Select Committees (Chairmen), Liaison Committee and Green Book

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 8:26 pm on 3rd March 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of George Young George Young Chair, Standards and Privileges Committee 8:26 pm, 3rd March 2009

To pick up a point made earlier by Andrew Mackinlay, I think that it would be difficult to say that every Select Committee Chairman shall be paid except this one. I understand where he and Mr. Heath are coming from, but the principle has been conceded already. Moreover, I suspect that the new Committee will be quite important and busy, so it would be unfair to say that every Select Committee Chairman shall be paid but not the one who chairs the Committee on Members' Allowances. Therefore, if there is a Division, I shall be in the opposite Lobby from the hon. Member for Thurrock. That may not happen often. I welcome the appointment of Mr. Touhig to the Liaison Committee. Many of the matters that we discuss may impinge on the responsibilities of his Committee and it will be useful to have him there.

I want to add a footnote to the very helpful exchange that we heard earlier, and to set out my concern when I saw what was on the Order Paper. Motion 16(2)(d) makes it clear that the Committee on Members' Allowances will determine

"'the application of the rules in such individual cases as may be referred to them by hon. Members, in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Committee'".

The question arises how that fits in with the existing procedure—what one might call the post-Nolan settlement, whereby we established an independent parliamentary commissioner reporting to the Standards and Privileges Committee, which published his findings on any complaint, along with the conclusions. At first sight, that sentence seems to take away from the existing Committee and the commissioner the responsibility for seeing whether the rules on allowances had been broken, and gives it to the new Committee—hence the concern that I expressed in the amendment that has not been selected.

It is important that the House of Commons retains those elements that we now have. Indeed, the other place may be looking at such a structure to resolve some of the difficulties—the Deputy Leader of the House is looking worried already. I give way.

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website