Oral Answers to Questions — Use of Term "parliamentary Committee."

– in the House of Commons on 16th December 1938.

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Photo of Mr Maurice Petherick Mr Maurice Petherick , Penryn and Falmouth

May I, Mr. Speaker, ask for your guidance on a matter which I have brought to your notice? Is there any restriction on the use of the word "Parliamentary," as applied to committees and bodies of a certain nature? I have received, and other hon. Members will have received, a pamphlet under the aegis of the "Parliamentary Committee for Spain." I do not know of what that Parliamentary committee consists, or even whether it exists, but on looking inside the pamphlet, on the second page, I see that there is an advisory committee, consisting of the following persons: Captain Gerald Brennan, Mrs. Denis Browne, Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, The Rt. Hon. Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, the Very Reverend the Dean of Chichester, Mr. G. T. Garratt, the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Listowel, Professor J. B. Trend, the Viscountess Rhondda, and Lord Strabolgi.

It is true that three members of that body are Peers, but I do not think that quite alters the position, because on the advisory council there are no Members of this House. Is there anything to prevent anybody outside this House arrogating to themselves the title of "Parliamentary Committee?" Should not the expression "Parliamentary Committee" on any subject be restricted to a committee set up either by this House or by another place, or by both Houses?

Mr. Ellis-Smith:

May I also put a similar point, Mr. Speaker, in order that you may deal with the two issues at once. Several times I have thought of raising this question. I have noticed in the Press that when deputations of vested interests have come to interview Members of this House the statement has appeared in the Press that they have met, say, the Parliamentary Committee on. Transport, or similar bodies. Is it right that hon. Members on one side only, particularly reactionary Members, should receive railway deputations and others, and then issue a statement to the Press that a deputation, particularly of transport people and persons of that kind, has met Parliamentary Committees?

Photo of Mr William Leach Mr William Leach , Bradford Central

Will you please bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, that all the large municipal authorities of the country have had Parliamentary committees for a long period of years, quite unchallenged?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I have no authority in this matter, and I do not know that there is any authority to decide whether a committee can call itself a Parliamentary committee, or not. I can only express the view that I think it is unfortunate that any committee should call itself a Parliamentary committee unless it is either appointed by Parliament or is fully representative of Parliament.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Are you aware, Mr. Speaker, that 50 years ago, before the General Council of the Trades Union Congress was formed as it is to-day, it was then the Parliamentary Committee, and it operated for many years?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I am afraid I had nothing to do with that.