The House of Commons Commission

Part of House of Commons (Administration) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1978.

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Photo of Mr Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West 12:00 am, 27th June 1978

The object of this amendment, Mr. Speaker, is to take you out of politics. On the present basis, the proposed House of Commons Commission will consist of six persons: yourself, or your successor in office; my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, or his successor in office; the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), the Shadow Leader of the House, or presumably his successor in office; someone appointed, as the Bill puts it, by the Leader of the Opposition —a Front Bencher, in other words—and three Back Benchers, although the Bill does not put it in those terms.

I understand that there is an institution, currently not yet existing, but lurking in the background, sometimes referred to as the Shadow Commission, which consists of one Labour Privy Councillor, one Liberal Privy Councillor and the hon. Member for Bristol West (Mr. Cooke), who is now on the Opposition Front Bench.

The situation, therefore, would be that, in terms of the original parties for which Members were elected, for example, the Labour Party on such a Commission would have you, Mr. Speaker, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who is not inhibited in claiming to belong to the Labour Party, and another right hon. Member of the Labour Party. There would be three members from the Government side and three from the Opposition. That seems reasonable until we realise that one of those members is Mr. Speaker. That is quite inappropriate. It would clearly be better for the Commission to consist of seven members, three from the Government side, three from the Opposition and Mr. Speaker of the day impartially to act as Chairman.

That is the sole object of the amendment. It is to ensure that the Commission is balanced so that half of it consists of representatives of the Government side, whether they be Front or Back Benchers, and the other half consists of representatives of the Opposition, whether they be Front or Back Benchers, with Mr. Speaker of the day acting as Chairman of that body and not being forced to be part of either the Government or the Opposition.