MPs could be forced to stop drinking alcohol when they move out of the Palace of Westminster while it undergoes much-needed repairs over the next decade – because of Sharia law.
Earlier this week plans were revealed for MPs to be rehoused in a temporary chamber in a courtyard in the Department of Health, but it has emerged that the building is governed by Islamic law.
The building, located at 79 Whitehall, was quietly transferred to finance an Islamic bond scheme in 2014.
Under terms of the lease, alcohol is one of the activities banned on the premises, according to The Times.
A Whitehall official told the newspaper: ‘It’s true. If MPs want to use Richmond House they’d better give up any hopes it will include a bar.’
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said he was outraged to discover that parts of Whitehall was being ruled by Islamic law.
‘I do find it unbelievable government buildings are governed by Sharia law,’ he told MailOnline.
‘I don’t see the bars as being an essential part of Parliament but it’s the principle that matters.
‘Most of our constituents will be absolutely amazed that the principle could ever have been authorised.’
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.
The Treasury refused to tell MailOnline which other two Whitehall buildings were transferred to the bond scheme.
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 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.
It is the latest stumbling block encountered by Parliamentary authorities as they search for a new home while a £4billion worth of repairs is carried out on the building, which is riddled with asbestos, leaking ceilings and rodents and was described as a ‘death trap’ by one close to the refurbishment plans.
A spokeswoman for the joint committee on the Palace of Westminster said: ‘The committee is looking at a range of options and no final decision has been taken.
‘It is aware that Richmond House is under a bond.’
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 – 70p cheaper than the average price of a pint in London.
Taxpayers subsidise the sale of alcohol in Parliament to the tune of £4million a year.
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