All 3 Lindsay Hoyle contributions to the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019

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Tue 21st May 2019
Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons
Wed 19th Jun 2019
Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill
Commons Chamber

3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons

Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill Debate

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Department: Leader of the House

Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons
Tuesday 21st May 2019

(5 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Francois Portrait Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con)
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On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I apologise profusely to my right hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), but I hope he will understand.

Yesterday at Defence questions, Mr Speaker made it very plain that, because of all the speculation in the media about changes to the legal protection of veterans, he expected the Ministry of Defence to make an oral statement in the House today. It elected not to do so and instead put a written statement on the Order Paper this morning. I have just treble-checked in the Library, and that statement has still not been made available at almost 4 o’clock. In all the years I have been in this House, I have never known a written statement not to turn up by 4 pm.

This is symptomatic of a three-way war between No. 10, the Northern Ireland Office and the MOD about who is in charge of veterans policy. Could you try to overcome this chaos in Whitehall and use your best offices to find out when today—if, indeed, at all—we will be given the written statement on this critical issue that we have been promised all day?

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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The right hon. Gentleman has raised a very important matter and, absolutely, the veterans of this country need to know what is going on. Promises have been made to this House, and I do not think it is acceptable that no written ministerial statement has been laid. However, it has now been raised, and I am sure people will look into this as a matter of urgency and find out where this written ministerial statement is. I hope that it will soon be available for all Members—I am hoping it is only seconds or minutes away—because I too do not understand why, at this time of day, it has not been laid for Members to take it on board. I am sure this will now be looked at as a matter of urgency.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Francois
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Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I apologise to the House and to you, but because I had come hot-foot from the Library, when I first rose I had not noticed that the Leader of the House was in her place. I do not know whether she could rise briefly to explain to the House the inexcusable delay of this critical WMS that affects veterans across the United Kingdom. Can she perhaps assist us?

Andrea Leadsom Portrait Andrea Leadsom
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Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I can say that I am very sympathetic to my right hon. Friend, and I am afraid I do not have an answer, but I will pursue this straightaway.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker
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The message is out there. Let us look forward to an early written ministerial statement.

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh
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I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) for not waiting until I had sat down, and I will now try to get back on track.

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Meg Hillier Portrait Meg Hillier
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The Comptroller and Auditor General at the National Audit Office is coming to the end of his term at the end of this month, and one item on my list of things to talk to the new Comptroller and Auditor General about is ensuring that there is a good and thorough process. Of course the National Audit Office does an excellent job, but we need to ensure that this is on its radar in the right timeframe and that we work up a way of ensuring that everything works effectively. We need to get in early to ensure that costs are not suddenly ramped up at the end.

I need to talk a bit about costs, and I will come to that in a moment. Other Select Committees will of course have the chance to examine these issues and, as the Leader of the House has said, there will be a further chance for this House to have a say in 2021. It is important that we build in scrutiny of the evaluation of, for example, the jobs and the money and of where the contracts are being let. In our speeches today, we have all been putting pressure on the Sponsor Body seriously to consider having a mechanism for ensuring that the wealth opportunities from this huge, amazing, international project are shared fairly across the UK wherever possible, and we must ensure that it is held to account for any pledges that it makes. We will hold its feet to the fire on this, and other Select Committees will have a role in that regard as well.

I want to touch on the northern estate. My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, who is no longer in his place, suggested that it might be better not to glue that project to the main Palace project. However, my Committee believes that it is pretty vital that the Sponsor Body manages both projects, because they are so interconnected. The fact that the cloisters have now been empty for 18 months even though that was an urgent project is not a demonstration of a lack of will—there are many issues involved—but with all goodwill to the Clerks the House, they are not project managers of major projects. The whole point about the Sponsor Body is that it will have the expertise to hold those who deliver these big projects to account and to ensure that they get on with it. It is important that we also hand over the northern estate to a body of people who really have that expertise.

I am pleased that the Ministry of Defence car park issue now seems to be resolved, as it was getting ludicrous. The Committee was horrified to discover that a delay in that area could have meant a three-year delay and hundreds of millions of pounds in extra costs. We will also get future office space and more flexibility over the buildings as a result of any new buildings on the northern estate.

