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Business of the House

Volume 493: debated on Thursday 4 June 2009

5. If she will bring forward proposals to establish a business committee to determine the House’s business; and if she will make a statement. (277954)

Confidence in Parliament has certainly taken a hit in recent months, and the questions of timetabling and a business committee, which are being considered by the Procedure Committee, are ones that we need to address, bringing together Members from all parts of the House.

I am grateful for that more conciliatory response to the question than I have heard from the Minister before. Given that the Prime Minister is now clear that constitutional reform needs to go more quickly, and that the public seem clear that Parliament and the Government should be separate so that we can do our job in holding the Government to account, I hope that Ministers will now be positive about the business of Parliament—the House of Commons—being determined by Parliament, not by Government, and will be very supportive of this proposal.

Obviously, the Government are the Government only because they have a majority in Parliament. That makes the system that we have to have in this country somewhat different from that in some other countries, particularly those where there is no one party with a majority. The hon. Gentleman and others have made interesting points on this issue, and we want to ensure that that debate can be carried forward properly. In our present system, we have substantial measures to ensure that elements of the business are not decided entirely by Government but by the Opposition. Indeed, my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House is about to announce several days coming up that have not been determined by Government at all.