How should Parliament work?

Normally in these blogs I highlight areas where things have gone wrong or need improving. Today’s blog begins with thanks to the Speaker and his staff for something that went right. He got a virtual Parliament up and running smoothly and quickly when some of us thought Parliament needed to be working. It was  a time of big decisions on the extent of the  lock down and management of the NHS response to the virus.

The virtual Parliament allowed MPs to ask questions and make speeches from home via the Zoom link, and reminded Ministers that their blizzard of decisions needed to  be reported to MPs and subjected to questions and suggestions. There were remote divisions where an MP voted by computer once through the on line security.  It was a big step forward and answered the question of how could Parliament function whilst observing social distancing?

It did however have some limitations. No MP was allowed to intervene on a Minister or other speaker, preventing challenge and proper debate. There were no easy informal exchanges between MPs as a debate or the government’s business evolved. Everything had to be planned and timetabled in advance, so there could be no spontaneity.

The Leader of the House was keen that something more like the Commons was restored. Again the Speaker and  his team responded well, giving us the Mark 2 Covid Commons. Now we have regained the right to intervene. Most MPs need to attend the Commons to speak and vote, and so there is more scope for suitably socially distanced conversations with other MPs as needed. Voting in the lobbies has been restored with orderly and segregated progress to and through the lobby to vote, speeded a bit by the presence of card readers to accept your vote.

The issue is how can it evolve further? There could still usefully be more spontaneity were some speaking slots to be available unallocated in advance, and if some questions were not previously allocated. The chamber with only 50 people in it at any one time does not have the atmosphere it normally has, with most debates heard in silence. Outside the chamber the social distancing advice does not always remain observed, as MPs want to talk to each other. Democratic politics is about the  numbers that support a cause as much as it is about the justness of the cause. Daily life at Westminster is about running causes , building support and arguing for change.

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194 Comments

  1. Shirley M
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    To me, the most important thing is to support democracy and the honesty of MP’s. If an MP breaks his promises and has the whip removed, changes parties, or is prosecuted for dishonesty or crime, there should be an immediate and compulsory by-election. It is ridiculous that these MP’s retain their seats AND their votes in Parliament. It would also help keep the remaining MP’s ‘honest’.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      Well Cameron failed to deliver a proper recall act. Just as he failed at almost everything else. The Recall of MP’s Act 2015, unlike recall procedures in several other countries does not allow constituents to initiate proceedings.

      So a toothless dog. Largely PR stunt fake recall act a bit like his pathetic fake attempt as EU renegotiation.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Nice idea Shirley, but wouldn’t we be voting every week?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        In the private sector customers vote several times a day. In how they spend your money, which shops, restaurants and pub you use, what TV you watch …… that is what makes businesses get better at serving their customers. Alas in the state sector it is take it or leave it.

        • czerwonadupa
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          what TV you watch ……
          Not in the case of the BBC (or the COW = Church of Woke) we are forced to pay whether we are worshippers or non believers

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Our system of FPTP asks voters to vote for an MP not for a party so there is only a moral case for an MP who changes party to call a by-election. How MPs can not see the moral case is a mystery and says much about them.

      Under the EU and Scottish systems where PR is sued then there is no reason for an MP to retain their position if they switch parties. The Voters vote for a party and expect to be represented by that party.

      • Andy
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        Actually this is a flawed understanding of how our system actually works. In theory it is about a specific candidate. But, in practice, it is all about party.

        The vast majority of voters vote for a party. Sure, there is a random name of a person from that party on the ballot – but most voters do not care about that name.

        In my constituency a used tea bag would win if wore a blue rosette – the electorate does not matter, just the selection process.

        I have little sympathy for the suggestion that MPs should be required to quit if they vote against their party or leave their party or even join another one. Because sometimes parties change – not MPs. Like recently when Labour became Marxist and the Tories became UKIP of course sensible MPs would leave.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          How do you know ” the vast majority vote for a party?
          In my area a very hard working locally popular candidate overturned a safe seat.
          Some people vote for a Prime Minister.
          Some vote on a particular issue that means most to them.
          Some vote against a person they dislike.
          There are dozens of reasons people vote the way they do.
          You are just guessing.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          The specific candidate is ‘selected’ by the local committee of party members. It helps if Central Office approves, and sometimes a candidate is foisted on them!
          As Edward says votes are cast for many reasons – mine was to ensure Sir John was re-elected, firstly he has proved worthy for many years, and secondly there was a disgraceful challenge by an ex-MP ejected by the nearest local constituency.
          In fact for any other Tory candidate I wouldn’t have voted.

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        NS I agree with you however if you were just voting for the MP as an individual then why allow the party logo and details next to their name, one or the other and if they want to leave that party mid-way through fine they have to explain why they’ve caused a by-election in that seat when they originally committed to represent the party on the ballot form, if the electorate agree more with the individual MP than the party they will get re-elected.

        By the same token there should be some local re-call mechanism where we can re-call criminal MPs.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Agreed. Although I may disagree with taking away the whip. What would have become of our kind host and others if someone like Major had such powers?

      😉

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      That would mean that an MP could never vote against his or her party on conscience.

      It would transform, absolutely, our governance into elected dictatorship, but that is probably what you want.

      Prosecuted MPs are subject to by-elections on a nominal local petition already.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Gosh – Martin – I’m inclined to AGREE with you!

      • steve
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        MiC

        “It would transform, absolutely, our governance into elected dictatorship, but that is probably what you want.”

        Not a bad idea actually.

      • NickC
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        No, it doesn’t mean that an MP “could never vote against his party on conscience“, Martin. Shirley said: “If an MP breaks his promises and has the whip removed, [or] changes parties” then there should be a by-election. That is clearly not an “elected dictatorship”, or anything like. You’re so keen to be a defeatist wet-lettuce about the UK that you’re losing your grip on reality.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          A large number of MPs had the whip removed recently simply for voting as they thought were in the best interests of the country.

          That is a matter for the party, but it is unrelated to whatever their constituents – NOT just their voters – might have thought of them.

          The poster implies, amongst more, that MPs only serve their voters. They do not.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

            If you are referring to the EU referendum then these MPs stood on their manifestos.
            The Conservative manifesto said we will implement the result of the 2016 referendum.
            They were elected on that promise.
            My local MP promised that and then when elected voted against the manifesto on which they were elected.

          • NickC
            Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

            Of course MPs serve their voters – they are the voters representative. That’s what representational democracy is all about.

            The MPs to which you refer stood on a party platform of accepting the result of a binary Referendum that itself separately had a clear majority. So those MPs opposed two democratic votes.

