David Cameron hints MPs could sit in House of Lords during Commons repairs

House Of Lords

David Cameron has dropped a heavy hint that members of parliament could meet in the House of Lords chamber while the Commons chamber undergoes much-needed maintenance work.

Speaking at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Cameron said that when the Commons chamber was bombed during the second world war, MPs would use the Lords to conduct parliamentary business.

He said: “I remember taking some constituents on a tour when I first became a member of parliament and hearing for the first time ... that when this chamber was bombed some of the most important speeches and parliamentary occasions for Winston Churchill took place in the other place, rather than here. But I don’t want to start a complete fight between both houses, so I’ll leave it at that.”

Cameron made the comment after responding to a question from Graham Allen, the Labour MP for Nottingham North, who asked the prime minister whether he would consider holding prime minister’s questions in other parts of the UK to “symbolise his government and this parliament’s commitment to both the union and to devolution”.

“I’m committed to trying to cut the cost of politics and I’m not sure that would help,” said Cameron.

“As for the future of this House of Commons and where we stand and where we debate, that is a matter for [MPs], but I have to say I have a slight emotional attachment to this place, this one particularly,” he added, referring to the prime minister’s spot on the government benches.

In June, a long-awaited report commissioned by the House of Lords and House of Commons said the Palace of Westminster must undergo a renovation programme that could take up to 40 years to complete and cost more than £7bn.

The palace was rebuilt between 1840 and 1870 after a fire originating in the House of Lords chamber destroyed the building in 1834. It has not undergone any significant refurbishment since then. Its cast iron roof is leaking, the Anston limestone used to build the palace is crumbling away, the gutters and internal plumbing regularly fail and many of the palace’s walls contain asbestos.

The 250-page report details five scenarios ranging from a “do minimum” gradual approach to “a full move out”, which would cost an estimated £3.9bn.

A rolling programme of work that would allow the palace to continue to function as a seat of government, the most expensive option, would expect to cost £5.7bn but would take 32 years to complete. Total costs could rise to £7.1bn and take 40 years in the worst case scenario.

The palace was hit by bombs on 14 occasions during the second world war. When one destroyed the Commons chamber completely, MPs used other rooms in the palace to continue the business of government while the chamber was rebuilt.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 1st July 2015 14.34 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010