Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from Mr Mark Todd MP to the Chairman of the Committee


  I have given some thought to the best arrangement for selecting the membership of Select Committees. Since it is different from some suggestions, I thought it might be worth passing it on.

  I should start with some negatives:

    —  I don't favour the current whip-led system. The process should be divorced from the executive.

    —  I don't favour a selection by a group of chairs. This is likely to produce (a) a bias against new members (b) a conservative selection of "comfortable" companions.

    —  I don't favour a completely free election either within parties or across parties. This will favour well-known, but not necessarily effective members and encourage organised regional/ideological caucuses.

  I prefer a hybrid arrangement with:

    1.  Membership divided pro-rata by party.

    2.  An open ballot within each party for about two-thirds of their membership of any committee.

    3.  A lottery within each party for the remainder of the places.

    4.  A final rebalancing to remove resulting double memberships by negotiation.

  I believe this system would allow a clear expression of democratic will balanced by a chance for new members to get on popular committees. I don't see why new members should have to go to the committees that nobody else wants—a fresh mind can be superior to that of someone who has trod these corridors for many years.

7 July 2001

7 July 2001

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