Select Committee on Procedure Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from Mr Anthony Steen MP to the Chairman of the Committee


  We seem to have too much time on our hands, indicated particularly by too many committees spending too much energy and effort on introspective evaluation on whether the Commons works well, rather than outward analysis of whether we are doing anything useful at all. There seems to be a disease prevalent and contagious that drags MPs into assessing and evaluating everything we do on the basis that there must be changes that can be made to make an even better Parliament. Laudable though that aim is, the reality is very different. The Commons is losing its clout and influence not because of inadequate procedures, but largely due to what Members see as important.

  The lack of respect and powers that individual Members have has generated a growing apathy and disinterest amongst members of the public and the media to Parliamentary life. It is as if over the last five years the Commons has become a County Council rather than a national Parliament. The questionnaire you enclosed is akin to a MORI poll, and whatever is done with the results will not alter the underlying malaise. Parliament is being seen as increasingly irrelevant and we are failing to produce Members with the charm, vision and intellect that were the hallmark over the preceding decades of many Parliamentarians.

  I am only sorry that the Procedure Committee has joined many others in tinkering with details rather than focusing on the bigger picture. Forgive me, but I do hope you will not produce another report suggesting change for change's sake.

16 November 2001

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