Why is the UK house of commons so cramped?

Theresea May's Brexit deal has been shot down by Parliament, and the failure has left the world with questions. 

One of these is why is the House of Commons so cramped and claustrophobic?

Video of the Brexit deal failing showed MPs crammed into the building, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and squished onto bench seats. The answer behind the close quarters is that the building was simply never meant to house as many MPs as it does.

The Palace of Westminster, which encompasses the House of Commons, was built in 1870, and has not been expanded since. 

Although plans to restore the building have been contemplated, very little work has been done. 

The House of Commons was built with 427 seats, which would have been fine in the 19th century. However, currently, there are 650 MPs.

It is rare all 650 MP's are present at the same time, so for the most part, the size of the House is not an issue.

 It becomes crowded when all MPs are there, which only happens during large scale meetings or question time.

The real issue is not the size of the House, but that the Palace of Westminster is slowly decaying.

The Guardian reports the Palace is riddled with asbestos, the pipes carrying water, electricity and gas are a hazard, and the building often catches fire - 40 times between 2008 and 2012.

However, MPs are trapped in their decrepit chambers. If renovations were to go ahead, it would cost a bare minimum of £3.5 billion. And that's if MPs vacate the building for six years.

If they choose to stay in the building, repairs will take 40 years and cost £5.7 billion.

The fear of moving from the hallowed halls of the Palace has some MPs worried the Parliament culture would change permanently, reports The Guardian.

Plans to refurbish the Palace have been talked about since 2016, but no moves have been made. Every year that plans are delayed, an estimated £100 million is added to the cost of repairs.

And every year the likelihood of a catastrophic failure of the pipes, causing an explosion or a fire increases.

"By 2020, 40 percent of [the pipes] will be at critical or high risk," Tom Healy, head of restoration and renewal told The Guardian.

"By 2025, that figure will be 52 percent. By 2025, most of the building services in the palace will be at a very high risk of failure."



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