Parliament: House reform - Commons hours reform boosted

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The Independent Online
MPs WERE last night poised to back overwhelmingly reforms to introduce more family-friendly working hours despite concern from the Tories that it would lead to a `four-day week".

They were likely to support a report by the all-party select committee on modernisation of the House, chaired by Commons Leader Margaret Beckett, which recommended an experiment with morning sittings on Thursdays.

The Government proposed bringing forward Thursday sittings by three hours, to start at 11.30am, with main business finished at 7pm, rather than 10pm, the changes starting from January through to the end of this parliamentary session next autumn. The plans have been criticised by Betty Boothroyd, the Commons Speaker, who said such changes would limit public access to Parliament.

Opening debate on the matter, which is to be decided by a free vote, Mrs Beckett warned: "Institutions that fail to change are institutions that die."