The Houses of Parliament in the UK are at the centre of a major political storm this evening amid concerns that the historic/iconic venue could be opened up to the general public and commercial markets. The situation has arisen because of estimated property repair costs to the building which could top £1 billion. This is something which has been on the agenda for some time now although there is a major battle amongst politicians, the speaker of the house and the wider public as to whether the Houses of Parliament should be opened up to businesses and the general public.
At this moment in time it is taxpayers who would effectively foot the bill for any property repairs to the Houses of Parliament but with repairs expected to cost in excess of £1 billion over the next few years, it is a lot to ask of taxpayers.
How could the Houses of Parliament be used in the future?
A number of suggestions have been put forward for additional uses for the Houses of Parliament including business meetings, conferences and even off-site locations for TV movies. These are all highly commercial and potentially highly lucrative ideas although, as you might expect, politicians are up in arms.
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There are a number of issues which come into play with regards to the Houses of Parliament which include tradition, which goes back hundreds of years, and a move into the modern world. In a perfect world there are many people who would relish the chance to maintain the strong historic/iconic nature of the building while others do not see why taxpayers should foot a bill of potentially £1 billion.
Are politicians looking to maintain their own private club?
It is common knowledge that alcoholic beverages and food in the Houses of Parliament are heavily subsidised by the general public. The press have over the years highlighted the fact that extremely high quality foods are available at just a fraction of their “real world prices” and there are a number of private bars open 24 hours a day seven days a week. In simple terms, taxpayers are massively subsidising the business and the social life of many politicians and there is a growing move to abandon this ancient culture which many of the general public believe is being abused.
It will be interesting to see how politicians fair over the coming weeks amid signs that the speaker of the house has already implemented his own plans to bring in a commercial director in the short-term.
The true cost of maintaining iconic buildings
If there was ever a situation which perfectly illustrated the cost to taxpayers around the world of maintaining iconic buildings it has to be the Houses of Parliament. It is believed that essential repairs to cover subsidence and other major issues could lead to a bill in excess of £1 billion over the next few years. Is it right to ask taxpayers to cover this expense especially in these times of austerity? Do we need to be sensible about maintaining the status of iconic buildings while also bringing them into the modern day world?