            If those MPs were as convinced as you that despite this they had popular support, then they should have stood in by-elections to show it.

          • czerwonadupa
            Posted July 6, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            They were voting against the result of the referendum whose result they disagreed with even though they had later stood for election on a platform to implement that result. And like their leader were pawns being used by the panjamdams in Brussels.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            Yes, MPs are their voters representatives, because their voters are also their CONSTITUENTS, ALL of whom the MPs represent.

            Do you think that they should not consider e.g. the children in their seats for heaven’s sake?

            Any constituent may make representations to their MP, and they are not required to disclose their voting preference.

            And they are representatives, not delegates.

    • Al
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      “If an MP breaks his promises and has the whip removed, changes parties, or is prosecuted for dishonesty or crime, there should be an immediate and compulsory by-election.”

      Would it not make more sense to allow the constituents to decide on whether to initiate proceedings for a by-election? It may be that an MP has voted with their conscience or in accord with the local desires as opposed to central government’s views. It would certainly reduce cost and inconvenience compared to having to hold repeated byelections.

    • steve
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Shirley M

      It might surprise you to know we do not live in a democracy and never have done. We live in a constitutional Monarchy.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        ‘The Queen in Parliament’ – to which all MP swear an Oath of Allegiance means the real Sovereigns – the people, the voters.
        You see the problem when people like Tony Banks cross their fingers when taking to oath to us!

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      As someone who votes for the person not the party, I don’t think an MP changing parties warrants a recall. If he commits a crime, then the system in place can be used to remove him.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    It might be nice if it evolved so that MPs and Ministers had some knowledge and understanding of the subject they talked about (or were ministers of). So many simply have not got a clue. People in charge of energy who have no numeracy or understanding of energy engineering. Please on the climate change committee with little understanding of anything, endless Chancellors with zero understanding of economics or the real economy. Housing ministers with almost no understanding of housing.

    Listening to Any Questions yesterday we had three politicians who seemed determined to show listeners that they understood little and knew almost nothing. The green MP in particular (English at Exeter) has no understanding of economics, engineering, physics, energy, the cost benefit analysis of insulating things, climate or anything really very much at all. The cost/benefit of insulating Grenville tower for example – an appalling tragedy largely caused by the green loons, appalling implementation and totally incompetent senior fire officers sending people back to their flats.

    • Nigl
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      Yes. My first question of the PM would be how an anyone do these jobs without any background knowledge (evidence shows they can’t) and the second one would be. Where on the scale of incompetence does a Minister have to be to get fired?

      Ps you are obsessed with university backgrounds. Get over it. Plenty of people have been massively successful in fields unrelated to their degrees. A very narrow view that what you do in your early 20s controlS the rest of your life’s knowledge and ability.

      • DavidJ
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        Presumably they are entirely dependent on “advice” from the Civil Service; that unelected mass of bureaucrats with their own agenda which usually seems to be opposed to that which we voted for.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 3:59 am | Permalink

        The type of people who aspire to read say PPE, English, Law, Sociology, Divinity, Gender studies ……are rather or even very different on average to those who aspire to Engineering, Maths, Physics, Medicine and similar I find.

        Many of the first group perhaps have no more maths & science than
        O levels or GCSEs. The disastrous John Major I believe even failed those.
        Does Sunak (PPE Oxon) have any numerate subjects beyond GCSEs I wonder?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Grenfell was surely a technical and ultimately and educational failure? The mixture of organic compounds, fire and air feeding in at speed will never end well for people in the vicinity.

      For all the knowledge an MP has, they are relying on skilled and dedicated public servants to draft, implement and monitor laws they enact. There is a role for really good technocrats at the top, perhaps even elected by local people alongside the politicos. People can spot dunces better than those that hire them. The technocrats should be able to hire folk who can do the job and fire those who can’t. The culture of hiring and not firing somebody who signs off a dangerous building, or dangerous anything else, has to change.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 4:04 am | Permalink

        There was little economic or other sense in cladding the building at all (and non for doing it so incompetently) also there was plenty of time for everyone to get out anyway. The virtue signalling green loons and negligent fools at the top of the fire service who sent people back to their flats for hours where mainly to blame.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          So the police, who might arrive late for 999 calls are responsible for people being killed by murderers too?

          What deranged thinking.

          The criminals are almost wholly to blame in all cases.

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the councillor who signed off the work on Grenfell later become the MP for that area?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          Councillors do not “sign off” work.

          A planning committee may approve proposals.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 7, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

            Who are comprised of many Councillors.

    • miami.mode
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      LL, the CEO of an engineering company does not have to be a brilliant lathe operator nor that of a house builder to be good at bricklaying.

      Ministers generally have unlimited access to some of the best minds and experience available and it’s a matter of judgement and politics with the emphasis on politics.

      • Al
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        “LL, the CEO of an engineering company does not have to be a brilliant lathe operator nor that of a house builder to be good at bricklaying.”

        No, but a CEO should probably know what a lathe is, and have more than passing familiarity with the field and sector, not just rely on what they are told by people who may have their own agendas.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Indeed but anyone so silly and innumerate and economically and scientifically illiterate as to think that things like HS2 or most renewables make any sense should not be in charge of anything. Or who does not understand that green jobs destroy for more real jobs.

          When talking of energy and power it might be nice if they at least understood the difference. Perhaps even getting the units right occasionally. (Not saying things like 300 megawatts per hour for example or the new scheme with generate 300 megawatts a year). Might be nice if they understood that electric cars are no zero emission and that batteries are just a storage system like a petrol tank. Some idiotic reporters on the BBC do not even understand “positive feedback” (in the engineering sense) so ignorant are they.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            not zero emission ideed often worse than keeping your old car in CO2 terms.

          • czerwonadupa
            Posted July 6, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

            The (Mayor?)is spending millions on bringing London to a standstill. Dozens of roads with concrete barriers narrowing the roads thus preventing drivers to move over for ambulance & police vehicles. His latest example changing the 4 lanes @ 40 mph in Hyde Park into 1 lane @ 20 mph which they are unable to achieve due to gridlock. But they’ve still left the all the signs up showing 4 lanes to confuse drivers entering from Hyde park Corner.

      • DavidJ
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        No, but he should have some relevant experience, understanding and qualification. Too many who don’t have presided over disasters.

  3. Mark B
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Sir John. If you think it’s bad for you just think it how bad it is for the rest of us ?

