Letter from Bob Russell MP to the Chairman
of the Committee
I have read with interest your Memorandum on
the "Modernisation of the House of Commons: A Reform Programme
While there is much food for thought in what
you put forward, I do not share the view that an earlier start
in the Chamber and an earlier finish time will be to the overall
benefit of MPs.
I find the present arrangementsstarting
the official business of the House at 2.30pma better use
of my time than if business was undertaken in the morning. In
the mornings I concentrate on casework and meetings, the latter
are not easy to arrange with outside bodies in the evening. Dealing
with correspondence and phone calls earlier in the day is much
better than attempting to do them in the evening.
I am also concerned that if the Chamber is brought
into use during the mornings it will have serious consequences
on visits by the public. I recall when such visits could not take
place on Wednesday mornings when the Chamber was in use, but now
the Chamber is free it means that tours can take place this day
(although Thursday has been lost as a result). To lose Tuesday
and Wednesday mornings as well would be most regrettable.
It would be ironic if Parliament was to open
a Visitors' Centre and then prevent visitors from visiting the
Chamber! In the course of the last Parliament I welcomed more
than 1,000 people from my constituency, from school pupils to
retired people's groups, for conducted tours of the Houses of
Parliament. I would regard it as a retrograde step if in effect
such tours were stopped.
I would have thought that the Mother of Parliaments
would want to open its doors to the public, not shut them!
I trust that my thoughts on retaining public
access to the Chamber on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings will be
given careful consideration.
31 December 2001