Forget if you can all the nonsense that has gone on this past week. Forget that the fact that the MPs elected on our behalf have made our votes redundant and vacated.
What has caught my attention this week is the place itself – the Palace of Westminster. I used to look forward to the weekly questions levelled at the Prime Minister. I thought it was pure theatre that only us Brits could do. I thought often of the Americans, the French, and Brussels and how their parliaments are so sterile. Ours by comparison is unconventional, British and eccentric, and very good. Well not any more. Those rose-tinted spectacles have firmly disappeared in a sombre full-in-the-face punch of reality.
First thing to note is that there are not even enough seats for them all. They stand or sit on stairs, just hang around the Speaker’s chair or stand, often 10 deep, at the entrance. They jostle and do a dance of sorts to get in the chamber. How ridiculous is that in the modern-day era. The place where our laws are made, the place where our lives are steered and changed. Those we charge with doing this cannot even all sit down.
On Wednesdays to get a seat for the questions segment they must be there first thing in the morning to put their names down on the seats to reserve a place. If you miss you lose. Also, you cannot ask someone to save a seat for you, no, you must be in attendance there yourself.
Then, to get a question and not just at Prime Ministers questions you must stand up and sit down, stand up and sit down after each question is asked in order to just try and get the Speaker’s eye. If, of course, by any chance you are out of favour, you just simply will not get called. It doesn’t matter the gravity of your problem to which you are seeking an answer; if he ain’t looking your way you are not getting a chance.
How can that be right and proper in this day and age? How can this one person, the Speaker, weald so much power over so many issues and so many lives? What of the current Speaker? He calls to order the House and gathering MPs. He shouts and barks his command with a gusto that would do a drill sergeant justice. He also gets to tell MPs, many of them distinguished Queen’s Council or business men and women, to calm down and behave. He is often very much, in my opinion, over the top in this department. He is very condescending and quite rude, seeking to ridicule and close down MPs’ rhetoric.
Others reading this may disagree and that is their right but having watched an awful lot of Parliament I have a good argument to make the case that he is very much one-sided in this regard towards the Tories, from where this current Speaker himself has risen.
The other major point which has left me incredulous is that fact that it is down to the Speaker to choose which amendments are to be put forward for debate. Democracy is fallen here as in his choices he has demonstrated a bias towards remaining within the EU that has been staggering. This current Speaker is clearly compromised and cannot be tenable for much longer.
The mere fact that the Speaker should be the only measure as to what is debated is a flawed system of government.
The voting procedure for any law or statutory instrument is, in itself, archaic and well past its sell-by date. When called for division, MPs walk into a voting lobby to register their vote. That is it. They are clicked through and counted, names taken and nothing else. Modern it is most definitely not.
All eyes are currently on the Mother of all Parliaments and I have sadly lost all respect for it as an institution. It is deeply flawed in its procedural conduct. There are many other questions about at present to do with the cost (£115 million this last year alone on MPs’ expenses) to convicted criminals remaining as MPs and voting on major constitutional matters. Members employing their family members and friends to all manner of positions means nepotism is rife and unchecked.
Allegations from many junior civil servants about bullying and sexual harassment is often swept under the carpet and can be very expensive, at tax payers’ expense. Non-disclosure agreements are a common occurrence.
So, in the past few weeks whilst the debacle of Brexit has unfolded, where many of the current MPs have been measured and found very much wanting, the whole palace of Westminster, its archaic policies and procedures have to me, proven themselves to be totally unfit for purpose and in much need of an complete overhaul.