MPs stay away from Commons debates

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Indy Politics

There are rarely more than 100 of the country's 659 MPs in the Commons chamber at any one time, says a report that will dismay parliamentary traditionalists.

There are rarely more than 100 of the country's 659 MPs in the Commons chamber at any one time, says a report that will dismay parliamentary traditionalists.

The study by the Hansard Society's Commission on Parliamentary Scrutiny found that during March there were more than 100 MPs in the chamber on only seven occasions. In the head-counts taken in the evening not once were there more than 100 MPs - while the figure twice fell as low as 12.

The report, issued to coincide with MPs return from the long summer recess, said: "It is no longer the cockpit of the nation, no longer central to the national political debate." It added that MPs were wasting too much time on debating and did not spend sufficient time scrutinising legislation and holding the Executive to account.

The report urged ministers to make Commons statements in the morning to improve media coverage - a call supported yesterday by the outgoing Speaker, Betty Boothroyd. Similarly, the Speaker should increase the number of times ministers are forced to answer questions in the Commons, and MPs should be given training about the role of Parliament.

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