A full decant of MPs from the Houses of Parliament would provide the best value way of refurbing the stricken building, a key engineering figure has told MPs.
David Hirst, chair of the management panel at the Institution of Civil Engineers, told the cross-party Palace of Westminster Committee that full access to the historic structure was important.
Five options for restoring the building from 2020 were set out in a report published last summer by a consortium comprising consultant Aecom, structures specialist HOK and financial giant Deloitte.
The report said that if the palace remained inhabited, a rolling programme of works would last 32 years and cost £5.7bn in 2014 figures.
Alternatively, it found that if MPs and peers moved out, extensive work to repair decaying stonework, drainage problems, roof damage, corrosion and ageing electrical systems could be delivered in six years for £3.5bn.
Hirst told the committee hearing today: “In terms of a pragmatic solution to getting the job done, a full decant has clear advantages.
“Giving clear access to a range of contractors over a period of time offers the simplest, best and lowest risk option.
“Partial decant would include quite a lot of working around existing activities. You would end up taking up a lot more space to allow existing activities to carry on. It would be quite difficult to co-ordinate and more expensive as a result.
“Continuing maintenance on a larger scale without decanting, we would never see the end of. It is beyond the working lifetime of the people involved and the scope of works would necessarily change during the lifetime of that scale of works.”