    MP’s who wish to return to the HoP would be well advised to be tested and retested so that they speak and hold government to account. The government has been given extra special powers and as one of our representative in parliament I think it is only right that you and others challenge the government and officials on this and many other issues. You also need to be there to battle for your constituents, which we know you do. Both we the people and parliament need to get back to normal as quickly and as safely as possible. And as soon as we do we need to question and seek to repeal all those extra emergency powers the government has.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      Meanwhile in the outside world, Brexit negotiations are progressing fast – in Ireland especially with the land bridge through England and the green lanes. A man was shot dead in the streets yesterday and ……….. a rave in Islington the day before. London needs some pulling together on crime – and fast.

      • acorn
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Talking of Brexit, do we take it that Boris is going for a “no-deal” Brexit?

        He said on LBC “I just think there’s a good agreement to be reached, but obviously if we can’t then we will have the very good option also of an Australian-style arrangement.”

        Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for trade, outlined that the EU does “not have an agreement with Australia” and said of the UK seeking an “Australian-style” deal with the bloc: “I think that’s code for no deal.”

        I’m fairly sure Boris will fool the average leave voter into believing that the EU has totally caved in to the UK’s demands and that his “no-deal” is far better than any trade deal the neo-liberal corporatist EU Commission would offer. 😉

        • Edward2
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Gosh.
          I never knew the EU were neo liberal and corporatist.

        • NickC
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          Acorn, Australia has a number of trade deals with the EU.

  4. Javelin
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Parliament is all about democratic-Calibration. Good Calibration relies on a clear, transparent chain of decision making round in a big feedback loop.

    Democracy is part of the great calibration feed back loop that involves people coming to their own judgements on the competence of the Government. Democracy is one link in a chain of decision making that involves the people, Parliament and the civil service. The Government’s job is to oversee this, as well as to decide which bits to adjust they also need to ensure the calibration system works.

    As a voter it is obvious that the bit that isn’t part of the great calibration mechanism of democracy is the civil service, who play a huge part in the delivery of the Government but are not transparent at all. The key reform is to make transparent how well the civil service deliver the Governments wishes and to oust any civil servant who cannot calibrate the country in the way the politicians ask. Some wishes are too great but where there is a simple promise, under Government control, such as reducing immigration, or health tourism then the civil servants need firing when it can’t be delivered.

    Within this great calibration Parliament must give their feed back into two other large scale calibration mechanisms. The markets and the justice system.

    But it is the civil servants who hide in the shadows and the delivery of the Governments mandate that needs the biggest reform.

    Think of Government and Parliament as a giant calibration system rather than focusing of small details.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Government and Parliament should be about ensuring the country is in good shape for Defence, Health, Economy, Education and an acceptable society of Rules of behaviour. Add to that to steer us towards a common sense set of rules, and to reverse previous mistakes in accord with the Election mandate!

      • DavidJ
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Indeed Fred.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Two good articles today in the Telegraph Charles Moore on Degrees & Universities and David Green on the dire NHS.

    It is 72 years ago today that the Labour Government nationalised the 480,000 beds previously managed by some 1,400 voluntary and about 1,500 municipal hospitals. Every other European country chose not to centralise control in this way. They sensibly maintained diverse ownership of hospitals. Beverage a deluded socialist/economist largely to blame. A socialist/economist is surely someone who had totally failed to understand economics? Live a civil engineer whose bridges keep collapsing.

    The NHS is one of the worse systems measured by outcomes for such a developed nation. This dire socialist experiment was a total disaster. But the Tories dare do nothing to improve matters they are so scared and pathetic. The negligent deaths, damaged babies, the damages litigation and endless delays and scandals will just continue on for ever more it seems. A price worth paying this Government thinks.

    Beverage seems to be a bit like Healey a clever chap with double firsts at Balliol but so little common sense or understanding of the real world. Denis Healey even thought income tax at 93% was a great plan. Then again Osborne and Hammond (and still even now) had/have it at over 100% for many people. Plonkers as Dell Boy might put it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      Hammond even increase the IPT insurance tax on private medical cover to 12% so people have to pay four times over if they do not want to use the NHS state virtual monopoly healthcare. A clear attempt to further destroy freedom of choice in healthcare and strengthen further the rationed and often dire state monopoly.

      Under Thatcher there was (very sensibly) no IPT at all and you had tax breaks if you helped take the weight of the NHS with private medical cover. Load of companies has sensible schemes for millions of workers. My mother & father (who were not at all rich had one with British Aerospace which saved the NHS a considerable sum in their latter years.

      Alas we still really have a socialist government in power.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        NHS so revered and protected. Makes the blood run cold.
        How can we tell whether there has ever actually been ANY medical progress?
        Figures not always accurate..infection rife.
        They “cut for the stone” most effectively 250 years ago! And smallpox vaccine was NOT universally acclaimed.

        Why, today they can’t even deal with a virus!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

          Not only “cannot deal with it” but actively spread it by kicking infected people out of hospitals and into ill equipped nursing homes (full of very vulnerable people) without even any testing first. Furthermore agency staff were spreading it from hospital to hospital to nursing homes and back again.

          Sunak today wants to to double the number of frontline staff, hiring 13,500 new “work coaches” to help the unemployed into new roles. What an idiotic approach. What is needed is to remove the very many (government inspired) deterrent to employing people. The employment laws, the expensive green crap, endlessly increasing taxes and tax complexity, the misguided bank lending controls, the lack of real competition, the state monopolies in health, education etc.

          The last thing needed is more largely parasitic state employees (for the private sector to carry) you silly dope. You need to grow the wealth creating sector and reduce that largely parasitic sector. I know Sunak that you read PPE At Oxford – but surely this is obvious even to you.

          • a-tracy
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            Not all nursing homes were ill equipped I enjoyed reading about a nursing home with over 120 patients who’d sourced a new style, treated mask which protected both her staff and patients yesterday, that lady deserves a medal.

          • Dennis
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

            JR, do you agree with LL’s post? If so what are you going to do about it? If not, why not?

        • Fred H
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

          The issues are with the ‘civil service’ Management and structure of the NHS. The sharp end practionioners are first class in my and others’ experience.

          • DavidJ
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            As one of those others I agree but would add IT systems simply not fit for purpose.
            An illustration from the US was the design of software for “Obamacare” which failed owing to an elementary mistake. The developer in question had contributed to Obama’s election funding…

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

            I agree in the main.

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        This IPT insurance tax should be removed as a minimum this year we’ve been without private medical cover for four months yet they expect customers to keep paying the premium and tax! If we all return to the NHS and just pay for treatments as we need them or go abroad for treatment and cancel our subscriptions do you think they’ll wake up. They’re taking us for mugs.

    • DOMINIC
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      Beveridge. He wasn’t a cup of tea.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        Certainly not my cup of tea!

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      You make a point above that MPs should be expert in their fields and then post an opinion piece based on a copy of what someone else has written in a newspaper @LL.

