Tuesday 14 March 2017

Question Time

One of the questions older people might ask themselves as time wears on and they wear out is if they are living in a larger property than is required; whether they are living in the house or for the house. As being older their property is older so there are all the costs of repair, maintenance, heating etc. which do not reduce.

This is nothing new. Noel Coward had a song about "The Stately Homes Of England" and the upper classes and the lengths they had to go to in order to keep their houses standing in the period between the wars. These days the issues have become obscured by the way the market in property has gone, but are still there, lurking.

Also, in business, it is not unknown for a firm to be identified with an iconic building, or have a prestige head office which in time the firm seems to be working for rather than the office being subject to the firm's real needs.

In this context the SNP member, Mhairi Black, who has expressed her dislike of the Palace of Westminster, may be on to something. At one time, rather in the past, I saw it as a wonderful building and therefore necessary to government.

Now I am not so sure. It is certainly grand but now much decayed, that is the structure as well as The Lords, and will cost a huge amount to put right. But is not the only thing that has decayed and another is what we used to refer to as The British Constitution.

It is possible to argue that the internal complexities of the building and its brooding architecture is now The Constitution in effect, and that government follows from this instead of the other way round.

Certainly, The British Constitution from say, fifty years ago, no longer exists as such and only the rules, habits and procedures of Parliament remain to act as a quasi-constitution. What matters most now are the lobbies rather than the Chambers and the lobbyists rather than the members, almost surplus to real function.

This blog has already suggested that it is high time Parliament moved to the centre of England, say Tamworth, in buildings and offices fit for purpose and flexible in use as changes occur. The first time I was at Westminster, in Churchill's time, I was impressed. The last time in Gordon Brown's we could not get out fast enough.

In my inbox there is sitting an invitation to an evening at the House of Lords which we are unlikely to attend. We fear that we might be faced with an Earl or two rattling a collecting box.


  1. How any SNP member can complain about the Palace of Wastemonster when they championed that 4king excrescence at the foot of the High Street is beyond my understanding. Mind you, so is the Schottische Nazionalsocialiste Partei.

  2. Why not go to the House of Lords and bend a few ears? Check if they are awake first though.

  3. Some business saddled with large prestige buildings rather too large will lease bits and pieces to whoever might find the space useful. The rent helps towards the upkeep.

    Perhaps this might be done with the Palace, perhaps the cellars could be rented out for storage. I recall there were problems with that in the past, but better vetting of the renters may help.