"Have you got 'How to be an MP' by Paul Flynn?"


It is, the Speaker of the House of Commons said this morning, "a much-thumbed tome in the Bercow household".

The next edition How to be an MP by Labour MP Paul Flynn will doubtless include that quote on the front cover. Not only is it a favourite of John (and quite possibly Sally) Bercow, it was also the most borrowed book in the House of Commons library last year.

It's understandable that MPs should seek guidance on how to do their job from what the author describes as "a self-improving tract", although he's understood to feel a little surprised at the reluctance of well-paid colleagues to dip into their pockets for a £12.99 book. Signed copies are available in the parliamentary bookshop.

Paul Flynn isn't the only Welsh MP in the top 10 authors. Outside In, the memoirs of former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain saw his memoirs sneak in at number 9.

What is more surprising, perhaps, is how few books are borrowed from the Commons library (although it is more of a reference than a lending library).

Only 11 people borrowed Mr Hain's book (also 12.99 in paperback) and only 19 borrowed Mr Flynn's volume. Neither appears likely to get rich on the public lending right income or to rival E L James in the demand stakes.

I can think of several local authorities whose response to such low borrowing figures would be to either close the library or hand it over to volunteers.

Fortunately the research prowess of the Commons library is likely to spare it that fate.

With MPs about to enjoy a half-term break, they have a week to catch up on their reading. Parliament is back at work - and so am I - on February 25.

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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