Noisy PMQs not a true reflection of the House of Commons

In the House with Huw Merriman SUS-151007-132058001
In the House with Huw Merriman SUS-151007-132058001

Last week, I was pulled out of the ballot to ask a question in Prime Minister’s Questions. For those of you now familiar with the process, MPs ask the PM a question and he gives a response. Readers are probably more familiar with the jousting which takes place between David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn.

A number of constituents have contacted me to ask me what I make of PMQs and whether I indulge in the noisy barracking behaviour which they witness on the television.

I am pleased to report that I do not, and never have done since being elected. Indeed, I find PMQs to be a very poor reflection of the House of Commons.

As your MP, I have sought to speak as often as I can in the debates held in the chamber and I do so on a host of issues which impact you as constituents.

When debates are held, to scrutinise legislation and policy proposals, the chamber is, on the whole, respectful even at the most impassioned of times. MPs listen to what is said, and can make interventions on speeches when they disagree, and the tone tends to be considered and thoughtful.

Unfortunately, PMQs is at the other end of the scale and it makes it even more frustrating that, for most constituents, this is the only time they view the House of Commons so understandably may assume that the chamber is like this all of the time.

If we do not tolerate this behaviour from children in class then I am not sure what gives members of your legislature a special pass to do so.

I am afraid that all sides of the House engage in the heckling and chuntering.

I have spoken to the Speaker about the message this sends and he agrees with me and, being a man of high principle, he often makes the same point during sessions.

I do feel, to his point that it is down to MPs to better set the tone, that he could perhaps start ejecting a few of the main protagonists to improve matters.

The other unfortunate aspect in this issue is the national media. In last week’s PMQs, the questions were, on the whole, serious and sensible.

I, by way of example, asked about the importance of reforming the mental health service used by young people. Others on my side asked about Syrian refugees and domestic violence.

In response, the media deemed the session to be boring and lacking in excitement.

Unfortunately, the same media who chastise MPs for poor behaviour in the chamber, then criticise when the gladiatorial contest is not in full swing.

Constituents should be reassured that, as the son of a teacher, I will continue to lobby for behaviour more likely to reflect that found in a good local classroom than a wrestling match.