The Select Committee on the Modernisation
of the House of Commons has agreed to the following Report:
MODERNISATION OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS:
A REFORM PROGRAMME
LIST OF CONCLUSIONS AND
A MORE ACCESSIBLE PARLIAMENT
(a) We recommend that the Board of Management
prepare a revised line of route which would include a facility
for conducted tours to see the Commons in session, in a manner
which avoided disruption to the Chamber (paragraph 20).
(b) We recommend that in the event of an
11.30 am start to the Commons day, the line of route should be
open from 9.00 am to 10.30 am from Tuesday to Thursday (paragraph
(c) We recommend that the House of Commons
Commission should pursue their consideration of opening the line
of route on a Saturday to a favourable conclusion (paragraph 22).
(d) We recommend that Select Committees
and other parliamentary bodies step up their use of ICT to increase
e-participation by the public in the parliamentary process (paragraph
MORE EFFECTIVE LAW-MAKING
(e) We recommend that the Government continue
to increase with each Session the proportion of Bills published
in draft (paragraph 32).
(f) We recommend that where it is not possible
to produce a complete legal text the Government should submit
proposals for pre-legislative scrutiny on the basis of a detailed
statement of policy (paragraph 34).
(g) We recommend that Standing Orders be
amended to permit carry-over of a Bill by resolution of the House
for an experimental period, but that no Bill should be carried
over for more than one extra Session (paragraph 38).
(h) We recommend that, for the experimental
period on carry-over, if a Bill is not completed or arrives from
the Lords more than twelve months after its introduction, it should
not be further proceeded with in the Commons unless a fresh programme
motion, debatable for one and a half hours, has been passed (paragraph
(i) We recommend that there should be collective
consultations with other parties in the House on the broad shape
of the legislative year, those Bills intended to be published
in draft, those Bills intended to be carried over and which Bills
are expected to be introduced in the Commons, including discussion
on the likely dates of recesses and related matters such as Friday
sittings and Opposition days (paragraph 44).
(j) We recommend that if carry-over is
adopted by the House the longer timetable which it will permit
should be used to provide more flexibility in programming motions.
We further recommend that if the Government demonstrates this
additional flexibility in programme motions, the Opposition should
be willing to engage constructively in agreeing to such motions
GETTING AN EARLY START
(k) We recommend that on Tuesday, Wednesday
and Thursday the House should sit at 11.30 a.m. for oral questions
(l) We recommend that main business should
end on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7.00 pm. On Thursdays main business
should end at 6.00 pm which would better enable Members to travel
that evening to their constituencies. We recommend that sitting
hours on Mondays remain as at present in order that Members have
good time in which to travel down from their constituencies and
that the same sitting hours should apply on the first day back
after a recess if that should be a Tuesday or Wednesday (paragraph
(m) We recommend that committees and Westminster
Hall should not meet during Question Time or statements (paragraph
(n) We recommend that the facilities of
the House, such as the library and the catering services, should
continue to be available in the evenings for Members (paragraph
(o) We recommend that constituency work
should take precedence on Fridays and the practice of Government
motions on the adjournment on Fridays should be discontinued (paragraph
(p) We recommend that Standing Orders be
amended to permit the same freedom to the Speaker as other Members
to be present in his constituency on Friday (paragraph 69).
A MORE PREDICTABLE COMMONS CALENDAR
(q) We recommend that the Commons calendar
should be announced a year in advance in order that MPs can sensibly
plan to make maximum use of time in their constituencies (paragraph
(r) We recommend that an additional week
for constituency work should be included in the first half of
each year by being added to either the Easter or the Whit recess
MORE EFFECTIVE USE OF THE CHAMBER
(s) We endorse the following recommendations
of the Procedure Committee:
A reduction in the period of notice
required for oral questions from ten to three sitting days.
A sharp reduction in the number of
oral questions accepted for printing for each day.
A restriction of named day questions
to a daily quota of five.
The replacement of planted questions
by formal written statements. (paragraph 79).
(t) We recommend that Private Notice Questions
be renamed Urgent Questions (paragraph 81).
(u) We recommend that the full text of
a statement should be made available to Members as soon as the
Minister sits down or at the same time as a statement is given
to the Press Gallery, whichever is the earlier (paragraph 85).
(v) We recommend that it should be the
norm for backbench speeches to be limited to ten minutes, other
than in the exceptional circumstances when there is no significant
competition for the time available for debate (paragraph 87).
(w) We recommend that each Member should
be allowed an additional minute for each of up to two interventions
per speech (paragraph 88).
(x) We recommend that Members should be
permitted to obtain a copy of their own speech from Hansard once
it has been corrected (paragraph 90).
(y) We recommend that on occasion the allocation
of time in the Chamber should be a half day, with a full day's
debate still being allocated to a measure when it is justified
by its controversy or the degree of interest in its provisions
(z) We recommend that in the rearrangement
of sitting hours, the total hours for which Westminster Hall sits
should not be reduced (paragraph 97).
(aa) We recommend that there should be
a rota for Westminster Hall in which each Department is available
to answer any topic within its brief on every alternate week (paragraph
(bb) We recommend that for an experimental
period there should be an occasional question session in Westminster
Hall on cross-cutting issues to junior Ministers from different
Departments (paragraph 99).
(cc) We recommend that the changes we
propose on handling of legislation and scrutiny time be introduced
in the next Session, and that the changes to sitting hours and
the Commons calendar be introduced in January for the next calendar
year (paragraph 100).
(dd) We recommend that when the House next
considers the extension of [the innovations recommended by our
predecessors which were introduced for an experimental period
that expires with the end of this Session] that the arrangements
for Westminster Hall and Thursday sittings are put on a permanent
basis (paragraph 101).