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


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 and rewarded.

  I very much hope that these recommendations will be put before the House for approval at the earliest opportunity.

29 January 2002

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