Letter from Dr Brian Iddon MP to the Chairman
of the Committee
I am writing in response to publication of "A
Reform Programme for Consultation" on 12 December 2001. I
have the following points to make:
1. I have sat hours in the Chamber waiting
to speak, particularly in Second Reading Debates, and failed,
which is extremely frustrating and annoying. Very often considerable
preparation is involved in preparing for such speeches. Therefore,
I believe that it would be useful to know whether a Member has
been included on the Speaker's list and in what order. Those who
are on the list but who are not called could be invited to submit
their speech for publication in a new section of The Record, providing
that they have actually prepared one.
2. I have never believed that two weeks
are required between putting down a PQ and its answer in the Chamber.
3. I am fully supportive of pre-legislative
scrutiny of Bills and their carry-over from one Session of Parliament
to another. Once legislation is enacted I would be in favour also
of monitoring it to make sure that it works effectively. I cite
just one example of poor legislation that was well-intentioned,
The Child Support Act, that has caused so much misery to so many
individuals and families.
4. I have supported a 11.30 am start on
Thursdays which allows most Members to get up the same evening
to their Constituencies. However, I am opposed to the same start
time on Wednesdays. Can we compromise and start at 12.30 pm or
even 1.30 pm, preferably the former?
The Parliamentary week is becoming very squeezed
for all other activities. Tuesdays and Wednesdays have become
extremely hyperactive! Please remember that we have to give outside
organisations room to lobby us and allow Members to attend many
outside engagements in London relevant to their Parliamentary
work. Then many Committees of the House meet in the mornings.
I believe that meeting earlier on Wednesdays would further restrict
access to the Line of Route, which is very popular. To meet the
current closure time for the Line of Route my constituents have
to leave Bolton by coach not later than 5.00 am!!
As your Report indicates, there would be some
interference with Westminster Hall debates if the proposed early-start
on Wednesdays proposal is accepted.
5. I wouldn't be against the House meeting
earlier than 2.30 pm to hear Minister's Statements on Mon-Wed
inclusive. However, this suggestion might not be a good one for
the media coverage. It would be preferable, however, to Statements
being made on the Today programme!
6. I am all in favour of fixing a Parliamentary
timetable so that we can all use the recesses effectively, and
arrange our constituency engagements well in advance. I would
have no objection to returning to Parliament in September.
7. I have always supported electronic voting.
Personally I would prefer Britain to have a modern Chamber, with
designated seating available for all Members and with access to
electronic voting in the seat, as in the chambers of many other
countries. Now, that would truly be modernisation of Parliament!!
I am not a great advocate of deferred voting, especially on contentious
issues of the day. I think we carry tradition a bit too far in
our Parliamentary systemthe public sometimes wonder which
century we are living in!
8. I agree with a more modern presentation
of Select Committee Reports.
9. The appearance of a visitors' centre,
to be opened soon, is strongly welcomed by methat will
bring us into this centuryand any other attempts to re-engage
the general public in our work will be strongly supported by me.
Finally, I congratulate your Committee for the
work that they have done since 1997. Many of the ideas already
implemented have changed things for the better. It is important
to keep going.
But, what about a discussion on how long the
British Parliament can continue to meet in the Chamber as it is
1 January 2002