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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 740: debated on Monday 13 November 2023

Order. I would like to make a short statement.

I do not usually discuss urgent questions, but today I received one and rather than discuss the matter in the Chamber, I thought it would be better for me to set out my thoughts on a particular issue that involves procedures of this House.

The House will be aware that the Prime Minister has today appointed the right hon. David Cameron as Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs. This is not the first time in recent years that a Cabinet Minister has been appointed in the House of Lords but, given the gravity of the current international situation, it is especially important that this House is able to scrutinise the work of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office effectively.

I have therefore commissioned advice from the Clerks about possible options for enhancing scrutiny of the work of the Foreign Secretary when that post is filled by a Member of the other House. I also look forward to hearing the Government’s proposals on how the Foreign Secretary will be properly accountable to this House. I do not propose to respond to points of order on this subject today, until the advice I have referred to has been received and until I have heard the Government’s own proposals, but I can assure the House that I am fully aware of the need for hon. and right hon. Members to be able to hold the Government to account in this area, especially at the current time, and I shall do everything I can to ensure that they are able to do so.

As colleagues will know, the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee is elected each Session. Nominations are now open and will close at 1pm on Wednesday 15 November. Nomination forms are available from the Vote Office, the Table Office and the Public Bill Office. Only Members from the party not representing Government may be candidates. Candidates need the support of no fewer than 10 Members from the Government side of the House and no fewer than 10 Members from the party not representing the Government or from no party. If there is more than one candidate, the ballot will take place on Wednesday 22 November from 11am to 1pm in the Aye Lobby.