While we have our sympathies with Guy Fawkes, apologies, this just won't work


There's a great deal to like about this idea. Given that the Palace of Westminster needs billions in repair work, why not simply abandon it and stick the politicians in a series of rabbit hutches in Barnsley. Or, perhaps, Bradford. Rather joyous to contemplate in fact. However, sadly for our fantasies, we don't think it will work:

No matter how much those who have worked there love the rodent-infested, mock-Gothic fun palace, perhaps the time has come to let it go. And if we’re getting radical – and this will please the Chancellor – why not go whole hog and avoid the punishing costs of building in the dead centre of the Capital by relocating elsewhere?

The reason is this:

The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade I listed building since 1970 and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

We most certainly can't knock down a Grade I listed building and there's very serious limits on what can be done to change it internally, too. Given the laws that have, err, been passed in that Palace there's not really anything we can do with that Palace except leave it pretty much as it is. Maybe with a spruce up, yes, but even trying to change the internal layout of rooms would almost certainly be verboeten.

That is, the choice is not between saving money by abandoning Westminster and locating elsewhere, it's between repairing Westminster (no, you cannot simply leave a Grade I listed building to collapse) and sticking the politicians back into it or repairing Westminster and paying a further fortune to stick them elsewhere (recall, the Scottish Parliament did not exactly come in on budget).

So, nice idea but not one that really passes the public expenditure test. We've got to repair that building anyway and we can't really use it for anything else. Joyous as it would be to have the Commons in, say, Radstock, and the Lords in, possibly, Scunthorpe.