Tuesday 11 November 2008

Watch this space

Lobbydog is taking a break from the Westminster kerfuffle.

But he'll be posting again from Monday.

Committees, committees, committees

It has long been an accepted, but unspoken, fact among ministers that the likes of East Midlands Development Agency have tons of money but are not properly accountable to anyone.

The Commons will vote on Wednesday whether to introduce two new types of body for each region to do that job - Regional Select Committees and Regional Grand Committees.

The Select Committees, each with nine member MPs, will have power to really scrutinise the quangos, write reports and demand Government responses.

Meanwhile the Grand Committees will include every single MP from the particular region but will not have powers, other than to question the regional minister.

To Lobbydog it feels a bit like over-kill to have two bodies doing the same thing.

According to Lobbydog's source close to the group of MPs who came up with the plans there was a lot of disagreement.

Originally the idea was to have either Select Committees OR Grand Committees.

But Grand Committees, which might have up to 50 MPs, were thought to be too sluggish to do anything dynamically.

Meanwhile the problem with any type of select committee, including the regional ones, is that they must reflect the make up of the Commons.

So in an area like the South West, mostly made up of Lib Dem MPs, you would end up with a select committee scrutinizing its quangos mostly made up of Labour MPs.

Naturally it was the Tories and Lib Dems who kicked up a fuss and so to compromise the group formulating the plans (another select committee) decided to introduce both types.

Any power will really lie with the Regional Select Committees, the Grand Committees are nothing more than a talking shop to pay lip service to proper regional representation.

More wasted time and money?

Monday 10 November 2008


Alan Simpson has added his name to a group of MPs calling for the Government to rethink regulation on violent video games.

The call has come as the controversial game Kaboom gains national media attention.

The game, which operates from a website, allows players to replicate the actions of a suicide bomber.

Lobbydog agrees with the Nottingham South MP that the game would be offensive to people whose families have been hit by suicide bombings - the whole thing is in bad taste.

But tackling internet based Kaboom is very different from regulating video games sold over the counter.

You cannot regulate the internet like you can a video-game shop because it operates above national boundaries.

MPs need to be clear about the difference if they are to come up with creative ideas on how to tackle the likes of Kaboom.