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Palace of Westminster glass panels (2018)

Request

  1. How many glass panels (i.e. windows – internal and external -- that need cleaning regularly) are there in the building?
  2. If you were to take out all of the glass panels and put them side-by-side, how big would the combined total be – in square feet (or metres)?
  3. What is the window cleaning company currently employed that carries out the cleaning?
  4. What size is the physical building (height and total floor space in square feet or metres)?
  5. How much does it cost to clean all of the glass panels the building has? A preferable answer would be an annual cost, but if the cleaning isn’t every year, then how much every effort costs would be appreciated.
  6. How often are the glass panels cleaned, and on average, how long does this take and how many cleaners are needed?
  7. Are there any special hazards the cleaners need to be aware of when cleaning the glass panels of the building? Or specific instructions that may be of interest that are unique to it? (For example, are there specific cleaning agents that need to be used, or others that cannot be used, or things that must be done for health and safety reasons.)
  8. How much is spent on cleaning the building altogether in a given year? (This does not have to be solely about cleaning glass panels or windows).
  9. Who pays for the cleaning? (i.e. taxpayer or private expenses)

 

Response

Please note that, whilst the House of Commons and House of Lords are separate public authorities in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), cleaning and maintenance of the many buildings across the parliamentary estate are bicameral services, so our responses include both authorities unless otherwise indicated.

  1. How many glass panels (i.e. windows – internal and external -- that need cleaning regularly) are there in the building?
    Although there are many buildings which make up the parliamentary estate, we have interpreted you request to be for information about the Palace of Westminster, occupied by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.  This information is held by the House of Commons.
    The information on the approximate number of windows in the Palace of Westminster is already published on our parliamentary pages.
    As the information you request is reasonably accessible to you otherwise than under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), your request is refused. In refusing your request the House is applying the exemption set out in section 21 (1) and (2) (a) of the FOIA. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.
  2. If you were to take out all of the glass panels and put them side-by-side, how big would the combined total be – in square feet (or metres)
    We have interpreted your request to be for information about glass panels in the Palace of Westminster. This information is not held by the House of Commons.
    The House of Commons does not hold a record of the total size of all the windows in the Palace.
  3. What is the window cleaning company currently employed that carries out the cleaning
    We have interpreted you request to be for information about window cleaning in the Palace of Westminster. This information is held by the House of Commons.
    The cleaning contractor currently suppling the main cleaning contract for the whole of the parliamentary estate, including window cleaning is Atalian Servest.
  4. What size is the physical building (height and total floor space in square feet or metres)
    We have interpreted you request to be for information about the Palace of Westminster.  This information is held by the House of Commons.
    The total floor space of the Palace of Westminster is 112,476 m2. The height varies across the Palace of Westminster, but the highest point is Victoria Tower at 98.5 m.
  5. How much does it cost to clean all of the glass panels the building has? A preferable answer would be an annual cost, but if the cleaning isn’t every year, then how much every effort costs would be appreciated
    We have interpreted you request to be for information about the Palace of Westminster. This information is not held by the House of Commons.
    The costs of window cleaning forms part of the cleaning contract for the whole of the parliamentary estate, and specific costs of cleaning glass panels cannot be disaggregated from the total contract cost.
  6. How often are the glass panels cleaned, and on average, how long does this take and how many cleaners are needed?
    We have interpreted you request to be for information about the Palace of Westminster.  This information is held by the House of Commons.
    There are differing frequencies of cleaning, depending on location, and there is a team of 4 window cleaners on site daily.
  7. Are there any special hazards the cleaners need to be aware of when cleaning the glass panels of the building? Or specific instructions that may be of interest that are unique to it? (For example, are there specific cleaning agents that need to be used, or others that cannot be used, or things that must be done for health and safety reasons.)
    We have interpreted you request to be for information about the Palace of Westminster.  This information is held by the House of Commons.
    The fact that the building is grade 1 listed and part of a UNESCO world heritage site is taken into account by cleaners when undertaking cleaning of the glass panels.
  8. How much is spent on cleaning the building altogether in a given year? (This does not have to be solely about cleaning glass panels or windows)
    We have interpreted you request to be for information about the Palace of Westminster.  As we have already indicated, the main cleaning contract is held by Atalian Servest.  However, this contract is for cleaning services across the whole of the parliamentary estate and not just for the Palace of Westminster itself.  Costs for specifically cleaning the Palace of Westminster cannot be disaggregated from the totals.
    Please also note that other cleaning is also carried out by a number of in-house and commercial teams across the parliamentary estate.  This includes specialist cleaning of kitchen and heritage areas as well as cleaning and maintenance of the fabric of the building as part of specific maintenance and/or restoration projects such as flooring and roof areas.  Much of this information also covers the whole estate and costs solely for the Palace of Westminster cannot be disaggregated.
    Therefore, cleaning costs for the Palace of Westminster are not held by the House of Commons.
  9. Who pays for the cleaning? (i.e. taxpayer or private expenses)
    This information is held by the House of Commons. Cleaning costs for the parliamentary estate are paid for by the tax payer. 
    Further information about costs can be found in the House of Commons Annual Accounts, published annually on our parliamentary pages.