      If you can come to an informed opinion based on briefing notes and information supplied by others, what don’t you think an MP can?

      Granted the (group think) opinion MPs come to is often wrong…….

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        About 96% of MPs voted for Ed Miliband’s insane climate change act. Most Conservative MPs voted for Theresa May and to retain John ERM Major. I rest my case.

        Furthermore the experts they consult often have a axe to grind or are telling them just what they know they want to hear to retain the position.

        reply I voted for none of the above

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          Well done – alas so few sensible and rational MPs about.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          🙌 ‘Go John!’

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          Charles Moore and David Green don’t have axes to grind?

        • Fred H
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

          reply to reply – – which is why Sir John, Wokingham wished to keep you.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      The late Commander Healey led his men through some of the fiercest fighting in WWII.

      I think that his understanding of the real world might just have been rather better than yours, somehow.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Right out here in the Fens, I notice that people, men especially, like to talk without a two metre gap. Things are naturally loosening up now. We need to get back to normal as fast as possible. All sorts of things are beginning to change back to how they were and the government needs to keep up with the change.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      Another article in the Telegraph suggest that the lock down Leicester is merely due to the fact that more were tested in Leicester thus getting more positives. Where other places (that might have similar infection rates) were only really testing those with more severe symptoms. I suspect this is largely true.

      • James Brian Awford
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        As Donald Trump put it ,

        ‘When I see infection rates go up I can cut them back by cutting down on testing ‘

        It is death rates that really matter not infection rates .

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Round here it is the young – who Andy wishes us to indulge – who have never observed 2m distancing or other aspects of the lockdown – the scenes from last night (those selected by scaremongering newspapers at least) emphasise the observation.

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Those pubs selected by the scaremongering newspapers to photograph should be immediately closed down for breaching the rules!

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Can’t move in my local supermarket without some young ‘picker’ carelessly breaching my 2-metre exclusion zone. They really don’t care about anyone but themselves.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      Normal. In the Fens. I see…

  7. davews
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Your article seems to suggest that you feel this remote parliament will be a permanent thing. I hope not. Once social distancing is shown to be totally unnecessary (as will rapidly become obvious after the pubs opened yesterday) parliament should show the rest of the world that we can carry on our life as it has been for the past many thousand of years. Remote working has some advantages but it should not become the norm and this grossly overblown virus is no reason to do so.

    And I will not be clapping for the NHS later. Half of the NHS has been effectively closed for the past four months and we need to think of all those suffering as a result.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      If, as you think, social distancing is proved unnecessary by pubs reopening I do hope that urgent research is done into where all our infections did come from.

  8. steve
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    How should Parliament work ?

    Remove the left wing and SNP anti – English elements and then it might stand a chance of working.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      ×1

    • Mark B
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Steve

      Whilst I and others agree with you it is a UK Parliament and not an English one. If you want to get rid of the Scottish and Welsh MP’s you have to justify it. And the only way to do that is demand the same as they have.

      • The Prangwizard
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        I don’t wish to nitpick but I think it important when discussing an English parliament not to start from ‘what they have’. England should not appear to be following. We are the principal nation and our parliament must be built on that basis. I’m not a unionist and if the smaller ‘nations’ don’t like it I don’t much care. Only Scotland can claim to be a true nation but I doubt it could survive without England’s money. Wales has been an intrinsic part of England for 700 years with the same laws and administration.

        Ps. I’m putting my tin hat on now.

        • czerwonadupa
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          As london has been made into a cosmopolitan place run by cosmopolitans where would you suggest an English parliament should be based. Winchester? Birmingham? Some were in Yorkshire or the North East?

        • Mark B
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

          No need for tin hats here mate. 🙂

      • steve
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        Mark B

        Good morning Sir.

        Firstly I did not mention Welsh MP’s. Plaid is not a racist organisation i.e not anti – English, and does not advocate extreme activism in response to tories being elected fair and square by democratic vote.

        You say it is a UK Parliament, unfortunately the SNP don’t see it that way, which to my mind is one reason they should be ‘asked to leave’.

        Labour just need the bums rush, quite frankly.

        • Mark B
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

          I know you did not mention the Welsh but, if you want an English Parliament they too must go.

          The SNP refer to the UK Parliament as Westminster. Not sure why, maybe your right, but it is still the supreme government of the UK and that is why they are allowed. Although like others I’d rather they not be there at all.

      • JoolsB
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Doesn’t matter how much we demand one Mark B, they will continue to ignore us because an English Parliament would mean a dilution of their powers and a huge cull in their numbers. Why would we need anywhere near 650 UK MPs for starters? Probably 100 would be sufficient for the remaining reserved matters. For that reason alone, our self serving Parliamentarians are no going to allow it. Instead they’ll keep deliberately conflating England and the UK and referring ‘to the country’ when they know full well they are only talking about England, in the hope we idiots the English won’t notice the rotten deal we get from this so called union both constitutionally and financially. Where would the Tories be without England and look at the thanks we get. Our kids are saddled with £9,250 tuition fees and our sick unlike the rest of this so called union are charged for their prescriptions whilst they continue to shovel English taxpayers’ to the devolved nations who can then happily send their offspring off to university with no fees or heavily subsidised ones – all courtesy of those lovely people in England who they despise.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          +1 👏🏻

        • Mark B
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          Can’t argue with any of that 🙂

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      100% agree on an English Parliament

      • DavidJ
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        Better to stick to the UK Parliament, correct the over-representation of Scots in it, and reverse the devolution. This is the UNITED Kingdom; let’s keep it as such.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          What’s stopping the Conservative government David? did the fair seats representation get shelved?

    • Andy
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Ah, the infamous North Korean model. Kim Jong Cummings.

      • NickC
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Andy, Will Witt of Prager, as a social experiment, asked some US students to rank world leaders past and present. Some of the dim ones put Trump as worse than Hitler. Your ridiculous comparison reminds me of that experiment.

        • czerwonadupa
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

          The result of woke history teaching which has been going on in our own universities for some time now and whose results we have witnessed on our streets recently

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      We should only ask them to be removed on devolved issues such as Education, Health for England, university funding and tuition.

      It is very easy for Sturgeon to have high popularity ratings when she’s simply spending our money and asking for more with no sacrifice to her own voters. I ask again which budget is she taking the £10m for the Scottish Arts out of, or is she expecting the English to pay whose Arts are getting bigger all according to the many tweets I’m reading? Seriously Oliver Dowden I want an answer to this, there are already superior grants for these nations performers, students and it’s really starting to grate now, and John the English keep electing Conservatives but your party just gives us the bills!

