Parliamentary Standards Bill
Alan Duncan (Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Parliament; Rutland and Melton, Conservative)
Many hon. Members may think that the hon. Lady has got things the wrong way round. We need a body that can be independent and responsible, which detaches us from any association with determining what we are paid or rewarded. If this is the body that will do it, and it looks as though it will be, the question of who sits on it becomes critical.
The Bill establishes, in schedule 1, an appointments process that is virtually the same as that for choosing the chair of the Electoral Commission. Nobody doubts the integrity of that selection process, or the impartiality of the appointee. Commissioners will be selected by a Speaker's Committee and their appointment will be sealed with the imprimatur and authority of the House. This is a crucial process, and it would be completely unacceptable if members of the new body were, for instance, hand-picked by the Executive. The origin of the problem that we are discussing has been the interference of the Government of the day at all stages of the determination of our pay. Any further interference from, say, the Prime Minister would serve only to compound the problems that we are today trying to address.