Liberal Democrats claim Sunderland vying with Stoke to become temporary home of the House of Lords

Campaigners fighting for Sunderland to become a temporary home for the House of Lords have seized on comments by a key decision maker.

Calls for Parliament’s upper house to move to Wearside during proposed renovation works have previously been made by the city’s Liberal Democrat opposition group.

And the suggestion appears to have gained traction, after Lib Dem councillor Stephen O’Brien claimed passing comments by Mr Gove following a speech to the Local Government Association (LGA), in Harrogate, suggested the final choice for the move would be between Sunderland and Stoke.

Sunderland is one of several locations which has been suggested as an alternative home for the House of Lords.

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Cllr O’Brien called the development “promising news”.

He added: “As Michael Gove walked past me at the LGA conference, I didn’t want to miss a chance to raise our campaign to move the House of Lords to Sunderland with him.

"It was really encouraging to hear him say that his choice is between Sunderland or Stoke.

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Liberal Democrat councillor Stephen O'Brien.

“Faced with this choice between Stoke and Sunderland, I hope everyone in the city and the wider region will give their backing to relocating the House of Lords to Wearside so that we can get the economic benefits that would come with it – and help to put Sunderland on the map.”

When asked about the comments by Mr Gove, a spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities referred to previous statements made in Parliament on the topic of a possible relocation of the House of Lords.

Earlier this year, Lord Young of Cookham, a former Conservative cabinet member under John Major, but who resigned the Tory whip in 2019 over Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament, raised a question on possible relocation.

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Responding, Lord Greenhalgh, a government minster, said peers should not remain in “a location in the heart of Westminster” during planned renovation works on the Palace of Westminster.

He added: “Levelling Up is central to the Government's mission and the Government would welcome the House of Lords playing a leading role in that effort.

“Peers relocating out of London during the decant would not only be a powerful symbol but a very practical way to boost local economies and ensure that lawmakers could hear directly from those beyond the capital.”