Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Give Parliament Its Relevance Back

It appears that Tony Blair has attended only 6% of House of Commons votes in the last parliamentary session, giving him the poorest record of any previous prime minister.

This serves as proof if proof were needed of this government’s shameful approach to parliament and the legislative process. This government has such a large majority in the Commons that it has felt it didn’t really need to take the opinion of parliament seriously. Perhaps they felt our representatives would always be there for them.

Downing Street defended the Prime Minister, making the point that Mr. Blair has done a great deal to place parliament at the centre of things. He was the first prime minister to appear before the Commons liaison committee, made up of select committee chairs, to face questioning. And he makes more statements on government business than either John Major or Margaret Thatcher ever did.

Am I wrong in noticing that these two points are characteristic of the kind of activities undertaken by a president, and not a prime minister?

And of course it is an accepted fact that the more high-profile MPs have other business to attend to, and therefore they often can’t make it to as many Commons votes as they’d like. But having said that, the man is living just down the road and can make it to the chamber and get back home to dinner pretty quickly if he really wanted to!

This government could be doing a hell of a lot more to stand up for the needs and desires of parliament. But all governments have had a fairly poor track record in doing this.

Maybe it’s some sub-conscious fear our political leaders hold that if they devolve too much power to our members of parliament, then our representatives will just turn back round and stab them in the back.

One day, a government is going to get over that fear and give parliament its relevance back.

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