My intervention during the debate on the Restoration and Renewal for the Palace of Westminster

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): Do we not also need some common sense and realism? Surely the priority is to do those works that are essential to the safety of the building and its occupants. We have to understand the mood of the times and say to the experts that to allow this enormous escalation in the project’s cost, scope and timing is simply not acceptable.

Mark Spencer MP, Leader of the House of Commons: I honestly think we can do both. I think we can get to an understanding and a place where, with expert advice, we can get value for taxpayers’ money, where we can progress this as rapidly as possible and where we can take a more common-sense approach.

The Commissions have taken all these points on board, carefully assessed the options and sought independent advice on the best way forward. The Commissions, with cross-party representation and independent and external members, have taken a unanimous decision that it is necessary to revise the approach to the governance and mandate of the R&R programme.

We need a governance structure that is responsive to the requirements of the parliamentary context, is accountable to Parliament and is better placed to build the necessary consensus. The Commissions have judged that this can be best achieved through an in-house structure. The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act will remain in place and will continue to provide the statutory underpinning.

The current Sponsor Body will be abolished, and its functions under the Act will be transferred to two corporate officers who will become the statutory duty holders. The Act provides for this flexibility by allowing for the Sponsor Body to be abolished and for its functions to be transferred. The proposed in-house governance structure will consist of two tiers: a client board on which the two Commissions have strategic oversight; and a programme board with external expertise that will be central to resolving critical choices and priorities.


  1. Bloke
    July 14, 2022

    A project so large is better accomplished in small manageable chunks, in order of priority.

    Attempting a massive job in one go, in occupied premises, with so much change emerging risks loss of control and chaos.

    Focusing on dealing with essentials, in sequence, enables progress: Building on valuable improvements in easier economic stages.

  2. Lifelogic
    July 14, 2022

    Indeed but no one involved is trying to be efficient they all what it to be as big a project as possible only tax payers money after all so what do they care. Many will benefit from all the contracts. Rather like the insanity of net zero and HS2.

    Milton Friedman, in his book “Free to Choose“, detailed four ways to spend money:

    You spend your own money on yourself.
    You spend your own money on someone else.
    You spend someone else’s money on yourself.
    You spend someone else’s money on someone else.

    The fist being the most efficient. So with the last option (as with this renovation expenditure) you care not what you spend nor what value you get. In fact it is often even worse as many (probably including some MPs) often benefit from the work and contracts and so are actually tying to spend as much as possible. Little interests in doing a good efficient job either as they might get rectification contracts later. Plus they are doubtless spending a fortune on “lobbying” and paying political and politicians as “consultants”.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 14, 2022

      So Sunak says he wants to be judged on his record not his personal wealth.

      That’s surely is what most people are doing Sunak? You are/were a manifest rating, vast tax increasing, money printing/inflation causing, huge borrowing, tax borrow and waste Chancellor. Also a US retained green card holding person who had a non domiciled wife (avoiding considerable UK tax) an option not available to UK people. You also subscribe to the absurdly harmful, job exporting, net zero, expensive & intermittent energy lunacy. You even thought HS2 and “eat out to help out” were sensible was to spend taxes. You also showed huge disloyalty to the PM while Chancellor.

      Have I missed anything out Sunak? Voters are not as gullible as you think? Most people do not mind you being rich but are less keen on you bonkers agenda of taxing them to death while you wife exempted herself, forcing expensive energy onto them they cannot afford and the endless waste. Perhaps you should drop out now!

      1. Donna
        July 15, 2022

        Well said. You, like me, are watching what they do ……

    2. Lifelogic
      July 14, 2022

      From a tweet by the excellent Dr Clare Craig (absurdly attacked a while by some appalling & dire innumerate & ignorant Tory MP a while back – PPE again I think).

      “There were 6.5K ‘covid deaths’ (or deaths with recent a positive test) in over 70 yr olds in April and May.
      If vaccines prevented 90% of deaths that means there would have been 65k deaths without them.
      There were 91k cases.
      If true that would mean Omicron kills >2/3rds of people infected.
      No-one believes that.”

      Are the vaccines actually effective at all, let alone effective enough to justify the many dangerous side effects, injuries, costs and deaths they certainly cause?

  3. Lifelogic
    July 14, 2022

    Look like a Truss win to me so should I get my bet on (alas yet another PPE graduate)? Unless that is she bottles it as that Brexit women did last time – making us all suffer the appalling disingenuous remoaner and deluded net zero enthusiast one Theresa May. Kwasi backing Truss too now. So has even the energy secretary realised what a damaging/con trick net zero is now?

