Islam casts a shadow over British Parliament, move to Whitehall would subject MPs to Sharia Law


Sharia law may stop MPs drinking: Bars will be banned if politicians move to White Hall Department of Health Building – because of secret deal to finance Islamic bond scheme

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. 

Department of Health building is governed by the body of Islamic law

  • The lease was transferred to finance an Islamic bond scheme in 2014
  • MPs express outrage at discovering Sharia law rules parts of Whitehall 
  • Politicians search for new home while Parliament undergoes £4bn revamp

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.

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.’

 

Barred: MPs have been warned that drinking will be banned if they move into the Department of HealthDeal: George Osborne announced that three Whitehall buildings had  transferred  ownership to Islamic bond schemes in June 2014

Barred: MPs have been warned that drinking will be banned if they move into the Department of Health

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.

The proposal to move to the Department of Health is among the most popular because it is housed just 100 yards from the Commons entrance and many MPs' offices are in the adjacent building at 1 Parliament Street

The proposal to move to the Department of Health is among the most popular because it is housed just 100 yards from the Commons entrance and many MPs’ offices are in the adjacent building at 1 Parliament Street

Moving MPs to a courtyard in the Department of Health is popular with some MPs because it could easily be integrated into the current Parliamentary estate.

It is located next to 1 Parliament Street and Porcullis House, where many MPs’ offices are housed, meaning MPs could go to vote in the temporary chamber without leaving the estate and avoiding security concerns.

Department of Health staff would have to move out of the offices in Richmond House at 79 Whitehall while a temporary chamber is built.

Outraged: Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said the public would be 'absolutely amazed' that parts of Whitehall were being ruled by Sharia law. MPs have many bars to choose from, including the Strangers Bar, pictured

Outraged: Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said the public would be ‘absolutely amazed’ that parts of Whitehall were being ruled by Sharia law. MPs have many bars to choose from, including the Strangers Bar, pictured

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.

I do find it unbelievable government buildings are governed by Sharia law. Most of our constituents will be absolutely amazed that the principle could ever have been authorised

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen
Cheap: A pint of beer in Parliament's bars costs just £2.90 - 70p cheaper than the average in LondonTaxpayers subsidise the sale of alcohol in around a dozen bars on the Parliamentary estate to the tune of £4m a year

Cheap: A pint of beer in Parliament’s bars costs just £2.90 – 70p cheaper than the average in London

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.  

Earlier this week MPs kicked up a fuss over fears they could lose their hair salon, flower shop and car park as part of the multi-billion revamp.

One idea is to move MPs to the House of Lords, pictured above. The last time MPs debated in the upper chamber was after bombing damaged the House of Commons chamber during the Second World War

One idea is to move MPs to the House of Lords, pictured above. The last time MPs debated in the upper chamber was after bombing damaged the House of Commons chamber during the Second World War

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. 

The cheapest and quickest option for refurbishing the Palace of Westminster would require MPs to temporarily move out of the building for up to six years. 

A specially-made chamber built in the courtyard of the Department of Health – just 100 yards down the road from the Palace of Westminster – is the preferred option among MPs.  

Remaining close to the Palace of Westminster would be the most convenient option for government ministers, who would continue to work in Whitehall departments and must be held accountable to Parliament. 

An independent report commissioned by Parliament estimated that the revamp would cost more than £7bn and take 32 years to complete if politicians did not move out of the building temporarily.

But the costs could be halved to an estimated £3.5billion and take just six years if MPs and peers agree to a temporary new home.

Chris Bryant, the Shadow Leader of the Commons, briefed Labour MPs about the plans to relocate MPs at a meeting on Monday. He told them that the idea of rehousing MPs outside London had been all but ruled outChris Grayling, the Leader of the Commons and chairs the cross-party committee overseeing the refurbishment plans, is expected to tell Tory MPs of the plans later this week

Chris Bryant, the Shadow Leader of the Commons, briefed Labour MPs about the plans to relocate MPs at a meeting on Monday. He told them that the idea of rehousing MPs outside London had been all but ruled out

Plans to rehouse MPs in Whitehall was discussed by Labour’s Shadow Leader of the Commons at Monday’s Parliamentary Labour party meeting.

Mr Bryant told his colleagues that Parliament’s Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster had all but ruled out the idea of relocating MPs outside London.

Chris Grayling, the Leader of the Commons and chairs the cross-party committee overseeing the refurbishment plans, is expected to tell Tory MPs of the plans later this week.

Where to relocate roughly 800 peers is proving more difficult. 

Revamp: Parliament is riddled with asbestos, leaking ceilings and rodents and was described as a 'death trap' by one close to the refurbishment plans

Revamp: Parliament is riddled with asbestos, leaking ceilings and rodents and was described as a ‘death trap’ by one close to the refurbishment plans

Similar courtyards in the Treasury or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office could be used as part of the refurbishment, which is expected to begin following the 2020 general election.

MPs moved to the House of Commons during the Second World War after bombing damaged the chamber.

Previous proposals for relocating MPs caused controversy, with a plan to house politicians in an underground car park generating outrage because it was the spot where Tory MP Airey Neave was killed by an IRA car bomb in 1979

WHAT PARLIAMENT DRINKS IN ONE YEAR

House Sauvignon: 50,000 bottles
House merlot: 26,000
Guest ale: 33,000
Champagne: 8,500 bottles
Guiness: 11,000 pints
Stella Artois: 5,500 points
Corona lager: 12,000
Peroni: 11,000
Baileys: 10.5 liters
Gordon’s Gin: 463 litres
Jack Daniels: 13.3 liters
Famous Grouse whiskey: 52 litres
Malibu: 4.5 litres 
Under terms of the lease, alcohol is one of the activities banned on the premises, according to The Times.

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