Last Wednesday there was a long debate to talk about the refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster which of course has been something that has been debated for a very long time. There were a number of very interestingly bizarre or out of touch comments but inevitably and thankfully there were also some very sensible comments as well. The debate was began and ended by Jacob Rees-Mogg and his responsibility for the following issues is clear. However we need him to start to take that seriously. One comment came from the MP for Nottingham South, Lilian Greenwood who made several useful comments but started with this “I do wonder if our constituents will be shaking their heads in disbelief that we are devoting an afternoon to this debate when parliamentary time is so limited to discuss the severe threat to their lives and livelihoods.” and indeed there was a very useful reminder of the need for more focus on issues that matter to us when this morning at 00.36 an email arrived stating:
Dear Ian Chisnall,
You recently signed the petition “Publish the Russia report”:
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300059 The newly-established Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has confirmed it will publish the report of its predecessor Committee into alleged Russian interference in UK elections on Tuesday 21 July. You can read the report here from 10.30am on 21 July: http://isc.independent.gov.uk/committee-reports.
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament
It is certainly very clear that we need our Parliament (it is ours, not something that belongs to the political parties) to start to act in a credible and honest manner. This Russian report which has been closed down for nearly nine months is a classic example of how badly they operate. Another of course is the terrible way that Dominic Cummings has been given the power to operate even though no one votes for him and he is clearly not willing to be held accountable. Whilst a great many of us want the premises to get restored and renewed, the reality is that when it is being used in such a negative way as at present, that it might as well be a carboard box in the middle of London or actually in the middle of our country. However some of Lilian’s other words are worth reading
The first is that our short electoral cycles can make it difficult to take decisions about long-term projects that necessarily span several Parliaments. Incoming Governments have a tendency to re-examine, and sometimes reverse, the decisions of previous ones. Even when they end up reaching the same conclusions, additional time and uncertainty have inevitably added cost. I am afraid to say that reviews are sometimes undertaken to deliberately avoid or delay difficult decisions. We cannot afford to duck or delay restoration and renewal…..It has already taken many years to devise the restoration and renewal programme and to set up the organisations to deliver it. We cannot afford to go back to square one because, as has been said, this place is falling apart faster than it can be fixed. As the House of Commons Commission said in October 2012:
“doing nothing is not an option.”
Eight years on, doing something has only become more pressing. As the Prime Minister recognised in his letter to the review yesterday, there is a need to
“move as quickly as possible, both because of the risks associated with the current state of the building and the need to provide certainty on the way forward“.
And a few minutes later she stated
I wish to make two final points, returning to my reflections on fixing our transport infrastructure. The first is that doing the minimum does not work—our patched and potholed roads are testament to that. Reacting to each problem as it arises is inefficient, costly and disruptive. Long-term planned refurbishment provides better value for money and a better result. Secondly, trying to carry out substantial works without moving out of the building risks making the work much more difficult and costly, and risks serious disruption to parliamentary activities.
The reality is our Parliament needs to start by working in an effective and honest manner responding to the expecations of all of the constituents. It needs to begin by restoring and renewing our democracy and then at the same time it needs to restore and renew the premises and I agree entirely with Lilian Greenwood.