Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 2009
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.
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.