MPs catching the Midland Metro to work, the TV news interviewing ministers by the ‘man on the ‘oss’ – what if Parliament were based in Wolverhampton?
That is what should happen according to Hollywood and Shakespearean actor Brian Cox – not to be mistaken for the floppy-haired TV physicist of the same name.
The long-serving Labour party supporter believes it would cut MPs’ living costs and would prevent a repeat of the expenses scandal.
City MPs Pat McFadden, Emma Reynolds and Paul Uppal know it has about as much chance of happening as Jeremy Clarkson becoming Prime Minister – but they can dare to dream.
And then there is the question of where would be suitable for a building to house 650 MPs, plus 836 members of the House of Lords and the thousands of members of staff, journalists and various hangers on that come with the seat of democracy.
It is not exactly as though they can just take over Wolverhampton’s Civic Centre. That’s still being used by the city council.
But its deputy leader Councillor Peter Bilson says he would love to see Parliament move to the city, even though it could only go somewhere like Wolverhampton Science Park.
Other possibilities, if the idea were even serious, would be Bilston Urban Village, although it would change long-awaited plans for hundreds of new homes.
Even so, it would mean a huge boost in terms of new business for companies and landlords catering for all those MPs, or, if they’re now in the Black Country, should that be MPays?
Mr Cox, who has been on the big screen as the baddie in X-Men 2 and played killer Hannibal Lecter before Anthony Hopkins, said: “The best thing that could happen to London would be if Parliament were to be moved to Wolverhampton.”
The 67-year-old, who has been in Shakespeare plays such as King Lear and The Taming Of The Shrew, added: “The Houses of Parliament could become nice Peabody Trust housing and be a really lovely place to live, for people who couldn’t otherwise afford London. That would be wonderful.”
The Scottish actor narrated Labour’s election broadcasts in 1997.
He believes the move would mean politicians claim less money from the public purse. “MPs living in London led to the expenses scandal,” he said.
“They were fiddling their expenses because prices are crazy and they couldn’t afford to live. Moving MPs to Wolverhampton would stop that.”
But what would a Parliament in Wolverhampton sound like? Is everyone going to start calling each other ‘the roight honourable mon and ‘roight honourable wench’?
Better send for Mr Spaker before this all gets out of hand. And instead of ‘order order’, he’ll have to shout: “Stop yer ivverin’ an’ ovverin’ an’ get on wi’it.”
Mr McFadden, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, said: “I think it’s a great idea. We have plenty of areas in need of regeneration and I am sure all the MPs would get a warm welcome.”
Wolverhampton North East MP Miss Reynolds added: “If there was a serious proposal on the table to move Parliament outside of London, I can think of no better place than Wolverhampton.
And Mr Uppal, Tory MP for Wolverhampton South West, added: “I think the idea of Parliament moving to Wolverhampton would be very welcome. It would make the whole place less London-centric and introduce more Black Country traditional values. I’ve always tried to bring Wolverhampton common sense into Westminster, if that could be reversed too by Westminster coming into Wolverhampton I think everyone would benefit.” The suggestion comes as Staffordshire Conservative MP Michael Fabricant says there should be an English Parliament based in his Lichfield constituency.
He says evolution of powers to the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has taken place ‘without regard’ for England.The former government whip wants an English Parliament to help rebalance the discrepancy caused by the transfer of powers such as Wales and Scotland having the ability to vary income tax, whilst still receiving block grants from England.
But Parliament in Wolverhampton?
We might end up calling MPs ‘yam-pees’ instead. They certainly would be yampy – a bit crazy – after a few years around here. But no more than they are now.
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