LONDON , Sept. 8 (UPI) — London’s Parliament building needs a $5.3 billion upgrade or will face a fire or other catastrophe, ministers were told.
A six-year repair plan would require the two houses of parliament to vacate the premises as renovations, including electrical improvements and masonry repairs, are made at the iconic building formally known as the Palace of Westminster. A committee charged with examining the cost and scope of the repairs said the Palace is so riddled with aging wiring, asbestos and frail stonework, that the building would be demolished if not for its importance. It recommended an agency be formed to prepare a budget and schedule, and warned that if the British government does not back a rebuilding plan, the building could be destroyed by a fire or a flood.
“The Palace of Westminster, a masterpiece of Victorian and medieval architecture and engineering, faces an impending crisis which we cannot responsibly ignore. It is impossible to say when this will happen, but there is a substantial and growing risk of either a single, catastrophic event, such as a major fire, or a succession of incremental failures in essential systems which would lead to Parliament no longer being able to occupy the Palace,” the report said.
Most of the building dates to 1834 to 1870, when it was rebuilt after a fire, although some sections, used only for ceremonial purposes, were constructed in the 10th century.
The committee recommended that work should begin in 2023, and suggested the House of Commons vacate its deliberating chamber and meet at the headquarters of the Department of Health. The upper chamber House of Lords could meet at the QEII Center, a government-owned conference and convention center.