MPs have been warned that the main obstacle to attracting good people to lead the £4bn restoration of parliament would be low salaries.
Liz Peace, who is chair of the sponsor body in charge of setting up the delivery scheme, told a select committee that MPs should not skimp when it comes to offering salaries for the top posts on the job.
“Being frank, one of the key things is going to be the freedom to pay the appropriate salary to the sort of person we need,” Ms Peace said.
“There’s probably only a handful who could do this [job] and they know this and they will command a salary commensurate with their rarity.”
A draft bill has been prepared, which will give Ms Peace’s sponsor body power to set up a delivery authority to get the programme under way. It gives her team power to set the salary at the level they deem fit and Ms Peace said it was important that this did not change.
Committee chair Dame Caroline Spelman warned that getting salaries approved would still take time, a factor which could also put off some candidates.
“It’s slow. [Approval] goes through Cabinet Office and if the salary is above the prime minister’s salary it’s even slower,” Dame Caroline said.
Recruitment for the delivery body heads cannot start until after the second reading of the bill.
The draft parliamentary buildings (restoration and renewal) bill will give statutory powers to the sponsor body, which will oversee the project.
Once the bill is approved, the sponsor body will set up a delivery authority, similar to that used for the Olympics, which will actually manage the project and carry out the works.
The select committee has been set up to scrutinise the bill and will deliver its conclusions by the end of March. The bill could then be introduced for its first reading in parliament in the spring.
Director of the sponsor body Tom Healey warned that candidates would be put off from working on the job if the passing of the bill is delayed.
The current target timeline is for works to begin around 2025 and last five to eight years.