In the House of Commons today Fiona Bruce has asked the Leader of the House for an update on the progress of the restoration and renewal programme for the Palace of Westminster.
Responding to Fiona's question, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Leader of the House of Commons said;
"This is a key subject. The Sponsor Body is due to publish its strategic review on the restoration and renewal programme soon. That will enable the parties involved to consider options in the light of the economic effect of the coronavirus. As Leader of the House, I want to ensure that the Palace of Westminster remains the home of our democracy for future generations. In the first instance, that means getting on with the works that are immediately possible; restoration and renewal should not be used as a cause for delaying works that everyone knows need to take place—I am thinking of things such as the restoration of the Victoria Tower, which the Commons, at any rate, is keen to proceed with, and, in particular, works relating to fire safety. A great deal has been done on that, but concerns have recently been raised with me about the hammer-beam roof in Westminster Hall, and I would make that an absolute priority in terms of fire safety. It has lasted since the reign of Richard II and I hope it can last another 700-odd years. I hope I will still be here then and you too, Mr Speaker—[Interruption.] Well, 700, I am not that ambitious! I am glad that progress has been made on reducing the fire risk already, but more is required, which is why it is good news that the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority, which were established in legislation during my time as Leader of the House, are on schedule to prepare options for Parliament to consider in a timely fashion. When we come to consider those options, we need to be anxious to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent on vital works, not on a gold-plated scheme. We have to explain to our constituents when we spend money on ourselves, so the vital works test will be a key one. As we save the Palace, there must be no blank cheque."