    I prefer Kemi myself. Sunak the manifesto ratter, tax avoider, green card, tax to death dope would be a disaster at any election with real & ordinary voters. He has been a disaster Chancellor.

  4. XY
    July 14, 2022

    Put it out for re-tender. It’s the oldest trick in the book, finding something to say “Well, if only we’d known about X we’d have been able to give you a more accurate price”.

    Isn’t it time the govt held suppliers to fixed-price contracts whereby the risk is with the supplier?

  5. glen cullen
    July 14, 2022

    Its yet another national disgrace the amount of public taxpayer funds used to build another vanity project

  6. Lester_Cynic
    July 14, 2022

    Penny Mordaunt photographed with Bill Gates?

    And I bet that won’t escape moderation

    It’s all out there

    1. hefner
      July 14, 2022

      You’re funny L_C, Having had a ministerial role in International Development why is it so surprising that Mordaunt had been in a meeting with Bill Gates?
      Would you object to Sir John having had discussions with Newt Gingrich?

      1. Peter2
        July 14, 2022

        Poor argument hef
        One did one didn’t.

        1. hefner
          July 15, 2022

          Unfortunately you’re wrong. Some years ago on this very blog Sir John had said he had met Newt Gingrich as part of his official ministerial job.

          1. Peter2
            July 15, 2022

            met not discussions which is what you originally said.

      2. Lester_Cynic
        July 14, 2022


        And what would be her reason to meet with Bill Gates, to organise a fantastic trade deal with him for some computer software?

        1. hefner
          July 16, 2022

          One can meet someone or meet with someone. I was once in an event with a French president and there is a picture that I even shook hands with him. Unfortunately I was not able ‘to organise a fantastic trade deal with him’ for some meat pies and saucisses.

          1. Peter2
            July 17, 2022

            Good for you heffy.
            Another of your irrelevant posts.

  7. formula57
    July 14, 2022

    The sheer cheek of Mr. Spencer’s recommended approach does allow a grudging admiration. Not only can the wholly appropriate “works that are essential to the safety” be undertaken but also the public mood against expenditure on a lavish scale can be ignored. Commendably, he even sets out the byzantine management structure that will enable those many involved to slough off accountability under a veneer of form-over-substance meticulous oversight.

    A commercial enterprise would sell off the building for billions and convert for less than £100 million a disused warehouse near some new town somewhere to accommodate legislators. There is value for money.

  8. KB
    July 14, 2022

    You all need to move into a big tin shed off a motorway junction in the midlands somewhere. It will be very educational for all of you on the reality of transport in this country.

  9. Narrow Shoulders
    July 14, 2022

    There is a trough – the pigs will feed I am afraid Sir John

  10. paul
    July 14, 2022

    What about ripping out the drink bars & restaurants and putting in tea and coffee snack bars instead, MPs and Lords who want five star silver service at cut prices, should book their tables at, outside restaurant which are open for business and need the trade. That not forget about the heating, one heat pump should do it.

    1. Know-Dice
      July 14, 2022

      True it’s a place of work. Some time ago the “wine cellar” there was valued at over £10 million. Remove all alcohol and subsidised meals…

      1. glen cullen
        July 14, 2022

        Like every other company up and down the land

  11. ChrisS
    July 14, 2022

    I like the Palace of Westminster and appreciate its historical significance, and I hate to say it, but the sheer cost of the project and the time scales are now so long that one has to think the unthinkable and question the viability of the whole idea.

    The estimates are currently £7-13 billion over 19-28 years, if the building is vacated, and £11-22 billion over 46-76 years if the Commons stays put. Everyone knows that these costs are likely to at the very least double or treble as every other government building scheme always has. The recent refurbishment of the Elizabeth Tower is a perfect example, costing £80m over five years, compared with an initial estimate of just £29m !

    A new building, created expressly for the job could be designed, built and occupied within ten years for a tenth of the cheapest estimate, and it would be more suitable for purpose and meet all current and future building regulations.

    The existing building could be demolished and the site used for the new building, or a new site could be acquired, and the current building sold off to the private sector for conversion to a combination of offices and a hotel. Obviously the landmark Elizabeth Tower, would be retained.

