Friday, 29 January 2010

The Commons

The above is a screen grab of the Commons, taken during the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill on Tuesday at 4.30pm. I count 7 on the labour benches and 12 on the opposition benches. The Bill ends by-elections for hereditary peers. Of course it's not everyone's cup of tea listening to debates about the Lords, but it's part of the job of any MP.

Just by chance I happen to turn back to the channel in time for the voting. The vote was on Clause 29 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill at committee stage.

The result of the vote was AYES 318 NOs 142 which results in 460 MPs voting.

Nearly two thirds of members voted (one woman in a pink jacket must have voted at least 8 times), but only around 20 attended the debate.

Is it any wonder our country is in such a mess when MPs rubber stamp legislation without having the slightest knowledge of the subject?

This isn't democracy, it's legislation by rote. Isn't it time the procedures at Westminster were revised to stop MPs making multiple votes on behalf of colleagues? Even better, if an MP has not been present at any part of a debate then they should be banned from voting on it. Aye, a wee bit of banning may just sharpen their enthusiasm for their job, which to represent the people who elected them and not party whips.

By the way the standard of debating was excellent and a treat to observe.


Clarinda said...

Exactly Subrosa - and exactly how many people who vote during a General Election understand who and what they are voting for!

Let's ask the Labour voters in Glenrothes and Glasgow North East, for starters, what has happened since their incumbent MP had greatness thrust upon them? I'll wager that greatness hasn't been thrust upon the good citizens.

Anonymous said...

19 Eh?

What a coincidence.....

Anonymous said...

Appropriate that you should be asking on the same page how much we should be paying them.

It may not be interesting but it's the constitution that we are talking about here.

of course, they would be whipped so, in a way they would be wasting their time being in the chamber.

With respect a 16 year old from the non acamemic forms could do that.

Maybe that's what we should elect next time round....

Conan the Librarian™ said...

Congrats on being sixth in the Scottish Roundup poll.

subrosa said...

I doubt if they've been offered greatness Clarinda far less have it thrust upon them. They have no greatness to give.

subrosa said...

Jings Anna, I didn't see your post. I was bored with the Iraq Inquiry a bit and thought I'd watch the Parliament channel.

Great minds think alike... :)

I've a few screen grabs from live debates to show that our MPs certainly don't attend and therefore don't know all sides of the debate.

It was actually himself who wanted to hear the end of it and told me the voting was taking place or I'd have missed that bit.

subrosa said...

That was part of my reason for posting this Tris, just to show what we're paying for.

subrosa said...

Am I Conan? Well well there's a surprise. :) Thanks for letting me know. x

John Pickworth said...

"Even better, if an MP has not been present at any part of a debate then they should be banned from voting on it."

Ooooh, we can't have that kind of commonsense in the House!

Although actually, we should.

Its an absolute disgrace we allow them to behave like this. I know my former MP was an ardent supporter of the ID Card Bill but she refused every invitation to discuss the matter with a concerned constituent. She wouldn't meet me (or others), failed to respond to a single email, fax or letter... then went ahead and voted for the scheme; claiming vast support from her constituents. I promised then I'd volunteer my services to her opponent come election day and do everything possible to see her booted out. A promise I'll keep even though I've since moved away.

I'm not even sure I know what good MPs are for these days? They certainly don't even pretend to keep the Government in check any longer!

Witterings From Witney said...

Perhaps SR if we took their £60K and knocked off £500 for every debate and vote missed without a valid reason - might that just 'concentrate' minds?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Wild appaluse Rosie. Spot on.

subrosa said...

John you're describing too many of them. Plus of course this week we've seen a couple of such arrogant examples of them (the Iraq Inquiry) that it makes your blood boil.

subrosa said...

WfW, I'm not suggesting the whole house should sit through every debate. Wouldn't be enough room anyway I believe.

I'm saying if they vote then they should have knowledge of the subject upon which the vote is based.

That's a good idea, but of course they set their own rules and ours of course.

subrosa said...

Thank you Dick. I'm embarrassed by your praise. :)

Stephen Glenn said...

Subrosa, let me get this straight you were taking screen grabs from the debate as it was being broadcast live? The MPs who clearly turned up to vote were within the precincts of the House of Commons at that time.

Is it not just possible that the MPs were following the debate on TV in their offices while also dealing with constituent correspondence of the like.

Just throwing a bit or reality into the conclusions you've jumped too.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that Stephen. Are you suggesting it's against the law to take a screen grab of the Commons in action or are you thinking I'm not capable of doing it?

I stick with my accusation though. Sitting in their offices whilst doing something else and listening to the debate on TV isn't good enough.

Firstly, they couldn't have been listening too well if they were involved in other tasks.

Secondly 400+MPs never went though the Commons during the debate. Nothing like it. I only recognised a few because from the camera distance a grey suit was a grey suit.

Taken from your angle as long as an MP is in the building then they can vote on a debate.

That's a wonderful example for our school pupils isn't it. 'As long as you're in school...'

No I stick with my conclusion.

Anna Raccoon has a better example:

If you can spare the time watch BBC Parliament during the week sometime and see the number who attend debates. It's shameful really.

You say they would have been constituency business in their offices. As far as I understand it (and I'm out of date so may be wrong here), MPs' constituency work is undertaken in the constituency offices for which the taxpayer pays rent and staffing costs.

I notice the Scottish Parliament also has this habit of only a handful of MSPs being present during a debate. It should be stopped. If they don't attend at least some of a debate then they shouldn't be allowed to vote on it.

Radical? Yes. Democratic? Yes.

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