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


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

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