    1. Iago
      July 14, 2022

      The place will probably be alcohol-free in twenty-five years.

  12. Cuibono
    July 14, 2022

    So JR says “Let’s be a bit tactful in how much we spend and let’s get the really essential stuff done first.”
    What’s that other bloke trying to say?
    I don’t think he knows much about builders!

    1. Pauline Baxter
      July 14, 2022

      I don’t think he knows much about Civil Service empire builders either.

  13. XY
    July 14, 2022

    This is looking a bit of an issue for another day with the leadership election coming down to the last 5.

    With the revelations about Mordaunt today it seems we have another May lurking in Brexiteer’s clothing.

    1. She’s in cahoots with the WEF – see photos on TCW of her with Gates.
    2. She’s in the pocket of remainers – see her party last night and the attendees (Rudd, Labour remainers).
    3. She’s woke, now trying to deny her trans views (not very credibly).
    4. Rewriting history over her involvement in maternity law when Braverman did that.
    5. She doesn’t do her job and has no grasp of it – see Frost’s comments on having her replaced – and her own department saying she’s never prepared to do any work or go anywhere.

    1. Sea_Warrior
      July 15, 2022

      There’s an effective attack piece in TCW. I had been seduced into thinking that Penny would come second in the MPs’ voting and then cruise to an easy win with the members. Today? There’s a real opportunity for Kemi.

  14. XY
    July 14, 2022

    By the way, Sunak vs Mordaunt would be effectively presenting the membership with a choice of being shot or hanged.

    Can you imagine Sunak on the hustings at election time? Easy prey as follows:

    Q: Mr Sunak, are you committed to the UK – do you and your wife intend to stay in the UK?
    A: Yes of course we do.

    Q: Well, the reason I ask is because the key element of claiming non-dom status involves making a written declaration saying that you intend to return to the country of your father’s birth (India) in future, so how can your wife claim both of those things? They can’t both be true.

    Well and truly scuppered.

  15. hefner
    July 14, 2022

    I would take Lord Frost’s today’s comments very lightly: he might have been very assiduous attending the UK-EU talks from 11/02/2020 when he got the job of chief negotiator, but are the TCA and the NIP he brought back from Brussels at the end of 2020 such wonderful pieces of diplomacy?
    He can obviously say that he missed the contribution of Ms Mordaunt, but he was the main negotiator. So as a leader in these negotiations what did he do about it?
    Then isn’t it interesting that over these last six months he has been trying to pretend that the hiccups in the relationship between the UK and the EU (particularly related to the NIP) have absolutely nothing to do with him?

    He does not look like much of a leader to me … and as such I would think he is just playing a bit of ‘dark arts’ for whoever his boss now is.

  16. Original Richard
    July 15, 2022

    XY :

    You may well be right but the current procedure for electing the CP leader is such that all the candidates must first be selected by the Conservative MPs and unfortunately a majority of CP MPs do not accurately represent the desires and views of the party members.

    So there just may be a small chance that one of the two winning candidates may be hiding their true views to the other CP MPs and will declare an enhanced manifesto to the party members.

    It might explain why there has been no discussion on immigration, Net Zero or the OHB.

    On the other hand, perhaps not….

    Reply I along with nine other MPs did interview each of the candidates and of course raised these issues.

  17. Donna
    July 15, 2022

    Whatever the quote for restoration currently is, by the time the works are finished I predict it will have trebled. But hey ….. it’s only taxpayers money so that doesn’t matter, any more than the tripling of the cost of the HS2 white elephant mattered. Tax, print, borrow and squander.

    And for what? To accommodate an unelected, unaccountable and unrepresentative House of Frauds …… stuffed with titled and entitled anti-democrats who think votes are only to be counted if they deliver the result THEY want.
    And a House of Commons selected by a Party System, which is intended to ensure that no-one who would really implement some badly needed changes gets selected, to “represent” their Constituency and who then get elected by a system of FPTP which means the vast majority of votes are irrelevant.

    Hence we end up with the likes of Sunak: mega-wealthy, a Socialist-Globalist with a Green Card and a Non-Dom wife supposedly “representing” a Constituency in the north ……. and trying to make a virtue of promising to be the “more of the same” candidate if he becomes Prime Minister.

  18. Sea_Warrior
    July 15, 2022

    Why on earth does a building repair project need legislative underpinning?

  19. G.Wheatley
    July 15, 2022

    All this started off at £7 billion. How much are we talking about it being now?

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