Confronted with the compelling need to agree collectively on a modus operandi which will enable the colossal, long-overdue restoration and renovation works to the Palace of Westminster to be carried out with minimal disruption to parliamentary business, MPs seem to have reached a consensus.
They have rejected both the open-ended delays and costs of the first option, which is for the works somehow to proceed piecemeal while both the House of Lords and House of Commons contrive to continue as normal, and the sheer chaos of the second option, which is to evacuate the whole building, giving contractors a clear run, by relocating both Houses elsewhere for the duration
Instead, they prefer a compromise, whereby only one house is relocated, so as to afford a critical measure of flexibility for contractors and parliament alike. But of course no consensus is forthcoming as to which house would go and which would stay!
Yet if a virtue is made of necessity by treating this physical and financial challenge as also a providential opportunity for constitutional and administrative reform, then the ideal solution becomes clear – simply to abolish the morbidly obese, obsolete, discredited, dysfunctional House of Lords permanently.
That would not only afford immediate flexibility but also scope for more thorough modernisation of the Commons’ facilities.
The role of the Lords in scrutinising and revising draft legislation will be more efficiently and democratically performed by House of Commons all-party standing committees.
The historic requirement for a second chamber (“checks and balances”) is meaningless in a transparent world of mass media and regulatory bodies.
So here the SNP and Conservatives can find common ground – to create a new People’s Parliament at Westminster, with untold benefits for future relations with Holyrood!