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Rosemary McKenna (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch, East) (Lab): I would like to put on record the fact that the Committee of Selection offered to meet on Monday night. The Government had no business. The hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) said that the Committee of Selection could have met on Tuesday or Wednesday this week, but the Standing Orders do not allow that. We would not have been able to put anything on the Order Paper unless we had met on Monday night. Because we did not meet then, what is happening now is the only action open to the Government in order to get something placed on the Order Paper.
Having said that, I accept some of the concerns of my colleagues, particularly the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) who sits on the Committee with me. It would be helpful if the Leader of the House were able to give us an assurance that this is most unusual and that she will do everything in her power to ensure that this process is not usurped again in any circumstances. If she could do that, I think that the House would accept it. We frequently amend Standing Orders, so that is not the issue. What we must do is ask the Leader of the House to give us an assurance that this is an unusual process and that she will do everything in her power to make sure that it does not happen again.
In response to the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), I should say that the Modernisation Committee is different from other Select Committees. It has always been chaired by the
Leader of the House [Interruption.] That always has been the case by custom and practice.
Departmental Select Committees are never chaired by Cabinet Ministers. I accept the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch, East (Rosemary McKenna) that this is an exceptional process, and it is not one that I would want to hurry into on any future occasion. I accept that it is exceptional.
We have arrived at this position because the Home Affairs Committee has lost its Chair because of his appointment to the Cabinet. That is not the case with other Select Committees. I resent the suggestion that, by proposing a name for the House to vote on in substitution for another hon. Member, I am somehow questioning the competence or ability of all the other members of the Committee. I am most certainly not doing that. Far from itleast of all with regard to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick). That is not my point. I am not saying that they are not all competent and able. Of course they are.
What I am fundamentally proposing is that the House move a currently serving member of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, which is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) is, to serve as a member of the Home Affairs Committee. If he is suitable, as we believe he is, for the House to vote him on to the Constitutional Affairs Committee, he is suitable also for the House to vote him on to the Home Affairs Committee.
I want to correct something. I said that the Prime Minister had to deal with the appointment of Cabinet Ministers, junior Ministers and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries. I should have added Parliamentary Private Secretaries as well, because those are subsequent to the appointment of Parliamentary Under-Secretaries. It was not until it was clear who were going to be Parliamentary Private Secretaries and to what Department they would be allocated that we were in a position to know who might be available for the Home Affairs Committee.
Mr. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): The Leader of the House said that the right hon. Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) would be moved from the Constitutional Affairs Committee to the Home Affairs Committee. Where on the Order Paper does it say that he will be moved from that Committee?
Ms Harman: What I perhaps should say is that my right hon. Friend has been voted by this House on to the Constitutional Affairs Committee. Clearly, the House regarded him as suitable for that. I am asking the House to consider him [Interruption.] I presume he stays on both Committees unless he is removed from the Constitutional Affairs Committee. I do not, however, accept the argument that Select Committees have nothing to do over the summer.
I was asked about the salary of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and
Skills as Chair of the Home Affairs Committee. I am advised that the Houses resolution of 2003, which deals with pay for Select Committee Chairs, provides that the salary ceases if the member becomes a Minister. No Select Committee salary will have been paid to my right hon. Friend since his appointment to the Cabinet.
I have listened to what Members have said, and I register the vehemence with which they have stated their argument; however, I considered that argument before I brought the motion before the House. I acknowledge that this is an exceptional procedure, and that it would have been better if there had been time for the matter to go before the Committee of Selection. It would be easier on me if I could simply withdraw the motion as a new and persuasive argument had caused me to change my mindbut I anticipated the argument that has been made.
I did not anticipate, however, that Members would think that there was a conspiracy behind the motion; I had hoped that they would accept that there was a question to do with timing as we are approaching the end of the Session. As Leader of the House, I must listen to the arguments that are made and work out whether it is right to put a motion to the House. In effect, this motion places a current member of the Constitutional Affairs Committee on to the Home Affairs Committee. We must make sure that we do not fail to see the wood for the trees; we must understand that that is the subject that we would vote on.
I come to be Leader of the House at a time when there are a great many changes strengthening the position of the House, and I fully support them. We have had independent scrutiny of appointments for the first time; we will have topical debates so that Members can swiftly ask questions of Ministers on behalf of their constituents; more Bills have been published in draft; we have had pre-legislative scrutiny; we are moving on to having post-legislative scrutiny; and we are publishing for the first time the draft legislative programme.
The work of the Leader of the House is important, and I stand by my commitment to do it in the interests of the House. However, it is also important to keep a sense of proportion. This motion is in order. It moves the Member concerned from the Constitutional Affairs Committee to the Home Affairs Committee. [Interruption.] Let me say that in another way; it takes a Member who has already been voted by the House on to the Constitutional Affairs Committee and places him on the Home Affairs Committee. The motion is in order, and I suggest that the House vote on it.
That, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 121 (Nomination of select committees), Mr John Denham be discharged from the Home Affairs Committee and Keith Vaz be added.
That, with effect from the beginning of the next session of Parliament, the following amendments and related provisions be made in respect of Standing Orders:
A SELECT COMMITTEES RELATED TO GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS
That Standing Order No. 152 (Select committees related to government departments) be amended in the Table in paragraph (2) as follows
(i) leave out items 2, 5, 12 and 14;
(ii) insert, in the appropriate places, the following items:
Business, Enterprise and
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Children, Schools and
Department for Children, Schools and Families
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
Ministry of Justice (including the work of staff provided for the administrative work of courts and tribunals, but excluding consideration of individual cases and appointments, and excluding the work of the Scotland and Wales Offices and of the Advocate General for Scotland); and administration and expenditure of the Attorney Generals Office, the Treasury Solicitors Department, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office (but excluding individual cases and appointments and advice given within government by Law Officers)
(1) That all proceedings of the House and of its select committees in this Parliament in respect of the Constitutional Affairs Committee shall be deemed to have been in respect of the Justice Committee.
(2) That all proceedings of the Trade and Industry Committee in this Parliament shall be deemed to have been proceedings of the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee.
(3) That for the purposes of Standing Order No. 122A (Term limits for chairmen of select committees) the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee, the Children, Schools and Families Committee, the Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee and the Justice Committee shall be deemed to be the same committees as the Trade and Industry Committee, the Education and Skills Committee, the Science and Technology Committee and the Constitutional
Affairs Committee respectively.
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