Information about my work as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Committee training in Westminster

On Monday afternoon, a delegation of Councillors and governance officers went to Portcullis House in Westminster as part of a Parliamentary outreach program, looking into how committees should run.

We met the chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts MP and the committee clerk, Glenn. They explained how the system works in Parliament and the kind of things they do, the kind of things they look into and how they do it. They gave us some good advice about how to manage them too.

Parliamentary committees clearly have more powers, better resources, better media coverage and clearer rules, but there was a lot we could take back. I am particularly keen to see that we make better use of members items, so that we can talk about our priorities, not just what we are told to talk about. I already have plans for the residents forum!

Sadly, the quality of Parliamentary committees will never be replicated in Barnet, as demonstrated in my last article about the Budget Committee meeting. We can, however, try to reform them. There are efforts afoot to return to the the old fashioned Committee structure, and I now have a better idea of how they would work, but I hope they are not run on the same lines they were before, and that there will be some reforms.

I find that in Barnet, committee works well when there is a good chair, who wants to know the answers, rather than protect their own side.

I was joined on the day by Alison Moore, Barry Rawlings, Andreas Ioannidis, Anne Hutton, Alan Schneiderman, Ansuya Sodha, Kath McGuirk, Jack Cohen, Brian and Kate Salinger and Sury Khatri.

(It was during the meeting that I noticed how many Labour Councillors names start with an "A". Myself, Anita, Alison, Alan, Anne, Andreas, Angnes, Ansuya and Alex. 9/22! Last year, when I, Andrew Dismore and Andreas Ioannidis won, we joked that Barnet Labour were Triple A rated, how prescient that was!)