Both Houses of Parliament are due to undergo a multi-billion plan refurbishment, which will involve vacating Westminster for at least six years. Th
Both Houses of Parliament are due to undergo a multi-billion plan refurbishment, which will involve vacating Westminster for at least six years. The major overhaul, which is expected to cost about £4billion, would see MPs and peers temporarily move to a different location while the works are carried out. When the renovation project was first agreed in 2018 both Houses were due to be moved temporarily to other Westminster locations.
But the independent body overseeing the project has launched a review of the move, and Boris Johnson has suggested a number of alternative locations.
The Prime Minister has written a letter to Parliament’s Restoration and Renewal programme, where he asked for costs to be kept to a minimum.
The letter, seen by The Times, said those leading the project should examine “the full range of options”.
Mr Johnson writes: “Cost should be kept to a minimum (ie no ‘gold plating’). We should also move as quickly as possible.”
Should Boris Johnson move the Houses of Parliament to the North of England?
The Houses of Parliament are due to undergo a major refurbishment
The Prime Minister says if a decant of both Houses is required, locations near the Palace of Westminster should be considered.
He wrote “possible locations within London, including Richmond House, the QEII Centre and City Hall” should be examined.
But he urges the committee to consider locations outside of London as well.
Mr Johnson wrote: “However, the review should also consider a possible location outside London.
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“The Government is considering establishing a Government hub in York and it would therefore make sense to consider this as a potential location.”
The Prime Minister added: “The Government does not prejudge any particular outcome.
“The review should determine how the various options should be assessed.
“The location of Parliament is a constitutional issue.
“The views of Parliamentarians will need to be considered carefully, as well as any legislative impact.”
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The House of Lords could move to York
At the start of the year the Government announced it was examining whether to permanently move the House of Lords out of London, with York and Birmingham emerging as prime contenders for the move.
The discussion would address the Government’s desire to reconnect politicians with voters, and bridge the perceived north south divide.
Large swathes of the Midlands and the north of England switched to vote Tory in the December 2019 election – and the Government wants to ensure it stays relevant to its voters.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove discussed the matter on the Andrew Marr Show this weekend, and said moving the House of Lords was a matter for politicians.
Passage of a Bill through Parliament
He said: “As far as the legislature goes, that is obviously a question for the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
“But my own view? I think that, if people were to see Parliament closer to different parts of the United Kingdom, then I don’t see there are any reasons why we can’t have more operations of the UK Parliament in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
But the Electoral Reform Society has heavily criticised the suggestion the Lords could move to York.
Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the campaign group, said: “Moving the House of Lords to York is little more than virtue signalling if nothing is done to change its warped composition.
Boris Johnson asked for costs to be kept to a minimum
“Nearly half of Peers live in London and the South East – compared to just 27 percent of the UK public.
“This will remain a Londoner-dominated chamber, whether it’s in York or Westminster, because it is a private members’ club for party donors and loyalists. Instead of meaningless tinkering, voters want real reform.
“Rather than moving the deckchairs, the government must get on with overhauling this unelected house.
“Ministers cannot be serious about ‘levelling up’ without ensuring that the second chamber genuinely represents the nations and regions of the UK.
“It’s time for real democracy in this country – ending the scandal of unelected privilege, and giving voters everywhere a real voice.”