The Palace of Westminster in London, the seat of the British Parliament, is in need of renovation
Photo: Stefan Rousseau / picture alliance / dpa
The Palace of Westminster, on the banks of the River Thames in the heart of London, is the venerable home of British democracy.
But now the building is probably less venerable than old - and dilapidated.
The parliament building is in need of renovation.
It's no secret, even the Parliament's website states: »The Palace of Westminster, seat of Parliament, is one of the most popular and well-known buildings in the world, but it is falling into disrepair faster than it can be repaired and is in dire need of repairs be rehabilitated.«
Mice and rats in the hallways
There are reports of "crumbling stones", of "cracks in the ceilings and warped windows".
There is also said to be water damage in various places.
Mice and rats scurried about the corridors.
For decades, only the most necessary maintenance work has been carried out on the building.
Most of Westminster Palace dates from the 19th century.
But in many places the house is no longer intact.
There are also concerns about security.
MP and former UK Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom told the BBC: She fears the Parliament building could face a fate like that of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was severely damaged in a major fire around three years ago.
"It could burn down today, or tomorrow, or any day," said the conservative politician.
In 2017, a fire was only just avoided - by a fire watch that was on duty around the clock in Parliament.
"We must make a decision and move forward."
The fact that members of the British Parliament have not yet been able to agree on a restructuring plan is mainly due to two things: the duration of the work and the money.
In February, the responsible program commission estimated the cost of the renovations in a report at 7 to 13 billion pounds, which corresponds to 8.3 to 15.4 billion euros.
The committee estimated the construction period at 19 to 28 years.
This would include improved fire protection, asbestos removal, laying new cables and other conservation work.
The lords don't want to go
In order for this budget and schedule to be met, however, another condition would have to be met: the MPs would have to leave the building for 12 to 20 years.
Otherwise, the work would be significantly longer - to 46 to 76 years.
That would cost up to £22 billion.
And according to reports, the two chambers of Parliament - the House of Commons and the House of Lords - are failing to agree on how to proceed.
For example, it is difficult to find an alternative location.
It would be conceivable to have the Lords from the House of Lords meet at a different location for a time.
But the Lords refuse.
The BBC quoted a letter from the Minister for Works, Michael Gove, to the Speaker: 'I know that towns and cities across the UK would like to extend their hospitality to the peers,' the letter said.
Moving the House of Lords to a city outside of London over a period of years could also help to equalize living conditions in the country.
In the House of Lords, on the other hand, political intrigues are suspected - "Throwing us out is a punishment," said Helene Hayman, a member of the House of Lords.
It is to be hoped that the dispute can be settled before the parliament building dies.