House of Commons reform: contact your MP about tomorrow’s vote

MPs will vote tomorrow on an amendment to the Government’s resolutions on the reform of Parliament, put forward by Evan Harris MP on behalf of the Wright Committee. (Select Committee on Reform of the House of Commons.)

The Wright Committee was set up as a response to the expenses scandal in 2009 to make recommendations on how Parliament could be reformed to carry out its functions better.

The reforms being put to a vote tomorrow will include the amendment approving the establishment of a House Business Committee. This committee would decide the scheduling of all business before the House, including scrutiny of legislation, and to put an agenda before the House for decision. This would be vast improvement on the current state of affairs:

Despite it being the primary role of the people’s representatives to scrutinise the executive and keep it in check, MPs are lousy at holding the government to account. It’s outrageous that important bills curtailing the freedoms of the British people, or governing the way our life and economy is shaped, can go through the Commons with many of the contentious matters never even being debated, let alone voted on.

It’s astonishing, too, that the Commons is not in charge of its own business. It cannot even decide what it debates and when: only the government can. The government can arrange, or rather fix, the report stage of bills (the only time at which the house as a whole gets to vote on specific issues and amendments) to ensure that the contentious parts are not debated and that any rebellions are avoided by putting the issue so far down the order paper that it’s never reached.
[Evan Harris in Comment is Free, February]

As we reported last month, the amendment already has the support of Dr Tony Wright, the chair of the Committee, and 50 other senior backbenchers, Sir George Young, the shadow Leader of the House, as well as David Heath, the Liberal Democrat shadow Leader.

Please lobby your MP to be present and vote for reform tomorrow. You can contact them easily by using MySociety’s Write To Them facility. Simply enter your postcode and the site will provide a form to contact your MP, which it will send directly to her/him on your behalf.

Further reading: Henry Porter also wrote on Parliamentary reform for Comment is Free, in The hidden battle for parliament’s soul.

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2 Comments

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  • By Skeleton Costume on Wed 3rd March 2010 at 3:45 pm.

    […] House of Commons reform: contact your MP about tomorrow’s vote […]

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