PLANS to relocate the House of Lords to York – or another Northern city – have been dismissed by Yorkshire political grandee David Blunkett as a Boris Johnson “vanity project” that only pays lip service to the real economic needs of the North.
The Labour peer also accused the Prime Minister and the Government of trying to deceive voters of the North by believing – mistakenly – that moving the Upper House to the York Central regeneration site will solve decades of regional inequalities.
And Lib Dem and Tory peers from Yorkshire also cast doubt on the proposal, claiming that Lords reform and election of peers needs to take precedence, as the Conservatives consider the possibility of moving their campaign HQ out of London to an unnamed location in the North or Midlands.
Tory chairman James Cleverly confirmed that the future location of the Lords is being considered – not least because an alternative site for Parliament needs to be found while the Palace of Westminster undergoes a £3.5bn restoration over the coming decade.
“What we are looking at is a whole range of options about making sure every part of the UK feels properly connected from politics,” he said. “When the PM stood up the day after the election and said this is going to be the people’s government he meant it. That meant connecting people with government and politics.”
But his comments were greeted with incredulity by Lord Blunkett who held three senior posts in Tony Blair’s government, including Home Secretary, before accepting a peerage in 2015 shortly after he had stood down as MP of Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.
“I can see no benefit – other than Ministers would not have to deal with peers on a daily basis,” Lord Blunkett told The Yorkshire Post last night.
“People don’t want gestures or vanity projects like this – they want real devolution, real decentralisation of power and a bottom-up approach to decision-making. Meaningless and silly gestures only add to the feeling that the Government doesn’t take the North seriously.”
Lord Blunkett, 72, accepted that the House of Lords needs to be reformed so that it becomes more representative of the whole country as Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey presses for the institution to be turned into a House of Regions.
But Lord Blunkett says the prospect of Ministers and peers travelling on the East Coast Main Line to and from York in order to conduct Parliamentary business will make the government of the country more ineffectual.
“It would make no financial or logical sense. It would look like an act of silly spite, and from a Tory government rather than a Rebbeca Long-Bailey government. From a logical and practical point of view, it is a non-starter.”
Ministers guilty of hypocrisy over One Yorkshire devolution
ministers HAVE been accused of hypocrisy by proposing the relocation of the House of Lords to York after blocking One Yorkshire devolution.
Further talks on a bespoke deal for West Yorkshire will take place this week after a deal for a separate South Yorkshire was signed off last week.
“You simply can’t send bits of government up to Yorkshire without a clear plan,” said William Wallace, a Lib Dem peer and minister in the 2010-15 coalition government.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire added: “The answer is that we need to devolve power to Yorkshire. Here they are saying to local councils, and others, is that you cannot have One Yorkshire but you can have an unreformed House of Lords.”