Extract from the Committee's Fifth Report of Session
2001-02, Convention to Prepare for the 2004 Inter-Governmental
Conference, HC 152-v.
9. The House of Commons (like the House of Lords)
will have only one Member on the Convention. It will be difficult
for a single Member to 'represent' the Commons on a range of complex
issues, but the representation of the House will be more of a
reality if the appointment is made formally by the House and the
Member concerned consults and reports back to other Members. We
intend to play our part as a Committee in ensuring that there
is effective consulting and reporting back during the Convention.
We believe it would be helpful if the Member was selected from
within the European Scrutiny Committee. We recommend that the
Commons Member on the Convention be appointed formally by a motion
in the House, that the Member be selected from within the European
Scrutiny Committee, and that arrangements be made for the Member
to consult and report back to other Members. One means of
doing so would be allocation of time for debates on Thursday afternoons
in Westminster Hall.
Extract from the Committee's First Special Report
of Session 2001-02, Government Observations on the Fifth
Report from the European Scrutiny Committee of Session 2001-02,
Composition of the Convention
We recommend that the Commons member on the Convention
be appointed formally by a motion in the House, that the Member
be selected from within the European Scrutiny Committee, and that
arrangements be made for the Member to consult and report back
to other members.
5. We note the Committee's suggestion on the selection
of the representative of the Commons. Baroness Symons has also
met interested members from the House of Lords to hear their views.
No final decisions have yet been taken. But the Government is
unlikely to accede to the request that the member selected should
be drawn only from within the European Scrutiny Committee.
Letter from the Chairman of the Committee to the
Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) of 9 January 2002
Convention on the Future of Europe
Thank you for your letter of 13 December concerning
the terms of reference for the Convention. I note that at Laeken
the role of national parliaments became one of three questions
under the heading 'More democracy, transparency and efficiency
in the European Union'.
I hope that your confidence that all the issues we
consider relevant to the role of national parliaments can be discussed
in the Convention proves well-founded. My Committee will certainly
pay close attention to the work of the Convention.
However, the Committee is deeply concerned about
how the Commons member of the Convention will be appointed, for
three reasons. First, all the comments made so far by Ministers,
including your own in the Chamber yesterday, have implied that
the Government will determine who represents the Commons. The
Committee would be interested to know whether it was decided at
Laeken how the national parliament representatives were to be
appointed, and to whom the invitations to submit nominations of
national parliament representatives will be sent. More specifically,
the Government's reply to our report on the Convention did not
respond to our recommendation that the Commons member on the Convention
should be appointed formally by a motion in the House, and I would
be grateful if you would confirm that this procedure will be followed.
Secondly, your answers in the Chamber yesterday twice
referred to representations on this subject from the Chairman
of the Foreign Affairs Committee, but ignored the representations
from this Committee, made in our report on the Convention. The
issues which form the Convention's terms of reference are ones
to which this Committee has devoted sustained attention over many
years, most recently in its report of 2000 on the Nice IGC, and
which, as you know, form the subject matter of its current inquiry
into Democracy and Accountability in the EU. The Committee intends
to follow the work of the Commons representative closely, and
indicated in its report on the Convention that it would play its
part in ensuring that there is effective consulting and reporting
back during the Convention. The Committee wishes to be sure that
its representations will be properly taken into account in the
selection of the Commons representative.
Thirdly, the nature of the consultations you referred
to yesterday is unclear. It would be helpful if you could provide
details of the scope and timescale of that consultation process.
I am sure you will agree that the consultation and appointment
process for the Commons representative on a Convention examining
issues such as democratic legitimacy and transparency should itself
be fair and open, and be seen to be so.
6 For the Government's intention to consult on the
appointment of the Lords Member and arrangements for reporting
back, see Official Report (House of Lords), 18 October
2001, c.702. Back