Letter from Ann McKechin MP to the Clerk
of the Committee
In respect of the Memorandum paper produced
in December, I write to express my support for the proposals suggested
by the Committee. The arguments presented in the paper are persuasive,
particularly with regard to the increased role of Select Committees
in both pre and post-legislative scrutiny and the more sensible
arrangement of allowing Bills to be carried over to a new parliamentary
session. This will provide a much-needed opportunity for Members
to engage in the legislative programme in a constructive and effective
manner and to question the Executive's proposals.
The existing experiment of debates in Westminster
Hall has been very beneficial to backbenchers in obtaining time
for local and national issues. I have recently participated in
debates on the Great Lakes area and International Debt Relief,
both of which are issues of major world importance but which would
be almost impossible to find time to discuss in the main chamber.
I entirely agree that we must ensure that Members'
time is used to its best advantage. We are now paid a salary on
a professional scale and the public are entitled to expect that
our time will not be wasted on outmoded protocol. I am fully in
favour of electronic voting in the lobby and, as far as possible,
voting times to be fixed rather than have members bound to remain
within the House precincts over a six hour period for running
votes. Likewise, I see no reason why a list of speakers cannot
be published prior to a debate and I consider it would be an immense
benefit if shorter, more relevant speeches from Members was encouraged
I very much hope that these recommendations
will be put before the House for approval at the earliest opportunity.
29 January 2002