House of Lords ‘to move to York’, under audacious Boris Johnson plan

19 Jan 2020 @ 12.44 am
| Politics

Boris Johnson is planning to move the House of Lords permanently to York, according to the Sunday Times.

The paper reports that the city “has emerged as the frontrunner to host the new second chamber, with Birmingham also in the running”.

According to the paper, the prime minister has already ordered work to begin on the practicalities of a move, as he responds to the votes in the north of England that won him the election.

The Sunday Times reports:

  • Disused government-owned land close to York railway station has already been identified as a prime site to build a new second chamber.

    If York is chosen as the Lords’ new home, it will be the first time the city has been a centre of political power since the English Civil War, when it played host to the Council of the North.

That suggests that land in the yet-to-be-developed York Central might house the new second chamber.

Constitutional review

The Queen’s Speech takes place in the Lords. Could that move to York too? Photograph: Leon Neal/PA Wire
The paper says “the location will be determined by a constitutional review to be launched in the spring”.

That would be followed by an architectural competition to design the new building “and ensure that it provides value for money, and that it is in keeping with those of similar purpose and scale locally”.

The Houses of Parliament are undergoing a major £3.5 billion restoration. The current plans would see the 800 members of the House Of Lords move to the Queen Elizabeth II Centre close by in London.

The plan is said to come direct from Boris Johnson. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire
But the PM apparently views the relocation as a chance to create a purpose-built site further north.

According to the report:

  • The three-hour travel time by train between York and London is seen as a manageable for ministers and officials — although it is not clear yet how the state opening of parliament would work.

    One government source said: ‘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 Number 10 source is also quoted as saying: “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.”