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MPs urged to take part in live fire drills in Parliament

From BBC - January 7, 2018

Fire drills should be carried out in Parliament when MPs are sitting to test the building's capacity to deal with an emergency, a senior official has said.

David Leakey, who is retiring as Black Rod, told the BBC the historic but crumbling Palace of Westminster must follow best practice like all offices.

"If you do not practise these drills and something goes wrong, then there will be a blame game going on," he said.

He has already warned of the risk of loss of life due to its poor condition.

Last month he suggested the Palace of Westminster - which burned down in 1834 - was at risk again of a major fire due to its poor state of repair and could become the next Grenfell Tower.

MPs are due to debate the options for restoring the building - including a total evacuation of MPs and peers while work is carried out - in the coming months, although there will be no vote for about 18 months.

Mr Leakey, who was in charge of controlling access to and maintaining order within the House of Lords, told Radio 4's Westminster Hour there was no excuse for Parliament not to take every available precaution given the age of the building and the antiquated nature of its wiring and stonework.

A live fire drill while the Commons and Lords were sitting had been recommended, he said, and was "very likely" to happen - irrespective of the inevitable disruption it would cause.

"You never know that your drills are good enough until you have rehearsed and tested them," he said.

"It should be a matter of good practice and I do not think Parliament should exempt itself from doing what every other proper organisation should do to ensure the safety of everybody in the building."

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