Select Committee on Procedure Minutes of Evidence

Letter from Derek Conway TD MP (P 93 (Session 2005-06))

  The Committee may wish to consider how those outside Parliament view EDMS.

  Increasingly charities and lobby groups use them as activity tools, misleading their supporters into thinking the EDMs have great impact on parliamentary opinion and in turn justifying their own existence.

  In 2004 the London Evening Standard carried its analysis of what it judged to be a hard-working MP. Part of the marking-chart was signing EDMS. This was in contrast to ignoring service on House Committees, Standing or Select, neither of which was considered, journalistically, a valid indication of an MP's work in Parliament.

  The Committee will no doubt have its own views on whether an MP contributes more to the scrutiny of legislation or the Executive by working on Committees or by signing EDMs on the latest episode of Coronation Street. The London Evening Standard clearly has.

  It would seem that any form of self-regulation has gone and that the House must set and enforce its own rules to ensure its reputation is not tarnished by a minority who use the Order Paper as a press release.

  I would not wish to see too firm a control on the subject matter but the issues should have some relationship to public policy which commentary on sporting successes and or television drama programmes cannot.

February 2006

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