Monday, August 08, 2016

“MPs face six-year Sharia booze ban: Parliament to move to Islamic-owned Health department block in 2020 while Palace of Westminster is refurbished,”

MPs face a six-year drinking ban after a committee decided they will move to an office block operating under Islamic laws while the Palace of Westminster is refurbished.
Their new home, Richmond House in Whitehall, was transferred to finance an Islamic bond scheme in 2014.
The building, currently the offices of the Department of Health, will house MPs when a multi-billion-pound refurbishment of Parliament begins in 2020.
The parliamentary committee created to decide on options for renovating the Palace of Westminster decided against MPs remaining in the building while work takes place.
Their recommendations, which will be voted on by MPs when they return after the summer recess, was contained in a report leaked to The Times.
A plan to nationalise the nearby Red Lion pub so it could be kept private for MPs was shelved after owners Fuller’s Inns spoke out against the idea.
Peers will go to the QEII Centre at the other end of Parliament Square.
Renovating the Palace of Westminster while it is vacant is expected to cost between £3.5billion and £3.9billion and take six years.
The committee rejected two other plans, which would have been more expensive.
One was to move MPs and peers out of the Palace of Westminster at different times as the building was repaired, costing £4.4billion and lasting 11 years, while the other would have seen them stay put as repairs were carried on around them.
This third choice would have taken 32 years at a cost of £5.7billion.
MPs will vote on whether to accept the committee’s recommendations after they return from the summer recess.
The Palace of Westminster has dozens of bars and restaurants, where MPs, peers, staff and other passholders can enjoy pints for as little as £2.90.
This is 70p cheaper than the average price of a pint in London thanks to taxpayer subsidies worth £4million a year.
The landmark, opened in 1859, has a leaky roof, crumbling stonework and faulty cabling.
The Queen Elizabeth Tower, which supports Big Ben, is also tilting by 18 inches.
Richmond House is one of three Whitehall buildings that were transferred to the £200million Islamic bond scheme, which switched their ownership from British taxpayers to wealthy Middle Eastern businessmen and banks.
George Osborne announced the move in June 2014 as part of an effort to make the UK a global hub for Islamic finance.
But critics say the scheme would waste money and could undermine Britain’s financial and legal systems by imposing Sharia law onto government premises.
The bonds – known as Sukuk – are only available for purchase by Islamic investors.
The money raised will be repayable from 2019.
But instead of interest, bond-buyers will earn rental income from the three Government offices as interest payments are banned in Sharia law.
The Treasury agreed to make the sukuk fully compliant with Sharia law to ensure investors were not put off investing in the scheme, meaning each of the buildings used to finance the products must meet the terms of Sharia law, including the ban on alcohol….

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