  9. Bryan Harris
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    While I can appreciate the benefits outlined regarding building alliances for causes, when I watch debates in the Commons I often wonder if anyone is listening to the arguments, and if any are swayed.

    On most bills voting goes on party lines – If not it is clear MP’s have made up their mind well before the debates even.

    Yes, Parliament needs to evolve, so why the slow lobbies? Why not have electronic voting by MP’s at home or in the Commons?

    I fear that the Parliamentary system is no longer viable going forward – We need a new contract between the people and those that set the rules. Part of this should involve direct democracy, where people can vote electronically and potentially override how MP’s have voted.

    I don’t feel my MP necessarily represents my views. Whenever we have been in communication all I get back is the establishment line.

    On many occasions, it seems that Parliament sits in it’s own bubble, and is cut off from a degree of reality. Many people often pick up on things that are terribly wrong, but MP’s vote for them anyway (EG: UN TREATIES).

    If democracy is to evolve – it has to be done intelligently. All too often it is the poor quality of MP’s that causes concern, especially on the left. We need to have better rules to vet those that stand for the House – Absolutely vital we elect MP’s that can think for themselves rationally, represent us, while refusing to vote on party lines or indeed simply accepting the establishment view and going along with it.

    • James Bertram
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Very sensible and well though through, Bryan.
      Couldn’t agree more with this:
      ‘Absolutely vital we elect MP’s that can think for themselves rationally, represent us, while refusing to vote on party lines or indeed simply accepting the establishment view and going along with it.’

  10. DennisA
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    It is time for Parliament to return properly and remove the silly no entry signs from the seating.

  11. agricola
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Coronavirus should have opened the eyes of most members to running a modern Parliament. Gaiters and fancy dress could be saved for the Queens opening.

    1. Parliament should be open to outside ideas but closed to lobbying.

    2. It should be willing to subject major questions to referenda. The Swiss use the system very effectively.

    3. It does not need more than 250 members, but with much larger salaries, larger staffs to handle the social service issues in much larger constituencies, comprising 250,000 to 300,000 electors.

    4. Electronic voting, the time wasted using the current system is unbelievable.

    5. Parliamentarians and civil servants should suffer an absolute ban on nice little earners from grateful vested interests on retirement.

    6. Salaries, pensions, tax arrangements, and any other advantages members enjoy should be absolutely outside their own control. The present system is corrupt and where not, wide open to it.

    7. MP sponsorship by outside interests should be a criminal offence.

    Before you all in parliament grab for the lifebelt of tradition, I would suggest that no business large or small could operate applying a parliamentary regime.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      3. Each location could perhaps elect a team of 2, 1 in Parliament this person should have to meet educational standards and be able to pass entrance examinations, the second a local community representative that lives permanently in the constituency and handles local matters feeding information between each other as you would with a pair of Directors running a company, as you say much reduced in number and give England a similar representation to Scotland with their MSPs who are just local reps at the end of the day.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      I really like your thinking

  12. Everhopeful
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    All very complicated.
    Another time it might just be wiser to properly fund a health system?
    (I think we were told that all these outlandish measures were in order to save the NHS?)
    Or I suppose Parliament could have painted chevrons everywhere, mask-wearing MPs queuing outside 6 feet apart, microphones in the House to save shouting out virus particles and a few of those portaloo cabins so everyone had one loo each, oodles of antibac hand stuff natch! Could have arrived in a boat or aeroplane cos they don’t count!
    Things to bear in mind for the “Second Wave” possibly?

  13. Nigl
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Talking of the virus. How is it that sweat shops in Leicester that allegedly reopened before the curfew was lifted, are crammed in so no social distancing flout minimum wage and health and safety and employ illegal immigrants, have not been subject to any oversight whereas dog walkers, drivers etc have been hounded?

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Low hanging fruit Nig1 – as with HMRC

    • Mark B
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Or BLM protesters can unlawfully assemble, commit criminal acts and not be arrested ?

    • Andy
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      How is it that ‘sweat shops’ – erm, because they are sweat shops. Places where no regard is shown to health and safety or the welfare of workers or the environment.

      You should be pleased. These sort of places are a model for your Brexit Britain. Where all sorts of protections for workers do exist. You lot call it red tape.

      • NickC
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Incoherent, Andy. The sweat shops are not a model for Brexit Britain. Because worker protection happened here before your EU empire even existed. Try again.

        • Andy
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          As a retired chap we know workers rights do not actually matter to you. Providing you get your handouts you are okay,

          • M Davis
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

            Retired on a private pension, Andy?

          • Fred H
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            Do you have any consideration of employer’s rights? Like actually working as per contract of employment, you know, trivia like that getting in the way of your barrack-room lawyer.

      • agricola
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        Andy, you assume that there is an abyss between responsible capitalism and the EU utopia you constantly try to sell us. Responsible capitalism pays homage to the Cadburys and Rowntrees while going flat out for profit. Your EU seeks socialist virtue while failing its Meditereanian population by rewarding them with unemployment. I want to see capitalism flourish sufficient to look after those members of our society that deserve and need support.

        If you really wish to know how a Marxist Socialist State actually operates read ” The Edge Of The Sword” by Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley. All about a North Korea and China that have not changed to this day. They are socialism in thinking and result. It is a philosophy that can never accept human aspiration or satisfy it less absolute control, which in effect kills it stone dead.

        • dixie
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:13 am | Permalink

          Well said.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          Neither Andy nor I are anything like marxists, and it is plain silly for you to suggest that anyone with a different opinion from you is.

          China and NK are authoritarian tyrannies, long before they might be anything else.

          The European Union is an association of capitalist countries.

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        On the contrary Andy most of the U.K. businesses have been complying with U.K. health and safety and often superior U.K. rights such as the extra eight days holiday we give every worker and better than most maternity and paternity leave benefits and free healthcare contributed to by U.K. employers – so we have a damn right to ask why they’re not being closed down – The End.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

          I’d also add we have had a national minimum wage and now National Living wage rising much ahead of inflation for many years now, the Germans don’t and many others in Europe don’t, so if this is being breached within the U.K. once again why the hell as a blind eye been turned in the past year they’ve allegedly been aware of the issue?

  14. Alan Jutson
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Probably the biggest change is that the speaker does not now make the headlines or court publicity ahead of the government or politicians.

    Just like in well run a football match where the referee is hardly noticed, so it is now with Parliament and the present speaker, whilst still in control, the focus is on the players and Government policy.

