Select Committees

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th November 1987.

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Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarfon 12:00 am, 16th November 1987

To ask the Lord Privy Seal what progress is being made with the establishment of Select Committees.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

Motions on behalf of the Committee of Selection proposing the membership of all 14 departmental Select Committees are at present on the Order Paper. I hope that all the departmental Select Committees will soon be re-established.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarfon

Will the right hon. Gentleman admit that the situation for Scotland and Wales this year is totally grotesque? The House should ensure that the Committees on Wales and Scotland reflect the membership of the House in Wales and Scotland. That happens in the Scottish and Welsh Grand Committees. As reports come back to the Floor of the House, and before any action can be taken on them, is there anything unreasonable in moving such a proposal?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

The Committee of Selection includes a representative from the minority parties. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that motions tabled by the Chairman of the Committee of Selection are amendable, that hon. Members of any party may object to them, and that, if necessary, a full debate may take place to resolve any issues.

Photo of Mr Roger Sims Mr Roger Sims , Chislehurst

My right hon. Friend will recall our recent exchange of correspondence in which I drew attention to the burden on the Education, Science and Arts Select Committee and suggested that it was unable to give adequate consideration to scientific matters. At the time he was unable to support my proposals to set up a Select Committee on Science and Technology, but, in the light of the support given to that idea by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, will he reconsider his decision before these matters are finalised?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

The disbandment of the former Select Committee on Science and Technology was part of a package adopted by the House when the present comprehensive system for departmental Select Committees was established in 1979. The structure of our Select Committee system is always a matter for the House to decide.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Does the Leader of the House agree that it is unacceptable for Tory Members or, worse, officials from the Ministry of Defence, to suggest that certain Labour Members are unfit to serve on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee because they might be security risks? Does he also agree that history shows that if officials at the Ministry of Defence are concerned about people who betray their country, they should look not at the ranks of the Labour party but at the public school boys who support the Establishment?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I do not accept much of what the hon. Gentleman is saying. I know of no statement from the Ministry of Defence about Select Committees. Every hon. Member is perfectly entitled to have a view as to who are the right and best people to serve on any Select Committee. That is why the House will eventually decide the membership.