Umunna: MPs should ditch Westminster for modern HQ

Labour's Chuka Umunna has suggested MPs should relocate from the House of Commons. Picture: PA
Labour's Chuka Umunna has suggested MPs should relocate from the House of Commons. Picture: PA
Share this article
16
Have your say

MPS should abandon the crumbling Houses of Parliament in favour of a less confrontational modern chamber, a senior Labour MP has suggested.

Chuka Umunna said the debate over how to conduct urgent repairs costing up to £7 billion was an ideal moment to move forward and turn the historic Palace of Westminster into a tourist attraction.

How in 2015 is it that we are carrying on with a Commons that cannot even seat all its members? How can we continue with a chamber that nurtures the ridiculous tribalism that switches so many people off?

Chuka Umunna

“It’s a beautiful building and it often feels like you are in a museum. So why don’t we turn it into a museum?” he asked in an interview with the Evening Standard.

“How in 2015 is it that we are carrying on with a Commons that cannot even seat all its members? How can we continue with a chamber that nurtures the ridiculous tribalism that switches so many people off?” - suggesting a semi-circular arrangement like that used in many other countries instead.

“I think that would change the nature of debate. Sketchwriters would hate it.”

It was revealed recently that the taxpayer faces a bill of up to £7.1 billion to stop the Palace of Westminster falling down unless MPs and peers agree to move out while the work takes place.

A study by independent consultants has highlighted the appalling condition of Parliament - with potentially deadly fire risks, collapsing roofs, crumbling walls, leaking pipes and large quantities of asbestos.

If politicians refuse to leave the building, patching it up to basic standards will take around 32 years and could cost between £4.9 billion and £7.1 billion.

Even if they relocate to another venue and allow renovation teams free run of the historic site, it will still need six years and an estimated £3.5 billion capital outlay.