Build­ing work ‘may prompt lords to re­tire’

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Ed­ward Mal­nick WHITE­HALL ED­I­TOR

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.”

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