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3.31 pm

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): I shall speak briefly in support of the two amendments tabled in my name and that of many other right hon. and hon. Members. I am grateful for the support indicated by the Wright Committee in its guide to amendments and votes. I am also grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight), the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, for agreeing that it is logical that the Committee should be included within the chairmanships that will be subject to a ballot and proper election. The argument against has been based on the fact that the Committee is sui generis and in that respect different from other departmental Select Committees. So it is, but what about the Public Accounts Committee? If we are to elect the chairman of the PAC, why not the Chairman of the Procedure Committee? I hope people will support the amendment.

Amendment (o) is born out of my experience when I was first elected to the House in 1983, when we waited about six months to set up the Select Committees and it was extremely frustrating for all. I looked with care at the Leader of the House's wording for the proposed change to Standing Orders and it seemed to me that there was a lacuna. She has said that if within one week of the Queen's Speech the Committee is set up as a result of an agreement between the leaders of the parties to nominate the Chairs, such and such will happen. But what if it is not done within one week? We will then be wholly beholden to the Executive to decide when they will bring forward proposals.

The amendment would give one more week's grace-until two weeks after the Queen's Speech. If by that time the usual channels have not come forward with an agreed
4 Mar 2010 : Column 1084
process, it would be open to any Member of the House to move a motion to decide the issue. It would be the duty of the Speaker to accept the motion and to put it down for debate on the following day. That would ensure that we got the Select Committees set up early in a new Parliament, and we would not find ourselves being frustrated Back Benchers, wondering when the Executive would be kind and generous enough to give us the chance to set up these important Select Committees.

The amendment fills an important lacuna and I am grateful to those Members who have already indicated that they will support it if there is a Division.

Several hon. Members rose -

Mr. Speaker: There are fewer than seven minutes remaining, so if more than one Member is to contribute, we shall need contributions to be very brief.

3.34 pm

Martin Salter (Reading, West) (Lab): I made my maiden speech in this House on the subject of parliamentary reform and the overbearing power of the Whips. I was told by my Whip a day later that my career was over, and he was, of course, entirely right.

I want to touch briefly upon stuff from the Procedure Committee. Let us be honest, Mr. Speaker: you are the only holder of the speakership who has been elected by secret ballot, so it is not true to suggest that the Speaker of this House is not elected by secret ballot. What there is an open ballot on, however, is the mechanism to deselect the Speaker. That can be done by a single Member calling, "Object", as one of the first items of business when the new Parliament reassembles. If Members wish to deselect the Speaker, they should have the courage to go through that Division Lobby and put their name on the record. That is the kernel of that debate, and I am glad we will not be wasting any more time on it.

Members who support parliamentary reform should be deeply suspicious of any collusion, even in a free vote, between those on the two Front Benches, and we have such collusion today in that the Leader of the House, for whom I have great respect, will be supporting amendment (b) to motion 7, which was tabled by the shadow Leader of the House, for whom I also have great respect. Therefore, the Leader of the House will be supporting an Opposition amendment to her own motion, which will ensure that the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright), who is Chair of the Reform of the House of Commons Committee, will fall. As has been amply explained by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) and my hon. Friend who chairs the Committee-of which I am proud to be a member-we will have a flimsier Back-Bench committee as a result.

I do not believe that my constituents, or those of any other Member, are focused on the fine detail of this debate, but I think they know that this of all Parliaments has to demonstrate a capacity to reform. It has to demonstrate a capacity to get the reform agenda back on track-an agenda that, to be frank, stalled when this House tragically lost the services of Robin Cook. That is important not just for the reputation of this House and our politics, but for our ability to legislate effectively,
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because we all know that good laws require good scrutiny, and good scrutiny needs a House of Commons that is amply able to hold the Executive to account and to pass legislation of which we can be proud, rather than, as at the moment, legislation we have to revisit, sometimes annually.

3.37 pm

Mr. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) (Con): First, may I express regret that we have not been given an opportunity to vote on all the recommendations of the Wright Committee today? May I highlight an amendment that is in my name and that of a number of other Members, which would enable the chairmanship of the Intelligence and Security Committee to be voted on by secret ballot while giving the Prime Minister a veto at the nomination stage? That modest reform would have improved the credibility of the ISC's scrutiny and work, and public confidence in it. That is particularly apposite in view of the Committee's apparent failure to be able to scrutinise adequately the Binyam Mohamed case.

I wish to make two other extremely brief points. After some considerable thought I am going to support amendment (b) to motion 7. I realise that that will disappoint some in the House -[Interruption.] I can tell that this is so from a few nodding heads. I still feel that we should proceed cautiously on the creation of the business committee. I am a supporter of it-I have supported it for a long time and have said so-but I take the view that, as a number of others have said this afternoon, it is an experiment. I do not think it an experiment that we should not even try-that appeared to be the view of the former Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett). If the experiment works, as I suspect it will, we will then be able to take the reform further.

I shall end my contribution by saying that by far the most important reform looks as if it will go through, and I very much hope it will. I am talking about the proposal for the election of Chairmen of Select Committees by secret ballot. That will be by far the most important single change to the scrutiny of the Executive by this place to have occurred since the St. John-Stevas reforms in 1979. Over time, the proposal has the capacity to transform the effectiveness of this place. I have supported and campaigned for this measure for more than a decade, so I am pleased that the Wright Committee has proposed it. The proposal will enable us, finally, to scrutinise the Executive, with spokesmen for this place able to take on the Executive in the media outside and to act as spokesmen for us here in Parliament.

3.40 pm

Natascha Engel (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab): Do I have one minute left in which to speak, Mr. Speaker? I shall try to squeeze into it the many things I want to say about these so-called "reforms". I spoke in last week's debate in order to say that I do not think they are reforms, and that we are missing a massive opportunity to make some serious reforms in this House. The consensus that has emerged, that the proposals before the House are reforms, is a dangerous one. The Front-Bench teams of both sides and the minority parties-

4 Mar 2010 : Column 1086

Mr. Speaker: Order. I am sorry that the hon. Lady did not get so much as a minute in which to speak, but we have reached the deadline.

3.41 pm

Two hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the Business of the House motion, the Speaker put the Question (Order, this day) .

The House divided: Ayes 206, Noes 90.
Division No. 97]
[3.41 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Alexander, Danny
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Bradshaw, rh Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brennan, Kevin
Brokenshire, James
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Clark, Ms Katy
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Featherstone, Lynne
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, rh Caroline
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Goodman, Helen
Grogan, Mr. John
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr. Evan
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hillier, Meg
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hughes, Simon
Hunter, Mark
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Jones, Lynne
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kidney, Mr. David
Kramer, Susan
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom

Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mactaggart, Fiona
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Mason, John
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonnell, John
McFall, rh John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robertson, Angus
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Short, rh Clare
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Walley, Joan
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Willott, Jenny
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Wishart, Pete
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Helen Jones and
Lyn Brown

Amess, Mr. David
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Davies, Philip
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harvey, Nick

Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Herbert, Nick
Hoey, Kate
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Ottaway, Richard
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob
Scott, Mr. Lee
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Taylor, Matthew
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walter, Mr. Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Brian Binley and
Mr. Peter Bone
Question accordingly agreed to.
4 Mar 2010 : Column 1087

4 Mar 2010 : Column 1088

Resolved ,

The Speaker then put the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Order, this day).


Motion made, and Question proposed ,

4 Mar 2010 : Column 1089

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