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


Letter from Peter Bradley MP to the Chairman of the Committee

  I read with interest the memorandum on the reform of the House of Commons which you have submitted to the Modernisation Committee and I very much welcome much of what you say.

  However, I am sure that you will recognise that we will not be able to realise the full benefit of the changes which you and others propose if we leave the culture of the Commons unchanged.

  I am not suggesting that we do away with all tradition. There is certainly, on occasion, a place for that. But I do strongly believe that the daily rituals and mysteries in which some secure comfort but many find impenetrable and obstructive should become relics of the past.

  I enclose a copy of the adjournment debate which I initiated in 1999 in which I set out my views at greater length.

  Ironically I was not allowed by the Table Office to entitle it "The Protocols of the House" as I had intended. The Table Office did not recognise the concept of a protocol as it applied to the Commons.

  Nor, more recently, have I been allowed to table the question "when was the last occasion on which the Serjeant at Arms or his deputy drew a sword in the chamber of the House of Commons and for what purpose?".

  I was told that while, arguably, I could address such an oral question to you as Leader of the House, it could not be put as it would call the House itself into ridicule!

17 December 2001

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