There is a campaign that started recently called "Scrap Early Day Motions" (website/blog here). They are campaigning to get rid of the House of Commons device for registering MPs feelings about issues altogether. They say:
They serve no purpose bar perhaps generating a little local publicity – but if you can’t generate publicity without some costly parliamentary motion you really aren’t doing your job are you!So come on… who will get behind the call to get rid of Early Day Motions. At the time of writing there are 1757 EDMs (not counting amendments). If they due really cost circa £300 a go, that equates to a cost of £527,100.Democracy will not be worse without these motions.Lobbyists will have to try and influence properly and not try to persuade their clients that as an EDM has been tabled they are doing their jobs!MPs can get local publicity without these costly meaningless motions!
I am a little ambivalent about this. Whilst I can see that it could be argued that they are a waste of money, at the same time I know it is a good way for campaigns to get a foothold. I know that some electoral reform campaigns have used the "Lobby your MP to sign EDM ..." to help gauge parliamentary support and give them more traction. I also notice from Wikipedia that the censure motion which led to the ejection of the James Callaghan Labour government had its origins in an Early Day Motion (no. 351 of 1978–79), put down on March 22, 1979, by Margaret Thatcher so they can obviously have a substantial effect on occasion.
Here is a link to parliament's EDM website where you can view current and historical motions.
I would be interested to hear what others think about this campaign.