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


Letter from Mr John Butterfill MP to the Chairman of the Committee

  Whilst I understand the arguments in favour of shorter and more frequent debates, I am not convinced by the argument that they would be a more efficient use of Members' time. Even as things stand at present, the problem for many back bench Members is that, once one has deducted the time for front bench speeches in both opening the debate and then winding it up, there is, in fact, very little time left for back bench Members to make a significant contribution.

  The other area on which I feel very strongly is the suggestion by which the summer recess should start in mid July and then return in early September. Whilst I appreciate the problem with school holidays for Scottish Members, those of us who no longer have school age children, rather treasure the opportunity of taking a holiday in early September, thereby avoiding the excessive heat, overcrowding and overpricing of August. The suggestion made in paragraph 44 of the Report would confine all Members to this unhappy fate. Perhaps a better way of overcoming this would be for the House to rise, as you suggest, in mid July, return for two weeks at the end of August and then go back into recess for September. In other words, move your suggested return from early September to late August. This would have the effect of satisfying both groups, ie those with or without school age children. It would also overcome concerns over an excessively long period in recess. I personally have got in the habit of going into the office and attending to constituency duties during August ever since the last of my children left school!

28 February 2002

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