Episode 47: Rats and Other Disasters in the Palace of Westminster

todayDecember 1, 2022


Episode 47: Rats and Other Disasters in the Palace of Westminster

“If we’re not careful, the United Kingdom is going to have its Notre Dame moment…. that Parliament is going to burn to the ground.”

Ian Paisley, Jnr. Member of Parliament, United Kingdom



“It’s very politically sensitive because no politician wants to be the one who tells the public that a very large amount of taxpayers’ money has to be spent on MPs’ place of work.”

Rowan Moore, Architect Critic for The Guardian

In this episode, Rats and Other Disasters in the Palace of Westminster these two experts delve into the danger of this historic place.

Urgent intervention is needed to save the Palace of Westminster which is not only on its last legs but is potentially hazardous in various ways. This is not fresh news sadly but our two distinguished experts will certainly offer you some fresh perspective.

Rowan Moore, Architecture Critic, The Guardian & Observer

Rowan Moore is architecture critic of the Observer and was named Critic of the Year at the UK press awards 2014. He is the author of Slow Burn City and Why We Build. Follow him on twitter: @rowanmoore

“Obviously, the longer it takes to do the work, the greater the risk, you simply multiply the risk per year by the number of years it takes. And also all the work done on a project so far says the more slowly you do it, the more it costs.”

Ian Paisley Junior Constructive Voices-1Ian Paisley, Jnr. MP, Westminster Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports

Member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Refurbishment and Restoration

Ian has represented North Antrim since 1996 when he was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue. In 1998 he was then elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for North Antrim.

As a member of the Assembly Ian served as Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and also as a Junior Minister in the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister from 2007 until 2008. He was also a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board from 2001 until 2007.

“You have to have a crew of four man walk that building constantly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and they spot fires, fire hazards and put them out and we’re working in that building.”

After Dr Paisley stepped down as the Member of Parliament for North Antrim Ian contested the General Election of 2010 and comfortably retained the seat for the Democratic Unionist Party. He was again re-elected at the General Election in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Ian is currently the DUP spokesperson for Communities, Local Government and Culture, Media and Sports. He is also a member on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Rats and other disasters in the Palace of Westminster

This situation has been of great concern for a number of years now.

In an article in 2019, How much of a fire risk are the Houses of Parliament?

James Beale, the Operations Manager of Invicta Fire Protection, wrote,

“…that urgent intervention is needed to keep them from spontaneously combusting.”

The official Restoration and Renewal Programme website states,

“Crumbling stones, cracking ceilings and warping windows in the Houses of Parliament were the subject of several thousand hours of recent investigations by teams of experts from across the UK, as part of work to plan the essential restoration of the Palace of Westminster.

Over 50 highly skilled engineers, architectural surveyors, acoustics and lighting specialists, and ecologists, spent a combined 4,700 hours over Parliament’s recent recess period investigating the building and continuing to build the most detailed record of the 150-year-old Palace of Westminster ever created.

In total, 2,343 rooms and spaces were examined over the summer and conference recesses, with experts recording thousands of issues including cracks in stonework, widespread water damage, and analysing the complex network of outdated electrical and mechanical systems. The investigations are an essential step in the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. Parliament will be invited to approve the detailed restoration plan in 2023.”

Written by: Jackie De Burca

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