The Speaker's Committee

Part of Orders of the Day — Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 14th February 2000.

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Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst 7:45 pm, 14th February 2000

I am coming to the gist of my remarks. I just wanted to set the scene so that my remarks are properly in context. I welcome the hon. Gentleman's impatience for me to get to my gist—I know how much he enjoys my gists, so I shall bring my gist forward.

Although one might be reassured by the fact that the Speaker, no less, would appoint the members of the Committee specified in subsection (2)(d), nowhere in the clause is there a protective mechanism to provide a guarantee that the membership of the Committee will be balanced in terms of the composition of the House or the representation of different Committees. We may want to return to that point in the debate on schedule 2. Even the hon. Gentleman will agree that we have not yet debated that, and I am anxious for us to do so.

I am flagging up a worry. We have not yet debated the functions of the Speaker's Committee because we are a bit back to front and the functions are in schedule 2, not clause 2. As we discuss schedule 2, we will need to have a mind to the composition and origins of the Committee and the extent to which the Government seem to have a hold on it, without any guarantee that non-Government Members will be included.

I defer my more detailed remarks to the debate on schedule 2, but I wanted to tell the Committee that when we come to discuss the functions of the Speaker's Committee we should be aware of a potential shortcoming in the membership.