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Governance

The Commission members of the two Houses of Parliament have made a united commitment to preserve the Palace of Westminster for future generations.

At a specially convened joint meeting on Thursday (17 March), the Commission members agreed a new approach to the Restoration and Renewal programme that recognises not only their collective duty as custodians of the globally iconic building – part of a UNESCO World Heritage site – but also their responsibility to ensure the safety of all those who work in and visit the Palace.

In 2018, resolutions agreed by both Houses of Parliament stated that the “best and most cost-effective way” to carry out restoration and renewal of the Palace was for everyone to move out temporarily. Both Houses then passed legislation - the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019 - which provides for a governance structure that enables strong oversight, challenge and direction.

The Sponsor Body, which was set up to oversee the work of the Delivery Authority, is the single client accountable to Parliament, and is responsible for adopting governance and assurance functions in line with Treasury guidance. It will seek value for money for the taxpayer at every stage.

Proposed changes to the Programme approach

The Commission members of the two Houses of Parliament have made a united commitment to preserve the Palace of Westminster for future generations.

At a specially convened joint meeting on Thursday (17 March) 2022, the Commission members agreed a new approach to the Restoration and Renewal programme that recognises not only their collective duty as custodians of the globally iconic building – part of a UNESCO World Heritage site – but also their responsibility to ensure the safety of all those who work in and visit the Palace.The joint meeting was organised following concerns over the emerging costs and timescales of the existing approach, and programme governance.Following discussions, the Commission members agreed the new approach would be guided by the following parameters:  a) A primary commitment to health and safety, including fire safety;b) Ensuring lessons from previous project activity are embedded in future project activity;c) Works to improve mechanical, electrical and other essential systems should be prioritised;d) A shorter life expectancy for the completed works should be considered (i.e. the infrastructure might require further renewal or ongoing upgrades in future decades rather than the current underpinning assumption to avoid this);e) A wider range of options to decant Members and staff from areas of the building affected by the works needs to be considered;f) There must be a more integrated and cohesive approach between R&R works and other critical works on the Parliamentary estate;g) Different levels of ambition for programme scope should be considered to ensure maximum value for money;h) There should be a broader range and a greater number of options for delivering the works developed prior to down-selection of final options;i) An incremental approach to the works and the funding should be considered, in line with standard practice for many major public works.The Commission members agreed to seek independent advice and assurance on the new approach to the works, as well as on proposals to take forward the Commissions’ decisions to replace the Sponsor Body. They also asked the Delivery Authority to place a high priority on continuing with the already planned programme of intrusive surveys, and other necessary work to inform future decisions, as swiftly as possible.A revised mandate for the works and changes to the sponsorship function will be sought from the two Houses, which is currently planned to take place before the summer recess.

House of Commons and Lords Commissions

All final decisions are subject to amending the 2019 Act through both Houses. Once the two Commissions are agreed, both Houses will be asked to endorse the Commission’s recommendations. There will then be a transition period through 2022, please see the Transition sections below for further information. Minutes from both Commissions can be found in the quick links below. 

The Houses’ Commissions met jointly on 17 March to discuss the future of the restoration. They agreed a list of new parameters that would form the basis for a proposed new mandate to be put to the Houses in the summer. The full joint statement is available here.

Relationship with Parliament

The R&R Programme will continue to work very closely with Parliament. The broad principles of how the Sponsor Body will work together with Parliament are set out in the Parliamentary Relationship Agreement (PRA).

The aim is to ensure that both House administrations and the Sponsor Body have clearly defined arrangements for their respective roles, responsibilities and activities. This includes consultation and co-operation between parties; responsibility for the buildings and arrangements for handing them back after the work is complete.

The Member Consultation Strategy sets out how the Sponsor Body will engage MPs and Lords regarding its work.

Read the Parliamentary Relationship Agreement here:

Read the Member Consultation Strategy here:

Working together

The working relationship between the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority is set out in a Programme Delivery Agreement (PDA).

Read the Programme Delivery Agreement here:

Business case and funding

Each year the Delivery Authority will propose an annual budget to the Sponsor Board. The Board will satisfy itself that the budget is reasonable, reflects the Business Case and represents value for money. The Parliamentary Buildings Act also establishes a separate statutory body called the Estimates Commission, which will assess the Sponsor Body’s proposed annual expenditure for the whole programme. The Commission will have four members appointed by each House: two MPs and two Lords.

The Commission will seek the views of the Treasury before laying the estimate before the House of Commons for its decision.

Supported by the Delivery Authority, the Sponsor Body will produce an Outline Business Case for the Restoration and Renewal programme. Once all the requirements have been gathered, the scope has been determined, and the investigations are complete and designs agreed, the proposed approach to the works and costs will be put before both Houses for a decision.