Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirteenth Report



Appendix

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)[6] 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, HC 457.

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


 
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