential right is not the same as an unqualified right of access. (Paragraph 71)

4.Given the historical and archaeological significance of Palace of Westminster we recommend that Clause 2(4) be amended so that the Sponsor Body has regard to the UNESCO World Heritage status of the Palace of Westminster and its environs. This requirement should not, however, automatically take precedence over any other legal requirement, especially that relating to access for people with disabilities. (Paragraph 61)

Membership of the Sponsor Body

5.We recommend that members of both the Sponsor Body and the Delivery Authority be appointed for three-year terms, with the potential to renew the appointments. Given the length of the Restoration and Renewal project we recommend that members serve for no more than nine years in total, in line with corporate governance guidance. We recommend that when the Sponsor Body comes into being, it should consider how best to stagger the length of the appointments in order to avoid the situation where several members leave simultaneously, resulting in a serious loss of continuity. (Paragraph 88)

6.We recommend that they be appointed by means of elections in each House. (Paragraph 91)

7.We recommend the draft Bill be amended to require that the Leader of the House of Commons obtain the consent of the Leader of the House of Lords before laying draft regulations that abolish the Sponsor Body. There does not appear to us to be any reason why this power should lie solely with the Leader of the Commons. Restoration and Renewal concerns both Houses of Parliament equally and the Bill governing the project should reflect that. (Paragraph 95)

8.We note that Clause 12(4) of the draft Bill allows the Leader of the House of Commons to lay regulations to bring the Bill into force less than six months after Royal Assent. There is no provision requiring the consent of the Leader of the House of Lords to this. We recommend the clause be amended to require the Leader of the House of Commons to obtain the consent of the Leader of the House of Lords before laying such regulations. (Paragraph 96)

Accountability to Parliament

9.The relationship between Parliament as a corporate entity on the one hand and the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority on the other will be key to the success of the Restoration and Renewal project. We recommend that the Bill mandate the development of a Parliamentary Relationship Agreement to provide clarity for all parties. We further recommend that the Bill specify that the Parliamentary Relationship Agreement set out the date when legal responsibility for the Palace of Westminster and any other area covered by Restoration and Renewal pass between the corporate officers of the Houses of Parliament and those responsible for delivery of the programme. (Paragraph 120)

10.The draft Bill should be reviewed to ensure that provisions aimed at allowing for the smooth transfer of responsibility between the House Commissions and the Sponsor Body apply to the House of Lords as well as the House of Commons. The power to make plans for such a transfer should be shared by the Leaders of the two Houses and their respective corporate officers to ensure any scheme is clear and effective. (Paragraph 122)

11.Parliament has determined that the Treasury should be subordinate to Parliament in shaping Restoration and Renewal and in accepting or rejecting the costs of the project. The governance of the programme will require partnership led by the Sponsor Body on behalf of Parliament. In order to underpin the hierarchy of decision making and to provide clarity to those delivering the project we recommend that the Sponsor Body be required to draft a terms of agreement with the Government which would firmly establish what the project will deliver for the taxpayers’ money being provided by the Treasury. However, we do not consider that this on its own will provide sufficient political buy-in from the Treasury over the course of this long project. We therefore propose that the Bill be amended to provide that a Treasury Minister should be an additional member of the Sponsor Body. (Paragraph 129)

Relationship between the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority

12.We recommend that the drafting in clause 8(4) of the draft Bill be amended. Rather than referring to “payments to the Delivery Authority” from the Sponsor Board it should read “funding for the Delivery Authority”. This is to avoid bringing public procurement legislation into play which would be undesirable. (Paragraph 146)

Interaction between the NEP and the draft Bill

13.We recommend that the shadow Sponsor Body take on de facto responsibility for all the works necessary for decant even before the Act to set up the statutory body is passed. (Paragraph 155)


Outline business case

1.There is a great deal of experience in adapting historical buildings to best standards for accessibility, and we expect the Palace to set the highest standards in this area. (Paragraph 9)

2.Renewal brings with it an opportunity to shape parliament by listening to and harnessing the views of the general public. The Sponsor Body will not achieve the potential of the building if consultation and engagement is limited to a narrow set of users. We heard repeatedly that accessibility in different forms should be central to renewal, therefore the Sponsor Body should attempt to understand how and why the general public engage with parliamentarians and the political process in Westminster. (Paragraph 17)

