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‘No blank cheque’ for £4bn Parliament refurb

18 October 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom has warned there must be “no blank cheque” for the £4bn restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster, as the government published the draft bill for the works.

The Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill establishes the statutory bodies responsible for the project.

It will also ensure parliamentarians are consulted and given a vote on the design, cost and timing of the work.

The bill will see the creation of a governance structure for the project, setting up a sponsor body, a delivery authority and an estimates commission.

The sponsor body will have overall responsibility for the programme and is made up of a mixture of parliamentarians and external experts including former British Property Federation (BPF) chief executive Liz Peace, Crossrail chief executive Simon Wright, and former London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games chief executive Lord Deighton.

Meanwhile, the delivery authority will be a not-for-profit company that will put forward proposals for the restoration works, and the estimates commission will review and comment on the sponsor body’s cost estimates and lay them before Parliament.

The bill also gives the Treasury powers to scrutinise and comment on the annual estimates for the funding of the programme, while the National Audit Office will be able to undertake audits and value-for-money reviews.

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, said: “Following agreement by MPs across all parties, we are supporting Parliamentary Authorities to deliver on that decision, and press ahead with this work.

“The government’s role is to ensure taxpayers’ money is protected, and the measures in this draft bill reflect our determination to ensure the delivery of the restoration and renewal programme runs to time and represents the best value for money. There can be no blank cheque for this work.”

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, leader of the House of Lords, said: “As an important parliamentary project, the publication of the draft bill will give members of both Houses, and other interested parties, an opportunity to scrutinise the approach being taken to the governance of the Restoration and Renewal Programme before the bill is introduced.”

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