Revamped debates 'a waste of money'

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Indy Politics

Cross-party consensus over modernisation of the House of Commons suffered another setback yesterday.

Sittings in Westminster Hall, where MPs hold debate in a continental-style semi-circle, cost the taxpayer £13,000 a month and Tories say the debates are a waste of money.

Owen Paterson, the MP for North Shropshire, complained about "poorly attended debates with no atmosphere" in the new parallel chamber in which backbenchers can call debates. "My main memories are tourists in buses passing behind a minister's head and bemused schoolchildren going out of a squeaky door," he said.

Margaret Beckett, the Leader of the House, said the experimental sittings provided MPs with time for 200 extra debates each year.