Standing Orders Etc. (Energy and Climate Change)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 10:15 pm on 28th October 2008.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant PPS (Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC, Lord Privy Seal), Leader of the House of Commons, PPS (Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC, Minister of State), Government Equalities Office, Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 10:15 pm, 28th October 2008

I beg to move,

That the following amendments be made in respect of Standing Orders:

A SELECT COMMITTEES RELATED TO GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS

That Standing Order No. 152 (Select committees related to government departments) be amended in the Table in paragraph (2) by inserting, in the appropriate place, the following item:

Energy and Climate Change Department of Energy and Climate Change 14

B LIAISON COMMITTEE

That the Resolution of the House of 13th July 2005 relating to Liaison Committee (Membership) be further amended in paragraph (2) by inserting, in the appropriate place, 'Energy and Climate Change'.

C EUROPEAN COMMITTEES

That Standing Order No. 119 be amended by inserting in the Table in paragraph (6), in respect of European Committee A, in the appropriate place, 'Energy and Climate Change'.

Departmental Select Committees are a well-respected, integral and vital part of the House's scrutiny of Government. Following the 1978 report of the Procedure Committee and their creation in 1979, they took over the role formerly performed, in a rather haphazard way, by the specially appointed investigatory committees of the House and the several topic-based committees that were set up in the 1960s under Richard Crossman as Leader of the House. The creation of departmental Select Committees is one innovation—or, dare I say, modernisation—that everyone has hailed as a resounding success. It has been the convention that each Government Department has a Select Committee to scrutinise its policies, its expenditure and its work. Consequently, whenever a new Department of Government has been created, there has been a consequential change in Select Committees.

As Members will know, on 3 October, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister created a new Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Government have wanted to move as swiftly as possible to ensure the proper scrutiny of the new Department. Its role, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explained to the House on 16 October, is to ensure that we have energy that is affordable, secure and sustainable, to bring about the transition to a low-carbon Britain and to achieve an international agreement on climate change at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen at the end of next year. Members in all parts of the House welcomed the creation of the new Department, and I hope that they will welcome the Government's swift action to establish the new Committee.

Part A of the motion creates a new departmental Select Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It will have exactly the same role and powers as other departmental Select Committees. The Government have proposed a membership of 14, but Mr. Yeo—who is present—supported by Peter Luff, has tabled amendment (a), which proposes the reduction of the membership from 14 to 11. I look forward to hearing their arguments during the debate.

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