House of Commons Commission (Annual Report)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:30 pm on 3rd November 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Secretary 5:30 pm, 3rd November 2005

This Adjournment debate has certainly showcased the wide range of issues with which the House of Commons Commission deals. I know that our distinguished colleague who speaks for the Commission in the House, Nick Harvey, will want to respond to a number of points. I join hon. Members in thanking the staff for all the work that they do in this place. I know that hon. Members will treat them with courtesy and like the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters that they are, as we should treat all people, especially those serving the public.

As we are wearing our poppies today with pride, we should thank those members of staff and Members of this House who laid down their lives to defend the democratic principles of this great parliamentary democracy. I also want to pay tribute to former Leaders and Deputy Leaders of the House and to Chris Grayling for his unfailing courtesy. I owe a personal debt to Robin Cook. He was very kind to me when I worked for him first as a volunteer, then as a sub-agent in the year that he was elected to this place, and later as a paid researcher. He is greatly missed.

I want to thank Members who serve on the domestic Committees of the House. They and you especially, Sir Nicholas, have achieved a quiet revolution in this esteemed place, although you may not wish to use those terms in your CV to the 1922 committee. I have certainly witnessed great improvements for new Members. When I was first elected there was no induction course. There was no proper briefing on the work of the Table Office, Select Committees or Standing Committees. For the first few months, I did not have a desk and I did not have a phone, but I had a place to hang my sword. Things have improved greatly, and the Commission should take credit for that.

My hon. Friend Martin Linton and others showcased what has been achieved by the Modernisation Committee in particular. We have achieved much but there is so much more to do. I believe there will be debates in future on reducing the voting age, on regarding voting as the duty of every citizen and on extending broadcasting in particular to all public debates of this House and its Committees.