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Reform of the structure of Parliament

Comment 12th July 2010

To create a "cyber parliament" enabling MPs to attend parliament digitally from their constituencies, using the existing internet technology. On election, Civil Servants can ensure that all MPs have the appropriate technology and passwords to access the system. The system can also be accessed and viewed in a non-contributory way by members of the public, and screened on TV. Parliamentary buildings can be retained for the State Opening  if desired – the rest of the time they can be used as a tourist attraction.

Why does this matter?

Currently Parliament is an adversarial system based on people travelling from all over the country to London to speak in one large room. This structure in itself prevents many people from considering a career as an MP – people with young families, elderly relatives requiring care, people with disabilities including speech impediments etc.

It is also very expensive to us, the country, to pay for MPs. We are paying second home allowances in the most expensive city in the country, second gas and electricity bills etc, travel costs.

For the MP, it is very time consuming spending time on the train, especially for those whose constituency is a long way from London. They also spend less time in their constituency the more time they spend in Parliament, meaning that a MP who regularly attends debates starts to lose touch with their constituency.

There are also the security implications involved in having all the MPs in one place.

By not having to move to London to become an MP, a number of good people who are currently discouraged by the system from standing as MPs could be encouraged to do so. This could make parliament more representative of the country, as more women and disabled people would be able to stand, without having to employ positive discrimination to achieve this.

It should not be beyond the IT professionals in this country to create an online parliament, which would be cheaper for the country, and would be safer and less life disrupting for the MP.  The MP could also live full time in the constituency, enabling them to see at first hand changes which are taking place there.

Many people have suggested in the past that our parliament building is not suited to a modern structure – it is too adversarial. Why therefore have a parliament building at all?

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