Manchester

Houses of Parliament should be sold off, Labour MP says

Houses of Parliament Image copyright AP
Image caption The Palace of Westminster should be turned into a democracy museum, according to a Labour MP

The Palace of Westminster should be turned into a museum and parliament moved to Manchester, an MP has said.

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton, made the suggestion after a parliamentary committee said urgent repairs were needed at the palace.

It recommended MPs and civil servants move out for six years while the £4bn renovations are completed.

The Labour MP said if civil servants did not want to move their lives north that was "up to them".

Privatise the palace

Spending £4bn "on an old building in London" was "absurd", said Mr Stringer, who suggested a permanent relocation.

The Labour MP told the BBC he would favour selling the palace and turning it into a "museum of democracy".

He said: "It is crazy that the taxpayer should be asked to spend £4bn renovating Westminster when it should be seen as an opportunity to use the space for commercial purposes.

"It is already a tourist attraction and it is an iconic building - so why not give the public greater access to it?"

When asked whether it might be simpler to move MPs and civil servants elsewhere in London, rather than to the north of England, Mr Stringer complained that Whitehall mandarins "never venture outside the M25".

'Over-centralised'

He said: "There are lots of cities that would benefit from having parliament and civil servants there. They could bid and compete for it and we could save the money.

"It would create jobs and opportunities in a sector that everyone agrees is over-centralised.

"As well as those bigger northern cities lets also allow York and Durham to bid for it.

"Obviously I would be in favour of moving to Manchester or Salford - like some of the BBC departments [which moved from London from 2011].

"If some of the civil servants don't want to move that's up to them."

Challenged why he was suggesting only northern cities could host parliament, he replied: "Let Birmingham do their own bid - Birmingham might be the centre of England but Manchester is the centre of the UK."

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