The Speaker's Committee

Part of Orders of the Day — Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 14th February 2000.

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Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office 6:45 pm, 14th February 2000

The simple point that I am making is that, as the Bill stands, the six members will be appointed by the Speaker, and the Speaker has very strong views on many matters. I have given the hon. Member for South Staffordshire an assurance that I will arrange a discussion with the Speaker on that point.

The hon. Member for South Staffordshire also asked why the Home Secretary and the Minister for Local Government were involved in the Committee. It is because they and their Departments have expertise in these matters, and each will have something to contribute to the Committee by drawing on the expertise of their Department. Similarly, the Chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee will have experience of leading such discussions. I agree with the hon. Member for West Worcestershire that the post will normally be occupied by a Member from the governing party, but, as he knows, that will not necessarily be the case. It is something that we shall have to consider.

7.30 pm

The hon. Member for South Staffordshire has used the House of Commons Commission as a precedent and the Government have used the Public Accounts Committee as a precedent. Both are eminent bodies and, at this stage, I am inclined to stick with the model in the Bill—the Public Accounts Committee. The hon. Gentleman asked whether the Speaker could be involved in these matters, and I am anxious to ensure that the Speaker is involved on a day-to-day basis as an active working member and does not merely have a ceremonial role. I give the hon. Gentleman the commitment that I intend to arrange further discussions on that point. In those circumstances, I hope that he will reflect on his amendment.