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Regional Select Committee (Yorkshire and the Humber)

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 29 October 2009

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That Mary Creagh be discharged from the Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Select Committee and Mr Austin Mitchell be added.—(Mr. Blizzard.)

I should like to discuss motion 5 on the Order Paper. I rather missed the opportunity on motion 4, I am afraid: I was sitting back and when motion 3 was not moved, I thought that the same thing would happen to motion 4. I was going to ask a question of a Minister, but I cannot see the Leader of the House or the Deputy Leader of the House on the Government Front Bench. However, the Comptroller of Her Majesty’s Household is there—it is like looking into a mirror—and I am sure that he will be very capable of answering some questions.

As you may know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my party and the Liberal Democrats are not terribly enthused, to say the least, by the Regional Select Committees. In fact, we have decided not to take part in them. However, on the question of motion 5, why at this stage—the Committees were set up only recently—do people need to be taken off them and then put back on? It is always interesting. Was the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) not happy with the set-up of the Committee; or, did he in some way displease the Whips? Perhaps he pleased them so much that they took him off the Committee.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if such a change of membership is put before the House, we should always have an explanation of why one Member is standing down and another is being put forward? Currently, these motions are put forward with no discussion and, given that the Committees are supposed to provide for more local accountability and interest, it is unacceptable not to know why one Member in the area is leaving and one is coming forward.

I am not sure that I would want an explanation on every occasion, but, as this opportunity arises from time to time, it is useful just to test whether the Government can tell the House why a decision has been made. I do not labour the point, because, speaking as a furniture retailer, I am very interested in the Adjournment debate that is coming next. I shall be interested to note what the hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire (David Taylor) says when I read it later in Hansard.

In the hon. Gentleman’s earlier remarks, he suggested that the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) was being removed from the Committee. In fact, it is the other way around, and I should hope that he would not want to malign the hon. Gentleman unfortunately.

I should like to apologise to the House for that mistake. I in no way wanted to mislead Members. The hon. Member for Great Grimsby has obviously pleased the Whips. I know that he hopes for a career moving forward from the Back Benches, and, at this last moment, perhaps this is still an attempt to do so. I shall now sit down, so we might hear from the Government Front Bencher before we move to the next motion.

It was very interesting to see the double act between the official Opposition and their errand boys on the Liberal Democrat Bench. Increasingly, they see their role as that of principal understudy to the Conservative Opposition, and this debate is yet another example of that. Let us be quite clear what the debate is about: the Conservative Opposition do not like Regional Select Committees. They have been quite open about that, to be fair, but the House has decided. There is also a well-established procedure, which the hon. Gentleman has reflected—along with remarks about my appearance—for changing the membership of all Committees. Hon. Members are just trying to score political points, and not doing it very well.

Question put and agreed to.