The Palace Of Westminster is falling down

Cracks in the walls
As an unintended symbol of the diseased state of British democracy, the Palace Of Westminster is decaying irreparably.  Decades of neglect, extending over a century, coupled with the Thames lapping ever closer has led to crumbling masonry and a growing danger of collapse into the river.

Rather than channel hundreds of millions of tax-payers money into trying to resurrect the building from its impending demise, an opportunity should be taken to start anew. 

Let the palace sink slowly into the Thames or dismantle it brick-by-brick and sell to someone with too much money and no sense; perhaps, Elon Musk could rebuild it on Mars?  

Parliament, or its replacement, needs a much better venue.  The debating chamber of the House Of Commons (HoC) has an insufficient number of seats, a very poor layout and a lack of facilities at the MPs’ seats.  The two sets of rows of seats facing each other do not encourage intelligent debate or discussion; the layout encourages childish combat. 

HoCEmpty

It was designed to suit dim-witted, verbose landed gentry in the 19th century who enjoyed yelling and laughing at each other pointlessly achieving nothing.  Although there are many such shouty morons still infecting parliament’s space, a new chamber needs to have a very different design.  It needs seats for each member of the government and each seat should have sufficient desk space and internet, phone and TV access.  The cabinet, or equivalent, should face the rest of the chamber.  A speaker, if required, should sit nearby but not in an elevated position.

The poor layout of the current debating chamber in the House Of Commons and its lack of facilities for the MPs are contributing factors to time-wasting as is the necessity to file in and out of the chamber to vote.  A better more user-friendly layout, including at-seat voting, would cut time wastage.

NewParliament
 An simple example of a usable seating plan for parliament or equivalent

Cracks in democracy
Alongside the new improved physical structure of parliament the opportunity should be taken to eradicate uselessness in the processes and procedures in parliament. 

Most of what is said in the HoC has no useful purpose for the public.  There is too much posturing and too many statements of the screamingly obvious.  The repetition is absurd.  Debate should always have a clear purpose and, in any parliament, should always be concluded with a meaningful vote.  In the HoC there are debates without a concluding vote and there are some with a meaningless vote.  Even the debates with a meaningful vote could be reduced in length; if those voting know how they intend to vote then why spend hours and hours “debating?”  Most of the activity in the HoC is partly light entertainment and partly deliberate obstruction.  For Britain, democracy appears to mean wasting as much time as possible so that little gets done.

One solution to the waste of time in parliament is to separate the legislating from the debates.  The debates are, predominantly, performances for TV and the speeches are delivered for posterity in Hansard.  The personality driven design of parliament has encouraged limelight hogging at the expense of useful activity.  Separation of the legislating from the verbal jousting would hasten the process of the former and allow the latter to continue for the respective combatants’ benefit and amusement.

HoCSunset
Sun sets on Westminster

The cracks in the walls of the Palace Of Westminster are matched by the cracks in the structure of parliamentary democracy in Britain.  Both are stumbling on to inexorable demise.  Both need replacing with something better and much more useful.

The Palace Of Westminster is falling down

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