I was reading Tom Harris' blog and tweets yesterday - he's a nice guy it seems, though quite institutionalised into Westminister. http://www.tomharris.org.uk/2010/06/15/carry-on-ipsa/#comments set me thinking
One thing I do wonder about is why MPs do casework. Would the transfer of this to CAB style organisations, and MPs concentrate on passing laws, debates and select committees improve our level of scrutiny and accountability. We seem to have confused the role of being our representative in parliament with being our highest representative to the executive organs of the government.
I guess this started, as in councils etc, when an elected member had a word on behalf of one of their friends / family with a civil servant in a bid to sort out a difficult situation or area of maladministration. However it has now progressed to the regular advice surgeries, which are to sort out housing, benefits etc not a forum for discussion on policy. Thus MPs seem to spend more time dealing with the fall out from poor legislation that debating and scrutinising to prevent poor legislation being written.
Personally I am amazed that a bill can make the statute books when it has not been picked over by all MPs clause by clause. With fewer public meetings and such fora for the constituent to tell the MP what their views are, how can the MP represent constituents - the answer I feel comes down to manifesto & pressure groups.
Manifesto - you vote for a list of national pledges and policies put forward by that candidate / party. This tends to mitigate against people standing up for their constituency interest where it conflicts with national party policy unless they are a seasoned and strong willed MP, but as party machines tighten their hold on seat selection etc, this may be waning.
Pressure groups - he who shouts loudest gets to influence policy? The postcard campaigns, emails, Fb groups and petitions etc which are undertaken to push a particular issue are the ones more likely to get an MPs attention perhaps especially with their high profile media and lobbying - most have a parliamentary officer, whom I am sure is doing more than just monitoring hansard for relevant comments.
Ah well back to BBC parliament to watch the IPSA debate!