MPs dodge drips as Portcullis House springs a leak

The roof of Parliament's newest building sprang a leak on Tuesday, forcing MPs to dodge drips of rainwater as heavy storms lashed Westminster.

Questions were being asked yesterday over the design of the £235 million Portcullis House, which opened in 2001, after the leak caused parts to be cordoned off.

Architects had to be called in to fix the roof in 2004, just three years after the building was opened and the latest problems have left some MPs unhappy.

"My house was built in the 1570s and the roof doesn't leak," Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes told The Independent.

"Many people think the building looks attractive and I certainly agree that it's pretty, but the fact remains that it was too expensive and those in charge did not know what they were doing.

"The Commissioning process was not well handled. There are lessons to be learned here," he added.

MPs posted messages on the social networking site Twitter. Transport Minister Sadiq Khan wrote: "Just finished meeting in Portcullis House in Parliament, which was built in the late 1990s. The roof is leaking. Oh dear..."

A Parliamentary spokesman told The Independent that the roof of Portcullis House has a number of ventilation hatches fitted with high-tech rain sensors which close automatically when it starts to rain.

"The problem in this case was that the rain came on so quickly that the hatches didn't have time to close. There are three canteens below as well as several offices and seating areas, which got wet," said the source.

Parts of the country saw very heavy rainfall as the recent heatwave came to an end. Hastings was hit with three months-worth of rain in the heaviest downpour since records began in 1865. The Environment Agency issued flood warnings in East Sussex and along several rivers and their tributaries in southeast London.

The leaks are the latest in a series of problems with the building. A National Audit Office report in 2002 found 7,500 defects, including cracked glass panels in the courtyard roof and 300 loose door handles.

Hopkins Architects, who designed the building, had to advise Portcullis House on how to reapply the protective wax needed every four years for the building's distinctive bronze roof after it began leaking.

The corridor between the central lobby and the House of Lords also had to be closed off as the rain fell, forcing parts of the London transport system to close.

Tom Watson, a Labour MP and former aide to Gordon Brown, posted a message on Twitter reading: “Thunder storm creates chaos in Commons committee corridor."

Siôn Simon, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington wrote: "The leaks are riduculous. They're massive. I got soaked by a committee corridor one."

A spokesman for Hopkins Architects refused to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border