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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Call to reform Early Day Motions
Football scarves
MPs like to be associated with local success
Too many MPs are tabling Commons motions on "nonsense" such as congratulating their local football teams, a Commons committee has heard.

Former Tory minister Douglas Hogg said Early Day Motions (EDM) needed to be reformed to allow debate of more serious issues.

EDMs allow MPs to flag up issues and canvass support for their views.

But the increasing number being tabled mean there is rarely time for them to be debated.

They are sometimes used by MPs to gain publicity in local media by hailing sporting or business success in their constituency or to draw attention to otherwise neglected subjects.

At the moment there are nearly 2,000 of them on the Commons order paper, on issues ranging from the massacre of Slovene soldiers in 1945 to the success of home nations shooting teams at the Commonwealth Games.

'Toilet paper'

Mr Hogg, who used an EDM to call for the impeachment of Tony Blair over the Iraq war, told the Commons procedure committee he thought EDMs were a valuable way of raising issues that would not otherwise be covered by Parliament.

But he said too many were being tabled on "nonsense" issues such as congratulating football teams.

He said a way had to be found of cutting down the number of EDMs and making sure they were debated in the Commons.

Norman Baker, for the Liberal Democrats, who has called EDMs the "toilet paper of Parliament", said EDMs served a useful purpose but the wheat had to be separated from the "chaff".

He said there should be a "two tier" system, with EDMs with the most cross-party signatures, or the backing of party leaders, given a higher priority.

The committee will make its recommendations on the reform of EDMs later this year.

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