I have to agree with Charlotte Higgins’ article on the unsuitability of the Houses of Parliament (Of course there is abusive behavior in parliament – the place was made for this, 4 May). It is a fine example of mid-Victorian civic medieval mock gothic, but utterly inappropriate and inhibiting for a modern democracy. We need a new semi-circular chamber to reflect a proportional representation constitution supporting coalition governments, unlike the old ecclesiastical-style showdown benches that promote the farce that is PMQs and ridiculous archaic Ruritanian ceremonies. The Houses of Parliament would be a huge tourist attraction as a museum of a defunct and corrupt system. We could even reconstruct historical debates. As Churchill said, “We shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us.”
Doctor Louis Hellman
When we as architects designed the new Scottish Parliament, Donald Dewar’s stern words rang in our ears: ‘There should be no Westminster showdown chambers and there should be no bars !” He abhorred the atmosphere created by the synthesis of these two things.
Our chamber is basically radial in shape and centered on the chair. No member faces another. In addition, the homogeneity of the seating arrangement reflects the proportional representation system used in Scotland.
Come take a look at the building – you are welcome. At £400m, that seems like a bargain compared to the costs of your article.
Former Director of EMBT/RMJM, architects of the Scottish Parliament
Let us modernize our democracy and send our representatives – elected by proportional representation – to a new hemicycle in the center of the United Kingdom. We can keep the iconic building on the Thames as a museum where Jacob Rees-Mogg can relive past glories while guiding tour groups.
Bognor Regis, West Sussex
In her excellent article, Charlotte Higgins errs in referring to Westminster as “the mother of parliaments”. John Bright, the MP for Birmingham who coined the phrase in 1865, said “England is the mother of parliaments”.