3.There are limits to what the Restoration and Renewal programme can achieve in terms of political renewal. It will be for Parliament to decide on constitutional changes and for each House to determine any changes to its procedures. What the Sponsor Body should set out to deliver is a Parliament capable of absorbing and accommodating major political and constitutional reforms. Nevertheless, as indicated in this Report, we believe the term ‘renewal’ requires an outward-facing approach to the UK Parliament’s role at the centre of our democracy. (Paragraph 18)

4.It has been established beyond doubt that the Palace is at risk of catastrophic failure and as a UNESCO world heritage site the Government is obliged to ensure the building is maintained and protected. Our generation of Parliamentarians should not shirk from the challenge of not only protecting the fabric of the building, but investing in a building which can meet the democratic demands of the British people both in this century and the next. (Paragraph 20)

5.We are concerned that a culture of cynicism and pessimism lingers around Restoration and Renewal. Parliamentarians and those involved in the project have sounded almost apologetic about the ambitions inherent to Restoration and Renewal. For the project to succeed, and for the public to buy into its ambitions, its leaders must champion its objectives central to which should be the promotion of inclusive participatory democracy in the UK. The country is evolving and so must the building in which the most important decisions which touch upon every member of the population are made. (Paragraph 21)

Agreeing the proposals

6.Detailed consultation processes will be necessary to understand the views of Members, staff, and organisations with an interest in Restoration and Renewal throughout the life of the project. We believe it is necessary to write a duty to consult with staff, and to establish an ongoing process of engagement with the wider public, onto the face of the Bill. If the Sponsor Body failed to fulfil this duty it would be failing in one of its most basic and essential tasks. (Paragraph 35)

7.We recommend that a member of the Sponsor Body is given the specific responsibility of engaging with staff and being a route for staff into the Sponsor Body. This responsibility will carry with it a substantial time commitment and place significant demands on the individual chosen for this task. As such we expect resources to be made available to the member in question to allow them to fulfil their duties in this regard. (Paragraph 36)

8.We are concerned that the Sponsor Body should not settle for formal mechanisms of public consultation when a project of this scale requires a more thorough approach to discovering the views of people from beyond the political sphere. To build and maintain public legitimacy R&R will require a more in-depth and proactive approach so that members of the public from all parts of the UK and all walks of life can become involved in shaping our renewed parliament. The ultimate client in R&R is the public. The Bill should not be amended to specify how the Sponsor Body undertakes consultation, but we recommend that Clause 2(4) be amended to ensure that the Sponsor Body has regard to engaging the public in the development of its strategy for Restoration and Renewal. (Paragraph 37)

9.We agree that the Sponsor Body should be required to seek the approval of Parliament before implementing any significant changes to the Restoration and Renewal programme. Removing this duty would run the risk of the project spiralling out of control without parliamentary oversight. For the success of the Restoration and Renewal programme, the definition of “significant changes” for which obtaining parliamentary approval would be proportionate must be established, once the business case has been agreed. (Paragraph 48)

10.Overall, we are satisfied that the structure of Governance proposed by the draft Bill provides sufficient independence to limit political interference in Restoration and Renewal. In Chapter 4 we discuss the various agreements that will govern the relationships between Parliament, the Sponsor Body, and the Delivery Authority and observe how they will shape the process for making changes to the agreed plans. (Paragraph 49)

Specific duties on the Sponsor Body

11.We are sympathetic to concerns that an explicit provision protecting the heritage of the building could override opportunities to renew and enhance its purpose. Renewal should not stand in opposition to conservation and—in the most prosaic terms—improved lighting, heating and IT can do as much to enhance and protect the historic features of the Palace as they will to underpin improved accessibility and greater public engagement. (Paragraph 60)

12.Maintaining control over the costs of even the most basic aspects of Restoration and Renewal will be no easy task for the Sponsor Body. Nevertheless, there exist well-established processes that will enable the Sponsor Body to monitor whether value for money is being achieved both in the restoration of the fabric of the Palace and in determining the added value of those parts of the work that are designed to enhance public engagement and understanding of the political process. (Paragraph 65)

13.We welcome the Chair of the shadow Sponsor Body’s assurance that she will challenge the Treasury regarding the non–cashable benefits of the programme if it becomes necessary. We are confident that the Sponsor Body will make the case for the value of those aspects of R&R that will drive public participation in parliamentary democracy. The challenge of delivering value for money underlines how vital it is to agree a clear vision of what Restoration and Renewal is intended to achieve. (Paragraph 66)

