by Jonathan Isaby
Peter Bone, Wellingborough MP and serial rebel, is continuing with his campaign seeking to undermine the institution that is the Whips' office. He has already tabled a Bill to abolish whips altogether, and his latest demand is that Hansard formally publish the "advice given by Government business managers" to MPs on how they would like them to vote in every Commons division.
At questions to the Leader of the House yesterday, he said:
"In virtually every Division in the House of Commons, Members of Parliament do not make up their own minds how to vote, but are instructed by dark forces. The Deputy Leader of the House is a great parliamentarian who believes in transparency. I urge him – no: I beg him – not to go over to the dark side. Let us throw light on that advice and publish it".
Deputy Leader of the House, the Lib Dem David Heath, was unsurprisingly unconvinced:
"I know that the business managers sometimes give advice on voting, and that they sometimes express a degree of eagerness that hon. Members might attend on a particular day and vote in a particular way. It seems to me that the hon. Gentleman has never felt desperately constrained by that, although I am impressed that on no fewer than eight out of 10 occasions during this Parliament, he has supported the Government, which may come as some surprise to those on the Treasury Bench. He obviously takes very seriously the advice he receives, but I am not sure that placing such matters on the Order Paper adds value to it."