Could Parliament burn down? The experts think so

In 1605 the Gunpowder Plot nearly blew up the Houses of Parliament and once again it is at risk of burning down.

The Palace of Westminster is in desperate need of restoration, repair and fire-proofing to mitigate the risk of fire. The director of Parliament's renewal and restoration programme, Dr Richard Ware said: "We don't have the kind of fire containment - 'compartmentalisation' - that is normally recommended for historic buildings. What that means is that if a fire ever took hold, we would get everybody out but we couldn't necessarily be sure of saving the building."

Proposals are under review, and if they get the go-ahead, parliamentarians may have to move elsewhere in 2020 for as long as five or six years. Although a detailed budget is not expected to be drawn up until 2018, the estimated cost is upwards of 3.5 billion. The shocking cost alone has driven some to protest while others see it as a great opportunity to re-locate Parliament in a cheaper part of the country and save the tax payer millions.

For MPs and civil servants who rent in Westminster it could make a big difference. Westminster is currently the least affordable part of England and Wales to rent, with private rent representing 73.4% of gross monthly salaries, with the annual wage in the borough £37,909.

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