Politics Explained

Relocation, relocation, relocation: What to do while the parliamentary estate is repaired?

Michael Gove’s suggestion about ‘decanting’ the Lords to another spot has been met with indigation by some, writes Sean O’Grady

Wednesday 18 May 2022 21:30
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<p>A recent report said restoration works will be far quicker if MPs and Lords sit elsewhere for the duration</p>

A recent report said restoration works will be far quicker if MPs and Lords sit elsewhere for the duration

The Palace of Westminster is falling down and needs major works. The most economical way of doing it is to move out, either as a whole or in shifts. The Commons is thus looking for a new chamber, pending refurbishment, and the most obvious and convenient substitute is the House of Lords. Where then to put the Lords?

Michael Gove used to fancy himself a bit of a comedian, which may lie behind his mischievous suggestion that the House of Lords “decants” to one of those places usually discussed in terms of being “left behind” and requiring investment and “levelling up”.

The idea, perhaps not entirely sincere or thought through, is to bring decision-making closer to communities. Yet if that was the case, surely the more powerful body, where the most momentous decisions are taken, the House of Commons, should be picked up and plonked down far away from the bubble of the metropolitan elite. Conservative MPs haven’t exactly shown much sign of being “in touch” over the cost of living crisis recently.

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