Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Sunday, 18 October 2009 13:17 UK

Peers 'should appear in Commons'

Lord Adonis
Lord Adonis said the rules should change to allow MPs to question him

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has said he wants to be able to answer MPs' questions in the House of Commons.

Current rules say peers who serve as ministers can face direct inquiries only in the House of Lords.

But Lord Adonis told BBC One's Politics Show he and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson would be "delighted" to face MPs in the Commons chamber.

He has written to the Speaker to suggest this, but said the Commons was not the "fastest-moving" institution.

The promotion of peers to cabinet rank means some of the leading figures in government cannot face questions from their own and opposition MPs in the Commons itself.

Scrutiny concerns

More junior ministers deputise for their bosses at the despatch box.

So, for instance, Lord Mandelson and his Conservative shadow, Ken Clarke, never sit opposite each other in Parliament.

Critics say this reduces the effective scrutiny of government.

Lord Adonis said that, as he had to appear before Commons select committees, there was some direct questioning of him by MPs.

But he said he and Lord Mandelson "would be delighted to answer questions" in the main Commons chamber.

Lord Adonis said he had written to Speaker John Bercow, but added: "I don't think the Commons, when it comes to reforming itself, is the fastest-moving of institutions."

The peer, who was an adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, reiterated that he would not serve under David Cameron if the Conservatives won the next general election.

He said he had "no interest" in such an arrangement.

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