Knight’s Days - The Life at Westminster column with Sir Greg Knight

Both Houses of Parliament will be required to move out of the Palace of Westminster for substantial refurbishment.
Both Houses of Parliament will be required to move out of the Palace of Westminster for substantial refurbishment.

There is a lot of talk lately about ‘localism’ and devolving more powers to the English regions and whilst there remains some disagreement as to how this should best be achieved, the principle seems to be one that most politicians agree with.

Whatever devolution plans are implemented, we know that within the next 6 years both Houses of Parliament will be required to move out of the Palace of Westminster for substantial refurbishment.

The current plan is that temporary chambers for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords should be constructed just a few yards away from the existing Parliament building in central London.

However, if Parliament is to be decanted, then why should it have to stay in London?

True, if it moves North this will amount to inconvenience for a great number of civil servants, who are London based, but why shouldn’t we consider this option, if only for the duration of the decanting period?

Former Prime Minister David Cameron used to regularly hold cabinet meetings around the country, so why shouldn’t Parliament do the same?

I suspect that one of the main objections would be from the security point of view which would, in turn, make the costs of doing it prohibitive.

But, if creating a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is more than just a soundbite, then why not at least look at the feasibility of Parliament sitting for a while in Hull or Leeds while the refurbishment of the permanent building in London takes place?

There is a rumour in Parliament that one fizzy drink manufacturer is looking into the possibility of producing a medically beneficial cannabis-enriched drink, if the law in future allows it to do so.

Whether they go ahead with the cannabis drink formula or not, doctors are already claiming that some fizzy drinks on sale now contain a far more dangerous ingredient, namely sugar, which they say is likely to turn todays younger generation into a nation of decaying-toothed fatties.

This has already led to calls from some people for sugar-laden drinks to be banned, or taxed more “in the interests of public health.”

In my view, Members of Parliament should always exercise caution before deliberately interfering in what people eat, do, say or buy.

Of course, the public have a right to know the facts -and this means products should be clearly labelled- but beyond that, shouldn’t they be free to decide how they themselves behave?