House of Commons hits back on row over Big Ben's bongs

Courtney Goldsmith
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Big Ben's iconic bongs will be missed (Source: Getty)

Starting and stopping Big Ben every day would be impractical and a bad use of public money, a spokesperson for the House of Commons said today.

The iconic clock is due to go silent for four years from Monday as the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the clock, undergoes renovation work.

Prime Minister Theresa May joined the debate over stopping the bongs today, telling speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow he should "urgently" review the proposals and that it "can't be right" for Big Ben to sit silent for four years.

A spokesperson for the House of Commons said starting and stopping Big Ben is a complex and lengthy process, taking around half a day to complete.

"Following a thorough assessment, experts have concluded that it would not be practical or a good use of public money to start and stop the bells each day, particularly as we cannot fully predict the times that staff will be working on this project."

The House of Commons Commission will consider the length of time that the bells will fall silent when parliament returns, they said.

"Of course, any discussion will focus on undertaking the work efficiently, protecting the health and safety of those involved, and seeking to ensure resumption of normal service as soon as is practicable given those requirements.

"Big Ben’s bongs are an integral part of parliamentary life and we will ensure that they can resume their role as the nation’s timekeeper as soon as possible."

Read more: Big Ben's bongs are about to be silenced

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