Could Parliament move to… Bristol?

With improvement work due to start in Westminster in 2020, where will Parliament be held?

England’s Parliament has been in London for some time. The term Parliament was first referred to in historical documents in 1230, when it was based in London, and it is still there today.

However, there have been many hiatuses in London’s supremacy and the centre of English democracy has moved around a lot.

These include visits to, among others, Carlisle, Oxford, Lincoln, Northampton, Winchester, Shrewsbury, York and Kenilworth.

The last time an English parliament was set up outside London was in Coventry in 1459, and it remained there for just under 3 months.

But now, desperately needed renovation work on the Houses of Parliament means MPs will eventually need to vacate the Palace of Westminster.

The firms shortlisted to carry out the improvement and restoration works include Foster’s, HOK, BDP and Allies and Morrison, and a decision is expected later this year, with work due to start in 2020.

The most likely destination for MPs to decamp to while work is underway is the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre – just on the other side of Parliament Square.

However, that hasn’t stopped wild speculation and indeed, opportune self-promotion in suggesting other places MPs could carry out their parliamentary work.

First, campaign group Generation Rent launched an attempt to get MPs to move out of the Palace of Westminster so that it could be turned into flats, and relocate Parliament to Hull. This, they argued, would save tax payers £120m over five years, as MPs are allowed to claim expenses on accommodation in London. Rents are far cheaper in Hull.

Now, another group is calling for Parliament to be moved to Bristol. Bristol-based architect Studio Egret West (SEW) has drawn up plans for a modern parliamentary facility near Bristol Templemeads train station.

The plans take the form of a low hill, at the top of which a depression forms a “speakers’ theatre”.

Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson is backing the plans.

He said: “Bristol is the prime UK city for government relocation and this ‘out of the box’ idea for moving the Houses of Parliament is a great example of the sort of lateral thinking that is required. It is an opportunity to help reduce the staggering cost of restoring the Palace of Westminster and to take some of the economic heat out of London.”

He added: “Combined with rail electrification, bringing Bristol Temple Meads just 80 minutes from Paddington, and proposals to link the station with light rail to Bristol Airport and high speed rail to Birmingham and the North, it helps start a lively conversation as to how Government can further help regenerate our regional cities and national economy following our devolution deals.” 

 

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