Houses of Parliament
The committee estimated that the repair work to the world heritage site could cost taxpayers up to £3.9m over the six years. iStock

The world famous Palace of Westminster is facing "catastrophic failure" because of repair delays to the London landmark, a group of MPs warned on Friday (10 March).

The House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said peers and MPs should move out of the historic building for six years so that urgent renovation work can be completed.

"The Palace of Westminster is in urgent need of repair and major work will be required to make it fit for use by Parliament and the public for generations to come," said Labour's Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC.

"Delaying a decision on how that work should be carried out will only add to the costs and risks. In our view that decision should be to endorse a full decant. This is our best chance to keep costs down, ensure safety and complete the work on this historic building as quickly as possible," said Hillier.

The committee estimated that the repair work to the world heritage site could cost taxpayers up to £3.9bn over the six years. The MPs, taking inspiration from the 2012 Olympics and the Crossrail project, also recommended the creation of a two-tier delivery authority.

The House of Commons' Treasury Committee, chaired by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, is also investigating the future of the building after launching an inquiry in January. Hillier warned that more public money could be wasted if the delays continue.

"The longer the House of Commons spends mulling new or alternative options, the greater the chance that public money is wasted. Clearly there are many details to be agreed and difficult choices will need to be made as restoration and renewal progresses. Effective oversight and clear communication will be essential to its success.

Palace of Westminster
File photo: Workmen abseil down The Clock Tower of Parliament which houses Big Ben to inspect the clock face for damage in London on 12 August 2010 Oli Scarff/Getty Images

"This will not be Parliament's last chance to scrutinise this complex and challenging project and the PAC will be watching costs closely to ensure taxpayers get the best deal."

The history of the Palace of Westminster, which houses the Commons and the Lords, dates back to the 11th Century. The building had to rebuilt in the 19th Century after a fire engulfed the palace in 1834. Notably, Westminster Hall was saved.