Over the last couple of weeks I have written a couple of my daily blogs regarding a select committee in the House of Lords called the “Regenerating Seaside Towns Committee“. Its Chair is Steve Bassam and although I only read about it recently after I signed up to a UK Parliament listing email publication which is available here, as their website explains it “was appointed on 17 May 2018. A call for evidence was published on 23 July 2018.The deadline for submissions has now passed. Contact the Clerk if you still wish to make a submission.” When the Parliament listing appeared it explains what the Committee was intending to do which referred to the plans to interview some witnesses. A couple of the recent sessions involved types of companies that I personally have some interest in and so I checked out their websites to try to understand why they had been interviewed and what their contribution would be like. One of the challenges with select committees is that unlike the main debating chambers, the transcript for their discussions vary from never being published to being published some weeks later so it is very hard to remain in touch with such matters. My blogs relate to sessions on 27th November and 4th December and at the time it was hard to understand why these designers and architects were the Committees witnesses with one exception (Wayne Hemingway).
On the subject of communicating with Parliamentarians my experience is not limited as I have written to a number of MPs over many years (who almost always refuse to respond to people outside of their constituency, even though they are almost all willing to use their role to discuss and vote on issues that may have nothing to do with their constituency) and to Lords via Write to Them which is a website linked to They work for You. It seems strange but often the most effective and dynamic form of communication is via facebook or twitter as these are public places so to speak and can lead to a level of discussion.
So my recent blog which I published on Friday evening included a tweet to Steve who I was very delighted to receive a response from just after midnight. As we corresponded he suggested I looked at the transcripts. Now it was clearly poor timing from my point of view that the transcripts were all published on that day or the day before with two minor exceptions and I had not bothered to check them because of the previous delays. However I have now read both transcripts and it is clear that despite the superficial checks I had made, that I had failed to understand what these Architects, Designers and Engineers had to offer. So my one suggestion to Steve and indeed to Parliament is that:
When they choose to interview people as witnesses, that they take the time to publish a brief biographical explanation of why these people have been chosen. This will then increase the prospects of other people taking the time to read transcripts or even watch videos if they have the time to do so!