“Window of opportunity” at Westminster

Posted on September 8th, 2016 by Matt Flinders


New report by the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster opens ‘window of opportunity’ for democracy with recommendations for restoration of parliament.

Professor Matthew Flinders, Director of the Crick Centre and Chair of the Political Studies Association, has welcomed the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster’s recommendation that MPs should leave the palace of Westminster en masse in order for the restoration and renewal of the building to take place in the quickest and most efficient manner possible.

“This is not simply a politically brave proposal but it is also the correct proposal,” said Professor Flinders who sees it as a chance for Parliament to better engage with the public. “Spending money on political institutions is never going to be popular but this a key window of opportunity to change the way we ‘do’ politics.”

The recommendation was part of the Joint Committee’s new report Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster, which was published on 8 September after a year-long inquiry.

Joint Committee Palace of Westminster report cover September 2016

The Joint Committee’s recommendations come after the 2015 Independent Options Appraisal concluded, ‘the risk of catastrophic failure is increasing… and a major failure of the existing service infrastructure is inevitable’.

Professor Flinders has condemned previous attempts to shy away from investing in democracy, arguing:

“The state of the building means that doing nothing and continuing to bury our heads in the sand is no longer an option. The current cohort of MPs should now embrace the Restoration and Renewal programme as a positive opportunity to redefine democracy in the UK. This is the huge prize on offer to a parliament and government that is brave enough to seize the initiative.”

The Joint Committee’s report cites evidence provided by Prof Flinders and Crick Centre Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Dr Leanne-Marie McCarthy-Cotter:

Professor Matthew Flinders and Dr Leanne-Marie McCarthy-Cotter, from the Sir Bernard Crick Centre at the University of Sheffield, said that the R&R Programme should be viewed as a “vibrant and positive opportunity for democratic renewal” and that the Programme presented an opportunity for “designing for democracy”. They argued that the Programme would provide an opportunity to look more strategically at what an effectively functioning parliament might look like, particularly in the context of rising levels of political disengagement and the public’s changing expectations regarding access, visibility and performance.

Find out more about the Crick Centre’s research and public engagement project on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster: Designing for Democracy.

Palace of Westminster. Image courtesy of DAVID ILIFF via Wikimedia Commons and reproduced under license CC-BY-SA 3.0

Palace of Westminster. Image courtesy of DAVID ILIFF via Wikimedia Commons and reproduced under license CC-BY-SA 3.0

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