February 2, 2018
Burnham-On-Sea MP opposes £5.6bn House of Commons refurb

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has spoken out against the "hugely expensive" £5.6bn restoration of the Houses of Parliament.

MPs have voted to leave the Palace of Westminster while the proposed multi-billion pound refurbishment of the historic building takes place.

The Commons approved a motion calling for a "full and timely decant", designed to allow essential repairs, by 236 votes to 220.

The planned move to the QEII Centre, part of a proposed £5.6bn modernisation, will not take effect until 2025 at the earliest.

Four Somerset MPs have their opposition against the amendment - Burnham-On-Sea's James Heappey, Bridgwater and West Somerset's Ian Liddell-Grainger, South Somerset's Marcus Fysh and Taunton's Rebecca Pow all voted 'no'.

Burnham's MP James Heappey, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Events Industry, said that he was "disappointed" with the House of Commons vote for a full decant.

"I don’t believe that the economic impact of taking the QEII Centre out of use has been fully considered as part of the costs of this already hugely expensive project," he said..

"My All Party Parliamentary Group colleagues and I will be raising our concerns in both Houses as there is still plenty of debate left to be had."

"We are all clear that London’s preeminence as a venue for international meetings, exhibitions and conferences will be threatened by removing such a significant central London venue."

But Theresa May's former deputy, Conservative MP Damian Green, warned Parliament was not safe in its current condition and it is not a "wild exaggeration" to say that it is a "death trap".

Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh warned during the debate that Ms Hillier's amendment could result in MPs leaving Parliament for up to 12 years and effectively authorise the spending of £5 billion during a time of "unparalleled austerity".

Sir Edward, who was in favour of allowing the Commons debating chamber to remain in the Palace of Westminster or Portcullis House during the works, said: "I do not believe it will only be for five years. I predict that we will be out of this building for 10 or even 12 years."

"And we have to say to our constituents, do we really believe at this time of unparalleled austerity... we should now take the decision to spend upfront, this evening £5 billion on our own working place?

"I think that's a very difficult decision, a very difficult argument to make to our constituents."


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