UK Liberty

Carry on Commons

Posted in accountability by ukliberty on October 31, 2007

Modernisation of the House of Commons debate, 25 October 2007:

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood (Wokingham, Conservative) | Hansard source

I favour the Leader of the House‘s proposals for more topical debates and questions. But before we get muddled up about regional accountability—with which some of us do not agree—could we have some national accountability? One of the frustrations that many of my electors have about this place is that when MPs ask perfectly sensible, intelligent but tough questions of Ministers, there are no answers. We then have “Groundhog Day” with the recital of idiotic banalities of a political kind, instead of Ministers actually trying to answer the question. If they answer the question the first time, we will have rather more accountability.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman (Lord Privy Seal, House of Commons) | Hansard source

The right hon. Gentleman will have to come and see me to explain further what he is talking about, as I do not recognise his description. I try to ensure that I give as clear and full answers as possible.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow (Buckingham, Conservative) | Hansard source

Although I welcome the Government’s willingness to provide for more topical debates and public interest debates, I am concerned that the character of the process is rather top-down. It appears that the intention is that these matters should be determined principally by the Government Whips, probably with a bit of consultation with my right hon. Friend the shadow Leader of the House, but not much more. Given that the Select Committee inquiry was into the role of the Back Bencher, may I exhort the Leader of the House to consider the merits of
the evidence given by the hon. Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter), who, supported by the Hansard Society, argued that there should be a Back-Bench trigger in the form of a number of signatories of an early-day motion automatically resulting in a debate taking place, whether the Government and Opposition Front Benches liked it or not?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman (Lord Privy Seal, House of Commons) | Hansard source

I need to press on with my speech. Some of the answers are set out in a deliberated form further on.

Very good!





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