Parliament: Communication with the Public — Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:25 pm on 18th December 2008.

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Photo of Lord Norton of Louth Lord Norton of Louth Conservative 5:25 pm, 18th December 2008

My Lords, I begin by picking up on a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves. I did not mean to suggest that we are not political animals. We are, and we should be, political animals; political parties are absolutely essential to the health of our political system. I hope that that means that I now have 100 per cent agreement from the noble Lord. I should say to the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, who made a point in that light, that I joined the Conservative Party when I was 13.

I am very grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken. The list of speakers today is notable for its quantity as well as its quality. The fact that so many of your Lordships have taken part in the debate on the last sitting day before Christmas is testimony to the importance that we attach to the subject. Some excellent points have been made, and I am very grateful to the Chairman of Committees for his detailed response.

It is clear from what has been said that this debate should be seen as part of a process rather than the start or the end of one. I very much endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Soley, has said, which the Chairman of Committees picked up on, about blogging and contributing to Lords of the Blog. Any noble Lords who have not yet seen it may wish to go to www.lordsoftheblog.net to see exactly what we are talking about and the contributions that have been made. May I also say how delighted I was by the speech of my noble friend Lord Renton and his proposal for an inquiry into this topic by the Information Committee? I hope that he will ensure that members of the public have an opportunity to contribute to that inquiry.

As I said, it has been an excellent debate. Very good points have been made, which I hope will feed into and allow us to build on what has already been achieved. As I said and as the Chairman of Committees has emphasised, we have achieved an awful lot already. It is a question of building on the strength of that and taking it further. It is clear from the debate that we recognise the importance of communicating with the public and enabling them to communicate with us. Let us take this further forward. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion withdrawn.