April 4, 2019 / 2:44 PM / 20 days ago

Rain stops play: UK parliament forced to close after water leak

FILE PHOTO: A general view of The Houses of Parliament in London November 9, 2006. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s parliament was forced to close early on Thursday after a leak in the 19th century Gothic palace caused water to rain down into the debating chamber.

Lawmakers were debating tax policy when water began cascading into the press area overlooking lawmakers’ seats, forcing Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to suspend the session.

Speaking over the noise of pouring water, Member of Parliament Justin Madders, said: “I hope I can complete my speech before rain stops play. I think there is probably some kind of symbol, about how many people view how broken parliament is, going on there.”

Thursday’s sitting in the lower chamber, the House of Commons, was then ended more than two hours early. The upper chamber, the House of Lords, continued to debate Brexit in a separate part of the building.

The Palace of Westminster - parts of which date back to 1097 - has been slipping into disrepair for decades, requiring frequent repairs and upgrades. Much of the crumbling limestone exterior is clad in scaffolding.

Plans are being made for a multi-billion pound restoration programme which could require parliament to be temporarily relocated to a separate building, but the process has been delayed, with many lawmakers opposed to giving up their traditional setting.

Reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison

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