Would that be such a terrible thing, I hear my readers (well, some of them) ask. After all, what on earth is Parliament for these days? We do not, however, speak of the institution, which has been somewhat lacklustre in the last few decades, but of the building.
The Houses of Parliament may close for up to five years for refurbishment, under plans being discussed by MPs. Parliament could be convened in a replica chamber or a conference centre for the duration of the repair work, which could start in 2015.2015, incidentally, is when the next elections is scheduled and the elected House of Commons will sit for the five years of the repair work, assuming that this is agreed to and assuming that those builders will break all the rules of the trade and complete their work on time (and, perhaps, within budget).
It seems to me that many problems could be solved in these circumstances. First of all, do we actually have to have Parliament assembling while the building works are being carried out? Why not simply go through the election, a process that is dear to the heart of all who is interested in politics in this country and then suspend the sitting for five years or until such time that the Palace of Westminster is functioning again.
Naturally, in the meantime, honourable members of the House of Commons will not be paid or given expenses as they will not have to appear in Parliament so they will have to think of some way of earning money. That can have a very good effect and their minds will be concentrated.
Moreover, I am not convinced that the newly refurbished Palace of Westminster needs to see the present-day activities resumed in it. Why not re-open it as a Museum of Democracy with actors performing debates of the past when such things mattered and visitors paying entrance fees to watch it all, to wander through rooms where, in the past, important decisions had been taken and important events had occurred and to take refreshment in the various bars, cafes and restaurants. Menus of former days could be reproduced and, at a price, dinners of past politicians could be prepared and consumed.
Think about the income that would generate.