Foreign Affairs Committee

Part of Exiting the European Union (Agriculture) – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 19th March 2019.

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Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset 3:38 pm, 19th March 2019

It is a pleasure to follow Ian Austin. Probably seared on to all our memories—I would be surprised if hon. and right hon. Members have not seen this—is the moving interview that the hon. Gentleman gave to the television news in which he talked about being able to look his father in the eye. One can understand entirely the passion with which he has spoken, and I am grateful to him for it.

My hon. Friend Bill Wiggin, as Chairman of the Committee of Selection, said very helpfully that it is up to the House to decide on the merits of the motion. He moved the motion as, effectively, the servant of that Committee in a way that has come to typify the approach that he adopts in these matters, and the House should be grateful for that.

I very much echo the closing point made by the hon. Member for Dudley North about the role of Select Committees. We all get ourselves frightfully hot under the collar when people are badgering us in the Tea Room saying, “Will you support us on this?”, “We’re going for that,” and so on. But when the Select Committees get up and running, the epithets of party political allegiance seem to disappear. I have served on only two Select Committees, the Procedure Committee and the Welsh Affairs Committee, but I never really felt that I went into meetings as a Conservative member of the Committee. I went in as a Member with an interest in the subject. Each Committee is almost a mini House of Lords, if you will—a receptacle of expertise where people motivate themselves to sit on the Committee because they have an interest in, or experience of, that particular area. It is of course the job of Select Committees to hold the Executive to account, and sometime the Executive get a bit of a clobbering. It is always worthwhile remembering that it was a Conservative Government who brought in Select Committees as we know them, through the Thatcher/St John-Stevas reforms.

Nobody could doubt the record of Mike Gapes: he was Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee between 2005 and 2010 and a member of the Committee from 1992 to 1997, and of course he also sits on the Committee now. I have only been in this place since 2015.