Letter from Norman Baker MP to the Chairman
of the Committee
I believe the ideas you set out in your memorandum
are sound and are therefore very welcome. There are none that
I disagree with.
There are, however, some further areas where
I believe reform ought to be considered. I list these below:
1. In respect of paragraph 25, I suggest
that secondary legislation ought to be amendable. In principle
this should lead to better legislation and would encourage the
opposition, in particular, to engage constructively.
2. In respect of paragraph 25, I think it
is important that there is no reduction in the time available
for Private Member's legislation. Indeed, I think it would be
beneficial if it were made easier for such legislation to become
law. It is absurd that one member can often stop a non-controversial
bill from making progress.
3. In respect of paragraph 38, it would
be important to have a mechanism to resist media pressure for
information in advance about the content of a statement whose
title would have disclosed.
4. In respect of paragraph 43, I think it
would be helpful if provision were made to allow written questions
and motions to be both tabled and in the case of questions, and
answers, during recesses (allowing for public holidays).
5. In respect of paragraphs 45-9, I would
like to see the ability introduced to allow Members to abstain.
At the moment, as you will recognise, there is no way of differentiating
between an absence, which may be due to dilatory behaviour, and
an abstention, which may follow full participation in a debate
and be highly principled.
6. In respect of paragraph 50, I think MPs
researchers ought to be allowed to table their member's oral questions
in person, at least during particular hours. I would prefer this
to e-mailing them which I think is open to abuse.
19 December 2001