Select Committees

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — President of the Council – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th January 2001.

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Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Privy Council Office) 12:00 am, 30th January 2001

As I am sure the hon. Lady is aware, because she has raised the issue before, the decision to set up a Select Committee on Modernisation and to have it chaired by the Leader of the House was a manifesto pledge made on behalf of the Labour party.

The hon. Lady makes a rather separate point, as was made in the Liaison Committee's report, about the suggestion that there should be substantive motions on Select Committee reports in general. She is correct to say that the Government expressed reservations about that for exactly the reason that she quotes, namely that it would be much more likely to introduce a decision to have whipped votes than to leave the House to deal freely with Select Committee reports.

If I recall correctly—I am sure that if I am wrong, someone will correct me—it was for precisely that reason that the previous Government abandoned the notion of private Members' motions. It had become an issue where there was whipping on both sides of the House, and it was thought to be counter-productive.