This week, Aylesbury MP David Lidington writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers:

Last week, a burst water pipe in the press gallery above the Speaker’s chair forced an important debate on loan charges to be abandoned.

The plumbers have patched things up, but this incident highlighted the need for Parliament to press ahead with plans for a fundamental overhaul of the Palace of Westminster.

Several times in the last year, chunks of masonry have fallen off buildings. We’ve been very lucky no one has been seriously injured.

Worse, the electrical, plumbing, heating and sewerage systems are well beyond their expected working life span and in a dilapidated state. With each year that passes, the risk of a catastrophic fire grows.

The Palace of Westminster embodies much of our country’s history.

The oldest bit, Westminster Hall, is more than 900 years old. It is in the top category of listed buildings and designated as a World Heritage Site.

Even if Parliament were to move permanently to another place, we would have an obligation to restore and renew the buildings.

It’s sometimes argued that Parliament should move to another city.

The difficulty with that is that Ministers are also MPs, and have to divide their time between their Departments and Parliament. So if you moved Parliament, you’d have to move all the major government departments too, and still pay to repair the Palace.

Two years ago, I voted in favour of the wholesale restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster, with MPs and Peers moving out for a few years to nearby premises. Vacating the building will enable the works to be done more quickly and cheaply, and with less risk to human safety than if Parliament tried to work in what was effectively a building site.

Last week’s flood reminds us that we need to get on with this work.