Members of Parliament – Essential, Redundant or Sidelined?

  • December 14, 2011 · 6:30 PM
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Members of Parliament – Do They Have a Role in the 21st Century?

We would like to invite you to our meeting on  “Members of Parliament – Essential, Redundant or Sidelined? Do They Have a Role in the 21st Century?” on December 14th at 6.30pm. It is being held in the Grand Committee Room at the House of Commons just off Westminster Hall and is being hosted by Nick De Bois MP

We ask Nick De Bois if he would host this meeting as he is a new MP who came in at the last election after fighting three times to secure his seat in North London. Since being in the House he has expressed his irritation at the lack of independence of MPs and believes they should have a more assertive role. Also speaking will be,

 

Peter Facey is the founding Director of Unlock Democracy. Peter became Director of Unlock Democracy's predecessor organisation the New Politics Network in 2001 and latter also becoming Director of Charter 88 and was responsible for merging the two organisations in 2007. He has worked in democratic reform, citizenship and participation for over 13 years and was previously Chief Executive of the British Youth Council. He is recognised as an expert in democratic reform and comments widely in the UK media. In the last two years he has given evidence to parliamentary committees on issues as diverse as devolution and decentralisation, lobbying and war powers.

Ruth Fox - Ruth is the Director of the Parliament and Government Programme at The Hansard Society. She is responsible for conducting and directing research into parliamentary scrutiny, legislative processes, representative democracy and constitutional reform. Before joining the Society, Ruth worked for seven years for Bill Rammell MP focusing on strategic communications, research and community relations. She also acted as a political adviser and speechwriter during his time as a Foreign Office and Higher Education Minister and managed his 2001 and 2005 General Election campaigns. In 2004 she took a leave of absence to work for Senator John Kerry's Democratic Presidential campaign in Florida.

The Hansard Society is currently doing a comparative study of the new intake of MPs at Westminster, AMs in Wales, MSPs in Scotland and the TDs in Ireland – their experiences, attitudes, perceptions etc – it has generated some really interesting findings so they tell us there will be plenty to talk about!

Today our democracies are at a critical point when many are dissatisfied with the way our Parliamentary system has developed.  MPs have often seen their role diminished as Party machines; Government Whips and the Prime Minister’s Office itself exert pressure that threatens their independence. The Press has often intimidated them so they fail to speak out freely, globalization has reduced their influence and the expenses scandal has devalued the status of MPs amongst the general public.

Little wonder that MPs themselves are often frustrated and sometimes confused as what their role is in the modern world and how they can best fulfill it. So at this meeting we would like to ask how could we guarantee a Parliament that is sovereign, transparent and indeed relevant to our modern age. And how can we guard against pressure, lobbying and intimidation so that MPs can fulfill their elected role?

This meetup asks questions about the health of our Parliamentary democracy and its future in a free and open society.

Westminster Hall is the oldest parliamentary building, dating back to 1097-1099. When it was built by William Rufus, it was the largest hall in Europe and helped establish Westminster as the ceremonial centre of the country. The first English Parliament met here in 1265. The Grand Committee Room often holds committee meetings and debates alongside the House of Commons. It has also been the venue for speeches by presidents and world leaders including Gorbachev, Mandela and the Dalai Lama.

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  • John W.

    Very impressed with integrity of MP host. Style of meeting could be improved with small breakout groups to formulate more comprehensive set of issues for speakers to address or for speakers to circulate around to enable real discussions.

    December 15, 2011

  • Paul

    This was actually a rather different outcome than anticipated. All 3 speakers made valid points and in particular I cant help saying that i was quite impressed with Mr NdB, rather surprising since I generally have a rather scathing and cynical attitude towards politicians. Gave me cause to think and consider and thats whats its about, at least to me it is.

    December 15, 2011

  • Suzanne L.

    Better than I expected - fewer cranky types than the comments earlier had suggested.
    I found Nick de Bois MP very interesting and helpful.

    December 15, 2011

  • Gordon O.

    Thank you for organising and please convey this also to the host and guest speakers. Food for thought and good dialogue about the issue. Unfortunate that some people on the website felt a need to be personal and slightly aggregative, or factious – that fact is we all, including those who sort to make such comments, had an opportunity to democratically express differing understandings and views to bring about understanding and thought on how things should perhaps be for the future.