A UK wide project

14.We consider it vital that the opportunity be seized to produce advantages for the whole UK. These should include the development of apprenticeships and investment in shortage skills, proportionate capital funding for all nations and regions, the fostering of smaller businesses to undertake many of the specialist roles that the project will require, and ensuring that commercial opportunities are spread throughout the UK. We do not wish to be prescriptive about how to achieve these benefits, but we note the opportunities provided by the Government’s Construction Industry Strategy to engage with the industry in areas such as training and skills. We are also aware that, although there is a tension between maximising economic benefits and obtaining value for money, the private sector groups heading large-scale projects such as the expansion of Heathrow Airport and Crossrail have allocated resources to ensuring the benefits of their building works are spread beyond a narrow geographical area and ‘the usual suspects’. Arguably, an even clearer duty lies on Parliament to follow this approach. (Paragraph 76)

15.There should be an audit of the Sponsor Body’s success in achieving this and it will be for Parliament as the ultimate client to hold the Sponsor Body to account for creating nationwide benefit from Restoration and Renewal. (Paragraph 77)


16.We believe that the basic structure of governance proposed by the draft Bill is the correct one. We do not recommend any fundamental changes to the structures or bodies that will be responsible for Restoration and Renewal. We do, however, explore the detail of how the bodies will interact with one another and how the draft Bill could be finessed to maximise the potential of Restoration and Renewal. (Paragraph 79)

Membership of the Sponsor Body

17.We recommend the Bill be amended to make it clear that the external members of the shadow Sponsor Body appointed in July 2018 should be appointed to the statutory Sponsor Body under a streamlined process of public appointment. We make this recommendation for the following reasons. First, there is a grave risk that the members of the shadow Sponsor Body may be disinclined to repeat the full and lengthy public appointments process, leading to the loss of both corporate memory and talent. Second, a further appointment process will inevitably lead to some delay we believe the project can ill afford. Third, the benefit to running another public competition, that the balance of expertise on the Sponsor Body could be reconsidered, is one that will be achieved more straightforwardly, and without any of the downsides, through the reappointment process. Finally, we believe the shadow Sponsor Body needs to be allowed to make headway with this urgent project, making it clear that members of the Body will remain in post after Royal Assent will give them the authority and the focus required. (Paragraph 85)

18.The parliamentary members of the Sponsor Body may well become the public face of Restoration and Renewal. It would benefit the credibility of Restoration and Renewal if the parliamentary members of the Sponsor Body were chosen by their peers. We recommend that they be appointed by means of elections in each House. (Paragraph 91)

Accountability to Parliament

19.We believe that the magnitude of Restoration and Renewal will require political figureheads to speak on behalf of the Sponsor Body, be held to account for the progress of the works and, vitally, provide leadership in making the case for the vision of a restored and renewed Parliament. The political figureheads will, inevitably, be drawn from the parliamentary members of the Sponsor Body and it is essential that they are able to fulfil this task. (Paragraph 102)

20.We recommend that parliamentary members of the Sponsor Body should be responsible for answering parliamentary questions. We do not believe it will be necessary to write this requirement onto the face of the Bill. Instead, we believe that the Parliamentary Relationship Agreement should specify how the Sponsor Body will address the issue of answering parliamentary questions. (Paragraph 103)

21.We do not consider that the draft Bill should be amended to specify committees which will examine the work of the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority. While there is a risk that Restoration and Renewal could be subject to excessive scrutiny which duplicates and confuses rather than holds to account, we do not think it proper that parliamentary scrutiny of the process should be limited by primary legislation. We believe that the division of responsibility between the Sponsor Body and the Delivery Authority should help to reduce the impact of this demand–whilst the Sponsor Body is accounting to Parliament the Delivery Authority can get on with the task in hand. (Paragraph 109)

22.We believe that the Commons and Lords should take it upon themselves to clarify how the scrutiny process will work. As it stands there could be as many as eight different committees in the Commons alone that may feel they have grounds to scrutinise Restoration and Renewal and there is no reason why Parliament should not design committee scrutiny to maximise its effectiveness. (Paragraph 110)

