The possibility of moving the House of Lords from London to York was debated by peers themselves yesterday (Monday, 20 January).
Here are some of the highlights – including a kind offer from the next Archbishop of York and current Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell to loan out his garden at Bishopthorpe Palace to Lords when he moves in.
Train times wrong
“My Lords, is it an indication of the depth of research undertaken by the Government on this that the briefing to the Sunday Times said that one advantage of York is that it is now only three hours by train from London?
“When I came back directly from York to London last weekend, it took me just under two hours. Does this suggest that the Government have not thought this through?
– Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Liberal Democrat)
“This House is part of the scrutiny of Parliament as a whole. Clearly government must better engage with the regions and the nations, but does the Minister agree that moving just one part of Parliament, albeit to the fantastic city of York, sounds more like the PM is as worried about Lords scrutiny as he is about Andrew Neil?”
– Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour)
Future Archbishop loans his garden
“I put on record that I will later this year have a large garden available in York where a suitable marquee could be erected for these purposes.”
– Bishop of Chelmsford
But he’s also a sceptic
“Some of the most important business that we do in these Houses happens not in the Chambers but in the corridors, so it seems to me to be a serious threat to our democratic processes if we are not in the same place. Could we reconsider this one, please?”
– Bishop of Chelmsford
“Am I right in remembering that the centre of the great city of York was the Shambles slaughterhouse? Is this not really an attempt by the Prime Minister to cull the House of Lords, and might that not end up being another shambles?”
– Lord Winston (Lab)
Move the Commons too
“Yesterday morning the people of Yorkshire woke up to the knowledge and excitement of the possibility of Parliament coming back to the north of England.
“However, I think the excitement was somewhat sullied by the later indication that it was only the House of Lords that would be coming to York. While York would welcome that, I suggest that my noble friend also looks carefully at a new location for the House of Commons.
“In the interests of national unity, perhaps he should consider the Commons going to either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
– Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate (Conservative)