Inequalities - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:39 pm on 30 November 2017.

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Photo of Lord Bird Lord Bird Crossbench 3:39, 30 November 2017

My Lords, I am very pleased to be speaking in the debate secured by the noble Lord, Lord Liddle. I am a Londoner and I was born in Notting Hill, but I have always tried to escape from London and have, on occasions, lived in other places, such as in Scotland and in Sheffield, Yorkshire.

I have always been aware of what you might call metropolitan imperialism. I call it that because everything seems to want to shift south. I started the Big Issue on the double yellow lines of the West End of London, but very quickly realised that virtually all the people I was working with did not come from London. They were not locals, or London-Irish gits like me from Notting Hill, but were from Scotland, Ireland and, increasingly, Europe. Everybody was being pulled in by gravity: people who had problems as well as those who came to seek their fortune.

The United Kingdom is a very strange beast. It is one of the few major countries where there is only one really big place where you can go and make it. For example, in Germany, you can make it musically, intellectually, culturally or philosophically in all sorts of places, but here you have to come to London. That kind of weirdness, that draw, is behind it all. We really need to start moving some of the institutions, and not just government ones. For instance, that beautiful place, the Barbara Hepworth gallery up in, I forget where—