23.We recommend, therefore, that both Houses consider amending their Standing Orders to specify which committees should primarily be tasked with scrutinising the progress of the parliamentary buildings works and the associated use of public funds. It will be for each House to determine which committees assume these responsibilities, but we note that the Public Accounts Committee has the right to scrutinise any value for money reports on R&R produced by the National Audit Office. We suggest further that the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in the House of Commons, and the Constitution Committee of the Lords, are given explicit responsibility for scrutiny of the R&R programme. (Paragraph 111)

Relationship between the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority

24.Two of the main purposes of the Programme Delivery Agreement are to set out the strategic objectives of the Sponsor Body and, as Stephen Dance explained to us, to clarify which body is responsible for specific decisions. If difficulties arise between the Sponsor Body and the Delivery Authority, the key question will be the legal status of the PDA. It would be helpful for the Government to clarify how such difficulties are dealt with in relation to the other projects to which the proposed governance structure applies. (Paragraph 136)

25.The degree of scrutiny we have applied to the relationship that will exist between the Sponsor Body and Parliament should not detract from the importance of the relationship that will exist between the Sponsor Body and the Delivery Authority. It will, for the most part, be the interaction of these two organisations that will determine the timely and efficient progress of Restoration and Renewal. (Paragraph 139)

26.The Sponsor Body will be tasked with holding the Delivery Authority to account, but it will also be a buffer between Parliament and the people undertaking the work. Sir David Natzler noted that one of the reasons that Sir Charles Barry, the deliverer of building works in the 19th century, had to appear before over one hundred parliamentary committees was because he did not have a Sponsor Body. (Paragraph 140)

27.We do not expect the Programme Delivery Agreement to be set in stone and much like the agreement between the Sponsor Body and Parliament, it will have to evolve through many iterations to reflect the progress and challenges of the project at any given time. It is essential, however, that it sets out how revisions to the proposals should be implemented if Parliament and the Sponsor Body agree that changes are necessary. Major alterations should not be introduced outside a set process to determine how changes can be incorporated in to the plan and how the impact on the project’s budget and timetable will be accounted for. (Paragraph 141)

28.It is important, however, not to regard the Programme Delivery Agreement as the blueprint which will provide a mechanism to resolve any problems that arise over the course of the project. The document will only succeed if there is a strong and effective working relationship between the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority. The nature of the individual relationships and communication between the two bodies will be central to the programme of works running smoothly on a day–to–day basis. We therefore recognise that the draft Bill’s provision which allows appointments by the Sponsor Body to the board of the Delivery Authority is a pragmatic way of building a bridge between the two organisations to enhance communication. In itself, we do not believe that this provision will compromise the independence of the Delivery Authority, but we recommend that all appointments to the board of the Delivery Authority should be made with the input and consent of the Delivery Authority’s Chair. (Paragraph 142)

29.We are neutral as to whether the Bill should constrain the Sponsor Body to use its power to dissolve the Delivery Authority after the completion of the Parliamentary building works. As there is no obvious downside to this amendment we are unsure of the reason why the power was made discretionary in the first place. We therefore suggest this clause is reviewed to establish how best to cast the power to dissolve the Delivery Authority. (Paragraph 144)

30.The approach taken by the guardians of the 2012 Olympic Games serves as a helpful illustration of how a positive working culture can shape the success of a project of national significance. We are concerned that all those involved in the delivery of Restoration and Renewal should recognise that a culture of transparency and open communication will be central to the success of project. (Paragraph 149)

Interaction between the NEP and the draft Bill

31.The Sponsor Body is to be established with the single purpose of overseeing the delivery of parliamentary buildings works. The House of Commons Commission is currently responsible for the Northern Estate Programme, including the extensive redevelopment of Grade II listed Richmond House. The Commission is not an organisation whose primary purpose is to manage major building works and we do not believe that it should retain this responsibility when a dedicated organisation is ready and able to take over. (Paragraph 155)

32.Once the Sponsor Body has been established in its substantive form we believe it should take control of the Northern Estate Programme. The timely decant of the Palace of Westminster can be achieved only if Richmond House is ready to accommodate the Commons. The Lords decant and transfer to a temporary home will be undertaken by the Sponsor Body and we believe it would be anomalous for the Sponsor Body not to have the same authority over the Commons decant. (Paragraph 156)

33.The Leader of the House said that combining the two programmes would create complexity and dependencies, but the fundamental dependency of the programmes already exists. The complexity and cost of works will only be exacerbated if there are two separate management teams and delivery organisations attempting to coordinate their activity in decanting an entire working parliament of two Houses into a number of disparate buildings. (Paragraph 157)

