Standing Orders Etc. (Energy and Climate Change)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 11:27 pm on 28th October 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hywel Williams Hywel Williams Shadow PC Spokesperson (Education), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Health), Shadow PC Spokesperson (International Development) 11:27 pm, 28th October 2008

I, too, am disappointed and a little surprised at the amendment proposing that the number of Members on the Committee should be reduced from 14 to 11. Given the universal welcome for the setting up of the new Department, and the near unanimity that we have heard tonight, the proposal strikes the wrong note. Its effect would assuredly be to squeeze out representation of the so-called minor parties on these Benches. I say "minor", but—as has already been said in Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh—we are parties of Governments.

Devolution is, in my opinion, an imperfect solution to the problems that face us, but we are where we are, and there is a relationship between Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Belfast. In respect of Wales, my colleagues Ieuan Wyn Jones and Elin Jones are, respectively, the Ministers for industry and for environmental and rural affairs. They have a vital interest in seeing members of their own parties and colleagues from other parties taking part in the scrutiny of the work of the new Department. That goes without saying. If there is any difficulty in filling the seats on the new Committee, in achieving a quorum or in persuading members of the larger parties to take an interest, I can assure the House that there are plenty of people on these Benches who would be happy to take up any empty seats. That is a non-problem.

Peter Luff raised a substantial question. If I understood his intent rightly, he was referring not only to the Energy and Climate Change Committee but to the Select Committee system in general, as he believes that such Committees are too large. Having a debate at this time of night without discussion through the usual channels and within parties is not, I believe, the right way to do it. I am happy that the hon. Gentleman brought the issue up, but I am sure that there are many other ways of dealing with it in a rather more considered manner.