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Business of the House

Volume 512: debated on Monday 21 June 2010

5. If he will assess the merits of providing the House with provisional information on its business for more than two weeks in advance. (3026)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to deal for a second with future engagements, in offering my congratulations to my hon. Friends the Members for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) and for Chippenham (Duncan Hames) on their announcement at the weekend of their coalition arrangements.

I can see that there would be advantages to hon. Members in announcing the business further in advance, but decisions about the business for three or four weeks’ time is usually too provisional to be helpful to the House.

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words.

Most other workplaces manage to make some plans more than two weeks in advance, albeit on the understanding that sometimes plans have to change. Publishing greater information about future business would help hon. Members to manage their time more effectively and lead to a better functioning of the House. Will he consider experimenting with more advance notice about the business of the House?

I certainly agree with the principle that my hon. Friend sets out, but this place is not quite like other places in that business on the Floor of the House is subject to many factors, including the progress of business in Committee and in another place, and decision making within Government. It is not always possible to schedule business with any certainty more than two weeks in advance, and there is a risk that providing the House with very provisional information that is subject to change could frustrate rather than inform hon. Members in their diary planning. In addition, we always seek to be topical, and that might be lost if we planned too far ahead. However, I certainly take my hon. Friend’s point.