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Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill

Volume 689: debated on Wednesday 24 February 2021

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That Stuart Anderson, Tonia Antoniazzi, Dan Carden, Leo Docherty, Martin Docherty-Hughes, Darren Henry, Mrs Sharon Hodgson, Mr Richard Holden, Mr Kevan Jones, Jack Lopresti, Johnny Mercer, Carol Monaghan, Stephen Morgan, Dr Andrew Murrison, James Sunderland and Mrs Heather Wheeler be members of the Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill.—(Bill Wiggin, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.)

It is a pleasure to see the Chamber so busy tonight and, in particular, to see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury on the Bench tonight; I know that he will be taking a very keen interest in how Select Committees are operating in the House.

I know that the sight of a Member rising with “Erskine May” and the Standing Orders with the ability to speak for up to an hour might be something that would concern Members of the House. I do not intend to take the full hour tonight, but I want to make some comments about the conduct of Select Committees. People outside the Chamber will be aware of the reasons why I am doing so.

I have no objection to the principle of the Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill being set up; I wish it well. Indeed, I understand that the right hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) is perhaps the Chair-designate, and I wish him well for that. An interesting point on that subject is that the right hon. Gentleman is also a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, so he has obligations to other Committees in this House as well. Like many of us, he serves on a Select Committee but also fulfils other roles.

I ask the Government to reflect on the fact that we in this House have conventions that dictate how we conduct our business. They are documented in “Erskine May” and it is important to make sure that we adhere to those conventions. If we are to pass this motion, which suggests that the right hon. Member for North Durham can serve as the Chair of Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill and on the Intelligence and Security Committee—something we would agree with—we would not want to see double standards in respect of how the Government and their Members conduct the business of other Select Committees.

I know that the Government Chief Whip will be listening closely, and on that basis I very much hope that some of the issues he is aware of can be resolved as timeously as possible.

Question put and agreed to.