The Times today carries an interesting piece about the very low attendance rate at select committee meetings from some MPs. Select committees, and their reports, can be very influential, and particularly for those MPs who are not ministers or in the top media starts of other parties, select committee work is often the most effective way to exercise influence on matters outside their constituency.
There’s missing a few for good reason, and then there’s missing a lot:
Dawn Butler, another Labour MP who was promoted from the back benches last October, attended only 15 of the 64 meetings of the Children, Schools and Families Committee. Her office blamed a ten-week absence from Parliament due to illness, saying that there were 19 occasions where either her health or a diary clash meant that she was unable to attend the committee.
Even if we go over board with generosity and assume all of those 19 were missed for health reasons, that would leave her attending only 15 out of the other 45 – just a third (and remember that this figure is on the high side, because health wasn’t the reason for all of those other 19).
As Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis puts it in The Times:
Phil Willis, chairman of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, is urging them to show greater commitment to committees: “I think it is the job of members to attend.”
It’s worth taking a look at the list of the worst attendees highlighted by The Times, if only to marvel at Nadine Dorries at her record of missing 98% of the meetings of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee.