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Parliamentary Proceedings

Leader of the House – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 5th March 2009.

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Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North 10:30 am, 5th March 2009

What plans she has to make the proceedings of the House more understandable to the public.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

We have already done a great deal, including the introduction of explanatory memorandums, changes to the Order Paper to make it easier to understand and the inclusion of more information on the parliamentary website so that all members of the public can understand what is happening in the Chamber. We are, of course, always happy to consider any good ideas that come from any source other than Mr. Heath.

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Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North

I thank my hon. Friend for that response. My constituents tell me that they are confused by the way we address each other in the House, using terms such as "hon. Member", "right hon. Member", "learned Member", "learned and gallant Member" and so on. The public really do not understand those terms. What can we do to make them more understandable?

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

I understand the point that my hon. Friend makes. I gather that, at one point, there was a debate in the House of Lords about whether one could refer to somebody as a "gallant peer" when there were no longer any four-star generals. It was only four-star generals who previously were referred to as "gallant". I know that many hon. Members find this very complicated and in this House it is sometimes difficult for members of the public to understand whom we are referring to when we refer to the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe or to the right hon. Member for this, that and the other. It is not— [Interruption.] From a sedentary position, Ann Winterton says that it is not simple. It is not very simple for ordinary members of the public and this is perhaps something that we ought to look at. However, parliamentary language is primarily a matter for your consideration, Mr. Speaker, not ours.

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Photo of Andrew Dismore Andrew Dismore Labour, Hendon

The Deputy Leader of the House referred to all members of the public, but I would like to ask him about members of the public with disabilities. For example, may we consider having sign language interpreters, when appropriate and requested, in Select Committees? May we have documents written in Easyread for people with learning disabilities where the issue is of interest to them? For instance, my Select Committee produced its report on services for adults with learning disabilities in Easyread.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that matter. I know that the House authorities have worked hard to make it possible for Members of the House with disabilities to be able to function perfectly as well as any other Member of the House. That is clearly vital. He makes some interesting points that I will seek to take up with the House authorities to see whether there are further ways to make those issues available.

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