Backbench Business Committee

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 12th March 2012.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 4:16 pm, 12th March 2012

I think I should make a little more progress as I have yet to explain what the proposal is, but I will come back to right hon. and hon. Members who wish to contribute.

The motion aligns the method of election to the Backbench Business Committee with that for other Select Committees. Pete Wishart might feel aggrieved that he does not have representation on all the Select Committees of the House, but he does not because, on the basis of the formula, he does not have enough party members in the House to have that level of representation. The motion provides protection against unwarranted interference by a future Government in the election of the Chair—something that some hon. Members were very concerned about. We propose to give the House an opportunity to determine that issue today. The motion provides also for participation by the minority parties, however ungrateful they may be, in the Committee.

Nearly a month ago, the Government’s response to the Procedure Committee’s report was published. It stated quite explicitly that

“the Government believe that it would be appropriate for the House to address the anomaly whereby members of the Backbench Business Committee other than the Chair (unlike those of other select committees) are elected by the House as a whole rather than by Members of the political party to which they belong before the next elections of members. The Government propose to allow time for consideration of proposals to this effect towards the end of the current Session.”