Dreams of a modern parliament are as crumbled as the palace | Letters

What a shame that a temporary chamber is to be built in London, writes Matt Dobson. Meanwhile John Rigby and Dr Peter Phillips lament a missed opportunity

If there is any singular image of the state of British politics in 2019 it is surely that of the Houses of Parliament: crumbling, unfit for purpose, leaking, and ultimately another London-centric money pit (Green and pleasantly familiar, 9 May).

Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when we attach the words “icon of democracy” to what is essentially just a functional space of bricks and mortar with the odd gothic flourish, green leather and a River Thames setting?

What a shame that a temporary chamber is to be built in London. Here is an idea: a roaming chamber for the duration of the refurbishment. Get out into the provinces politicians claim to hear yet do nothing for. Force politicians out of the capital and into our towns and cities forgotten by so many.

Hire out our council chambers, cathedrals, school sports halls, arts venues strapped for funding due to council cuts, use our hotels and small businesses trying to make ends meet, get out and see where the decisions, or lack of, made in that great building on the Thames are having an effect.

Get people feeling like they can engage with politics and are finally being engaged with outside of election season. Go to Cornwall or Blackpool or Skegness in the low season, or spend more than a week in the Welsh Valleys or a pit town in County Durham, try taking a train or bus anywhere outside of London. Come see us rather than scurrying to another building in Whitehall. That would surely be a better icon of democracy.
Matt Dobson
Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

• Your headline “Green and pleasantly familiar” describing our new temporary parliament says it all. The artist’s impression indicates that the architects’ brief specified an outdated adversarial seating arrangement and no electronic voting. One wonders if they’ve also specified 480 seats so that 170 members have to remain standing, as now. What other advanced democracy would require a facsimile of a 19th-century parliamentary operation, while ripping apart a Grade II*-listed building for a mere £1.6 bn?

Parliamentary authorities might be able to afford a fit-for-purpose assembly building with seats for everyone plus electronic voting if they moved lock, stock and barrel to Manchester or Leeds – and still have some loose change to spend on local services.
John Rigby
Much Wenlock, Shropshire

• The current wrangling and impasse over Brexit surely show that the adversarial layout of the House of Commons reflects an outdated political pattern of representation and inhibits dialogue. How, then, can it be “modernisation” when the layout is to be perpetuated in the temporary chamber and eventually restored to panelled splendour in a decade or so? This could have been an opportunity for bold experiment. Perhaps it is a mark of political immaturity and uncertainty that we cannot follow the example of the parliament buildings in Edinburgh and Cardiff and, indeed, most other parliaments abroad.
Dr Peter Phillips

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