    Might be good is a synopsis if this meting could be drawn up and forwarded o Mr De Bois and ask him to post on the House of Commons webpage Forum to attract more discussion and input – might precipitate some debate in the House at some stage about the way MP’s function in the future so as to be more engaging with the grass routes communities there are elected to represent.

    December 15, 2011

  • Dimitar T.

    Generally, discussion was dedicated to practicalities and short term options. Adapting nineteen century parliamentary system to 21st century society requires more scientific approach. Such discussion however is for academics. So pretty good I could say.

    December 15, 2011

  • MJY (Michael Y.

    Good. Impressed with Nick du Bois.

    December 15, 2011

  • Zoya

    Thank you for the meeting. It was interesting to hear different opinions of people about Parliament.

    December 15, 2011

  • Senake A.

    An interesting discussion - one that provided views on the pros and cons of what is a 19C system of government that may be evolving - albeit probably too slowly - to the needs of modern society. I have further ideas and solutions to how the system and it's image could be improved.

    December 15, 2011

  • Bob C.

    Very interesting and enlightening discussion about the role of MPs. We definitely need more devolution of power from the centre to local government ... if money can follow the patient in the NHS ... then it should also be able to follow the constituent in local services!!

    December 15, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    With the enormous challenges of economic chaos, population growth, climate change and resource shortages, people of good will everywhere are looking for vision and leadership. Whilst the media trumpets the negative and stokes our fears, our politicians play their game. Supplying the banal sound bites "your fat", "well your ugly" for the news at 10. If they wish to engage more of the electorate can we please hear them aim to illuminate the issues rather than carry favor in the next opinion poll!

    December 13, 2011

  • Jessica K.

    Has anyone seen the documentary 'Tory Boy' by John Walsh? He stands as a Conservative candidate for Middlesborough to try and bring down the elusive Labour MP Stuart Bell, who most of the residents have never seen. It's more for comic value than an example of widespread apathy of elected politicians. 'Let's get Stuart Bell in prison by Xmas!' etc but worth a look if only as evidence of a general belief that many politicians really aren't doing their job.

    December 8, 2011

  • Stella

    Yes, democracy please. What happened to Cameron's "cast iron" assurance on a referendum about the E.U.? How can being swept along with no vote be ok as a principle?

    December 6, 2011

  • Rajen

    John as a matter of interest how is the general assembly at the occupation doing things differently?

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    No MP should be taken at their word, nothing they say should be taken at face value. There is genererally an adenda behind what they do. The say one thing in public and another in private. No MP - well few MPs - will give up power. The general assembly at the occupation is real democracy in action.

    November 24, 2011

  • Senake A.

    John, you are right in that giving individuals control allows them to act in their own interests, rather than in the best interests of society as a whole. So this implies that we should remove this from the system. At the same time, any policies or initiatives need time to work. So maybe people could put forward ideas on how these policies or initiatives could be derived from the (generally lethargic until it really matters) masses. Whilst they have their downsides, Occupy seem to be having a sh

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Well Francis, that is very good advice, however what is mean by positive politics? Let us imagine we had in power a govement whose main aim was to look after the rich and powrful, that served the interest of corporations and money markets first, that was,for example reducing the support for asylum seekers, should that govemrnment not be opposed? In fact, could you not say that opposing it was positive? ... If there was such a goverment in power of...?

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    However going back to the issue, MPs, now, tend to be part of a poltical class, they represent their own interest and not the people. MPs are elected for 5 years, - in practise 4 years- and in that time can ignore the popluation at large. Perhaps I can give you one example, our MPs voted to approve a bill that could destroy the NHS - I would suggest to you that the most people do not agree with that. But what can we do?

    November 24, 2011

  • Francis S.

    Senake's advice is good. Concentrate on positive politics - debating what can be done rather than condemnatory politics that attacks the whole world and its dog! The former creates hope and the latter descends into despair!

    1 · November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Acutally, correct me if you think I am wrong, - I am happy to stand corrected- but looking back I don't think I actually made a personal attack on the MP, I made a comment about the conservative gov in general but I probably would about what ever party was is in power.

    November 24, 2011

  • Senake A.

    Bearing in mind that alignment is usually the biggest hurdle to getting any reform or new system to work, can I suggest that we start putting forward ideas on what could be improved and how...

    1 · November 24, 2011

  • Christina W.