    A most refreshing change from the last 10 years.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      I am making a mental note of the many people I would prefer never to have to see or hear from ever again. May, Major, Hammond, Osborne, Blair, Cameron, Brown, all the silly lefty Newsnight presenters, George the Poet, Ed Milliband, Corbyn, “white van man” Thornberry, Lammy, Owen Jones, that dope on LBC James O’Brian’ Mariana Mazzucato. Paul Mason……

      • Fred H
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        point well made.

      • Jim Whitehead
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        LL, you’ve identified the targets for silence and obscurity quite splendidly, and, may I venture, can we add on Hancock . . . ?

      • miami.mode
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        Be careful LL. There might be a bit of irony here.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        How on earth could I have missed out the dire Baron Adonis almost as idoitic and annoying as T May and J Major?

    • Mark B
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Hear hear.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Just so. It is clear from the present Mr. Speaker that authority and eloquence are not bellowed at the top of your voice. Speakers Thomas and Weatherill, and the entertaining Boothroyd were a delight to follow. I feel Sir Lindsay is of the same standard.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      It’s not down to the personality or views of the Speaker but to simple arithmetic.

      The Tories have a majority of eighty. The Speaker’s casting vote would make no difference, and if he didn’t keep a majority on his side then he would be removed.

      It would be much the same even if Bercow had continued.

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        No you are wrong.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          Well, Bercow could have tried to impose a will different from Parliament’s, and they would simply have moved to end his position, so he wouldn’t have lasted long if he did.

          He enjoyed their support during his office, on the other hand.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        yawn…

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Bercow forgot he was the compare & wanted to be the star attraction in a house full of wannabes.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          You don’t understand the job of the Speaker.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      concur

  15. formula57
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    …divisions where an MP voted by computer once through the on line security” – I would be alarmed if the security omitted a biometric component for otherwise there could be no assurance that the vote was being cast by the MP. Even then, there might be concerns about a vote being cast not freely but under duress.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      you mean duress from the whips office, party HQ, MSM, pulic opinion, lobbyists or from a foreign government

      • formula57
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        I meant kidnappers: the others could operate with the old voting system.

  16. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Despite the cheerleaders for working from home (it’s equality you know) and videoconferencing there are severe limitations which can only be addressed in person. Remote working and video conferencing stilt innovation and spontaneity.

    I am surprised that the speaker did not make use of the raise hand function and surely MPs could have used the chat function to raise points of order and other issues with ministers and other attendees. These could have been recorded in Hansard for the record which would encourage them being addressed.

    Online voting will ensure that all MPs can vote in future and should be kept. Maybe MPs can, like the rest of us apply in advance for the privilege of postal ballots and hopefully the electoral commission has learned something about security and coercion on remote voting.

    A mixed economy of remote and in person seems to be the way forward. There is no substitute for proximity and chewing the cud in a real social environment.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes why not raised hands or standing if they have a point to make why did that have to change?

  17. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    How should Parliament work? – without bowing and scraping to mega rich footballers telling them to spend other people’s taxes for a start.

  18. JoolsB
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    It won’t be a surprise to hear me say how the virus has shown just what a farce devolution is and how unfair it is to England. We’ve seen the likes of Ian Backford and the SNP and all 117 UK MPs who represent seats outside of England, pontificate and lecture the UK Government on their handling of the crisis which they only have control over for England, it being the only country left in the UK and western world not allowed to make it’s own decisions on anything, whilst their own constituents were adhering to totally different rules made by their own parliaments to which those 117 MPs bizarrely have no say whatsoever. This asymmetrical devolution is a farce and an insult to England.

    How would I like Parliament to work? I would like to see all the UK MPs who represent English constituencies (although not England) start standing up for it for a change and a good start would be a total ban on 117 meddling and interfering unelected and unaccountable MPs having any say on English only matters whatsoever and STOPPED with immediate effect from still be allowed to vote on these matters. Fat chance I know. They can’t even say the word England, let alone stand up for it.

  19. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Well our society is evolving in ever more technically complex areas – health, communications, transport, crime.

    Our politicians are not only (in general) not experts, they have no clue about the nuances of science, engineering, medicine or numbers. This truth has been laid bare these past 4 months. Politicians have shown they have no authority to speak on these subjects, and on the back of that, the public lost trust.

    Somehow we need to get experts who speak and act with democratic authority involved in the mix. We need to address the lack of attraction of Parliament to good people who know their stuff in these important areas, or alternatively how to bring them in alongside the PPE, history, law and English graduates we see.

    • Andy
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      I thought the public had had enough of experts? That is what Michael Gove told us.

      He himself would do well to speak to some trade and customs experts about his bonkers Brexit plan.

      • NickC
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Andy, You are rather selective in your own approval of experts. So allow us to be so, as well, there’s a good chap!

        • Andy
          Posted July 5, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          I believe we should listen to all experts – and we should use analysis and evidence to establish which is the most credible. It is this which enables me to correctly conclude that most of the ‘experts’ who back Brexit are, in fact, idiots.

          • Fred H
            Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

            where would we be without you sharp observations?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        No he did not say that at all (not that I am a fan of VAT on school fees Gove) he said:-

        I think the people in this country have had enough of experts with organisations from acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.

    • miami.mode
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      But you’ve seen the experts on TV over the past few weeks and their normal modus operandi is to play safe almost irrespective of the cost.

      Why would any of these pursue a career with democratic authority and give up secure jobs and pensions for a life where, by its very nature, they could be ejected by the “demos”?

  20. Adam
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    It is refreshing to find proceedings being managed more sensibly than when the former Speaker interfered.

    One way the Virtual Parliament might evolve further is the risk of becoming ultra-democratic, where every matter is decided by everyone on line ‘having their say’ by voting for or against. The present temporary arrangements attract that nearer.

    However easy such a development may be to reach, it is better that MPs continue to represent constituents’ needs in the way they traditionally have, in proximity to each other in the chamber. Restoration to normal may occur sooner than many expect.

  21. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Ministers must have more knowledge of the policies they are in charge of. Eg climate change, energy, finance etc

  22. APL
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    JR: “How should Parliament work?”

    Well, you could have started by, …. actually working. That is not passing the most draconian measures in peacetime, and then running away to hide in your houses.

    Basically, Parliament, the institution of Parliament has been let down by it’s spineless, scared members.

    And since you are so enamoured with Zoom and other similar technology that companies in the Private sector have been using for – twenty years.,

    Why don’t you just wrap Parliament up and replace yourselves with a Turing machine running on a Commodore 64.

    We’d all get better more decisive leadership that we got during this manufactured crisis from all the damp squibs in that House.

    Reply The physical Parliament has been up and running again for weeks.

    • APL
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      JR: “The physical Parliament has been up and running again for weeks.”

