From our Lords Correspondent: another step towards the restoration of the Palace of Westminster

Six months ago, in my increasingly erratic reporting of events in the House of Lords, I touched upon the debate on the restoration and refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster.

So, what happened next?

There was agreement that, as bits of the building were either falling on people or were in danger of burning down or filling with sewage (or both at the same time), that it was really high time that Parliament vacated the building so that it could be modernised for the new age, with technology built in and new services provided. And then it seemingly went quiet.

The motions as passed in each House called for the creation of an “Olympic-style Delivery Authority” and a Project Board, the latter to oversee the former, with the role of both to be clarified by the passing of appropriate legislation.

Our more observant readers will wonder what became of that, and it was the subject of some discussion at a meeting of the Commons Liaison Committee on 18 July, where the Chairs of the various Select Committees mostly took turns to ask Theresa May difficult questions about Brexit.

Chris Bryant raised the question of the enabling legislation, noting that the membership of the Project Board was due to be announced shortly. Admittedly, the Project Board had been announced by way of a Written Statement the previous day, but given the lack of fanfare, he could hardly be blamed.

The Project Board is thus a shadow Board for the time being, and comprises twelve members, five independent of Parliament, including the Chair, and seven members of Parliament, three from the Commons, four from the Lords. Each of the larger groups in each House is represented, thus Labour, the Conservatives and the SNP have named MPs, and the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Crossbenchers have named Peers.

The newly appointed Chair is Liz Peace, currently Chair of the Government Property Agency, and the rest of the independents appear to have a nice balance of skills, which they’ll need.

The Liberal Democrat given the responsibility of helping to oversee a budget likely to be around the £4 billion mark is none other than former Party President, Ros Scott.

You can find more information on the Project Board, and on the restoration and renewal itself, at the website specially created for the project.

* Mark Valladares covers House of Lords matters for Liberal Democrat Voice.

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