MPs to leave Parliament for six years while it gets a face-lift

Helen Cahill
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London Landmarks At Night
Work is needed on the historic buildings (Source: Getty)

MPs are set to clear out of Parliament while it gets refurbished over a six-year period.

According the The Times, politicians will be leaving their historic headquarters and moving into the Department of Health at Richmond House, where MPs will not be able to buy booze.

The building is owned by financiers from the Middle East who have bought into a government-issued Islamic bond that states no alcohol can be sold in the building. Former Prime Minister David Cameron created the bond in 2013 to attract money from Islamic investors who can't buy into interest-paying government bonds because of religious restrictions against usury.

Read more: Now people want to move the Houses of Parliament to Bristol

Some MPs had proposed nationalising the Red Lion pub in Whitehall to get around the problem, but the move was reportedly blocked by Fuller's Inns, the pub's owners, and a parliamentary subcommittee also ruled out the idea.

It's the first time MPs have had to leave the Palace of Westminster since it was bombed during the Second World War. The £4bn restoration of the gothic building will take place from 2020, and moving the MPs will make the renovations far easier - the work would take 30 years if MPs stayed put.

Read more: The Houses of Parliament as you've never seen them before

Staff at the Department of Health will be shuffled over to buildings in Victoria next year. MPs will then have three years to fashion Richmond House into a functional parliament with a debating chamber.

There have been plenty of ideas about what to do with MPs while the renovations take place. Campaigners previously fought for MPs to be moved to Hull so the Houses of Parliament could be converted into flats. Then, a Bristol architect suggested parliamentarians moved to (yes, you guessed it) Bristol.

But this solution is definitely better than both those ideas.

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