Sunderland suggested as temporary home for the House of Lords during planned multi-billion pound Parliament renovation

Reports Sunderland could become the new home of the House of Lords have met a mixed reaction on Wearside.

Debates have been running for years over how a planned refurbishment of Parliament would be handled, with some arguing for the Palace of Westminster to be shutdown for decades to allow the work to take place.

According to the Sunday Times newspaper, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove wrote to the Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith, suggesting locations including Stoke-on-Trent, Burnley and Sunderland.

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But while some of the city’s political leaders, such as the Liberal Democrats, who have previously called for the move, welcomed the suggestion, others have been more skeptical.

Peers gather in the House of Lords, Westminster
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Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Currently, we have a minister suggesting several locations that include Sunderland, however we do need a lot more detail about how such a move would happen, how it would be paid for and when it would occur, before getting too carried away.

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“While we would welcome any such proposal, there have been many ministerial statements that have not come to fruition in the recent past.

"Is there a genuine possibility for the House of Lords moving to Sunderland, or is this just another flight of fantasy from a government that has failed repeatedly to deliver on its laughable “Levelling Up” agenda?”

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Government minister Michael Gove has reportedly told the Lord Speaker the House of Lords should relocate outside of London, rather than moving to a building nearby during refurbishment works.

But Niall Hodson, leader of Wearside’s opposition Liberal Democrat group, which gained two council seats in May’s local elections, claimed the city would be a “perfect new home for Peers of the Realm” and urged others in the region to back the plan.

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He said: “This would this be a huge economic boost to the city, and to the wider region, and would help put us on the map.

"That’s why I’m asking politicians from across the region and from all political parties to back a campaign for Sunderland to be the new home of the House of Lords.”

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Earlier this year, a report claimed Parliament’s refurbishment could take up to 76 years and £22 billion, if MPs and peers attempt to stay put while it is carried out.

Leader of Sunderland City Council Cllr Graeme Miller.
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In comparison, the cheapest option would involve a “full decant” of the palace for between 12 and 20 years, costing between £7-13 billion.

Liberal Democrat group leader Niall Hodson.