Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQs) is often criticised as a bad advert for Parliament. It is confrontational and glib. – That particularly applies to the portion which is shown mostly on news programmes.
Anyone who is concerned about this should watch, or read the record of, the House of Commons Liaison Committee. Each quarter, it questions the Prime Minister for an hour and a half. The sessions are thoughtful, thorough and comprehensive. It is all very polite and earnest.
One could criticise the sessions for going to the other extreme of the style of PMQs. A good replacement for Horlicks, in other words. But no-one could criticise the seriousness and maturity of the meetings.
This week, the questions of the House of Commons Liaison Committee focussed on the “Big Society”. The session was chaired, very skilfully, by Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith and it was held in the Grimond Room in Portcullis House (hence the title of this post).
The session can be watched here. There is a transcript on the same page.
The subjects covered included:
-The Big society
-Community budgets and decentralisation
-Barriers to volunteering in rural areas
-Flood defences in rural areas
-August riots – police response, involvement of gangs, costs
-Police use of rubber bullets
-Taking benefits payments away from convicted criminals
-The Work programme
-National Citizen Service pilots
-Measuring the success of the Big Society
-Open Public Service White paper/mutual ownership
-The Big Society in Scotland and Wales
-Making decentralisation permanent
-Plan for implementing change
My prize for “Questioner of the session” goes to Dame Anne Begg, who was particularly tenacious in questioning David Cameron about taking benefits away from offenders.
Paul Walter blogs at Liberal Burblings