Skip to main content

Commons Business Committee

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 23 April 2009

5. What recent representations she has received on establishing a Commons business Committee; and if she will make a statement. (270329)

We have intermittent representations on this issue, including, very regularly, from the hon. Gentleman. The last time the House considered a legislative business Committee, however, it rejected the idea.

Is the Deputy Leader of the House aware that there is a group in the House called Parliament First, which is fully representative of all parties? Its members are very senior and experienced, and they believe that the only way in which the House can meet the aspirations of the Prime Minister, who believes that the House should be the centre of our democratic procedures, is to have a business Committee representative of Back Benchers so that the House can attain some independence from the Executive, who currently dominate the House to the disadvantage of democracy.

I do know of the group to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Indeed, the Members on it are so senior that I try not to meddle with them too often. However, all that glisters is not gold. If we introduced a business Committee, I think that the hon. Gentleman would find that we would lose a lot of the flexibility that we have at present, which is enjoyed by Members on all sides of the House—

On both sides of the House. In addition, under our current arrangements, Standing Orders limit the Government in significant ways—for instance, they ensure that there are 20 Opposition days a year. Furthermore, after both the Budget and the Queen’s Speech there are five days of debate in which the topic is decided by the Opposition, not the Government. That is more flexible and a better system.