Blogging is a strange occupation - a solitary writer in search of the sort of communion with others that used to happen in the pub, on the corner, on the bus is now engaging with others electronically instead. So much for progress.

THIS blog is about ideas - big and small - connected with one of the things I care about with a passion, namely the future of liberal thought in this country. I am instinctively a radical liberal, with a grudging belief in the value of markets but an abhorrence of statism and indifference, and a strong belief in social justice. I find Labour bankrupt of ideas, and the Tories intellectually flacid. This is my response.

I am intending always to stick to the point: there will be no rabble-rousing talk, and no wasted jibes at other parties and political philosophies.

Comments will be moderated, but anyone can leave one.

Monday, 25 May 2009

The hard life of an MP....

It must be a very onerous job being an MP. The House of Commons sits at odd hours still, rises for recess and reassembles with the tides and seasons, and the processes and procedures for daily business are still bafflingly arcane.

Hang on, though. If MPs wanted to do so, they could change all of that. For example, the House will sit for a mere 128 days in the 2008/09 session and, on most days of the four day attending week, begins its work at 2pm. How about (radical idea this) the House sitting for 220 days, from 0900 to 1600, abandoning the fripperies (prayers, Westminster Hall debates, even adjournment debates), allowing MPs to return to their constituency homes if within 2 hours commute of London? Huge numbers of MPs wouldn't need the much vaunted 'second home', they'd get the chance for a closer and more detailed scrutiny of the executive and legislation, and moreover Parliament would actually be sitting for more hours than it does currently.

In all of the recent discussion of expenses and parliamentary reform I had hoped to see some recognition of this simple fact: that our MPs could make their life easier, and raise our respect for them, simply by changing the arcane hours of sitting of the House. The rest of it (expenses reform, House of Lords reform to a fully elected chamber, deselections and primaries...) can wait. Let's insist on a more rational pattern of work for those we elect, and pay for, in Parliament first so we SEE them working when we are working too.

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