Partly Sharia-funded Richmond House does not ban alcohol but is not licensed

Palace of Westminster

MPs will not be banned from drinking at the partly Sharia-funded Richmond House if it becomes parliament’s temporary home, Building has learned.

A Treasury spokesperson said reports that the 1980s building, which is currently home to the Department of Health, is beholden to Sharia law or that consuming alcohol on the premises is banned are “incorrect.” It is simply a lack of an alcohol licence that currently prevents the likes of the Palace of Westminster’s infamous Strangers’ bar from opening up at the Department of Health’s Whitehall headquarters.

The spokesperson added: “The buildings remain the property of the government, and the lease and associated documents explicitly state they are governed by English law.

“While the investors naturally have an interest in the buildings, they do not have a say over how the properties are used. There is no legal prohibition on consuming alcohol, but the residing departments do not have alcohol licences and can therefore not sell alcohol on the premises.”

It is unclear whether an application for an alcohol licence will be lodged if MPs move in.

The furore over MPs’ right to booze came as a report in The Times confirmed the joint parliamentary committee assigned to investigate options for extensive renovation works on the Palace of Westminster is to recommend MPs and Lords fully move out to enable the most cost-efficient programme on the table – a snip at £3.5bn over six years – to take place.

Building revealed in March that Richmond House was the favoured decant option and could be set for a £240m refurbishment. Last month we revealed these works were being lined up for inclusion in parliament’s £500m Northern Estate programme of works to upgrade MPs’ offices.