Memorandum from Charlotte Atkins MP
I congratulate the Modernisation Committee for
its Reform Programme and Robin Cook, the Modernisation Committee
Chair, for the way he has taken the discussion of these reforms
to so many organisations within the House.
As the Report says, modernisation is not about
making the life of an MP easier, but about making the MP more
In that context, I believe the Westminster Hall
debates, programming motions and the changes in hours on a Thursday
have been a great success and should be made permanent. I would
also like to see business starting at 11.30am on Tuesdays and
I would welcome shorter, more topical debates
with a time limit of 10, 12 or 15 minutes for backbench contributions.
Linked with this, I think it is time we adopted the practice of
publishing a list of speakers but, of course, those speakers would
need to be present for the debateor at least the opening
and closing speeches. Then those not selected to speak could make
points via short interventions.
I support the proposals for greater scrutiny
of legislation, particularly the role of Select Committees in
looking at draft bills and monitoring the implementation of new
Anything that makes Parliamentary life more
predictable is to be welcomed. This allows MPs to organise constituency
visits more effectively and to plan family activities with confidence.
It is about time we built on the progress made
with new technology within the House by introducing electronic
voting. I would support multiple divisions taking place at one
time within the voting lobbies with the time of these votes being
posted in advance. This would avoid MPs wasting a lot of time
hanging around for votes and between votes when it is difficult
to work effectively.
It is vital that we excite the interest of young
people in our democracy. A very limited educational service exists
but it is totally inadequate. I am amazed that when MPs host student
visits to the House of Commons they are rationed as to the number
of booklets (six per member) they can hand out. These publications
are also often out of print. If we are serious about education,
then there must be adequate investment in it.
Our young people often relate more enthusiastically
to the video than the printed word. I would like to see a few
basic videos produced, perhaps for a small charge, to schools
and educational groups. I would support school visits on Fridays.
3 February 2002