Jo urges movement on House of Commons reform


Jo has called for MPs to vote on the full set of proposals set out by the Wright Committee to reform the House of Commons.

In the House of Commons recently, Jo questioned the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman, on whether MPs would be allowed to vote on the full proposals put forward by the House of Commons Reform Committee, not a version watered down by the Government.

The committee, led by Tony Wright MP, published proposals in November aimed at making the way the House of Commons is run more democratic. Its report calls for an investigation to be conducted into how the public could be given the power to ensure issues are debated in the House of Commons. It also concludes that the public should be given opportunities to influence the content of draft laws.

Jo submitted her views to the Committee in October, arguing that the public should be able to use petitions to decide on topics for debate in the House of Commons, or vote on topics put forward by MPs. She also said that tracking the progress of Bills online should be made easier, and restrictions on the sharing of video clips of Parliament online should be lifted, to make the political process more accessible to the general public.

Commenting, Jo said:

“The proposals published in this report mark a small step forward in making the political process more democratic and open to public involvement, but there is still much more that needs to be done in this area. I am disappointed that the Committee was not more forthright in its recommendations for involving the public in the political process.

“However, the Government is dragging its feet even over allowing MPs to debate the findings of this report. When the House of Commons Reform Committee was set up in June, the Government declared its commitment to urgent reform, but all sense of urgency appears to have been lost. MPs must be allowed to vote on these proposals in full so that we can get on with implementing further reforms.”

The text of Jo’s question to the Leader of the House of Commons appears below:

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): I very much welcome the Leader of the House’s warm words about the Wright Committee proposals for reform of the House of Commons, and in particular her suggestion that we will need to go even further and build on them. That is an excellent and necessary idea. As a first step, will she place the Committee’s draft motion on the Order Paper for a free vote in this House-yes or no?

Ms Harman: We are consulting the Opposition parties to ensure that the motion that we table has the broadest possible agreement across the House. Of course it will be a free vote, as it is House business, not Government business.

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