Wednesday, 22 February 2012

So where are our elected representatives?

There is a debate taking place in the House of Commons, as I write, on the NHS and the Coalition's proposals for reform. As at 18:15 it would appear that there are approximately only 40 Members of Parliament actually in the chamber. On this point I reproduce a tweet from Alex Cunningham, timed at 17:54:
"There isn't even one Tory minister listening to the health debate at this time only a whip staffs the front bench. It is a disgrace."
Cunningham is, I believe, being polite in calling that situation a disgrace. Where are the other 610? Do not Members of Parliament have a duty to attend on behalf of their constituents? At the end of the debate those missing will appear and troop through the lobbies, but on what will their decisions on how to vote be made when they have not heard the arguments put? My Member of Parliament, unfortunately, happens to be our present Prime Minister and whilst it is acknowledged he has 'affairs of state' with which to deal, does he not have a duty to his constituents to be present? Or is his absence yet another area of democracy in which I am disenfranchised? As an aside, how many Members of Parliament have held public meetings with their constituents to garner their views?

This is a system of democracy by which our lives are decided? This is democracy? This is a system that costs taxpayers £millions - and for what? Members of Parliament will, generally, vote along 'party lines' - aka the diktat of their party leader. And we do not live under a democratised dictatorship?


Dave H said...

You fail to understand how the system works. Most of them are over in Portcullis House, some may be in meetings or dealing with correspondence or in the bar.

This is why they have party Whips - it allows them all to rush through the tunnel connecting Portcullis House with the main Parliamentary estate[*] and the Whips tell them which way to vote when the division bell rings. That way they don't need to be there and listen to all the speeches, some of which are indeed tedious and not relevant to the subject at hand. Even committee meetings get suspended in order that the MPs present can go and vote.

I get the impression that most of it is pre-determined, and the speeches are there so the Hansard writers have something to record for posterity and it allows MPs to point out to constituents their contributions. The fact that only half a dozen other MPs heard it is irrelevant.

[*] I've been in that tunnel when the division bell rang and watched them go past.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

DH: I am fully aware of how the system works - and presume your comment was meant to be humurous....

Of course events in the HoC are pre-determined, hence my post!

TomTom said...

so the Hansard writers have something to record for posterity

but Hansard is not an accurate record, buffoons like John Prescott get to edit what is recorded....

Frankly we need the offices of Colonel Pride in 1648 who utilised three public houses next to the Palace Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell The imprisoned MPs were taken to Hell where they spent the night.

We have reached the point where loyalty to this regime is basically treasonous

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TT: Am in total agreement with your last sentence.