Are the Lords listening? Creating connections between people and Parliament - Information Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140 - 141)


Ms Trish McMeekin, Ms Alison Williams, Mr Lee Shelsher and Ms Chloe Stables

  Q140  Lord Puttnam: Ironically, as a kid I was brought here and told that Central Hall, Westminster was the centre of the Empire, not just the centre of Britain, and that it was your entitlement to come to Central Hall, Westminster and talk to your MP. I think that sense of entitlement has evaporated. People now think that this is a rather strange place that gets beaten up by the media, and you are not welcome, and the best thing you can do is email us. I agree with Lord Selsdon very much so. It is about human contact. I envy the Americans for their sense that they own Congress. There is a wonderful movie called Mr Smith Goes to Washington and makes exactly this point; it is telling you Congress is yours, and you are entitled to come here and make it yours.

  Ms Williams: That needs to start with the schools, it needs to start with the youngsters.

  Lord Puttnam: I was going to raise it with the young people. I was rather hoping that one of you had been to Washington.

  Chairman: That is a point that you should always carry forward for us when talking to those that you are looking after, just what Lord Puttnam said: this place is yours. Lady Coussins?

  Baroness Coussins: My point has already been made really. I was going to come back as well on the point that you made about finding out which Lords were from your area because I think we would have to be very careful that we did not upset MPs who have got constituencies and whose responsibility it is to respond to their constituents. I think contacting us by subject area would be the better way of doing it and somewhere we list all the areas that we are particularly interested in. I mentioned modern languages about myself earlier and there are four or five other things that some directory or other somewhere lists, called Dod's.

  Q141  Earl of Erroll: The cross-bench website actually does this because about three of us here are independents and we are listed by subject on it.

  Ms Stables: I think that is very helpful and it is something that I do use in my job, but I would say that many people would not know where to start in terms of looking for that information. It is a useful thing to be doing but it has to be much more accessible.

  Chairman: We have 15 young people waiting outside so I think we must move on. First, thank you to all of you for coming. We really appreciate it very much. Could I just add that if you do have any additional comments to make to the Committee, do not hesitate to send in a written submission to us, which can either address particular questions in the call for evidence or indeed any other matter. Do not hesitate to do that if you suddenly think, "Goodness, why didn't I say that?" Thank you to all four of you very much indeed. We greatly appreciate your taking time to come here this afternoon.

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