I remember when I visited New South Wales—I was there on holiday; this was not done at the taxpayer’s expense—I went to the head of the Sydney Olympics and was given the opportunity to visit the New South Wales culture minister. They had an amazing project to work with local businesses to help them to get ready to bid for projects on the Sydney Olympics. This helped businesses to learn how to procure and to work out a whole list of everything that would be needed on the Olympics. I would urge the Sponsor Body to adopt a similar approach, so that hon. Members who have already expressed an interest in bringing business, opportunities and work to their constituencies can show their local businesses what will be needed. For example, we will need to know how many wood carvers and stone carvers will be needed, so that the people out there who know how to do those things can gear up and be ready when bidding for that work starts.

I want to finish by talking about the important issue of costs. We need to nail them down, but we must not rush to pluck a figure from the air. The costs that we have been talking about so far—around the £4 billion mark—were indicative figures based on 2014 prices. They are not the true cost of establishing the work necessary to improve this building. That cannot be known until the business case has been worked up and we actually discover what is behind things. There will be a number of known unknowns, because every time we remove a bit of wood panelling there may be asbestos behind it. We just do not know, because the building’s plans are not accurate. There will need to be figures in the business case, but a proper contingency must also be built in that will have to be explained to the Sponsor Body in case the Delivery Authority needs to draw on it, and the relevant bodies need to be held firmly to account. To put inaccurate figures out now would be unhelpful, and we must ensure—the Leader of the House will be on this—that the figures are in the realms of reality.

No matter how expensive the project is, we must be honest with the taxpaying public about what is being spent. However, there will be no blank cheque. The Public Accounts Committee, under my watch or that of any successor, will keep a close eye on things, as will Members of this House, but we need to get on with the project now. We need to get the Sponsor Body in place, and it needs to appoint the Delivery Authority. I congratulate the Leader of the House on, I hope, getting us to a consensus tonight.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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I am going to bring in the Opposition spokesman for his first appearance at the Dispatch Box since his election in 2001. I see that he has quite an audience. I call Mark Tami.

Mark Tami Portrait Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab)
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Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. As you say, it is my first appearance at the Dispatch Box in 18 years—12 years as a Whip. I nearly got here on a Friday when the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) had a Bill. I was ready and primed, but he did not actually move the Bill, so there we are. Things come to those who wait. I also thank Matt Chorley at The Times “Red Box” newsletter for making my appearance his trivia question of the day.

I should state that I am a member of the shadow Sponsor Body, and it is a pleasure to serve on it with several other Members. I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part in today’s proceedings. The tone of the debate has been positive, which reflects the growing understanding that this project cannot wait. We really must get on with it and establish the appropriate governance arrangements.

Some Members have suggested that this not the right time to be doing this, which I suppose is understandable, but to some extent that is why we are here now. Quite frankly, it has never been the right time to do it. I can understand that Governments of whatever colour could say, “Well, we’d rather leave it to somebody else,” but that is what we have been doing since the second world war, when the roof and various other work was bodged, and we are paying the price for that today. If we had addressed some of those concerns many years ago, we may not be facing the problems that we have today.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) made some important points about planning, which I certainly have worries about. We must keep a firm eye on planning to ensure that it does not hold up the project, because if the northern estate project is delayed, everything else will suffer and the timescales will slip, as they have already.

The right hon. Member for Meriden (Dame Caroline Spelman), with whom I had the pleasure of serving on the Joint Committee on the Draft Parliamentary Buildings Bill, raised some important points, referring to the growing risk of delay. Like several other Members, she mentioned disability issues and the importance of doing whatever we can to make this place as disability-friendly as possible.

Now, where do I start with the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart)? I will be honest with him that he was fairly far down my list of people to vote for to be Speaker, but the idea of making him live in this place is suddenly very appealing.

The right hon. Member for Derbyshire Dales (Sir Patrick McLoughlin) spoke in great detail about some of the considerable problems we have to face. The hon. Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford), with whom I have the pleasure of serving on the Administration Committee, stated how important it is to consider how people view this place—not only in this country, but around the world—and that the northern estate project should be placed under the Sponsor Body’s responsibility as soon as possible. The hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Neil Gray), who like me has had the pleasure of serving on every R and R body so far, told us of his desire to have a modern Parliament within the current structures.

