Boris Johnson has suggested that MPs and peers could temporarily decant to York in what would constitute one of the most radical shake-ups in Parliament’s history.
The Prime Minister has written to the Commons authorities asking that they consider moving MPs and peers North while the Palace of Westminster undergoes a multibillion pound restoration.
In his letter to David Goldstone, the chief executive of the restoration, Mr Johnson wrote that the Government was already establishing a hub in York and it would “therefore make sense to consider this as a potential location”.
Under the current plans, MPs are set to move to a specially built replica of the House of Commons chamber, in nearby Richmond House, for six years or more while major repairs are carried out.
However, with a review of the £4 billion refurbishment now underway, Mr Johnson said that there was also a case for “a full decant of both Houses or a partial decant of either or both Houses” and that a “possible location outside London” should be considered.
His suggestion is likely to divide opinion among MPs, who will have the ultimate say on any move.
A number of senior Conservatives are opposed to vacating the Palace at all, whilst others are likely to champion a move out of London as evidence of the Government’s commitment to “levelling up the country”.
In his letter, Mr Johnson continued: “We should also move as quickly as possible, both because of the risks associated with the current state of the building and the need to provide certainty on the way forward and thereby minimise disruption to our business.
“The Government does not prejudge any particular outcome. The review should determine how the various options should be assessed.
“The location of Parliament is a constitutional issue. The views of Parliamentarians will need to be considered carefully, as well as any legislative impact.”
It comes just days after it emerged that Downing Street was drawing up plans for York to become a second centre of Government, with departments asked to file plans to move officials out of Whitehall.
In January, it was also reported that the Prime Minister was considering plans to move the House of Lords to York permanently.