Are there 'secret plans' to move Parliament to Northampton?

Could Northampton become the new home of Parliament? One MP thinks so.
Could Northampton become the new home of Parliament? One MP thinks so.

House of Commons officials have played down any speculation that Parliament could relocate to Northampton as the result of a £4 billion renovation scheme.

Yesterday Ealing North MP Stephen Pound told the Mirror that he feared plans to close Parliament for around six years while a major revamp takes place would result in the iconic Westminster buildings being turned into a museum.

MPs will be asked to vacate Parliament for a refurbishment in the early 2020s.

MPs will be asked to vacate Parliament for a refurbishment in the early 2020s.

He said: “Delays will run into years and they will say: ‘Let’s turn Parliament into a museum and build a new one somewhere else’. We will be hurled into the outer darkness, never to return.”

But the Labour MP then told the Mirror that his preferred location would be to relocate the heart of national democracy to Northampton.

Precedent allows Parliament to sit at York, Lincoln, Salisbury, Oxford or Northampton and the newspaper claims that other MPs share his beliefs.

The Mirror claimed MPs were suspicious of the plans to close Parliament for refurbishment works because officials agreed to silence Big Ben for repair for four years – from today – while they were away on holiday, so they could not object.

The renovation project, likely to start in the early 2020s, will involve the removal of significant amounts of asbestos and there are fears the project could overrun.

If it does, some believe it could end up being cheaper to build a new Parliament altogether,

However, civil servants have sought to downplay the rumors as mere speculation.

A Parliamentary spokesman said: “There is no secret plan.

"Both Houses made a clear commitment in 2012 that the Palace would remain the permanent home of Parliament. That has not changed and preserving the Palace as the home of the United Kingdom's Parliament remains the absolute objective of the works proposed.”

Northampton North MP Michael Ellis said also believes, sadly, the rumours of Parliament moving north are unfounded.

He said: "There are no plans for this, but I think Northampton would be a location. it's a historic place and Parliament previously sat here centuries ago.

"It is in a central location with very good logistics.

"It is a good place for all types of conferences.

"But sadly there are no plans for this.

"The reality is there is so much infrastructure based around Westminster that would have to move.

"It wouldn't be a question of just moving the house itself."