The right hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) raised his concerns about slippage and what he saw as the complex nature of the project’s governance. I agree with what he and other Members said about the cloisters. Speaking as the Opposition accommodation Whip, moving people out and causing all those problems only for us to walk past it every day to see that, in fact, nothing is happening is a lesson that we should learn for the future.

The hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone) told us of his experience in the Scottish Parliament, which is useful, although I do not think we will be taking his advice on buying desks. My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) spoke of the need for honesty in costs and for getting on with addressing the problems we face.

A number of years ago, many of us believed that we could somehow carry on doing the work around us, but the evidence clearly points otherwise. Importantly, as a number of Members said, it is not just about us in the Chamber or those in the other place; it is about the thousands of people who work here—many of them work longer hours than we do at the moment—and the more than a million people who visit this place every year.

From a health and safety point of view, this building is simply not fit for purpose. We need to restore and renew it to be fit for the 21st century. I would suggest to any Member who has not done so that they visit the basement to view the extent of the challenge facing us. It is not just below ground; it is above ground, too. A number of Members have spoken about how masonry is falling on a fairly regular basis, and we need only look at the netting around the building to understand the threat.

The biggest threat, and a number of Members have mentioned this, is fire. Although a lot of work has been done, we need only look at the terrible events at Notre Dame to realise how quickly a fire can take hold and threaten not only the entire structure of the building but, importantly, the people who work in it.

A key component of the proposed decant is the completion of the northern estate programme, which has perhaps gone somewhat under the radar, with a lot of the focus being on the Palace itself. The public consultation is under way, and I am sure many hon. Members have taken the opportunity to view the model or diorama—I never know the correct term—of Richmond House and the northern estate. I encourage Members who have not seen it to do so.

It is a bold design that will provide a positive legacy, with a building that can be adapted for a variety of uses, as well as office accommodation for Members of this House. There will be a second Chamber that we can hold in reserve, and we could use it for conferences and a whole host of uses that the Leader of the House has mentioned. It certainly will not be a white elephant. I think it will be a very useful part of this House.

I accept that the proposals for Richmond House are controversial and have generated interest. Some have argued that we should go to a different location, but I can assure the House, as the Leader of the House did, that a considerable amount of work went into considering numerous other locations. Again, if purely from a security point of view, Richmond House makes so much sense because it can easily be brought within the secure zone, which is a requirement that is, unfortunately, now far more important than it would have been a number of years ago—it is one of the key things that we have to think about. It is about protecting not only us, as Members, but all the people who work here, too.

We need to press ahead as quickly as possible with the northern estate project, which is central to the whole R and R programme. I am delighted to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch that the dreaded MOD car park question will hopefully be solved, or has been solved, which should lessen the delay we were facing.

I would like to press the Minister on a key aspect of the R and R programme, about which a number of Members have spoken: legacy. I do not just mean the buildings, although they are important. I mean legacy in terms of the skills and apprenticeships that the programme will deliver—a legacy that should stretch far beyond London and the south-east.

The programme must be open to employees of businesses large and small across the UK. The procurement process needs to be fair and transparent, with companies across the country bidding for work. I hope that roadshows will go around the country explaining the opportunities. We cannot have a situation in which contracts are given to the same companies as always, which those giving the contracts are comfortable with. For all the talk about stretching out there, the rules and regulations can effectively debar smaller companies from entering the process.

This project may be based in London, but it must not be London-centric. Legacy must include better access for the public, improved educational facilities and the creation of new outreach spaces. As numerous Members have said, we must also make sure that the building is made as disabled-friendly as possible. That includes removing small stairways where we do not need them and also relates to the noise within the building. There are also issues that I had not thought about, to be frank. For partially sighted Members, clear glass doors with nothing on them are a major problem—we may think they look nice, but they can be a major obstacle. People across the House should be involved in looking at what we are going to do.

My personal experience as a member of the shadow Sponsor Board is that external board members—including Liz Peace, the excellent chair, who has been mentioned—play a positive and important role. Continuity is so important. I agree with other Members that there does not seem to be an allowance to enable existing members to go into the statutory body; they would have to go back through the process they went through a year ago. The danger is that we could lose that vital experience at a critical time for the project. At this point, I want to put on the record my thanks to Tom Healey, who has served the shadow Sponsor Board as director and is now returning to the House. He is a hard-working chap who has served us very well. I wish him all the best for the future.

In his opening remarks, my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Christian Matheson) highlighted five key areas to which I hope the Government will respond. The Opposition welcome the Bill today, and I wish it speedy progress. We have put off this vital work for 70 or perhaps 100 years. Let us be bold, let us be brave, and above all let us get on with it.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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Before I call the Minister, I want to make an announcement. There was a point of order about the written statement from the Ministry of Defence. It is not online, but copies are now available for Members to read.

Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Wednesday 19th June 2019

(5 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Amendments as at 19 June 2019 - (19 Jun 2019)
Mark Tami Portrait Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab)
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I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 1, in clause 2, page 2, line 16, at end insert—

“(f) 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.”

Amendment 6, page 2, line 21, at end insert—

“(h) to undertake, and publish, an annual audit of the companies that have been awarded contracts for the Parliamentary building works, with a view to establishing their size and geographical location.”

Amendment 7, page 2, line 44, leave out “desirability of ensuring” and insert “need to ensure”.

This amendment requires the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body, in exercising its functions, to have regard to the need to ensure that educational and other facilities are provided for people visiting the Palace of Westminster (rather than requiring it to have regard to the desirability of ensuring that such facilities are provided).

Amendment 4, page 2, line 46, at end insert—

“(h) the need to ensure that economic benefits of the Parliamentary building works are delivered across the nations and regions of the United Kingdom, in terms of contracts for works and in any other way the Sponsor Board considers appropriate.”

Amendment 5, page 2, line 46, at end insert—

“(h) the need to conserve and sustain the outstanding architectural, archaeological and historical significance of the Palace of Westminster, including the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Site.”

Amendment 8, in schedule 1, page 10, line 20, at end insert—

“( ) See also paragraph 7A, which makes provision about the appointment of the first external members.”

This amendment signposts the new paragraph 7A inserted by amendment 9 (which deals with the appointment of the first external members of the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body).

Amendment 9, page 12, line 2, at end insert—

Appointment of initial external members

7A (1) The person who, immediately before the commencement day, was the chair of the shadow Sponsor Body is to be treated as having been appointed on that day as the chair of the Sponsor Body in accordance with paragraph 2.

(2) Appointment by virtue of sub-paragraph (1) is to be treated as being for a term of 3 years.

(3) A person who, immediately before the commencement day—

(a) was a member of the shadow Sponsor Body (other than the chair), and

(b) was not a member of either House of Parliament,

is to be treated as having been appointed on that day as a member of the Sponsor Body in accordance with paragraph 3 (external members).

(4) Appointment by virtue of sub-paragraph (3) is to be treated as being for a term ending with the last day of the period of 3 years beginning with the day on which the shadow Sponsor Body was established.

(5) An appointment by virtue of sub-paragraph (1) or (3) ceases to have effect at the end of the period of 1 month beginning with the commencement day unless, before the end of that period, the appointment is confirmed by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(6) Paragraphs 2, 3 and 6 do not apply in relation to a member who is appointed by virtue of sub-paragraph (1) or (3).

(7) In this paragraph—

“the commencement day” means the day on which section 2(1) comes into force;

“the shadow Sponsor Body” means the body, established in July 2018 in connection with the restoration of the Palace of Westminster, which is known as the shadow Sponsor Body.”

This amendment provides for those who were external members of the shadow Sponsor Body immediately before clause 2 comes into force to be appointed as the first external members of the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body.

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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Order. We need to keep to the Bill and the amendments. I know that a man of great stature like the right hon. Gentleman would not wish to lead the House where it is not supposed to go. I think that he was giving way to Mark Tami.