      And in all those weeks, you haven’t yet repealed the lock-down, or associated legislation?

  23. oldwulf
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    With the normal running costs, the expected refurbishment expenditure and the “Lords”, Parliament is eye wateringly expensive. We’re all in this together !

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      I always enjoy that Grand Designs episode in which that mild-mannered architect saves a Peel Tower, in Yorkshire, for just a few hundred thousand. Perhaps Parliament should hire him. The cost-estimate for the Westminster renovation is an OBSCENITY.

  24. Michael
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Just get working as normal. You’re more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than even catch the alleged virus let alone die from it. Actually I take that back. Don’t work as normal but work better than normal, a lot better.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      So were over 70,000 killed on UK roads over the last three months?

      I don’t think so.

      Stop being ridiculous.

    • hefner
      Posted July 14, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      1,870 road casualties in the year ending June 2019.
      And another contributor to this wonderful blog who writes without having much idea what he is talking about.

  25. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Time to create a true English parliament, and for the avoidance of doubt only MPs from English constituencies to attend and contribute in any capacity.

    And while present arrangements exist let’s have a bill to enforce the exclusion from many areas all human activity during the nesting and breeding season every year. And I mean all, particularly the wardens/stewards and their ‘monitoring’ activities. Nature does not need their interference. It needs their absense. They do far more harm than good, disturbing and deterring breeding among wildlife while claiming the opposite, wherever they set foot and interfering hand.

    • JoolsB
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      +1

    • NickC
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Parliament could introduce an “England Day” once per week, where only English MPs were allowed. Mondays or Fridays are the obvious candidates.

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Yes Nick that would be a pleasant start

      • Fred H
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        Do you mean English constituencies, or MPs who were born in England- – quite a difference I think!

        • NickC
          Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          English constituencies.

      • JoolsB
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        There’s no such thing as English MPs – that’s the problem. Only UK MPs who happen to have constituencies in England. They don’t see themselves as MPs for England which is probably why they don’t stand up for it and the blatant discrimination against England’s young, sick and elderly. They’d all be choking on their cornflakes if they even had to say the E word let alone stand up for it.

  26. William Long
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I agree the sooner we can get debate and interviews off Zoom, with its distortion of voices and facial features, the better. The problem is well illustrated by the way Covid 19 ran through MPs before lockdown. It is hard to see a full return to normality in this as so many other fields until we have effective vaccine and treatment.
    At least though, the Speaker and the Leader of the House seem to be pulling in the same direction with a solution as their objective rather than the biggest soundbites.

  27. BOF
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Sir John, Parliament might work a great deal better if it were not a cozy cartel of Labour and Conservative that actively prevent the entry of any other party, by fair means or foul. It has led to an ever leftward drift with the result that it is no longer representative of the majority of Brits.

  28. A.Sedgwick
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    To quote John Reid’s phrase – it is not fit for purpose.

    Boris is not implementing the long heralded reduction of MPs to 600.

    He is increasing the moribund HoL.

    Still no English parliament or even EVEL, you could not make it up.

    The massively expensive rebuilding of the PoW should be abandoned, perhaps it should be turned into another Barbican with a Nightingale parliament elsewhere.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      We the people lent Boris our vote in good faith, maybe its time to choose another direction, maybe the brexit party, a party that will actually transform Parliament

  29. Dave Andrews
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Perhaps it would help if the parliament buildings were modernised, with infection control added to the substantial list of considerations for improvement?
    Rebuild somewhere outside of London and sell the old site for redevelopment before it crumbles to dust. You could rebuild the Elizabeth Tower to house Big Ben for the sake of the tourists, using modern durable materials.

  30. glen cullen
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Be bold and radical Sir John

    Work 9-5 Monday-Friday
    Week 1-3 in Parliament and week 4 in constituent
    Manage the estate of Parliament as any other civil estate
    Manage Parliament staff pay & expenses as any other civil servant
    Appoint x2 civil servants and office (within local govt building) to each MP
    Full elected Parliament
    Reduction in number of lords & MPs
    Electronic voting

    • Fred H
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      glen – – please don’t burden our MPs (particularly Sir John) with 2 civil servants. The quickest way imaginable to delay, obscurate and muddle their views.

  31. Caterpillar
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    1. England should be treated like the other nations and have a single devolved assembly, or there should not be devolved assemblies (apart from N.I.) [Local government in general seems to be a bit of a mess]
    2. All assemblies and H.o.C should be 2 vote mixed member proportional (the New Zealand system).
    3. There should be no Lords.

    Under the above, whatever system of debate and intervention is used, it would be more successful as the discussions will be meaningful.

    Additionally the existence (so called life) that many in the U.K. have is not transparent to the higher Civil Servant echelons, more/all higher Civil Servants need to be relocated to the lower income, higher criminality etc. areas of the U.K. Eyes need to be opened.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      fully agree with your first point

      • JoolsB
        Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        We all do. We just need some of our self serving politicians to care enough about asymmetrical devolution which sees England get a rotten deal but unfortunately no such politicians exist, not even in this Tory Government, there by the grace of England, nowhere else.

    • NickC
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Caterpillar, I would have an elected element to the HoL. Those elected would be so by proportional representation. And only the elected could vote in the HoL, though the existing Lords could work and contribute.

  32. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The operation of the Commons could no doubt be fine-tuned but surely the absolute priority must be reforming the Lords ?

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes to totally reforming the Lords, start with PR election.

  33. Iago
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Using Zoom still, a bit unwise I would have thought.

    Off topic, to make space I’ve just removed an electric storage heater, one of seven. I can’t see that it is economic now to use them. They provide heat in the middle of the night when I do not want it; they use a lot of electricity (the small one I removed used 12kW per hour) and the nighttime rate is now expensive. Last winter I found it was cheaper not to use them at all and switch on ordinary electric heaters during the day at the extortionate rate. I used the nighttime rate only to heat the hot water tank. I realise my concern is of no interest to the elite.

  34. James Bertram
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    a) As others have said, firstly set a good example by scrapping all this social distancing nonsense, apologise for this recent government lunancy over the virus like the Danish Prime Minister did, provide the people with the long-neglected evidence that the virus is not a serious threat any more (it was declassified by the UK health agency from being a life-threatening disease back in March, if I recall correctly), and advise people to just carry on with their lives as before.

    b) Secondly: regards ‘ Democratic politics is about the numbers that support a cause as much as it is about the justness of the cause. Daily life at Westminster is about running causes , building support and arguing for change’. Perhaps more of your fellow passengers could actually set up blogs like this one and actually bother to go out and meet the people (not just their mates), find out what they want, and argue the case for change. We rarely see a politician in this neck of the woods unless they want something from you – money, or your vote.

