The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill 2017-19 establishes the bodies that will be responsible for overseeing and delivering the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. The Bill was introduced on 8 May 2019. It has been considered by both Houses and the House of Commons is scheduled to consider Lords amendments on 9 September 2019.
Download the full report
Please note there are two separate Library Briefing Papers on this page (see pdf documents at the foot of this page):
- Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill 2017-19 (16 May 2019) [full report]; and
- Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) – progress of the Bill (6 September 2019) [supporting document]
Progress of the Bill
The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill 2017-19 [Bill 388] was introduced in the House of Commons on 8 May 2019, by the Leader of the House of Commons.
It received an unopposed second reading on 21 May 2019, and was committed to a public bill committee.
The Bill was not amended by the public bill committee. Two amendments were divided on and both were defeated. Both would have imposed duties on the Sponsor Body:
- To require the Delivery Authority not to award contracts to construction companies that had blacklisted construction works; and
- To ensure opportunities to bid for contracts were promoted UK-wide and to carry out an annual audit of the location and size of companies awarded contracts.
Sir Patrick McLoughlin sought to ensure that the external members of the shadow Sponsor Body would not need to go through a new recruitment process for the statutory Sponsor Body. The Minister, Kevin Foster, undertook to work on an acceptable rephrasing of the amendment.
On 19 June 2019, the House of Commons amended the Bill at Report Stage, and then gave it an unopposed third reading.
Debate at Report Stage was focused on some of the issues that were debated in the public bill committee. Changes were made the Bill:
- One new duty was given to the Sponsor Body. It has:
- to require the Delivery Authority when allocating contracts for construction and related work to have regard for the company’s policies on corporate social responsibility, including those relating to the blacklisting of employees or potential employees from employment
- Changes were made to the matters to which the Sponsor Body has to have regard, when carrying out its functions:
- it has to have regard to the “need to ensure that educational and other facilities” are provided for visitors to the Palace of Westminster, rather than having regard to the “desirability of ensuring” that such facilities were provided.
- it must have regard to need to ensure that economic benefits of the works are delivered across the UK;
- Two amendments ensured that the chair and external members of the shadow Sponsor Body could be appointed as the first external members of the Sponsor Body, without having to go through a further recruitment process.
House of Lords
It was given an unopposed second reading on 8 July 2019.
The contested amendments in the House of Commons were redrafted. Other amendments addressed accessibility within the Palace; heritage; promoting public understanding of the R&R programme and public engagement with Parliament in the future; and the Sponsor Body’s reporting duties.
The briefing paper for second reading
The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill 2017-19 [Bill 388] was introduced in the House of Commons on 8 May 2019, by the Leader of the House of Commons. As well as other Cabinet ministers, Valerie Vaz, the shadow Leader of the House of Commons, is also a sponsor of the Bill. A written statement from the Leader of the House of Commons, on the same day, noted that the Bill would give effect to resolutions passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords on 31 January and 6 February 2018, respectively.
The Bill defines “the Parliamentary building works”, which encompasses “Palace restoration works” – the Restoration and Renewal Programme. The scope of the definition is wider than the Palace restoration works. This is to allow the Commissions of the House of Commons and of the House of Lords, with the agreement of the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority, to designate other works relating to the Parliamentary Estate as works to be undertaken by the programme.
The Bill establishes the statutory body that will have overall responsibility for the Parliamentary building works – the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body. It requires the Sponsor Body to form a company limited by guarantee – the Delivery Authority – to formulate proposals relating to Palace restoration works and to carry out the Parliamentary building works. The Bill also establishes the Parliamentary Works Estimate Commission. Estimates are prepared by the Sponsor Body. The Estimates Commission is responsible for laying estimates before the House of Commons. Before doing so, it has to review them and if the anticipated final cost exceeds the amount of funds allocated for the works, it can reject the estimate and require the Sponsor Body to prepare a new estimate.
The Bill requires parliamentary approval for the proposed Palace restoration works and the funding of those works.
