Latest Public Sector News

22.04.13

MPs risk ‘looking lazy’ with long breaks from Parliament

Margaret Hodge has warned that people “would be forgiven” for thinking MPs are lazy, because of the shrinking number of hours.

In an interview with the Guardian, the Labour MP – who has made a big impact as chair of the Public Accounts Committee – said parliamentary sessions were so short that “it feels as if we are hardly working”.

She suggested that the Government should lengthen the parliamentary calendar.

Hodge said: “The committee I chair spends a lot of time scrutinising public spending and whether it is worthwhile and yet the very heart of government – Parliament – seems to be the most sluggish part of our system. We are not spending enough time in Westminster, and this creates a democratic vacuum. The executive can go on and you cannot hold them to the account. It feels as if we are hardly working.”

She added: “Part of the problem is that the current Coalition Government appears to be struggling to find legislation to put before the House because they do not agree on many issues. But select committees have work to do but do not have the time to carry it out.”

MPs including John Redwood and John Mann backed Hodge’s argument, though Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker said: “I think that it is a misunderstanding that the amount of work an MP does is reflected by the number of days that parliament sits. It isn't. Some MPs work bloody hard all year round and others don't."

Conservative MP Edward Garnier said committees could choose to do their work outside of formal parliamentary time.

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