The huge cost of refurbishing the Palace of Westminster, estimated at up to £5.7bn, raises the question of whether this might be a good opportunity to move parliament away from London. If we did this, then our government might pay more heed to manufacturing and less to casino banking.
The current system where parliament is situated in a city which has different financial interests to the rest of the country is far from satisfactory. A number of other countries, including the USA and Germany, have situated their legislatures well away from their financial centres.
There have been a number of calls to move Parliament, either temporarily during the refurbishment or permanently, to Manchester, Leeds or Birmingham. The latter is probably the favourite, due to its good transport connections to the rest of the country.
However, this is unlikely to take place due to the costs and difficulties of relocating ministries, and doubtless also because it would be unwelcome to the many politicians and civil servants who are based in London.
Instead can I suggest relocating parliament to Milton Keynes? Government departments would not need to relocate, since ministers and senior civil servants could easily commute. And there could be many benefits to MPs, both with regard to housing, as well as to the superior accommodation a brand new building would allow.
A new building would also mean that parliament, if it wished, could convert to a semi-circular chamber. Westminster’s adversarial system is not without its critics, and noticeably has not been widely copied either internationally – or by Scotland or Wales.
The author has no connection, financial or otherwise, with Milton Keynes.
John Hann, Winchester
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