Before that approval is obtained, expenditure is limited to preparatory works, which include initial design works and works that “do not affect the continued functioning of the Palace of Westminster for the purposes of either House of Parliament”. So there are two phases:
- In phase one – before Parliamentary approval – expenditure limits are set by the Commissions of the two Houses.
- In phase two – after Parliamentary approval – expenditure limits are set in the approval resolution.
The introduction of the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill 2017-19 followed a long drawn out process of assessing and reviewing the state of the Palace of Westminster and of determining how best to proceed.
- In autumn 2012, the authorities of the two Houses agreed that major works were required, following an internal review. They ruled out leaving the Palace of Westminster and finding a new site for Parliament.
- In 2013, the authorities of the two Houses commissioned an independent options appraisal on how to conduct the works.
- The resulting independent options appraisal, Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme Independent Options Appraisal, was published on 18 June 2015.
- A Joint Committee was established to consider how to proceed. In its report, Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster (September 2016), it concluded that there was “a clear and pressing need to tackle the work required to the Palace of Westminster and to do so in a comprehensive and strategic manner to prevent catastrophic failure in the next decade. We have also concluded that, in principle, a full decant of the Palace of Westminster presents the best option under which to deliver this work”. It also concluded that new governance arrangements needed to be put in place. It recommended that a Sponsor Board, including MPs and heritage and construction experts, should be established to oversee the delivery of the Restoration and Renewal Programme.
- In January/February 2018, the House of Commons and the House of Lords endorsed the Joint Committee’s recommendations. They resolved that the work was pressing, a full decant was the best delivery option, the work should be undertaken by a statutory Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority, and immediate steps should be taken to establish them in shadow form. They required that both Houses return to their respective Chambers as soon as possible.
- In July 2018, the Commissions of the two Houses confirmed the membership of the shadow Sponsor Body.
- In October 2018, the Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill (Cm 9710) was published by the Government.
- A joint committee was appointed to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny. Its report, Governance of Restoration and Renewal, was published in March 2019.
- The Government’s response was published on 7 May 2019.
- The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill 2017-19 was introduced in the House of Commons on 8 May 2019.
A Library Briefing Paper, Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster (CBP 7898, 3 December 2018), provides more background on the programme up to the appointment of the joint committee on the draft bill.
Northern Estate Programme
The January/February 2018 resolutions of the two Houses requiring the establishment of the Sponsor Body and the Delivery Authority only referred to works in the Palace of Westminster (including the decant and decant venue of the House of Lords). The Northern Estate Programme (NEP) is a House of Commons programme of refurbishment of buildings and the construction of a temporary Chamber. It is proposed that whilst both Houses are unable to use the Palace of Westminster, the House of Commons will sit in this temporary Chamber.
A majority of witnesses who appeared before the Joint Committee on the Draft Parliamentary Buildings Bill thought it would be sensible for the sponsor Body to take charge of the NEP as well as the works in the Palace, because of the interdependency of the programmes.
The Bill would allow this to happen but does not require it.
The Joint Committee noted that Andrea Leadsom expressed concern that incorporating the NEP into the Sponsor Body’s responsibilities would add to the complexity of the project. However, the Joint Committee argued that the House of Commons Commission, which is responsible for the NEP, “is not an organisation whose primary purpose is to manage major building works and we do not believe that it should retain this responsibility when a dedicated organisation is ready and able to take over”.
It recommended that “the shadow Sponsor Body take on de facto responsibility for all the works necessary for decant even before the Act to set up the statutory body is passed” and that “Once the Sponsor Body has been established in its substantive form we believe it should take control of the Northern Estate Programme”.
In its response to the Joint Committee, the Government noted that the Bill would allow the NEP to be included in the Parliamentary works programme. It also acknowledged the interdependent relationship between the two programmes. It noted that discussions about integrating the programmes were underway. However, it considered that full integration “may be more appropriate” after Royal Assent, when “the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority are established in substantive form, and all the statutory accountability and financial safeguards are in place”.
The House of Commons launched a consultation on its proposals for a temporary House of Commons at Parliament’s Northern Estate on 8 May 2019.