Should Parliament be moved to Lancaster? That is a question you don’t hear every day, but what about it though? I mean what would you think to the idea if someone suggested it? What if that person was a former Labour cabinet minister?
Yes this is the hair-raiser scheme of Lord Adonis who suggests that moving both the House of Lords, and the Houses of Parliament to the north of England in the hope that the London centric views of those in question would shift. Well of course there would be lots of implications brought up, and money to spend as well as 5 dozen health and safety meetings a day to simply discuss the implications of moving an entire building, but Adonis is not really talking about that. As for the London centric view meanwhile, well there is a sort of divide in the country going on at the moment, and I am not talking about Scotland. The divide between the north and south of England is ever present.
As someone who visits the south of England regularly every year, particularly at the end of august, there are strong emotions, opinions and sometimes jokes (although all of which come from southerners) which sometimes can get offensive between the two sides. As someone who lives in Lancaster I do see the hard financial times the country currently faces with shop closures as well as areas which have become very dilapidated and are in dire need of redevelopment. Go to London meanwhile and the entire place seems to be fine, shops are all open and the place is booming with money transactions, and as for redevelopment, well new and even taller buildings are going up all the time. So while nit could be a northerner’s view to state that Parliament has a London centric view, the evidence appears to be clear.
The entire north is not like Lancaster though, if we were to look at the city of Manchester, we can see how well that city has done financially and has been considered by many (although the same could be said for Birmingham also) to be the countries second capital city. However, if Parliament was moved to Manchester or even Liverpool, because of their current financial and city status standing, the situation would almost be no different than it is now.
So why Lancaster? Well, Adonis has suggested that if Scotland was to stay with the UK (as in to stay as part of the country and not as in to rebuild Hadrian’s Wall), Lancaster would be the central spot of the country, particularly around the area of Wyresdale road and Fenham Carr Lane. Lancaster has an old fashioned look about it; it is a very historic city with not much in recent years in futuristic or even artistic redevelopment, with most of its redevelopment being done to look camouflaged inside it. The houses of Parliament and Lords would look brilliant in the city itself and would not look out of place, given 10 years or so, London meanwhile is just getting newer and newer, but who knows, maybe Lord Adonis is secretly suggesting moving to the outskirts of Lancaster because he thinks that the Lords and MP’s need a good dose of rural fresh air.
There must be something more to Lancaster than just its heritage for the HP Sauce building to move there. Lancaster, while not a city on the grow, and in all fairness has possibly reached its size limit, continues to increase its standing with the rest of the country gradually over the years. Lancaster University is one of the highest rated universities in the country according to the league tables with high scores in every criteria. Lancaster has many historic sites including the Ashton Memorial and the castle, not to mention the famous faces that have come from and lived in and around the area at one period or another, people such as:
- Richard Owen: Coined the phrase Dinosaur and founded the Natural History Museum in London.
- James May: Studied Music at Lancaster University, currently presents Top Gear.
- Joe Abercrombie: Author of the First Law Trilogy.
- John McGuiness: Isle of Man TT Legend
- Jon Richardson: Stand-up Comedian.
- Jim Bowen: Presenter of ITV Game Show Bullseye for 18 Years.
Lancaster is also a major hub on the west coast mainline. So if Parliament was to be moved to Lancaster, at least the Lords and MP’s would be able to get to it quite easily.
Getting back to London though for a minute, one question that could be raised by the last paragraph, is, has London outgrown parliament. Like I said when how the HP Sauce building would fit in quite easily to Lancaster’s landscape, London itself has become more of a tourism capital in its own right than an administrative capital. It appears to be more on par with cities like Amsterdam, Sydney and Toronto. SO perhaps a change of scenery to a city which has a lot less Tourism might do some good, and there is nothing wrong with two capitals, the Netherlands has a similar arrangement with Amsterdam in the camera spot light as it were and The Hague taking over as the administrative council. But what about the houses of parliament, they can’t just be moved, Lancaster would need a new building or a conversion of a building for this plan to work. If it were to happen though, as Adonis has suggested, Parliament could become a hotel, and what a grand hotel it would be. I mean who wouldn’t want to spend a night in the Houses of Parliament. It could become the UK’s next tourism ‘Mecca’ and by that I don’t mean Bingo. You can just imagine having re-enactments set up for public viewings of famous sessions, such as the “Calm down dear” moment or that time powder was thrown at Tony Blair, or a re-enactment of him wearing his plumb suit. You can just imagine it now, families saying, “Hey kids, sit down in the stools , you’ll look just like a politician”.
But looking past all this, would the shift of parliament end the North/South split. Well, that may not be the case, southerners might get jealous that the north might get more attention from Parliament, however, moving Parliament to a city such as Lancaster might open MP’s minds to think more of the country as a while, and not just London. London has reached a stage mostly in thanks to the Olympics in most respects where it can survive by itself, and while this does sound more like an opinion, there are other places in the UK that need attention. George Osbourne can say all those things about the economy, but he is in a pretty financially safe zone. There are other people to think about though, and maybe it is time for another part of the country to get the advantages that the houses of parliament can provide.
It won’t be a straight corridor though for a move like this to occur, things need to be thought through. On the behalf of Lancaster, on the plus side it will receive a lot of new eyes to look at how to run the country plus some financial benefits, but then, the city does already have a congestion problem and the city may not be able to cope in the long run initially for both transport and accommodation. If it stayed in London, well, not much would change, but if it were to move, financially tourism may increase. So in many a sense, it would help two cities if it were to move.