Dawn Butler under fire for not turning up to Parliamentary committee meetings

The Times today carries an interesting piece about the very low attendance rate at select committee meetings from some MPs. Select committees, and their reports, can be very influential, and particularly for those MPs who are not ministers or in the top media starts of other parties, select committee work is often the most effective way to exercise influence on matters outside their constituency.

There’s missing a few for good reason, and then there’s missing a lot:

Dawn Butler, another Labour MP who was promoted from the back benches last October, attended only 15 of the 64 meetings of the Children, Schools and Families Committee. Her office blamed a ten-week absence from Parliament due to illness, saying that there were 19 occasions where either her health or a diary clash meant that she was unable to attend the committee.

Even if we go over board with generosity and assume all of those 19 were missed for health reasons, that would leave her attending only 15 out of the other 45 – just a third (and remember that this figure is on the high side, because health wasn’t the reason for all of those other 19).

As Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis puts it in The Times:

Phil Willis, chairman of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, is urging them to show greater commitment to committees: “I think it is the job of members to attend.”

It’s worth taking a look at the list of the worst attenders highlighted by The Times, if only to marvel at Nadine Dorries at her record of missing 98% of the meetings of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee.

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  • Silent Hunter 8th Apr '09 - 11:20am

    So remind me again – what exactly do MP’s actually DO to justify their pay and expenses if not ………er?………attend WORK!

    I could add – FFS!

  • Good point about Teather, she is virtually anonymous.

  • Dawn Butler spends most of her time glad-handing the movers and shakers, since that is the best way to get quick promotion in the Labour party, rather than by getting your head down and doing serious work. Teather is hardly perfect, but she is a way better prospect as MP than Butler.

  • Martin Kinsella 8th Apr '09 - 7:34pm

    So it boils down to the lesser of two evils. I cannot say, even being politcally partisan, I would want either as my MP.

  • Churm Rincewind 7th Apr '10 - 1:41pm

    I can’t understand posters who say that Sarah Teather is “anonymous” – I live in her constituency, and on a local level she is very high-profile indeed!

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