HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 cc148-9
43. Fiona Mactaggart (Slough)

What plans she has to ensure that newly elected hon. Members are able to begin their work quickly and effectively after their election. [150779]

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

I am pleased to say that the Departments of the House are working to ensure that newly elected Members are given speedy access to the facilities of the House and that introductions to the House's work are readily available.

Fiona Mactaggart

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. I recall, when I was first elected, a period of confusion and muddle, in which people who taught new Members the procedures of the House were not skilled in teaching even though they were skilled in the procedures of the House. To help the House get down to its business well, it would be useful to ensure that those who are responsible for teaching new Members about procedures have some teaching skills. Has any progress been made on that? Could existing Members act as mentors for other Members to enable them to understand the procedures of the House quickly, and quickly to become effective Members of Parliament?

Mr. Tipping

I know that my hon. Friend has a teaching background. I will take her as a volunteer, when she is returned after the general election, to take part in such induction courses.

There has for a long time been an unofficial mentoring scheme, and my hon. Friend's proposal is worth considering. I shall ensure that her comments are considered and taken forward by the working party involving all the Departments of the House, which considers such subjects.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

When the successor to the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) arrives in this House, she will have to buy her own computer, deal with her own staffing and so on. I understand that the Senior Salaries Review Body report is with the Leader of the House, although I may be wrong. The right hon. Lady shakes her head. However, the SSRB report will suggest a complete change in the way in which we do things. Can we have emergency action from the Privy Council Office so that we can see the report and implement its recommendations? In that way, when the successor of the hon. Member for Slough arrives, she will not have to change horses halfway through.

Mr. Tipping

I know that the hon. Member for South Dorset (Mr. Bruce) takes a great interest in election results. He should do—he has a majority of just 77, and is clearly counting every vote that is straying away from him. More seriously, the hon. Gentleman knows, and the House knows, that the SSRB is at present considering the issue. I look forward to seeing its report and to its recommendations being implemented as quickly as possible.