Monday, 22 June 2015

Decamping Parliament

This was sent as a letter to the editor:

Mark Leftly's ever astute column Parliamentary Business this week (Independent, 17 June) points out that MPs and peers need to be near the machinery of Government in Whitehall. That is true, but the important reason is really the reverse.

Rather, ministers and civil servants need to be close to Parliament, firstly because lots of meetings take place between ministers and MPs . If there was a geographical gap - such as posited relocation to Hull  (as Leftly mentions in passing) or some other place distant from London, this would be impossible without huge dislocation for ministers and accompanying civil servants or MPs travelling from a distant  base to meetings and back again, with significant additional public expenditure being incurred.

Secondly, the Speaker has quite rightly awarded many more urgent question requests from opposition and backbench MPs, which require ministers at short notice to appear in the House of Commons to answers interested MPs'  questions.

This would be impossible and impractical if Parliament and machinery of government were located in distant venues, and would negate the ability of Parliament to scrutinise ministers on matters of urgent public concern.

So, with Parliament probably having to decamp temporarily, I think the massive nearby QE11 Centre would be just fine for the debating Chambers and some MPs' offices, but I think relocation of the huge and magnificent Library, needed on a daily basis by MPs and Parliamentary officials,  and archive of Parliamentary records (important for historians) would prove a difficult, but not insurmountable, challenge.

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