Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons Written Evidence

Memorandum from Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Leader of the House of Commons (M47)


  Programming has become much less prescriptive and is used to ensure full debate:

    —  The number of knives in committee has dramatically reduced, from 69% in 2001-02 to 3% in the last session (none in this session).

    —  The number of Standing Committees finishing early has greatly increased—9% in 2001-02 to 48.5% in 2005-06 and 69% in this session.

    —  The number of groups not reached in Report Stage debates has decreased—average of 3 groups per bill 2003-04, 2 per bill in 200506 and 1 this session.

  Government works hard to make Programming consensual and Opposition to Programming has decreased:

    —  The number of divisions on Programme Motions at Second Reading has decreased from 100% in 2001-02 to 40% in 2005-06 to 35% in this session.

    —  The number of divisions on PSC resolutions at Committee has decreased—44% in 2001-02, to 8% in 2005-06 (28% in this due to new procedures for oral evidence sessions).

Welfare Reform

  I thank the Minister and the Labour Whip for the amount of time that they have proposed for discussion of the Bill. We are happy to accept it. In the current climate, 16 sittings seems a generous allocation. It reflects the seriousness with which Ministers and the Government take the subject (David Ruffley)

Statistics and Registration Service

  There is no controversy about the programming. I think there was amicable understanding that the Government are proceeding in a perfectly correct way; no knives are being imposed. I am sure that we will be able to conduct our business speedily and amicably. (Vincent Cable)

Local Government

  The conduct of the proceedings, and the way in which both Ministers have dealt with the matters before us have been entirely conducive to an extremely favourable atmosphere in the Committee. We have worked hard, got things on the record and said what we wanted to say, and have done so in the very best of good humour. (Alistair Burt)

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill

  We have plenty of time to debate the issues and I am very grateful to the usual channels for ensuring that time to debate the issues has been made available. I do not think that anyone can complain that we have not had that time. (Henry Bellingham)

May 2007

6 First Extract Shifting the Balance: Unfinished Business, HC 321-I, Session 2000-01, para 28-35.

Second Extract Independence or Control? The Government's Reply to The Committees' First Report of Session 1999-2000 Shifting the balance: Select Committees and the Executive, Second Report of Session 1999-2000, HC 748, para 43-46.

Third Extract Shifting the balance, Select Committees and the Executive, First Report of Session 1999-2000, HC 300, para 35-54.

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