Building work ‘may prompt lords to retire’
SCORES of peers could retire if they are moved out of the Palace of Westminster to allow for a major refurbishment of the building.
Senior figures expect a “rush” of permanent departures if members of the Lords lose access to the 19th century building’s debating chamber, offices, restaurants and libraries.
The disclosure comes as peers prepare to vote on plans, approved by MPs last week, to move out of the palace for six years to allow a long-awaited restoration project to take place. Some peers are expected to attempt to block the plans over concerns about having to “decant” to an alternative building while the works are carried out. But a former clerk of the House of Commons warned that MPs and peers are “stewards” of the building and have a duty to allow the repairs.
Addressing peers about the “decant” plan, and a separate official report set- ting out proposals to reduce the size of the House from more than 800 to 600, Lord Blencathra, a former Conservative chief whip, said: “I have in mind the possibility of decanting out of Parliament to the [Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster] in 2023 or 2024 ... I suspect that there may be a big rush of peers wishing to retire then.”