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