January 20, 2020
There may be “more substantial ways” to boost jobs and investment outside London than moving the House of Lords to York or Birmingham, a government minister has admitted.
Forget The Lords – Move Major Government Department Outside London Instead, Experts Say
The proposal to relocate the chamber is being considered as one of “a range of options” to help people feel more connected to politics, according to Conservative party chairman James Cleverly.
But Lords deputy leader Earl Howe admitted that while a move was under consideration, he agreed with other peers that “there may be other, and possibly more substantial, ways to bring jobs and investment to the north of England than relocating the House of Lords”.
Answering a question tabled on Monday in response to the revelation, Earl Howe said he was sure all logistical issues would be fully examined “should the idea be taken forward” as part of a wider constitutional review.
But Conservative peer Lord Forsyth said: “Does he think when people in so many constituencies in the north lent the Conservatives their votes, they were longing for more politicians to be sent there?”
The government has already identified disused government-owned land near York railway station as a potential site for a new Lords chamber, the Sunday Times reported – despite a tongue-in-cheek offer from the Archbishop of York of the use of a “large garden where a marquee could be erected”.But experts agree the move would do little to combat the centralisation of power in the UK.
Prime minister Boris Johnson should look instead at shifting one of Whitehall’s major departments elsewhere in the country, says Rachel Laurence, director of programmes and practice at the New Economics Foundation.
“York has a lot of things going for it – it’s very well-connected to London, with a big university, high-value industries and thriving local economic sectors in terms of growth,” she told HuffPost UK.
“But that’s true of a lot of cities – if you look at Sheffield and Leeds, for example, the picture is similar. 
“If the government is really looking to grapple with the centralisation of power and our economy around the capital, then moving something like the House of Lords to another city isn’t going to be a silver bullet.
“Arguably, moving a large department with large numbers of civil servants out of London would make more of an economic impact than moving MPs or peers. But that’s with the caveat that you would assume there are more jobs attached to such a department than to the running of the House of Lords, for example.”
Campaigners claim a relocation of the Upper House, which needs to move out of its current home for restoration works to begin on the Houses of Parliament in five years’ time, would provide nothing but “tokenistic tinkering”.
Willie Sullivan, senior director of the Electoral Reform Society, which lobbies for an elected and slimmed down House of Lords, said: “This can be an inspiring step forward for our constitution, rebalancing power with a smaller, proportionally-elected senate for all the nations and regions of the UK. If the government is committed to a real union, we must have a parliament that truly reflects that.
“We have a crisis of trust in democracy, but there are solutions on Boris Johnson’s desk. In 2020, it’s finally time to mend the sinking ship of politics – not just reshuffle the deckchairs.”Related... House Of Lords Could Move To York Under Boris Johnson's Plans Labour Putting John Bercow Forward For A Peerage, Report Says Backlash As Corbyn Nominates Key Aide Karie Murphy For House Of Lords
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