House of Lords shock: Boris Johnson prepares major change for upper house
Sir Eddie Lister, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, recently visited the Yorkshire city to inspect an 111-acre location for Parliament’s upper house.
The move is being considered by Downing Street as part of a drive to put Parliament more in touch with voters beyond London and particularly in the North of England.
A Government source said: “Sir Eddie visited York recently to look at a possible site. This is being taken seriously.”
Sir Eddie, along with Cabinet Office aides, is understood to have looked at a brownfield site next to York’s railway station currently earmarked for 2,500 new homes. The visit took place on January 31.
It is controlled by a partnership including Home England, an agency he chaired before taking up his post in Downing Street.
Aides are now said to be holding detailed talks about building a new Lords chamber on the site along with offices for staff.
Sir Eddie is understood to be attracted to the site as a potential location for the Lords because planning permission for large-scale development has already been agreed.
Aides believe York has the “suitable character” to host one of the houses of Parliament because the city was the historic capital of the North.
The move is likely to alarm peers who did not take the idea seriously when it was first reported last month.
Mr Johnson was said to ordered advisers to study the move in an effort to show his dedication to “refocusing attention and investment” away from the capital.
Neil Ferris, the City of York Council director of economy and place, told a council committee meeting: “The only thing I would say in respect of the House of Lords is that officers weren’t aware of the proposal, but we understand that the government are seriously looking at it.
“Whether or not it has any mileage is a matter for government.
“The [council] leader has written to the Prime Minister effectively welcoming their proposal.
“The fact that the Prime Minister’s aware of the site, that the quality of the site has been raised nationally and internationally, can only be good for the city.”
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