MPs could leave Commons for 20 years for £13bn refurb, Lindsay Hoyle admits

17 March 2022, 18:24 | Updated: 17 March 2022, 19:34

Sir Lindsay confirmed one plan is to leave the Commons for 20 years for refurbishment
Sir Lindsay confirmed one plan is to leave the Commons for 20 years for refurbishment. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

MPs could be forced to leave the House of Commons for 20 years because Parliament is in dire need of refurbishing.

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Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr the plan could cost £13bn as the ageing Palace of Westminster is repaired.

They could have to find a new place to hold debates and make laws in 10 years' time.

Sir Lindsay said Parliament needs to make up its mind about whether it will go ahead with the plan and where it would move to.

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle 'very concerned' about structure of Commons

"At the moment, the plan will be you will wait probably 10 years before you can move out, then a 20 year absence from the House. And £13bn [cost]… if that was to ever happen," he said.

"Are the House willing to accept £13bn and being away for 20 years?

"Doesn't matter to me, I've had the best of it. So it matters to the people who are going to make the decision.

"In the end, what I'm saying is, we've got a mandate, that’s a full R and R. Til that changes, we carry on. In the meantime, I’m going to do as much work to get the House in the best state and the best way forward."

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle reflects on time he spent working with John Bercow

The issue of where MPs and Lords would move to has been a live debate for some time.

The largely Victorian-era complex has a sewage systems dating some 150 years, disability access has been highlighted as an issue and the mechanical and electrical infrastructure has not been replaced since it was installed after the Second World War.

"The rain was coming and the water was coming into the roof, it was seeping in all over," Sir Lindsay told Andrew. Repairs to the roofing have been made.

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One option put to Sir Lindsay by Andrew was using the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, a short walk past Parliament Square Garden.

But that is the "default" position of the Lords, he said, stressing he would follow whatever MPs vote to do.

"What I would say is I'm very concerned about the structure of the House of Commons, it matters to me. And I'm going to make sure that we're maintaining the building."

In the wide-ranging interview, Sir Lindsay also said he never saw "direct" bullying while serving as deputy speaker to John Bercow, who was criticised in a recent parliamentary standards report over how he treated his staff.

Mr Bercow has continued to deny he was a bully despite the damning findings.

And he said that Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the "bravest man" he has met, praising his historic speech to the Commons.