    Hey guys, calm this down a little. It is not a good idea to use language that is inflammatory towards anyone, whether they be MPs or individuals who suffer any disability whatsoever. Let us stick to the arguments, and concentrate on them and please do not let this sink down into any personal attacks on anyone as that devalues everything. It does a great disservice to the arguments that should be honestly and politely expressed. Thank you.

    1 · November 24, 2011

  • Philippa

    Hey guys - you are simply showing that the policy of divide and rule is most definitely working! Make love not war ;)

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Also, I have never attacked anyone personally on this meetup. I have put forward my point of view but never made a personal comment about expect about the MP which is part of being an MP . I have never attacked personally any member of this meetup.
    Re language inflammatory, I think this goverment is evil. , I think many other people feel that.

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Nice playing of the Disability card; may I suggest a spellchecker - it gives greater credibility to your arguments. Please feel free to get back to me on my other comments but until then I'll refrain from spamming other members further.

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Well Nick, the reason for my spelling being appalling is becaue I dyslexic so its very ignorent you to crisise me for a disablity.

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    John explain to me how having a non-elected PM foisted upon you by another un-elected body of people not even of your nationality is democratic ? This is after the elected PM decides on a referendum and is roundly vilified for it.

    As for the occupation movement, I fail to see how 50 people deciding to flout laws that the rest of us are happy to live by is democratic either.

    And Margot is correct, your language is inflammatory and your spelling appalling.

    1 · November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    correction, I meant the way things are going... I think we would all agree we don't want to end up like the USA, a disaster of a country.

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Cynthia, I notice you are American. Most Amercans I know who live in the uK do so becasue they detest America, or the right wing poltics of American and it foreign policy. The one things are going the UK will end up like the USA.

    November 24, 2011

  • Margot T.

    John, your choice of language is inflammatory and likely to alienate a lot of people from the occupation movement.

    You have made sweeping judgements about Nick de Bois based on the political party he is part of. It is good to be aware of bias in the way people present their arguments (you are demonstrating this very clearly in all of your own posts) but as Cynthia noted, this is a non-partisan debate. Nick is talking about the role of MPs in the political system across ALL parties.

    1 · November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Nick - that is your Your interpretation of the subject matter as you are entitled to , my interpretation of the subject matter is we need direct democracy.

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    If you want to see real democracy then come to the London Stock Exchange occupation. How have the establishment reacted to the camp? As far as I am aware only a handful of MP have taken part in it. The reaction of Cameron is democracy does not include the right to pitch a tent and I think Boris Johnson came out with something similar.

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    John - the fact that you suggest we need "democracy like the greeks" suggests that you haven't really got a grasp of the subject material.

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    ... he is a member of. Most consrvative MP take the view that they are Representative not a delegate . Of course he might have a different view but , according to the blurb of the meeting he believes MPs should have greater independence, which does not suggest to me someone who thinks he should be a delegate.
    MPs should be servants of the people, not the other way round as most of them seen to think.
    I don?t think much of Labour either by the way.

    November 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    I would disagree its not not partisan, because if it were not why be an MP for a political party? One can't be an MP for a politcla party and then be listerned too without referene to the party they are part of. Being a consevative means he is on the side of the rich and privledge, lower taxes, deregulation etc, what ever ideas he has will flow bend around those principles. So, personally, I don;t think you can sepearate the fact that an MPs views will be bound to the pary ...

    November 24, 2011

  • Margot T.

    I think we get the picture. I also think we should be very careful before condemning someone who is taking the time to come and speak with us, on the basis that they are part of the conservative government. That is simply a form of political prejudice and does not reflect the aims of GlobalNet21. I hope you will give him and all the other speakers respect, and listen to what they have to say before writing them off on the basis of something not even related to the topic of the debate.

    1 · November 23, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    I notice this Nick De Bois character is a tory! part of the goverment, a bunch of evil bastards who are destroying our health services, cutting back on vital public services, forcing people into homelesness. I could go on but i think you get the picture.

    November 23, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    My MP refuses to answer letter via the 38 degree website on the basis they are too political and told me i was writing too many letters to him! Lets get rid of them!!! They serve no purpose!! We need direct, democracy like the greeks and the generel assemly at the occupation. THe gov serves the markets and corporations, Get rid of them as well!!

    November 23, 2011

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