some default text...
Rebuilding the House - House of Commons Reform Committee Contents


FORMAL MINUTES

Thursday 12 November 2009

Members present:

Dr Tony Wright, in the Chair


Mr Graham Allen
Mr Peter Atkinson 
Mr Clive Betts 
Mr Graham Brady 
Mr David Clelland 
Mr David Drew 
Natascha Engel 
Dr Evan Harris 
  David Howarth  
Mr Greg Knight  
Mr Chris Mullin  
Dr Nick Palmer  
Martin Salter  
Dr Phyllis Starkey  
Mr Andrew Tyrie 



Draft Report proposed by the Chairman, brought up and read.

Draft Report proposed by Natascha Engel, brought up and read as follows—

"1. The Select Committee on Reform of the House of Commons was instigated by the Prime Minister in response to a suggestion from Dr Tony Wright MP, Chair of the Public Administration Committee. Its ambit as envisaged by the Prime Minister was to look at

  • making Select Committee processes more democratic;
  • scheduling more and better time for non-Government business in the House; and
  • enabling the public to initiate directly some issues for debate.

2. The remit of the Committee was subsequently widened to include scheduling time for all business in the House, and refined to cover the appointment of members and chairs of select committees.

3. The Committee was directed to report to the House on these matters by Friday 13 November 2009.

4. After much detailed discussion on the three matters referred to us as well as some closely connected matters, we have been unable to come to agreement. We therefore recommend that the matters be remitted to a new committee in the next Parliament to continue our detailed investigation and analysis.

5. We looked at different options for democratising the process of nominating Chairs and members of Select Committees. The Committee was divided on whether those elections should be by the whole House or within party groups, and did not come to a satisfactory conclusion. We therefore believe that a new committee in a new Parliament should explore this further and make a decision.

6. We examined the prospects for setting up a Backbench Business Committee to decide on the better use of backbench time in the House, as well as options for a House Business Committee which comprised members of the Backbench Business Committee as well as party managers. The Committee was divided on the matter of a House Business Committee, some believing it to be the answer to 'wresting control' from Ministers, whilst others believed that this was merely an exercise in moving the deckchairs: to paraphrase Professor Vernon Bogdanor, some members of the Committee believed that we were in danger of shifting the balance of power from one democratically and directly elected elite (the Executive) to a less directly accountable and less expert elite (backbenchers). We therefore recommend that we continue with the current system and explore more widely in the next Parliament options for better scrutiny of legislation and accountability of Ministers.

7. We examined how best to encourage greater public engagement in the activities of Parliament. Whilst the Committee was unanimous in its support for widening participation in our democratic processes with e-petitions and exploring the possibilities for 'agenda initiatives', we felt too restricted by its remit to be able to do justice to this important question. We would like a future Parliament to look at the wider role of Parliament and Members of Parliament; and to start an open and honest debate about what it is that Members of Parliament do and how the constituents that we represent can better influence our work and decisions.

8. Our deliberations were informed by submissions from members of the public, from interested and expert individuals and organisations, from Members of Parliament and constitutional academics. We would like this evidence to be made available to the new Parliament so that our work can inform the debate of a new generation of Members of Parliament, rather than tie their hands with decisions we make today before they have even started."

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Chairman's draft Report be read a second time, paragraph by paragraph.—(The Chairman.)

Amendment proposed, to leave out "Chairman's draft Report" and insert "draft Report proposed by Natascha Engel".—(Mr Peter Atkinson.)

Question put, That the Amendment be made.

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 2   Noes, 10
Mr Peter Atkinson 
Natascha Engel 
  Mr Graham Allen 
Mr Clive Betts 
Mr Graham Brady 
Mr David Clelland 
Mr David Drew 
Dr Evan Harris 
David Howarth  
Mr Greg Knight  
Mr Chris Mullin  
Martin Salter  



Main Question put and agreed to.

Ordered, That the Chairman's draft Report be read a second time, paragraph by paragraph.

Paragraphs 1 to 56 read and agreed to.

Amendment proposed, to leave out paragraphs 57 to 59.—(Dr Phyllis Starkey)

Question, That the Amendment be made, put and negatived.

Paragraphs 57 to 73 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 74 read.

Amendment proposed, in line 12, to leave out the word "House-wide".—(Dr Phyllis Starkey)

Question put, That the Amendment be made.

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 4   Noes, 10
Mr Clive Betts 
Mr David Clelland 
Natascha Engel 
Dr Phyllis Starkey 
  Mr Graham Allen 
Mr Peter Atkinson 
Mr Graham Brady 
Mr David Drew 
Dr Evan Harris 
David Howarth  
Mr Greg Knight  
Mr Chris Mullin  
Dr Nick Palmer  
Martin Salter  



Paragraph agreed to.

Paragraphs 75 to 195 read and agreed to.

Amendment proposed, to leave out paragraphs 196 to 205.—(Natascha Engel)

Question put, That the Amendment be made.

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 3   Noes, 10
Mr Peter Atkinson 
Mr David Clelland 
Natascha Engel
  Mr Graham Allen 
Mr Clive Betts 
Mr Graham Brady 
Mr David Drew 
Dr Evan Harris 
David Howarth  
Mr Chris Mullin  
Dr Nick Palmer  
Martin Salter 
Dr Phyllis Starkey



Paragraphs 196 to 293 read and agreed to.

Annex agreed to.

Summary agreed to.

Resolved, That the Report be the First Report of the Committee to the House.

Ordered, That the Chairman make the Report to the House.

Ordered, That embargoed copies of the Report be made available, in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order No. 134.

Written evidence was ordered to be reported to the House for printing with the Report

Written evidence was ordered to be reported to the House for placing in the Library and Parliamentary Archives.

[Adjourned to a date and time to be determined.






 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 24 November 2009