House of Lords: Temporary move to York rejected by repairs body

York Minster

Peers will not be packing their bags and moving to York after a proposal to relocate the House of Lords during rebuilding work was effectively axed.

Boris Johnson wants the Parliamentary authorities to look at the idea of moving the Lords out of London while the Palace of Westminster is revamped.

But the body in charge of the project said it would not be considered.

The government says it is up to MPs and peers to decide but it will continue pushing for a move out of London.

The government is also considering setting up a new government “hub” in York.

MPs and peers agreed in 2018 to a plan that would see both Houses move to temporary facilities near the existing site – a “full decant” – to allow essential repairs and upgrades to be made to the crumbling Victorian palace.

Amid concerns about the cost – estimated at almost £4bn in 2014 – a review of the plans is being carried out by the sponsor body, the Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority.

The idea of moving the Upper Chamber out of London first emerged in January.

Downing Street was said to be keen on the idea as a way of demonstrating its commitment to its “levelling up” agenda to spread opportunity and decision-making outside London and the south-east of England.

But the Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority said such a move would not form part of its review.

‘Not considered’

In a letter to the prime minister, it said there were “constitutional implications” for moving MPs and peers outside London “which makes this a matter for both Houses to determine rather than for our review”.

“This option will not, therefore, be considered as part of the scope of the strategic review,” they said.

It said urgent action was needed to address the state of parts of the Palace of Westminster, which it said was “falling apart faster than they can be fixed”.

It added: “In line with best practice, we remain committed to developing a business case that will set out in detail the options for restoring Parliament including cost estimates and timescales.”

Several leading peers criticised the York plan, saying it was impractical to separate the Lords from the Commons.

Lord Speaker Lord Fowler said it was “gesture politics” while Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the idea was “great PR” but questioned how it would work.


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