Scrutiny call over Westminster refurbishment costs

The SNP's Pete Wishart MP has called for clarity over proposals for refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament following reports that it could cost at least £3 billion.

It is understood that the House of Commons Commission is currently investigating options for the refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster, to be agreed in the next parliamentary session starting 2015.

While recognising that areas of the parliamentary estate require upgrading, Mr Wishart has called for an independent expert to be tasked with considering the best options – rather than politicians – to ensure that the most cost effective solution is found.

Reports last week suggested the cost would be at least three billion for the refurbishment, with MPs potentially relocated while the work is undertaken. One supporter of the plan suggested that if the MPs do not move out the bill could rise to as much as £10 billion.

Mr Wishart has written to the commission seeking clarification of the plans, and a breakdown of the reported £3billion estimate.

Mr Wishart said:

“The early estimates for Westminster refurbishment are truly jaw dropping.

“At a time when Westminster is cutting housing benefit for the young, old and disabled, it will raise eyebrows that these same politicians are considering a multi-billion pound taxpayer funded revamp of their own accommodation.

“Greater clarity and absolute transparency is needed over these plans to ensure any spending is justified and in the best interests of taxpayers.

“Given the cost implications of any refurbishment or relocation all options should be considered by an independent expert rather than left to a panel of Westminster politicians.

“The mindboggling cost of refurbishing the unreformable Westminster parliament is just another reason why a yes vote in the independence referendum in 2014 will save people in Scotland that enormous cost and move all decisions to a modern, progressive Parliament at Holyrood.”