Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 17

Letter from Mr Mark Lazarowicz MP to the Clerk of the Committee

  I write with brief comments on the proposals contained in the memorandum (HC 440) from Rt Hon Robin Cook outlining his proposals for further modernisation of the House.

  In general, I consider the proposals are excellent, and I hope will be implemented by the House at an early stage. I do have, however, a number of detailed comments which I now list, with reference to the relevant paragraph:

1.  QUESTION TIME (PARAS 13-15)

  The proposals are welcome, but do not go far enough. As far as the period of notice is concerned, one week should be perfectly sufficient. No mention is made in the memorandum of Prime Minister's Question Time. The current "open-ended" question format may lead to excitement in the Chamber and good TV, but does little to facilitate real scrutiny of the Executive. In my view, questions at Prime Minister's Question Time should require to give the same general notice of the issue to be raised as is the case with questions to other ministers.

2.  POST LEGISLATIVE SCRUTINY (PARA 23)

  The comments here are well-founded. I note that the Modernisation Committee is currently considering the role and function of Select Committees. I urge the Committee to bring forward detailed proposals to allow Select Committees to carry out such a role.

3.  PARLIAMENTARY CALENDAR (PARAS 40-44)

  The comments here are understandable, but it is to be hoped that any changes made to the calendar ensure that account is taken of school holidays and half-term in all the nations of the UK.

4.  MODERN TECHNOLOGY (PARAS 46-48)

  I support the introduction of an electronic voting system to be used to record votes in the division lobby.

5.  THE VISITING PUBLIC (PARAS 57-58)

  These proposals are excellent, but account should be taken of the difficulties which schools and younger voters from the more geographically distant parts of the UK have in making visits to Westminster. Steps should be taken to provide financial assistance for school parties and youth groups from further afield (such as Scotland) to visit the House of Commons.

  I hope that these brief comments can be taken on board by the Committee in its consideration of the memorandum, whose proposals in all other respects I support.

31 January 2002



 
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