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.