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Why the House of Commons should stay in London and reject radical redesign Why the House of Commons should stay in London and reject radical redesign
(about 4 hours later)
Neither Simon Jenkins (This grand design shows MPs have lost it, 10 May) nor your letter writers (11 and 14 May) seem to understand why, for practical and cost reasons, parliament and government buildings have to be located close together. They advocate moving the Commons debating chamber. But parliament is not just the debating chamber. There is, crucially, the library, the best political resource in the country. Then there are the offices for the staff of 650 MPs plus the over 30 meeting rooms needed for parliamentary committees. The Commons also has a secondary mini chamber in Westminster Hall. Unless the entire government suite of departmental headquarters were moved along with the Commons, ministers would remain in Westminster with their officials, and be unable to be called at short notice to justify government policy decisions.Dr David LowryFormer parliamentary researcher, Stoneleigh, SurreyNeither Simon Jenkins (This grand design shows MPs have lost it, 10 May) nor your letter writers (11 and 14 May) seem to understand why, for practical and cost reasons, parliament and government buildings have to be located close together. They advocate moving the Commons debating chamber. But parliament is not just the debating chamber. There is, crucially, the library, the best political resource in the country. Then there are the offices for the staff of 650 MPs plus the over 30 meeting rooms needed for parliamentary committees. The Commons also has a secondary mini chamber in Westminster Hall. Unless the entire government suite of departmental headquarters were moved along with the Commons, ministers would remain in Westminster with their officials, and be unable to be called at short notice to justify government policy decisions.Dr David LowryFormer parliamentary researcher, Stoneleigh, Surrey
• John Rigby and Peter Phillips (Letters, 11 May) write about the “adversarial” design of the Houses of Parliament, but a quick internet search for “parliament fight” will reveal pages upon pages of brawling politicians around the world who don’t seem to be have been soothed to consensual dialogue by their progressively curved chambers. At least the benches in the Commons are too big to be picked up and thrown. The US Congress is also a semicircle, but that doesn’t stop the superpower from routinely voting for a military-industrial complex that spreads conflict across the globe.• John Rigby and Peter Phillips (Letters, 11 May) write about the “adversarial” design of the Houses of Parliament, but a quick internet search for “parliament fight” will reveal pages upon pages of brawling politicians around the world who don’t seem to be have been soothed to consensual dialogue by their progressively curved chambers. At least the benches in the Commons are too big to be picked up and thrown. The US Congress is also a semicircle, but that doesn’t stop the superpower from routinely voting for a military-industrial complex that spreads conflict across the globe.
Far from being “adversarial”, our parliament encourages levelling humility. “Modern” semicircular chambers are breathtakingly self-centred and arrogant – where every politician gets their own chair, their own nameplate, their own microphone, their own voting button, the centre of their own little insular universe. Our politicians have to look the opposition in the eye across the chamber, rub shoulders with them in the voting lobbies, and jostle for seating. Maybe our governors, with their index-linked pensions, ought to experience a little discomfort from time to time.Robert FrazerLowestoft, Suffolk Far from being “adversarial”, our parliament encourages levelling humility. “Modern” semicircular chambers are breathtakingly self-centred and arrogant – where every politician gets their own chair, their own nameplate, their own microphone, their own voting button, the centre of their own little insular universe. Our politicians have to look the opposition in the eye across the chamber, rub shoulders with them in the voting lobbies, and jostle for seating. Maybe our governors, with their index-linked pensions, ought to experience a little discomfort from time to time.Robert FrazerManchester
• I love your idea, Shona Hardie (Letters, 14 May), but parliament doesn’t have to move as far north as Mansfield. There is a site in the town centre here in Crewe which Cheshire East council are keen to redevelop. The southerners need not worry as HS2, once it reaches here, will stop at the new HS2 hub.Consella FahyCrewe, Cheshire• I love your idea, Shona Hardie (Letters, 14 May), but parliament doesn’t have to move as far north as Mansfield. There is a site in the town centre here in Crewe which Cheshire East council are keen to redevelop. The southerners need not worry as HS2, once it reaches here, will stop at the new HS2 hub.Consella FahyCrewe, Cheshire
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