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House Of Commons (Administration)

Volume 885: debated on Monday 3 February 1975

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I told the House on 9th July last that now that the Compton Report on the House of Commons Administrative Services was available, I proposed to consult about setting up the Committee of Members required to give it preliminary study.

The Committee will consist of eight Members; I am glad to say that the right hon. gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley) has accepted by invitation to be Chairman. Others Members are:
The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh).
The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King).
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson).
The right hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East (Miss Harvie Anderson).
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel).
The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop).
The right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton).
The Committee's terms of reference will be to consider Sir Edmund Compton's Report upon his review of the Administrative Services of the House of Commons, and matters arising therefrom, and to recommend what, if any, changes are desirable.

The Joint Secretaries to the Committee will be Mr. M. T. Ryle, Department of the Clerk of the House, to whom all communications regarding the Commit-the should be addressed; and Mr. Michael Townley, Cabinet Office.

I welcome the appointment of the Committee, Mr. Speaker, but, as you are responsible for its appointment and its terms of reference, I should like to put to you the following point. It seems to me that there was no sufficient reason why the Committee should have been established in this most unusual manner—that is, by yourself announcing to the House its composition and terms of reference rather than its being done in the normal manner for a Select Committee, by a motion dealing with the setting up of the Committee, its composition, and the terms of reference.

I have heard explanations why it has been done in this way on this occasion, but I should like the point to be taken on board that to one Member, at least, the reasons do not seem sufficient, and it would seem better on later occasions for all Committees of the House to be set up by the House.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for putting his point so courteously. He and I have discussed the matter, and he knows that I have discussed it widely. I decided that I should follow the precedent, which has been for a Committee of this sort to be decided on by the Speaker.

I thought the matter over very carefully, and gave those whom I consult on such matters a great deal of time to think about it. That is why it has taken so long to announce the Committee. I have come to this conclusion, which I believe is the correct one.