House of Commons Commission written question – answered on 8th February 2010.

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Photo of Tony Wright Tony Wright Labour, Cannock Chase

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will make a statement on steps taken by staff of the House in taking forward work arising from the recommendations and conclusions of the House of Commons Reform Committee in its First Report of Session 2008-09, Rebuilding the House, HC 1117.

Photo of Nick Harvey Nick Harvey Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

Upon publication of the report in November, the Clerk of the House set in hand work on the possible changes to procedures and practices which would be required were the House to endorse some or all of the recommendations and conclusions, including possible changes to Standing Orders and changes to procedures and practices.

Some recommendations and conclusions proposed specific work by the House. A progress report on these is set out as follows.

Recommendation 38- P iloting of a more open approach to the scheduling of public bill committee evidence sessions and production by the relevant authorities of a report for the appropriate committee in the new Parliament:

Attempts have been made over the past two months to develop a more open approach to public bill committee evidence scheduling, in co-operation with all concerned. A Scrutiny Unit report is therefore in the process of preparation, with a view to presenting it to the appropriate select committee in the new Parliament.

Recommendations 41 and 42-S hift in the primary focus of the House's public engagement agenda towards greater degree of public participation, and opportunity for the public to influence the content of draft laws:

Discussion at official level is under way on the future pattern and direction of the House's public engagement effort, in the light of these two recommendations. Thought is being given to approaches which would give "a real opportunity to the public to influence the content of draft laws". Decisions would require to be taken by the proper authorities, including the House of Commons Commission and possibly the House itself, in the new Parliament.

Recommendation 43-Commissioning of investigation of practicalities of a national equivalent of "petitions requiring debate":

The Parliament and Constitution Centre in the DIS is looking further into the agenda initiative issue, as part of its general research effort. The results of the research, which should be completed by the start of the new Parliament, will inform future debate and decision on the practicalities of any sort of agenda initiative at national level. The study will course make no assumptions about what view the House may take in future.

Recommendation 44-U rgent discussions on a new costed scheme for e-petitions:

The urgent discussions recommended by the Committee have taken place. A revised outline scheme is being prepared which is likely to be cheaper than the scheme proposed in April 2008. It will in due course be for the House in this or the next Parliament to decide whether or not to proceed.

Recommendation 48-I nformation for petitioners of relevant House proceedings:

House staff are preparing to pilot two alternative routes for giving suitable information to petitioners, via the Member who presented the relevant petition, with a view to identifying the best way forward early on in the new Parliament. This can then be put to the appropriate committee for decision.

Recommendation 50-House authorities to work up a scheme on motions for House debate:

A scheme for motions for House debate, identifying a number of options, is currently being worked up, with a view to presenting it to the appropriate committee in the new Parliament.

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