Monday, February 04, 2008

MPs to vote on moving House of Commons to Virgin Islands

MPs will today vote on a Private Member's Bill regarding future accommodation for the Mother of Parliaments as the Palace of Westminster faces a highly disruptive period of maintenance. Analysts believe the new temporary offices are likely to be overseas. The timing is thought to be especially favourable for many MPs now that the parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee has woken up to exactly how much public money finds it’s way to the family members of some MPs.

"I have asked many MPs and taken some advice from my accountant and all are very much in favour of moving the House of Commons to the British Virgin Islands," said Tory MP, Derek Conway. "It is a shame I am having to stand down over my financial dealings, as it would open up a lot of opportunities for my constituents in Old Bexley and Sidcup who have not yet worked in an overseas tax-haven. Such as my wife and sons."

MPs are concerned about the possible disruption caused by even a temporary move of the commons’ chamber lending the British Virgin Islands proposals a great deal of cross-party support. The move would also bring closer those people most important to a constituency MP, his financial advisors.

"Moving the Houses of Commons to a new, purpose-built location will provide 21st century parliamentarians with the office-complex-cum-country-club that they need," said former Wales Secretary and cash enthusiast Peter Hain. "The weather out there would be good for my hard-working secretary - my 80 year old mum."

Those members of parliament thought of as the most conservative could see merit in the idea even if it means a break with tradition and a likelihood of increase costs at such a remote location.

"Whilst it often seems that the old ways are being swept away by the tide of change, we must always look to the future," said Tory MP Sir Nicholas Winterton. "Now that traditional dodges - such as having the public pay the notional rent on a flat in London that one has in trust for one’s children - have been found out, we need to look further afield for new opportunities."

Many political analysts see little downside in the move, saying that it represented a logical step in the modernisation of parliamentary practice.

"I think it would improve the quality and accessibility of parliament to move the commons 5,000 miles to the Caribbean," said Gavin Billingsworth, parliamentary sketch writer for the Daily Express. "You would get a lot more attendance and quality reporting of debates by journalists if they were held at a beach-front bar."

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