We need fewer [MPs], representing larger areas, to make them more powerful national figures.If there were, say 400, most would have a valuable role to play within their party and parliament.She is in serious danger of agreeing with J. C. M. Dave, who asked last week at PMQs, "The House of Commons has 646 MPs. … Should we not reduce the cost of politics by asking the next Boundary Commission to reduce the size of the House of Commons?"In danger, not merely of agreeing with the leader of the Conservative Party, but of thinking that he has not gone far enough. (I also agree that the Commons is far too large. But it is somewhat less shocking that I should be of such an opinion.) Where will this end? Let me tell you. She goes on to suggest that
there should be fewer ministerial posts and more emphasis on parliament.Fewer ministerial posts sounds suspiciously like smaller government to me. That is, after all, the only natural way to cut the size of Parliament. The payroll vote is too influential as things stand, especially taking select committee chairmen into account. Making Parliament smaller without removing the chairmanships from the Whips, and without drastically cutting the number of ministerial posts, would be a recipe for worse governance, not better. But if we have fewer ministers, departments must necessarily become smaller, which means government doing fewer things—but in all likelihood, doing those that are left far better. And if select committee chairmen are chosen by the House and not by Whips, then they will probably be far more effective in holding the government to account. At the least, they will be under far less direct pressure to conform.Furthermore, she argues that MPs spend too much time
as advocates for individual local cases on housing, benefits and vast numbers of immigration pleas,which is an entirely fair criticism. I have noticed that when MPs raise casework at PMQs or at other times in the House, they do not make the point forcefully or often enough that their example illustrates a wider failing, and that the inevitable response, "I (or another minister) shall meet with the hon. Member and see what can be done," does not address the underlying problem which is governmental inefficiency in general, and not a specific problem. Casework can help an MP if they can turn casework into a story of government failure; but all too often, it simply turns MPs into glorified social workers and distracts them from their real job, which is the holding to account of the government of the day.The casework load also means that resolution of individual cases is not dealt with fairly, but rather that individuals without support from their MP lose out to those with such support. It cannot be in any sense fair for people's support to be judged on their ability to play a political system, rather than on the merits of their claim.Polly Toynbee agrees with the Tory leader and wants smaller government with less social work by MPs. In fact, the only remotely left-wing part was her desire for multi-member constituencies with proportional representation. She thinks that a Labour Prime Minister is being too conservative, and that a Conservative leader should be more bold: what is happening?