HC Deb 23 May 2000 vol 350 c860
35. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

If she will make a statement on proposals for reform of the voting methods of the House. [121913]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Paddy Tipping)

The Modernisation Committee is currently reviewing this matter.

Helen Jackson

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is only stick in the muds and conservatives with a small "c" who are never interested in considering how to reform the behaviour of the organisations in which they work? Clearly, we should consider voting systems and examine whether there are other ways of making voting quicker and more efficient. The last time that the issue came before the House, a complex multiplicity of options was suggested. Instead, we need to examine one or two simple alternatives that might speed up the voting process and make this place work more efficiently.

Mr. Tipping

There is a mood for change in the House, but what is in dispute is the pace of that change. Some Members would like no change whatever, while others are more radical. My hon. Friend is a member of the Modernisation Committee and she will remember that the last time the issue was considered, Members were offered several choices. The best course might be to make two options available—the present system and an alternative—and to ask Members to judge them.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

The fact is that Members have considered alternative systems, and the system that we currently use is the one that they prefer. The issue is not just making voting easier. When Members come together during votes, they are able to talk to Ministers. If it were not for the fact that we have physically to walk through the Lobbies, certain Ministers would not be seen in the Chamber at all.

Mr. Tipping

It has been known for people to change their minds. I suspect that there is a mood among some Members for a change on this matter. However, I accept the hon. Gentleman's point that the Lobby provides an important opportunity for Back-Bench Members to talk to Ministers. Ministers may run but, in the Lobby, there is nowhere to hide.

Forward to