Substantive Responses from Members |
It is frustrating that so many things appear announced
away from the House avoiding the opportunity to question and scrutinise
the announcement. I suspect this was ever so however. Not sure
what can be done about itbut would welcome it being addressed.
[Ministerial statements] could be announced earlierat
least twelve hours, preferably by close of business on the previous
day. Statements [should be] of defined lengthto aid scheduling
of attendance for subsequent business
I think the protocol should require all Ministerial
statements to be made without exception to the House in the first
instance, and that where a Minister fails to do this (eg: by discussing
it earlier in the day on the Today programme), s/he should
be summoned at the earliest opportunity to the relevant select
committee to give an explanation. If that explanation is not accepted
by the committee, their reasons for rejecting it should be published
and sent in writing to the Leader of the House and to the Prime
Minister with a request for an assurance that this disrespect
to Parliament will not be repeated. If it were still to continue,
a motion of censure could be moved on the floor of the House.
As a new member I have found Ministerial Statements
and Oral Questions to be very refreshingthey offer a real
way to question ministers and to raise issues which are of concern
to constituents. It would, of course, be helpful to have as much
notice as possible about statements although I appreciate this
isn't always possible. I think the more statements the better.
I believe it is essential to develop a protocol on
the provision of information by Ministers to the House. The key
principle which should underpin the protocol should require all
significant statements and announcements of new policy to be made
first to the House. This is essential if the House is to re-establish
its role as the main national forum for debate, a role which has
been seriously eroded by the increasing demand and expectation
on the part of the media for advance information from Ministers.
Given this pressure, a protocol is only likely to be successful
if it is accompanied by real sanctions for breach of the protocol.
Such sanctions should not just apply to individual Ministers.
As the Prime Minister is responsible for the Ministerial code,
his presence in the House in the event of any serious breach of
the protocol should also be required. Greater flexibility in terms
of the timing of statements may be desirable as part of the reform.