Friday, February 19, 2010

Which Road To The Reform Of The Commons?

Our Local MP, Natascha Engel (photo right) addressed the December Meeting of the Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Group and presented her disagreements with the nature of proposals contained in a Report by a Commons' Select Committee for the reform of certain Commons' procedures. She had herself served on the Select Committee and had produced a Minority Report expressing her alternative viewpoint. Details of the thrust of her arguments are shown on the "Dronfield Blather" thread here.

Today's Tribune runs an article showing that the Report is due to be debated in the Commons on both 22 February and 4 March. Graham Allen the Labour MP for Nottingham North (photo below) is a strong supporter of the Report and the Tribune article is centered around what he claims are efforts by the Labour Leadership to kick it into touch. The Tribune article appears below.

This is a topic which our Discussion Meeting intends to return to in the future.

MPs to defy Harriet Harman on Commons reform
February 19, 2010 12:00 am Tribune web editor frontpage, news by René Lavanchy

Plans to shift control of Parliament from government to MPs are doomed to failure because ministers are acquiescing in having them killed off by stalling tactics, an MP and reform campaigner has warned.

House of Commons Leader Harriet Harman has arranged for debate on a number of proposals put forward by MP Tony Wright’s reform committee, when Parliament returns from recess on Monday.

But Graham Allen, MP for Nottingham North (photo below) and a member of the Parliament First group, is unhappy that Ms Harman has chosen to use motions which can be defeated by a single MP shouting “object”. A further debate and vote have been scheduled, but he and other MPs on the reform committee fear that the large number of votes will leave MPs confused and open to manipulation by government whips.

Meanwhile, Parliament First has defied Ms Harman to demand a vote next month calling for a “business committee” to schedule readings for government legislation. Currently, parliamentary business is controlled by government through the Commons leader.

Mr Allen told Tribune: “There are a number of people prepared to screw up the business. You only need one person to shout “object”, which is why we think government haven’t been helpful. If it was something government would’ve wanted, they would not have built in this obstacle.”

Ms Harman has offered a motion on a backbench business committee. However, this committee would only be able to schedule non-government business.

Mr Allen said: “Government should get its business, but Parliament should get its scrutiny, and the only way is for parliamentarians to decide the actual timetable.”

More than 50 MPs from all major parties have signed a resolution for a full-powered business committee, and are hoping to force a vote on the issue when MPs debate the reform proposals on March 4.

One supporter, Liberal Democrat Evan Harris, said: “Now this amendment has the support of both major opposition parties and the nationalists, as well as scores of backbench Labour MPs, it looks as if Harriet Harman will have to support it or be seen to be standing in the way of necessary reform.”

Hat Tip - Tribune

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