34.Moreover, the Leader of the House of Commons spoke about creating a legacy for Richmond House as part of Restoration and Renewal. Such an ambition underlines why the Sponsor Body, which will be responsible for the legacy of the Palace of Westminster, should also determine how the long term ambitions for the Palace complement other buildings subject to redevelopment, such as Richmond House. (Paragraph 158)

35.In the course of our inquiry, we came across a problem that exemplifies some of the challenges that the shadow Sponsor Body is facing and that its statutory successor may continue to face in relation to carrying out Restoration and Renewal expeditiously and with due concern for economy. We learned that the plans for works on Richmond House which were already being developed by the current NEP team had been postulated on the contractors being able to get access to some land that is within the Ministry of Defence’s estate (it is currently used as a car park), largely to enable deliveries of materials to the construction site and the construction of temporary accommodation for those working on the building. However, all efforts to discuss these plans with the Ministry of Defence had been met with a refusal to engage—in contrast to the helpful attitude displayed by another neighbour, Scotland Yard. There may well be significant security reasons for not allowing this area to be used during the reconstruction of Richmond House, but that had not been clearly stated. (Paragraph 159)

36.Although it would be possible to work around the loss of this land, because of the need to move access arrangements and dismantle and rebuild accommodation as the works developed, there would be significant extra costs—we were told in the region of £350 million—and delay (possibly resulting in decant being postponed for several years, until 2028). After a considerable time during which Commons officials were able to make no progress in this impasse, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was now involved in the discussion with the Ministry of Defence and the Leader of the House assured us that serious engagement was now under way. Unfortunately, the delay and uncertainty caused by the failure of the Ministry to engage with the House administration had already resulted in the need to draw up alternative plans without knowing whether they might be needed and to what extent any issues identified by the Ministry of Defence might be accommodated. (Paragraph 160)

37.The situation in relation to the Ministry of Defence land must be clarified swiftly. The delay and confusion already caused highlights for us a number of issues that we have explored elsewhere in this report. The first is the need for the Northern Estate Programme to be brought under the aegis of the Sponsor Body as soon as practicable, as R&R is critically dependent on the arrangements for decant being as smooth and efficient as possible. The second is the need for some form of government commitment to the project so that, if necessary, Ministers can talk to Ministers to resolve problems. To a certain extent, this is a role for the Treasury, as the guarantor of value for taxpayers’ money: it seems to us that, had this problem occurred later in the project, the Treasury would have felt bound to comment on a possible £350 million increase in budget , and quite likely would have put pressure on the Ministry of Defence to engage. The third is the need for a strong, confident Sponsor Body, proactive in reporting problems and fully supported by Parliament in addressing them. Finally, we note that our inquiry appears to have had a role in bringing the ‘Ministry of Defence car park’ problem to the notice of Members of both Houses and others, which underlines the role of select committees in facilitating, as well as hindering, projects. (Paragraph 161)

38.We are concerned that, without a definite date for completion, the R&R project may lose momentum. We acknowledge that it is for the Sponsor Body to formulate a timetable for the works but we consider that it would be helpful to the Sponsor Body if Parliament were to agree its timetable for completion of R&R, together with milestones along the way. The system of annual reports to Parliament set out in Paragraph 26 of Schedule 1 to the Bill would provide the mechanism for this, and we would expect that such annual reports would form part of the National Audit Office’s audit process.This does not mean that the Sponsor Body would be unable to come back to Parliament to propose significant changes to the timetable should there be major unforeseen circumstances that cause unavoidable delays. (Paragraph 169)

39.We found no simple solution to the problem of ensuring that Restoration and Renewal can be undertaken in timely fashion, whilst guaranteeing that the letter and spirit of planning law are respected. Streamlining the system so that R&R does not become constrained by objections, complaints and inquirIes is attractive when considered against the demands of a project of such national importance. However, there is no legislative solution that would achieve this objective and we do not believe that creating a hybrid Bill would be of benefit to the project. Furthermore, we do not believe that Parliament should exempt itself from the planning regime that it has determined that all other projects should abide by. (Paragraph 174)

40.We do not underestimate the challenges that the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority will face, but we believe that they can be managed through resourcing the needs of Westminster City Council and maintaining open communication with those parties that hold a fundamental interest in the project. (Paragraph 175)

Published: 21 March 2019