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article imageUK politicians bring parliament revamp a step closer

By AFP     Feb 6, 2018 in World

Major renovation of the Houses of Parliament came a step closer on Tuesday as Britain's upper chamber backed plans for politicians to move out of their historic home while the work is done.

The House of Lords agreed without a vote to a "fully and timely decant" from the Palace of Westminster, throwing their weight behind a similar decision by MPs last week.

Politicians' support for the move paves the way for a multi-billion-pound renovation of the complex, which includes the Houses of Parliament and the clock tower housing the Big Ben bell.

Complaints within the corridors of power include everything from mice infestations to sewage problems and fire hazards, but politicians have for years struggled to agree on how to move forward with the major works.

Speaking during the House of Lords debate, Baroness Tina Stowell likene d the refurbishment to "major surgery to fundamental organs" and said doing the work in stages was unfeasible.

One estimate for a gradual project found it would take 32 years to complete and cost £5.7 billion (6.5 billion euros, $8.0 billion), compared to a spend of £3.5 billion over six years if lawmakers move out.

There have been various proposals for a temporary home, with opposition Labour peer Meghnad Desai suggesting the politicians move to Buckingham Palace.

"It's the only building large enough to contain all the facilities we have with room to spare," he said during the debate.

He was followed by Lord William Inglewood, who joked they could instead transfer to France's Palace of Versailles.

"I live further from London than Paris so I would like to suggest if I was going in that direction perhaps Versailles is the right answer for us," he told the House of Lords.

But despite their enthusiasm for alternative locations, the move may not happen for a number of years.

The next stage in the restoration project is the establishment of bodies to start making more detailed plans.

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