ANNEX: OPTIONS CONSIDERED BY COMMITTEE
Option 1: Parties elect Members; Committee elects
This would be a revised version of current practice.
The division of seats on each committee between the parties would
be agreed. Then each party would elect the requisite number of
members for each committee. At the first meeting of each committee,
the committee would, as now, elect its own Chair from amongst
the membership, following the central guidance as to which party
the Chair should be drawn from, but unlike now using a secret
Relevant considerations include
- whips might be able to manipulate
a party election with slates, which might also effect the choice
the committee then goes on to make for its Chair; but
- candidates would be better known by those voting
than in a whole House election, especially at the start of a Parliament.
- The absence of any sense that Chairs are responsible
to, or speak for, the House on a certain matter; but
- the Chair would command support and confidence
of at least a majority of their colleagues on the committee.
- The continuing association of select committee
membership with party affiliation; but
- The relative ease with which elections within
parties can be organised.
Option 2: House elects Chair; Parties elect Members
[ Recommended Option]
Chairs would be elected first, by secret ballot of
the House. The share-out of chairs would have been agreed in advance.
After the Chairs have been elected, the parties would then elect
members to the committees as in Option 1.
In addition to those mentioned under Option 1 above,
relevant considerations include:
- Chairs would represent the
whole House, and have a clear mandate and accountability; but
- direct election might result in candidates who
did not command the confidence of their committees;
- some Members may feel uncomfortable voting for
members of other political parties and a governing party majority
could decide the outcome of elections of all Chairs; but
- Chair elections are transparent, minimise the
use by whips of committee chairs as a form of patronage and would
encourage cross-party working.
Option 3: House elects Members, Committee elects
The first stage would be a whole House election to
choose committee members. Once committee members have been chosen
the committees would meet and elect their own Chair from amongst
their number, as in Option 1.
In addition to those mentioned under Option 1 and
2 above, relevant considerations include:
- a whole House election for
so many positions would be complex; but
- a whole House election is the most transparently
democratic means of choosing committee members and would emphasise
the cross-party nature of select committee working.
Option 4: House elects Chair; House elects Members
The first stage would be the election by the whole
House of committee chairs, as in Option 2. Following this (either
immediately or on a subsequent day) the remaining members of committees
are also elected by the whole House, as in Option 3.
The relevant considerations are as set out under
Options 1, 2 and 3.