Should parliament move out of London?
Faced with a £3bn repair bill, is the Palace of Westminster still the best place for MPs to meet?
A sensible time to debate moving parliament out of London is when you are faced with a £3bn repair bill to make the Palace of Westminster fit for purpose. This is the speaker’s estimate and these are always underestimates. He suggests temporarily decanting from London. For a fraction of the cost, the palace could be turned into a permanent museum of democracy, rather than just looking like one. As Russell Brand noted: “The whole joint is a deeply encoded temple of hegemonic power.” It should attract enough visitors and it already has the cafes and bars needed. The cost of the repairs could easily be met from the profits made by selling some prime Whitehall real estate that would no longer be needed when parliament moves out. The time to sell property in zone 1 is when London becomes the most expensive large city in the planet’s history, which is now. Downing Street would make a very nice boutique hotel. Of course, when relocating to another site in England, there is no need to reproduce the entire panoply of government in its current form. Not all ministries need to be clustered so closely around the law-makers, but they might make better laws if they did not need housing allowances and so many second jobs to survive in the capital. But where to move to?