I say Pleb to underline the fact that this is uneducated reasoning to understand the requirements of Members of Parliament, and basically how the system works. Have you ever thought about the process of becoming an MP, and what it entails to that individual? You would think that when they are seeking a suitable candidate in a by-election, they would first of all decide what attributes they required, what gaps there were in the experience of the backbenchers, and virtually pick horses for courses. When you realise that often, with the shuffles, people are shifted from department to department irrespective of any experience they might have, this negates any necessity to import people with particular skills, so one might then wonder on what basis people are selected. Recently I was listening to a young woman, currently a minister for the Prison Service, whom I firmly believed had only just been put in office, and yet was asked to speak intelligently on television on the subject. What she was probably really doing was reading from a script written by a civil servant in the prison service.
The learning curve of a newly appointed MP must be considerable in those first few months, and steep, with documents to be couched in special phrases, layers of authority and routes of communication, mainly written by, and including the power and necessity of the Civil Service in the background. In local government, before making decisions the councillors are generally briefed by staff, and could talk to the staff further if required. An MP reads a White Paper and could have a three-line whip when it comes to voting. This makes me wonder just how much authority an MP has when he or she is representing the constituents, and advancing their concerns. Indeed it might even be considered that a totally new system should be devised, whereby Parliament is firmly linked with local councils, with each council having a councillor whose job it is to inform Parliament of the concerns of the local authority, and discuss ways and means on any matter with a representative of the Department concerned. It might even be considered, as in the old system, that there was a level of duplication when we voted for councillors to take charge of most of our business in the county’s and the city’s, and at the same time voting in somebody to do the same thing in Parliament. That of course does not apply today, because the teeth of the local authorities have all been drawn, except in some other minor, more mundane functions.
I could go on drawing parallels of this type, but they are so obvious I leave it to your imagination. I just can’t understand why we need over 600 people in Parliament when most of the functions are, or in fact should be, originated in the counties and the city’s, which would make the whole process quicker and easier. We need a Foreign Service, we need a Commonwealth office, we need a lot of the other functions not dealt with in the Cities and Shires, like the Treasury, taxation, defence etc. and we need people to oversee properly not only the operation of Parliament but that of the counties and cities. If we change the system we may wonder how many people and how much money would be reduced by necessity. It is easier to stop malpractice or rank stupidity, at local level than it is, if the functions are shrouded, if not in secrecy, but by protocol, and hundreds of miles away.