The peers in the House of Lords may be moved up to the city of York or Birmingham in the north of England while the Parliament complex in London undergoes an extensive refurbishment programme in the coming years. According to 'The Sunday Times', British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is contemplating the move and has ordered a review into the practicalities. It is seen as part of his post-election pledge to better engage with voters from the traditionally Labour Party heartlands in the north of England, who voted Conservative and handed him a landslide win last December. Besides the Lords, Johnson also plans to hold temporary touring sessions of the House of Commons in different parts of the country. “The York proposal is much further along.
The PM is also keen to have parliamentary sessions in the regions, be it Sunderland or Manchester, so people get a chance to feel democracy in action first hand,” a government source was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
The Conservative Party has already announced that its campaign headquarters will move out of London, with the Midlands of England expected to be the new base.
As part of the estimated 3.5-billion pounds restoration of the Houses of Parliament within the Palace of Westminster complex, a temporary setting is to be created within the Queen Elizabeth II Centre across the road for parliamentary sessions to be held for a period of six years starting 2025. Described as the biggest restoration project of its kind, it will mark the first time UK MPs would move out of their chamber since it was bombed during World War II.
It would seem that Johnson wants to use the necessary departure as an opportunity to develop a new purpose-built site in the north of England. The three-hour travel time by train between York and London is seen as manageable for ministers and officials.
The location for a northern base is to be determined by a constitutional review to be launched in a few weeks’ time in spring. It is then expected to be followed by an architectural competition to design the new building.
“This will serve as a strong signal that we are serious about refocusing attention and investment away from London. It will set an example for the rest of the public sector and, of course, businesses looking to expand beyond the M25,” a Downing Street source told ‘The Sunday Times’.
Disused government-owned land close to York railway station has apparently been identified as one possible site to build a new second chamber.