Move the UK Parliament away from London!

York Viking March 2014
York Viking March 2014 by Peter Roberts, on Flickr.
As part of the ongoing “cash for access” scandal, Malcolm Rifkind said the following about the salary paid to MPs:

I think also if you’re trying to attract people of a business or professional background to serve in the House of Commons and if they’re not ministers it is quite unrealistic to believe they will go through their parliamentary career being able to simply accept a salary of £60,000.

That sounds a lot to a lot of people earning less than that but […] the vast majority of people of a business or professional background earn far, far more than that.

I’m sorry, but although that might very well be the case in the City of London, in Scotland and other non-metropolitan parts of the UK, only the select few earn in excess of £60k. I think the problem is that the MPs are living in a London bubble full of the über-rich and famous, and they almost feel like the poor relative in comparison.

However, there’s absolutely no law that a country’s parliament must be placed in the largest city. Washington DC didn’t even exist when it was made capital of the US (the capital was moved from Philadelphia to an area outwith the territory of the states), and Germany thrived when the capital was Bonn (by no means a big city).

If living and working in London is too dear and overwhelming for UK parliamentarians, perhaps the best solution would be to move the UK parliament up north somewhere. (Westminster is falling to pieces anyway.)

I don’t really care where it gets moved to, so long as it’s not in commuting distance from London. Ideally I believe it should be close to the population-weighted centre of the UK, and not too far from any of the four nations of the Union. My own suggestion would be York (just because I like it, and perhaps due to a bit of Viking nostalgia), but when I mentioned this idea on Twitter, I received many suggestions, such as St. Kilda, Clatt, Stornoway, Liverpool, Inverness, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Some of these might have been made tongue-in-cheek, but Liverpool is actually an excellent suggestion.

Once the new political capital of the UK has been chosen, Halls of Residence for MPs can be built next to the new parliament so that there won’t be any need for second home allowances and all that.

Who could possibly be against this plan?

17 thoughts on “Move the UK Parliament away from London!

  • 24/02/2015 at 07:21
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    I was thinking of ships anchored off Rockall. It would cut down on the lobbyists, I suspect.

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  • 24/02/2015 at 10:22
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    “Who could possibly be against this plan?”

    Almost all MPs and members of the House of Lards – sorry, Lords – plus all the City of London types, for a start. Politicians and financial power in the UK are too strongly attracted to each other to be separated by even a few miles.

    Even if it costs billions of pounds to renovate the Houses of Parliament, this will be considered essential, so that all the traditions and archaic rituals associated with them may continue indefinitely.

    Therefore this is yet another eminently sensible idea which does not have any prospect of being implemented in a country run by a greedy, self-interested and deeply conservative Establishment.

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  • 24/02/2015 at 18:38
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    Moving the UK Parliament to any place in Scotland would be a nightmare in terms of constitutional law. The UK Parliament currently meets within the jurisdiction of English constitutional law. It assumes that it is sovereign – even though it has never been deemed to be sovereign at anytime since 1707, including the Treaty of Union in 1707. The concept of the unlimited sovereignty of parliament was agreed for the realm of England in 1689 but has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law. In Scottish constitutional law sovereignty rests with the people.

    Reply

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