MPs To Move From Sinking Westminster?

Andy Thornley
By Andy Thornley Last edited 149 months ago

Last Updated 23 January 2012

MPs To Move From Sinking Westminster?

Image by Andy Thornley

A committee of MPs, chaired by Commons Speaker John Bercow MP, will today consider options for resolving a chronic subsidence problem affecting the Palace of Westminster — one of which includes abandoning the historic site altogether.

Cracks have recently began to appear in walls within the ancient palace, with the most likely culprits of the sinking foundations being the construction of the Jubilee Line tube tunnels and work on an underground carpark. The subsidence has been so bad that Big Ben (or 'The Clock Tower' as pedants will complain it is called) currently leans over 8 inches to the north west. Work to correct the subsidence could be very expensive and would come at a time of austerity when Government cuts are already biting hard on the country.

A decision to leave the Palace of Westminster however would be a difficult and probably unrealistic one because of its historical significance, having been the seat of power in the United Kingdom for the past 1,000 years.

The Daily Mail has claimed that the cost of remedial work to shore up the palace will cost around £1bn whereas the estate itself is only worth £500m. It quotes an 'insider' (these insiders are always anonymous!) who proposes "[selling] it to the Russians or Chinese" –- something which would provoke great controversy as Big Ben and Westminster are two of the most recognisable and quintessentially British landmarks on these shores.

The paper –- for once -– did not include a quote from the Taxpayers Alliance, however, we can have a fairly educated guess that they would prefer to scrap it altogether and move to rented offices somewhere near Victoria –- a move which they would claim would offer much better value for money for the taxpayer.

If the Palace of Westminster was sold, what would you like to see it become? A museum? A (potentially very dull) theme park? Add your suggestions below...