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 have already said why. We are doing that now because we are about to have elections, and we do not change the rules of elections after elections. It is normal practice, and normally more constructive, to change the rules before elections, rather than afterwards.

The hon. Gentleman asks why we did not start from a different basis. I accept, and the House is fully aware, that we started with the draft proposals from the Wright Committee, and it was obvious then that what applied to the Backbench Business Committee was different from what applied to any other Select Committee. The precautionary principle in elections to other Select Committees exists for a reason: to stop interference—in a party political way, between the parties—as to who on Select Committees should represent Members. I think that is quite an important principle, but the House must decide whether it considers it to be an important principle. If the House considers it to be nugatory, the House will vote accordingly.