    • Ed M
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      @James B

      You’re not dealing with the reality of FEAR that people have. Yes, by all means try and reduce this fear, to a degree, by exposing the lies and exaggeration of the media. But you will still be left with a a lot of fear by people scared to catch it but also of passing it on to their elderly parents. OCD affects many people, from one degree to another, and OCD plays an important role in the fear of catching germs of people. OCD is a mental issue – NOT an issue caused by the media (not generally).

      Therefore, we have to reduce social contact where it is not essential. For example, how does drunk people rubbing shoulders with each other help bring down the infection rate? It has the opposite effect. Again, not to close pubs. But to regulate better how people consume alcohol. A drunk person with the coronavirus can touch a lot of people, passing on the virus – for what?

      And then there is a spike in the virus, the fear factor goes up, and the economy suffers as a result.

  35. Caterpillar
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Aside:

    Rumour in the papers today is that Mr Sunak is to continue with his interventionist habit of attaching more ethical value to some people than others. It is reported that he will have a raft of policies that are biased towards the younger. I hope this is untrue or someone teaches him prior to next week. Yes apprenticeships should be supported, yes education should be supported, possibly strategic industries should be supported but opportunities for job/career/education should be equally available to all irrespective of age. There is an expectation/requirement in the UK now of late or never retirement, so a bias towards youth is untenable. Some older people need the same opportunities to reskill, reeducate, redirect and will still have a decades of production in front of them.

    Sunak’s furlough scheme was vile in its differential treatment of people, it will be sad if he continues with other prejudiced policies. I know I am repetitive on this, but a UBI and leaving the economy to adjust would be more equitable in opportunity, and dare I suggest more conservative than the selective intervention tendency of Mr Sunak.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      How much would your UBI be per person?

      • hefner
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        The Universal Credit is ~£350/month (25 years old). The full state pension is at ~£540/month. What about £550 to everybody as a start point for further discussions when considering other allowances (child, housing, handicapped, …).
        So replacing benefits and pensions by UBI might decrease the administrative costs (and the present mess) at DWP.

        In Finland, the test UBI is at €560. In Alaska, the UBI-type Permanent Fund has been between $1,000 and $2,000 since the ‘80s, but the situation has evolved with the oil and mining revenues and level of taxation.
        The main point in both cases is that it did not have an effect on overall employment and actually increased part-time employment.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 8, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          Are you including Housing benefit? What about all the carers allowances, PiPs, Adhd bonuses.

          I read Finland’s UBI wasn’t working out and how on earth can you compare the UK with Finland and Alaska we probably have more people rocking up new in the U.K. each year than they have residents.

          • hefner
            Posted July 14, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

            If you had read before jumping to comment, you might have seen that I had written ‘as a start point for further discussions when considering further allowances (child, housing, handicapped, …)’.

            711,000 people in Alaska, 5.53m in Finland. As far as I understand not so many people are invading the UK every year.

  36. Mbj
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Some have the view that if we bad mouth and pull everyone down then we will build up the UK.They live their lives deliberately rubbishing everything and everybody. They even have the opinion of themselves of being smart Perhaps they need little wake up call to remind them that pulling down is contrary to building up. Negative competition initiates a downward spiral which goes on and on and on………………

  37. David Brown
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    When I see The House of Commons or Lords in the Palace of West Minister on TV, I have often wondered if this building is fit for purpose. After the building restoration may be the palace would be better as a visitor attraction and move the entire Parliament to a new building that’s better suited to the needs.
    Given London pressures I question does Parliament have to be in the Capital?. I accept there will be more space when Scotland is independent.
    However the whole notion that Parliament must be in the Palace of West Minister needs to be reviewed. I for one would favour a contemporary building glass and steel that’s purpose built. Or a better converted building – any way food for thought.

    • JoolsB
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Wishful thinking when Scotland is independent – no chance – not as long as successive UK Governments including this Tory one continue to shovel English taxpayers money north of the border to pay for their free tuition fees, free prescriptions, free hospital parking, free eye tests, free dental checks and free personal care for the elderly – all things denied to us mugs the English on grounds of cost. They might constantly whinge and blame the English for everything but they know which side their bread is buttered on.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      Maybe it could be located in the midlands at an old army barracks

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      There would be transport problems with any other parliament location David, London has all the best air and rail and underground connections. I can’t think of one other location that is so well interconnected from Cornwall to West Wales, Lincoln right up to the Isles of Skye.

  38. Polly
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    From ”Silver Blaze”..

    By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

    • Polly
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      That’s funny !

  39. Peter Parsons
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    1, Parliament should be representative of the electorate. Currently it is not. How many majority governments have actually represented a majority of those who voted?

    2, The way that votes are taken is archaic. In the modern world it should not take 15 minutes to vote on one decision. Plenty of other parliaments manage to have a vote in seconds. It’s time Westminster did the same.

    • Edward2
      Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Went well in Ireland
      Four month whilst back room discussions took place.

      • hefner
        Posted July 14, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        What’s that? Belgium was 589 days without a government. Did it disappear from the surface of the Earth?
        Only troglodytes think that Governments are essential.

  40. glen cullen
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    £1.57 billion for the UK Arts…..you got to be kidding

    These subsides have to stop

    • hefner
      Posted July 14, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      The music industry contributes about £2.8bn to the UK GDP, Arts and Culture £10.8bn in 2018. Total contribution from Digital, Culture, Media and Sport £32bn in 2018.
      Did you know that? No, I guess not.

  41. Ed M
    Posted July 5, 2020 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John,

    I’ve been a strong believer in opening up businesses and getting people to spend money from months back.

    But we as a country have to be so careful about keeping the infection rate down. There will always be a certain % of people that don’t care about catching (even passing on) the virus. But there will also be a sizeable % too that will care about catching it (and passing it on), whether that fear is justified or not, the government has a duty to control that fear by reducing the overall infection rate.

    By having lots of drunk-ish people rubbing shoulders on the streets, as we’ve seen today, surely there is a strong chance the infection rate goes up – which then causes a spike in the coronavirus again like we’ve had in the USA and then the fear factor returns diminishing our economy.

    Surely, we can do more, using technology and apps, to control the amount of alcohol people consume, perhaps people are only allowed to buy, using apps, a certain amount of alcohol per day from pubs and off-licences etc. I know this might seem a bit draconian to some, but if we don’t do something like this, then it could affect our economy.

    We’ve got to keep the infection rate as low as possible – above all for the sake of the economy.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      That Soho street needs closing down this weekend if they can’t police it sensibly and with the correct distances it is t0o unsafe to re-open.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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