Select Committee on Liaison Fourth Special Report

Annex 1

Letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, from the Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, Dr Phyllis Starkey MP, 5 December 2007

Proposed joint Committee to examine national policy statements

At its meeting earlier this week, the Committee considered the Government's proposal, announced in last week's written ministerial statement accompanying publication of the Planning Bill, "to … encourage the House to establish a new Select Committee with the main purpose of holding inquiries into draft national policy statements in parallel with public consultation."

The Committee notes the Government's suggestion that this Committee should be comprised of Members from the existing Select Committees on Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, on Transport and on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Given its responsibility for scrutinising the work of the Department with overall responsibility both for planning and for local government, the Committee is surprised and concerned that it is not among the Committees expected to provide members to scrutinise these important planning policy statements.

It will of course be for the House authorities themselves ultimately to decide upon the shape and membership of this proposed Committee—and indeed whether it is appropriate to establish it at all. I would be interested, however, to hear what the thinking was behind the decision to exclude my Committee from the Government's proposal as originally made, and what the Government's view might be should it be proposed that members of the Communities and Local Government Committee also be invited to join members of those other Committees on any joint Committee to scrutinise national policy statements.

I am copying this letter to the Leader of the House, to the Chairmen of the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Transport Committees, and to the Chairman of the Liaison Committee.

Dr Phyllis Starkey

Chair, Communities and Local Government Committee

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Prepared 23 October 2008