Mark Tami Portrait Mark Tami
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To reinforce your point, Mr Deputy Speaker, I was about to say that we have had these arguments for ever and a day. We could have them again, but this debate is about the governance.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker
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Hence I am sure Sir John will now go back to where he wanted to be.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood
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I am very willing to do so. As I say, I welcome the principle that where works are conducted, there needs to be a proper audit. However, I go back to the intervention that I made at the start of the debate, when I said that any audit should also look at the policy, because I note that the legislation we are being asked to approve today makes it very clear that the policy has not been finalised. We are setting up authorities and bodies to sort out both the policy and the implementation, so I submit that the audit must apply to the policy as well as to the implementation.

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Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil
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My colleague and good friend is making a powerful speech. In describing the raid on the Scottish lottery budgets at the time of the Olympics, he is highlighting that what is happening here is another not very well disguised London subsidy from the pockets of Scottish taxpayers. This is why the Union is creaking. I say to Scottish Tory MPs who acquiesce in this: “You are not Unionists if you are doing this; you are submissionists. You should be making sure that Scotland gets its fair share of any subsidy that goes to London.”

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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Order. Come on—let’s stick to what the debate is about.

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray
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Mr Deputy Speaker, I thought it was a perfectly reasonable intervention.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker
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I am the judge of that, not you, Mr Gray. Come on!

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray
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Returning to the London Olympics, at the time, 4,200 Scottish companies registered their interest in providing services, while fewer than 200 actually secured any business. Most galling of all was that £135 million of legacy funding was made available for grassroots sport, but to be distributed by sports governing bodies south of the border. No extra funding was made available for Scottish sports governing bodies. There is no doubt that that experience left a bitter taste. We are not here to debate the London Olympics, but that is the last major infrastructure project similar in status to the restoration and renewal project, which is London-based, without full Barnett consequentials and with a similar delivery model—I will come back to that.

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Craig Mackinlay Portrait Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) (Con)
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The hon. Gentleman is making the case that there is too much capital expenditure in London and the south-east on this project. I remind him of the massive expenditure on the two aircraft carriers built in Rosyth in southern Scotland, at enormous expense for the Union’s taxpayers, for the benefit of Scottish companies and Scottish labour.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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Order. We have a debate on amendments and Members are meant to be speaking to those amendments. I am not going to let the debate drift wherever people decide they want it to drift to. We will now go back to Mr Neil Gray. We need to get back to where we should be.

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray
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Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have been referring to a relevant project, which was similar in status to the one under discussion today and one from which we should have learnt lessons. My colleagues and I have done our very best to be constructive in all our dealings on this issue, but there will come a point where we will have to ask for how long we can be ignored on an issue of fundamental importance to us, which is the fair share of resources. I fully expect this project to go beyond £10 billion, when all is said and done. If the project is Barnett-ised, that would mean a transfer just shy of £1 billion to Scotland. Right now, the Government are unwilling to contemplate not only some form of capital investment spin-off, but even a subtle instruction to the Sponsor Board to ensure contracts are secured across the UK. That is not acceptable and there must be a revision of that approach.

On the other amendments, we will support Labour’s amendment 1 on blacklisting companies. Amendment 5 is a little bit concerning for me. I understand the intention from the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), but as I have said before this project will throw up irreconcilable conflicts which will make for very difficult decisions. One will be the conflict between access for members of the public versus heritage. Amendment 5, as well-intentioned as it may be, will make it far more difficult to make this place more accessible to disabled people. Besides, if this is just going to be a project to empty everything out and return it all back as it was but a bit cleaner, then what on earth is the point? The building contributes to the culture here, which is elitist, inaccessible and out of date, and that must change. We support amendment 6 as a way of improving the Bill, but it does not in itself satisfy our desire for greater emphasis to be placed on the Sponsor Board and the Delivery Authority to ensure the project has discernible UK-wide benefits.

In conclusion, I intend to press my cross-party amendment 4 to a Division to test the willingness of the Government to do more than just talk about this being a UK-wide project. We have seen what happens in the past: they are no such thing. We need concrete action to confirm that.

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Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton
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—and we should have part of that story—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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Order. It might be more helpful to the Chamber if the hon. Gentlemen had this discussion afterwards.

Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton
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If the hon. Gentleman turned up to meetings of the all-party parliamentary archaeology group more often, we could have the discussion there.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker
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It has nothing to do with what we are discussing, or listening to, in respect of the Bill.

Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton
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That table is part of the heritage of this place. It is thought that it may have been broken up by Cromwell to symbolise the fact that the monarchy was over and the new rule had begun. It is a really important part of the Palace’s heritage, and I think that it should be brought back from the museum and displayed here, with a considered explanation of where its origins and historical significance may lie.

If we look at the façade of the whole Palace, we see, for instance, the inspiration that came from the Henry VII chapel in Westminster Abbey, going back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

It is remarkable that what I have described in those few vignettes has made this such an important building, and continues to contribute to its importance. People come here not just to see the building with all its wonderful statues, carvings and other features, but to see the living embodiment of a Parliament that is working and doing its daily business in this place. Much of what we discuss is relevant to what we can see in the basement, in the roof, in Westminster Hall or in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft.

After detailed evidence sessions, the Joint Committee concluded that the Bill should

“recognise the significant heritage which the Palace of Westminster embodies.”

The Government welcomed that recommendation in principle, and said that they would look into it further; but alas, since then—as we heard earlier from my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Dame Caroline Spelman)—we have heard no new arguments for not listing heritage in the Bill.

I know that the Minister will argue that the considerations that I am trying to insert in the Bill are covered by planning law, and by the various agencies—English Heritage, as was, and others—which will have an input. However, things that have happened in the past have led to the neglect or destruction of major features in the House. I think it is crucial—and sensible—that when the Sponsor Body is carrying out all its other important functions, someone should be able to ask, “And how does that preserve, or promote, or make more accessible or available or better explain, the archaeological, historical and architectural importance of this building?” That is all I am asking. I do not think it unreasonable, and I think that many others, in another place, will advance a similar argument. Many of them have, perhaps, been in the Palace for many more centuries than I have, and will talk with more authority.

Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill Debate

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Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Kevin Foster Portrait The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Kevin Foster)
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I beg to move, That this House agrees with Lords amendment 1.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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With this it will be convenient to consider Lords amendments 2 to 12.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster
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Given the wide consensus that the Bill has attracted, I do not propose to go on too long—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] It is nice to be liked. The Government committed to bring the spirit of several amendments that were supported in this House on Report to the other place, with appropriate wording and at the appropriate place in the Bill. We are pleased that these amendments were also supported in the other place and are now included in the Bill. They include an amendment on heritage, which was brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) and requires that, in exercising its functions, the Sponsor Body must have regard to the special architectural, archaeological and historical significance of the Palace of Westminster.

As agreed in the House, the Bill now places a duty on the Sponsor Body to require the Delivery Authority, when considering the awarding of a contract in respect of the carrying of the parliamentary building works, to have regard to the prospective contractor’s policy relating to corporate social responsibility and their policies and procedures relating to employment, including in relation to the blacklisting of employees. I am especially grateful for the collaborative approach and constructive contribution of the hon. Member for City of Chester (Christian Matheson) in formulating that amendment.

The Bill now provides that the reports prepared by the Sponsor Body must be laid before Parliament and must include information about persons to whom contracts in respect of the carrying out of the parliamentary building works have been awarded, in particular with regard to their size and the areas in which they operate. I am particularly grateful to the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) for her collaboration in formatting that amendment.

Lastly, in exercising its functions, the Sponsor Body must now have regard to the need to ensure that opportunities to secure economic or other benefits of the parliamentary building works are available in all areas of the United Kingdom. I would particularly like to thank the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Neil Gray) for collaborating on that amendment and for his work as a member of the shadow Sponsor Body.

I am sure that the House welcomes the fulfilment of the Government’s commitments to the House that these amendments would be included in the Bill at the appropriate place and appropriately drafted. Other amendments passed in the Lords and are now included in the Bill, and I consider that they echo the will of the House, particularly as they build on the recommendations of the prelegislative Joint Committee. There are also minor technical amendments that ensure consistent references to the parliamentary building works in clause 2(5).

In summary, the Bill has benefited from close scrutiny both by the Joint Committee and during its passage through both Houses. I hope the House, having considered the amendments passed in the other place, will concur with them and support the passing of the Bill as it stands, so that we can progress with these important works and secure the home of this United Kingdom Parliament for future generations.