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That at this day's sitting, Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to the Motion in the name of Ms Harriet Harman relating to Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.- (Mr. Frank Roy.)
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): We now come to motion 2. Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of Mr. Christopher Chope, to be moved in an amended form. The effect of the amendment will now be to remove the name of Jackie Ballard and not to replace it with any other name.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint Professor Sir Ian Kennedy to the office of Chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, and the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Scott Baker, Jackie Ballard, Ken Olisa and Professor Isobel Sharp to the office of ordinary member of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
The Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 sets out the procedure for appointing the chair and members of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. The 2009 Act stipulates that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will consist of five members, including the chair. Of the remaining four members, one must have held high judicial office, one must be a qualified auditor and one must be a former Member of this House. The candidates for those posts are selected by Mr. Speaker. The Act specifies that selection must be on merit and on the basis of free and open competition.
The Act specifies that the successful candidates must then be approved by the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority before being proposed to the House. That has now happened and the motion gives effect to those decisions.
On 4 November, Mr. Speaker announced to the House that Professor Sir Ian Kennedy had taken the role of chair-designate. Hon. Members will have seen the names of the four people selected by Mr. Speaker as the ordinary members of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. They are the right hon. Lord Justice Scott Baker, as a former holder of high judicial office; Professor Isobel Sharp, as a National Audit Office-qualified auditor; Jackie Ballard, as a former Member of the House of Commons, having been the Member for Taunton from 1997 to 2001; and Ken Olisa, who is a businessman.
I am pleased to see that the proposed members are a diverse and representative group of people. Their biographies were published on the website of the implementation team for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority when their selections were announced. The nominees have been chosen by an independent panel on merit and under fair and open competition, based on the qualifications and experience deemed necessary for the roles.
I am confident that the statutory nature of the authority and the processes used to appoint the chair and members will give the public the confidence that there is independent, external regulation of the system of Members' allowances.
Barbara Keeley: As I have indicated, this was an external recruitment process. There was a panel, and the nomination process was as I described. I have no further comment other than to say what I have already said.
Hon. Members can be confident that the authority has the appropriate skills to take decisions based on a clear understanding of the requirement for transparency and the need for audit in all their work with Members. The establishment of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is an important step in restoring the public's confidence in Parliament. The authority must now be allowed to get on with its work of drawing up a new allowances scheme. The leaders of all major parties have indicated their desire to move quickly on this, and I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will give the motion unanimous support tonight. I commend the motion to the House.
Mr. Shailesh Vara (North-West Cambridgeshire) (Con): Today's debate takes us a little closer to the light at the end of the tunnel on the expenses issue, which has so dominated the political headlines and the political agenda in recent months. As we all know, public trust in Parliament is at an all-time low. As part of the process of regaining public confidence, we need to set in place an independent and transparent framework to deal with the implementation and monitoring of MPs' allowances-a system that will command confidence from the public, but also allow MPs to get on with the job of properly representing their constituents, as well as fulfilling their parliamentary duties.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has already been established. Today's debate, however, appoints to the authority's board the key people who will drive through the reforms. As we have heard, all the candidates were selected by open competition based on merit. The selections were carried out by an independent panel in which no Member of Parliament was involved. The Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 stipulates that as well as the chairman, there must be four ordinary members, of whom at least one must have held high judicial office, one must be a qualified auditor, and one must be a former Member of Parliament.
Professor Sir Ian Kennedy is eminently qualified to serve as the board's chairman. He is an academic of international renown, and as chairman of the Healthcare Commission his leadership skills shone through. Equally important is the fact that he was not afraid to show his independence of thought. That independent nature is pivotal in reassuring the public of impartiality in monitoring and implementing the new allowances regime.
The appointment to the board of Lord Justice Scott Baker will bring to the authority one of Britain's finest legal minds. He brings a wealth of experience, and he is no stranger to high-profile issues, having previously sat as a coroner for the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed. Given that the old system lacked proper audit and assurance practices in line with modern standards, the appointment of Professor Isobel Sharp is to be welcomed. Her experience in accounting and auditing will bring substance, as well as robustness, to the new process. The new system will have to be open and transparent, and for that to be so, technology will play a vital role. So the appointment of
Ken Olisa, a businessman whose career has focused on the technology sector, will have much significance. Finally, there is the requirement for a former Member of Parliament, and that role will be undertaken by Jackie Ballard, the former Lib Dem MP.
The process of selection has been a lengthy one, and for that I would like to thank the panel that recruited Sir Ian and the others, which was chaired by Felicity Huston, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland. Thanks are also due to the Speaker of the House and to all those who served on the Speaker's Committee that subsequently considered all the appointees before their names were presented to us today.
Sir Ian, as chairman-designate, has already started work with his implementation team to turn Sir Christopher Kelly's proposals into reality. Today's appointments are critical to that process. Sir Ian has said that he hopes the final scheme will be in place by early next spring, and I very much hope that that deadline will be met. Then we can begin the slow process of regaining the public's trust not only in us but, more importantly, in Parliament itself.
Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): I agree with the sentiments expressed by both the Deputy Leader of the House and the hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Mr. Vara) in saying that this motion is a crucial part of a process that was started some time ago, which all of us understand as being a matter of urgency and immense importance in re-establishing trust in the system and ensuring that the decisions that need to be taken by an independent body outside the purview of this House are taken in an orderly fashion.
I recall that when we dealt with these matters earlier this year in proceedings on the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, there were details that were properly matters for debate, and matters on which the House divided. However, one that was not divided upon and on which no dissent was expressed was the process, now set out clearly in statute, for arriving at the names of the independent members. I hope that Members who had the opportunity to change that process will not express the view today that it is somehow inappropriate. It is clearly laid out in statute.
I have no difficulty with the process, and I believe that we have before us today a list of names that has been arrived at through a fair, open and competitive system, with the attributes of those individuals having been properly considered in competition with others.
Mr. Bone: The hon. Gentleman normally stands up for the right of this House to scrutinise business, but he rather seems to be saying that because some other body has decided these names, we should automatically accept them. Is that his view?
My view is that this House decided a process, which did not involve Members picking and choosing members of an independent body who suited
their own personal views. I shall read from the Act for the hon. Gentleman, because he has clearly forgotten what it says. It states in part 1 of schedule 1:
"(1) The chair of the IPSA is to be appointed by Her Majesty on an address of the House of Commons.
(2) An ordinary member of the IPSA is to be appointed by Her Majesty on an address of the House of Commons.
(3) A motion for an address under sub-paragraph (1) or (2) may be made only with the agreement of the Speaker."
"The person the subject of the motion must have been selected by the Speaker on merit on the basis of fair and open competition."
"The Speaker must not select a candidate without the agreement of the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority."
Mr. Heath: But not amended by the House. [Interruption.] I am sorry, but if the hon. Gentleman does not like this, he should have made that point at the time when the statute was passed, not now. It is set out clearly.
Mr. Heath: I have a further concern. The attributes of the members of IPSA are set out in the legislation-the Deputy Leader of the House has already laid out what those people should be. One member should be the chairman and there should be four other members. One must have held judicial office and one must be qualified to be an auditor, and the motion includes both. However, one member must be a person who has been but is no longer a Member of the House of Commons, which is where I have a problem.
I have no doubt whatever that Mr. Speaker is perfectly in order-of course, by definition, he is in order-to have selected what is effectively a manuscript amendment to delete one member. However, if the amendment were made, it would leave the motion deficient in meeting the requirements of the 2009 Act, because it would mean that IPSA will not have the required members to do its work.
I see this as yet another attempt to slow down the process of introducing proper reform in this House of Commons. The process has constantly been sniped at by certain Members who wish to retain the old practices. Many of us feel that it is time for those delays to stop and time for us to do what is necessary to sort out the reform of this House.
My fear is that the motion before us is capable of amendment to make it unlawful, were the amendment to be moved, so on a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I beg to move, That the Question be not now put. That is the substantive motion before us.
Mr. Heath: Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I refer to "Erskine May", page 341. This is an accepted parliamentary procedure. It applies to the Question currently before the House, not the Question that is to be moved at a later stage. It is that the Question be not now put. I ask you to rule whether that matter should not now be divided upon.
Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Are we to understand that the hon. Gentleman has not moved an amendment, and that having made his own speech, he now proposes that the main question should not be put to the House at any stage?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: It would appear a rather odd proposal that the matter which, as the hon. Member for Worthing, West (Peter Bottomley) says, needs to be decided by the House, should not be decided by the House, so I am not prepared to accept the motion of the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath). That is my ruling.
The amendment is in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope), who sadly cannot be in the House this evening owing to official parliamentary business in Europe. It is an amended amendment.
Initially, I should like to thank Mr. Speaker, his office and the Clerks of the House for enabling the amendment to be selected and debated. I am somewhat surprised by the fervour of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) for the Liberal Democrat party. I thought that he and his party were in favour of open and transparent debate, which is what this is all about.
My remarks are going to be brief, and I want to make two points. First, I am of the view that Jackie Ballard, who served in this House for just four years, is not adequately experienced to represent all Members of the House on IPSA, which is a very important authority. It is going to establish an allowance and expenses process for the House to put right all the problems that have been experienced over the past 15 months.
I speak as a Member who has been in Parliament for 38 years plus and therefore has some experience of how this House operates and why some of the problems that have occurred recently have arisen, and we need a former Member of Parliament who has been out of the House for at least one Parliament, but who had substantial experience of this House and could bring a wealth of knowledge to the discussions that the authority will have under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Ian Kennedy.
Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (LD): During the passage of the Bill that has brought this motion before us, did the hon. Gentleman attempt to introduce an amendment to the effect that there should be this bar or hurdle that someone has to overcome before they may be nominated?
Sir Nicholas Winterton: I do not think that that is a particularly relevant question. My colleague and I have tabled an amendment to the motion on the Order Paper because we believe strongly-and I have spoken to Labour Members and other Conservative Members who agree-that it would be more appropriate for the person who will represent Members of Parliament to have a lot more experience than Jackie Ballard.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: Let me finish. I wonder whether someone whose job is mainly lobbying is the sort of person who should represent Members of Parliament on this important authority. I shall quote remarks made by Jackie Ballard in an interview with The Guardian:
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