(6) The regulations must provide that a court may not grant an injunction unless notice of the application for the injunction has been given, in such form and by such means as is specified in the regulations, to-
(2) If, following the consultation under subsection (1), the Secretary of State proposes to make regulations under section [Power to make provision about injunctions preventing access to locations on the internet], the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a document that-
(b) explains the reasons why the Secretary of State is satisfied in relation to the matters listed in section [Power to make provision about injunctions preventing access to locations on the internet](3)(a) to (c), and
(3) During the period of 60 days beginning with the day on which the document was laid under subsection (2) ("the 60-day period"), the Secretary of State may not lay before Parliament a draft statutory instrument containing regulations to give effect to the proposal (with or without modifications).
(4) In preparing draft regulations under section [Power to make provision about injunctions preventing access to locations on the internet] to give effect to the proposal, the Secretary of State must have regard to any of the following that are made with regard to the draft regulations during the 60-day period-
(5) When laying before Parliament a draft statutory instrument containing regulations to give effect to the proposal (with or without modifications), the Secretary of State must also lay a document that explains any changes made to the proposal contained in the document laid before Parliament under subsection (2).
(6) In calculating the 60-day period, no account is to be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which either House is adjourned for more than 4 days.'.- (Mr. Timms.)
The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.
Bill, as amended, reported .
Bill, as amended in the Committee, considered.
Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD):
I have the privilege of presenting a petition on Christian values from listeners to Premier Christian Radio, which declares that 20,000 Christians have stated that they intend to vote in the forthcoming election in line with Christian values, and that the petitioners believe that "business as usual" has damaged the credibility of Parliament and is unacceptable. The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons take all steps necessary to restore the credibility of Parliament. The petition, in the name of Mr. Peter Kerridge and Mr. Colin Baynes, is supported by many thousands of forms signed by Premier Christian Radio listeners. In presenting this challenge to both Parliament and candidates in all parties, I believe that the signatories are following the biblical prophetic tradition of calling on those in authority to promote righteousness and to overcome corruption and injustice. The petitioners
are citizens of a United Kingdom that I believe is at its best when it combines freedom of religion, for which our forefathers fought, with an acknowledgement of and respect for long-established Christian values-values that are widely shared and respected by people of other faiths and those of no faith. I am pleased to present this petition to the House.
Declares that 20,000 Christians have stated, in a campaign organised by Premier Christian Radio, that they intend to vote in the forthcoming election in line with Christian values; and that the Petitioners believe that business as usual has damaged the credibility of Parliament and is unacceptable.
Mr. Mark Todd (South Derbyshire) (Lab): In my speech on the proposed reforms of House procedures, I referred to my disappointment that the Committee that sponsored those changes had not been asked to consider the role of MPs-and nor had it sought to be asked to do so. I then touched on my family experience-my grandfather was a Member in the 1930s-and my understanding of the traditionally understood role of an MP as defined by Edmund Burke, famously, if patronisingly, in his address to the electors of Bristol. I noted how far we had travelled from that model, and how little we had either consulted the public on those changes or discussed their broader impact. That is what I shall attempt to do this evening.
First, what are the understood functions of a Member? In Churchill's definition, published in the 1950s, the role was threefold, and in order of priority. I have edited it to remove the explicit sexism from his text. He said that the roles of a Member were: to exercise judgment in the interests of Great Britain; to act as a representative, but not a delegate, of his or her constituents; and to serve his or her party's interests.
The Select Committee on Modernisation's report on the role of Back-Bench Members, published in 2007, set out the following functions. Unlike Churchill's, they are not in priority order. They were: supporting their party in votes in Parliament; representing and furthering the interests of their constituency; representing individual constituents and taking up their problems and grievances; scrutinising and holding the Government to account and monitoring, stimulating and challenging the Executive; initiating, reviewing and amending legislation; and contributing to the development of policy, whether in the Chamber, Committees or party structures, and promoting public understanding of party policy.
"before 1939, unless there was some controversy afoot, I rarely received more than twenty letters a week...But after the election of 1945, everything was changed...suddenly the MP ceased to be a politician and potential statesman and became an official of the welfare state. Thousands wanted houses; old people wanted pensions; ex-service men wanted jobs; everybody wanted something and 'write to your MP' became a cliché".
Patricia Hollis's excellent biography of Jennie Lee attributes her defeat in the 1970 election to infrequent visits, inattention to constituency business, and an unwillingness to attend constituency functions, which steadily undermined her vote in what appeared to be a relatively safe Labour constituency. The process of change in the expectations of MPs and in their performance was uneven.
"I hunt three days a week, always. Probably hunt four days a week. I don't get any letters anyhow. I only have a secretary part-time. I have one woman at home, who deals with Parliamentary letters on a Monday and that's it".
That quote also puts into context any suggestion of some golden age of disinterested service among tribunes of the people. We often hear favourable comparisons of
past times in Parliament with the performance of parliamentarians now, but I have always thought them to be fantasy. That sort of quotation bears out the fact that some of the what was going on at that time was pretty inactive in many senses and rather little aligned to the public good.
There have been a number of analyses of how a modern MP spends their time. A sample of the 2005 intake showed an average of 49 per cent. of MPs' time spent on constituency work, however that might be defined. In my own case, the proportion would certainly be greater than that. All recent analyses have shown constituency work to be by far the dominant part of the MP's job.
From the model set out by Churchill in the 1950s, going further back to my grandfather's time, as remembered by my father who recalls him as an MP at a time when the constituency workload was light and the quantity of correspondence was small, how has the change to the present situation come about? The first quotation that I gave hints at one reason-the burgeoning role of the state.
As the state extends its reach, the role of an MP is the most obvious contact point with the state apparatus, so it gets extended, too. Setting aside the merits of extensive state provision, there have been some unhealthy aspects of the relationship between MPs' casework and state services. I cannot be alone in having heard citizens report to me that public servants have told them to contact their MPs if they have complaints. Having noted the higher quality response service offered to MPs-on tax credits and Child Support Agency cases, for example-constituents are motivated to use an MP rather than the official complaints process, which must be extremely hard. MPs have almost assumed the role of self-interested-I shall come back to this-quality control in some services, removing the incentive to get services right first time.
The fall of Jennie Lee and the experience of Members in all but the safest seats hints at another reason for the change. Assiduous constituency service appears to be rewarded at the ballot box. With modern office systems, casework also provides databases of contact for future reference-potential building blocks of additional support in votes.
A third reason is the combination of modern technology and the use of constituency mail by campaigning groups. Postcards and e-mails urging MPs to sign early-day motions, write to Ministers and take other actions now proliferate, built on the knowledge-again taken from surveys-that MPs look hardest at material sent to them by constituents.
What have been the consequences of these changes? I have mentioned one already-the design of some state provision around the assumption of an MP advocacy role. We have MP helplines and MP correspondence units, specifically to deal with the assumed level of complaints that MPs will have to handle from their constituents.