Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Spotlight
22 February 2019

Spotlight Leader: Parliament should move to the North

By the middle of the next decade, 650 MPs, their advisors and support staff will need to move out of the Palace of Westminster because, among other maintenance issues, it catches fire six times a year.

By Spotlight

In June 2015 the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, announced a plan his party called Bedre Balance (better balance), in which thousands of government jobs would move out of the capital city and into 38 different towns. Last year, a second wave of relocations was announced. In all, around 4,000 government jobs will have moved in a few years.

Partly the intention is to move government decision-makers into places where they can actually see the effects of their decisions – so, the maritime authority has moved to the port of Korsør and the nature agency has moved to the smaller city of Randbøl, which is surrounded by national parks. But the move is also intended to offer the social and economic stimulus offered to smaller towns and cities by moving large numbers of well-paid, well-educated people to somewhere other than the capital city.

The UK has an even greater need of decentralised government than Denmark. The Prime Minister, Chancellor, and the Foreign, Transport, Business and Environment Secretaries all represent constituencies within 30 miles of central London, as do the Labour leader, the Shadow Chancellor and the Shadow Home, Foreign, Brexit and Trade Secretaries. The civil service is overwhelmingly Londonbased. The government department responsible for the Northern Powerhouse is almost entirely in London.

It also has a greater opportunity. By the middle of the next decade, 650 MPs, their advisors and support staff will need to move out of the Palace of Westminster because, among other maintenance issues, it catches fire six times a year. The UK’s legislature can move itself anywhere in the country, bringing with it massive public and private sector employment – consider how many jobs in the media, technology and infrastructure would follow – while offering a new commitment to listening to and investing in the 57 million British people who live outside the M25. Moving our Parliament north would not fix the UK’s divisions, but it would be a powerful start.

To access the full Spotlight supplement, click here.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Topics in this article: