So I've had the opportunity to listen to the budget "debates" on Monday and Today and I must say that I'm ashamed of what this country has come to. Blatant filibustering, petty bickering and overall low standard of debate.
Both on Monday and today I have had the misfortune of hearing exceptionally long, irrelevant and quite frankly unnecessary speeches from ministers that stretch a simple analysis of budgetary figures into ridiculously long thank you speeches to departmental cleaners and in depth discussion of hospital cleaning utensils. Twice debate on important issues has been cut short, once most certainly deliberately, the other quite obviously deliberately but, I'm sure its possible to argue the other side if you try hard enough.
In case you're wondering the debates I'm referring to are the debates of the Cabinet Office and Future Care (part of the Ministry of Health debate) respectively.
I've had a number of things to say over on BIAW about the budget this year and if your interested I invite you to go and have a look Here and Here.
Anyway there I is one thing I think needs to be done to "fix" the issues with debate in the house. As of right now the Opposition chooses the schedule but, the Minister responsible always gets the chance to give an opening statement and breakdown of the figures. I think this needs to be changed to allow the Opposition to begin by highlighting their concerns (perhaps this could be done in advance of the actual debate) which would then be dealt with by the minister and the debate could move on from there. That would stop the complete waste of time that is so much of the budget debate these days.
Also, although not really something you can fix with rules or changes in system, MP's really need to get their act together and debate rather than just making speeches at each other. Too often there is so little "clash" as it is called in debating as a competitive activity and it doesn't allow them to get to the bottom of whatever issue is at hand. All we have currently is MP's repeating the party line with different words over and over again and no rebuttal of the opposing view. That's the only way to really flesh out an idea. As it is now that doesn't really happen.