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

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 218-219)


9 MAY 2007

  Q218 Chairman: Malcolm and Douglas, you are very welcome. Malcolm, I gather you would like to say something to us by way of general introduction. Thank you very much, by the way, for your paper and attachment.

  Mr Jack: Thank you very much, Chairman. There are just two points that I thought might be worth making at the beginning, and I am sure they will cut across the discussion we have anyway. One was really just to pick up on something in the memorandum which I have sent to the Committee, and that is—I feel I do not really need to say this to a select committee of the House—that Members are all different and they prioritise in different ways. That is why we said in our memorandum that we did not really think it was our business to recommend how Members spend their time. The evidence that the Committee has had over the last five sessions, including evidence from Members of the House of course, confirms that Members have different priorities and approach things differently. I think one of your witnesses used the phrase, "You have to learn to plough your own furrow". That is just one general point that I would like to make at the very beginning. The second point really is the business about the totality of time. As the evidence has come to the Committee there are suggestions for various changes and some of them I can perfectly well understand, for example trying to make debates more topical and that sort of thing, but I think what the Committee will have to consider when it comes to its conclusions and recommendations is whether there is any appetite to sit more either in a day or over a session, ie longer days or more days during the session. I think that is going to inform the sort of recommendations that you can sensibly make. I do not say it excludes changes within the existing time but I think it is quite a crucial factor, particularly in things like injury time, because it will imply the House sitting later on a particular day. It was just those two general points I thought I would throw in the pot.

  Q219  Chairman: Douglas, would you like to say anything?

  Mr Millar: No, thank you.

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