HC Deb 02 November 1998 vol 318 cc556-9
38. Gillian Merron (Lincoln)

If she will make a statement about progress in modernising the work of the House. [55921]

Mrs. Beckett

Better information for Members of Parliament is being provided through improving the content of the Order Paper, normally giving advance notice of business two weeks ahead, and publishing, from the start of next Session, the new-style explanatory notes for Bills. On Wednesday, the Social Security Committee reported on pre-legislative scrutiny of the first Bill published in draft, on pension sharing on divorce. The House has approved a report on conduct in the Chamber, to dispense with some of our outdated practices. The parliamentary calendar is being considered by the Modernisation Committee. The report on improving European Union scrutiny procedures will be debated soon.

Gillian Merron

I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer. Given the Government's commitment to family-friendly policies, will she give the House some idea of development in that area, other than the very welcome reference to half-term holidays?

Mrs. Beckett

The balance that the House is striving to achieve between better and more productive scrutiny of Parliament's business while wishing, of course, to do as we encourage others to do and to promote family-friendly policies, is one with which the Modernisation Committee is, struggling almost even as we speak.