The Crossrail Bill will no doubt be chaired by a member of the Panel. The procedure might last for many months, when a Standing Committee would not be involved. Would the meter run during that time? The motion does not consider that matter. Approximately how many hon. Members will be left on standard MP's pay if the motions are passed tonight?
Mr. Hoon: I am always grateful for my hon. Friend's concern, and I am even more grateful for his questions. I sure that his final point will be tabled as a written question, when I shall answer it, but I cannot answer it off the top of my head
Motion 36 is an effective motion that gives effect to the previous motion to which the Queen's recommendation has been signified, because it involves Government expenditure, including the Treasury contribution to Members' pensions. It will be moved if the House agrees the opinion motion without amendment.
Motion 37 extends the current arrangements for Select Committee Chairmen's pay to those Select Committees that are not already eligible. In its 2003 report on Select Committee Chairmen's pay, the SSRB suggested which Committee Chairmen should be remunerated, but it said that the final decision should rest with the House. At the time, there was some unhappiness that the distinction between externally focused scrutiny Committees and other Committees did not fairly reflect the relative work loads.
In introducing the motion on Standing Committee Chairs, I thought it only right to give the House the opportunity to decide whether the remaining Select Committees should also receive remuneration. The remaining Committees include the Administration Committeethis is contingent on the motion appointing
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that Committee being agreed by the Housethe Finance and Services Committee, the Liaison Committee, the Procedure Committee, the Committee of Selection and the Committee on Standards and Privileges. Those Committee Chairmen's responsibilities are varied, but they are comparable in work load to those that are already paid. In some ways, those Chairmen are even more deserving, because they do their work on behalf of us all out of the media spotlight. The cost of the proposal depends on take-up, but it would amount to around £17,000 a year per Chairman, including national insurance and pensions contributions.
Motion 39 amends Standing Order No. 4 so that members of the Panel would continue to serve on it until the end of the Parliament, unless they were discharged by the Speaker. At present, the Speaker has to reappoint the Panel each Session. The change is intended to remove an unnecessary complication in the arrangements for additional pay by making service continuous.
Finally, motion 40 amends Standing Order No. 137A to empower the Welsh Affairs Committee to hold formal joint meetings with Committees of the National Assembly for Wales. That would make permanent a change agreed by the House, on an experimental basis, in the previous Parliament. The Welsh Affairs Committee and Committees of the National Assembly for Wales held eight joint meetings under that temporary power for the scrutiny of Bills and draft Bills and other purposes, and the Liaison Committee has pointed out the strong case for making the power permanent.
Taken together, the motions amount to a useful package, which will strengthen parliamentary scrutiny of the Executive and enhance how we operate within this House. They provide a basis for hon. Members to take forward the work of scrutiny and for further modernisation in the Parliament ahead. I commend the motions to the House.
Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) (Con): I want to establish cross-party consensus on most of those changes, although I shall make some specific comments. I want to address three key pointsthe formation of Select Committees, the creation of the new Administration Committee and pay for Standing Committee Chairmen.
Having indicated that there is a degree of consensus between Front-Bench Members on the detail of the motions, I shall begin with a clear challenge to the Government on the establishment of Select Committees. The matter has become a saga, which is not good enough, and the public cannot understand why it takes this House so long to establish Select Committees. I was first elected on 6 June 2001, which was one month later than the election in this Parliament, and the Select Committee's were up and running for their first meetings before the summer recess. This time, with an extra month, we are just about in a position to give those Committees the opportunity to meet for a first
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introductory sitting before the summer recess, but three Committees will not even be able to do that, which is not good enough.
The Leader of the House and the Government should set out a process by which that objective will be achieved more rapidly in future. For example, this House has lost the opportunity to hold a Liaison Committee meeting in July to address with the Prime Minister important issues that have arisen over the past few months, which is simply unacceptable. I hope that the Leader of the House will take away this summer's experiences and return with proposals to speed up the process and to make it more effective, so that the public do not say, "Where are the Select Committees?"
I understand the motivations of the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen), but he must consider his proposal's practicalities. Many new Select Committee members will be new hon. Members who are finding their way in the House for the first time. An election process for individual Select Committee members is impractical. I understand why he has advanced that option and his desire to speed up the processindeed, I share his desire to introduce a speedier process. If one examines the motions, however, it is apparent that new hon. Members form the bedrock of Select Committees, and it is unrealistic to expect them to stand for election shortly after they have arrived in this place. Although I share his aspiration to introduce a new approach to Select Committees, his approach is not the right one.
Mr. Allen: If the hon. Gentleman reads the amendment, which is supported by 65 hon. Members from all parties in this House, he will see that it simply requests that we should re-examine the process to see whether it can be done better. He started his speech by making that point, so if he believes itI am sure that he doeshe should support the amendment's sentiment. I have asked the Leader of the House to re-examine the matter, so that we do not experience a delay in four years' time. That can be done by returning Committees from the Government to the House and by involving all hon. Members in the process. It is not beyond the wit of hon. Members to create a system by which new hon. Members, old hon. Members and hon. Members who deserve recognition are on the Committees of their choice. If we continue to allow the system to be run by Front Benchers, we will continue to be in thrall to them.
Chris Grayling: The hon. Gentleman will know from my remarks that I share his desire to examine the way in which things work. However, I disagree with some of the detailed points that he has made in advancing his argument in the past few days, as they are not practical. We all rightly share the aspiration of ensuring that in four or five years' time, when the new Parliament meets after the next general election, we do not have a prolonged process for forming the Committees that removes from the House central parts of its scrutiny role and leaves us with the current situation as regards the Liaison Committee whereby it is not possible for the Committee to meet before the summer. That is wrong.
I take the hon. Gentleman at face value, as I have worked with him in Committee and know where
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he stands on such issues. Will he therefore, in the position that he occupies on behalf of the Opposition, do what I am going to do and write formally to the Leader of the House requesting that he and the Modernisation Committee, and anyone else who wishes to be involved, look at this process? We need to create a broad consensus in the House so that perhaps we can do it better.
Chris Grayling: We do not need to write; we merely need to hear the Deputy Leader of the House say when he winds up that the Government accept that too much time has passed before appointing Select Committees and that the Government will consider how to ensure that that does not happen in future.