modcom 15.06.04


The House of Commons Modernisation Committee today, Wednesday 16th June, publishes a Report addressing the relationship between the House of Commons and voters.

Rt Hon Peter Hain MP, Leader of the House and Chairman of the Committee, said

‘Too often the impression is given that the Commons is a private club, run solely for the benefit of its Members, where members of the public are tolerated only on sufferance.  That, in the 21st century, visitors to Parliament are still called “strangers” says it all.

‘Getting rid of the term “strangers” is the simplest and most obvious change.  But we also need to think about the way we treat visitors when they are here, the way we tell people about what the House of Commons is doing and the way we provide information about the working of their Parliament.  We need to make this place a little less alien and a little more welcoming to the general public.’

The Report’s recommendations include:

• Better facilities for welcoming visitors to the House of Commons, including a visitor centre, more staff on hand to welcome visitors, Saturday opening and the abolition of the term ‘strangers’ to describe visitors to the House

• A major overhaul of the Parliamentary website, as well as the introduction of an e-mail newsletter aimed at the general reader and greater use of on-line consultation.

• A package of measures aimed at young people, boosting the facilities available for the Parliamentary Education Unit and sending a new voters’ guide to all young people on their eighteenth birthday.

• The establishment of a central press office to co-ordinate the House’s media work.

Mr Hain added

‘Of course, this report is not going to arrest international trends of declining turnout and participation.  But Westminster must make itself more accessible and intelligible.  If Parliament wants voters’ respect, it needs to start treating them with respect.’