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Chair calls for "even" interpretation of contested House procedures

5 November 2019

Sir Charles Walker MP, Chair of the Procedure Committee, has today written to the newly-elected Speaker, Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, and to the Leader of the House, Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, about the work the Procedure Committee has undertaken in the 2017 Parliament.

He has submitted a paper to them summarising the Committee's work in this Parliament and indicating matters the Committee ought to examine as a priority when it is appointed following the General Election in December.

Highlights of the Committee's work during the Parliament

Highlights of the Committee's work during the Parliament include:

  • Undertaking the detailed procedural work for the introduction of a system of proxy voting for parental absence;
  • Amending the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to give the House a significant additional role in examining Brexit secondary legislation;
  • Establishing of a new sifting mechanism to decide which Brexit secondary legislation should be debated and approved before becoming law;
  • Introducing a new system for allocating debate on Government spending plans, opening the Estimates process up to participation by more MPs

The paper stresses the importance of establishing select committees as early as possible in the new Parliament, in view of the significant scrutiny work required to be undertaken on Government proposals for Brexit whatever the outcome of the election. 
It also proposes that the pilot proxy voting scheme for parental absence should be extended by three months at the start of the next Parliament to allow the Procedure Committee to complete the review of the pilot which the House commissioned in January 2019.
The paper reflects concern within the Procedure Committee at a number of procedural developments towards the end of the Parliament. It suggests that the new Committee may wish to undertake a thorough review of contested procedural issues so as to advise the House on a settled interpretation.

Chair's comment

Procedure Committee Chair, Sir Charles Walker KBE MP, said:

"I am very proud of the significant contribution the Procedure Committee has made to the functioning of the House in this Parliament. Members of the Committee worked very hard to make practical improvements to the Government's proposals for scrutinising Brexit secondary legislation. We also worked swiftly and thoroughly to devise practical arrangements for proxy voting for parental absence as soon as the House had accepted the principle.

Our proposals for Estimates day debates represented a step change in the way the House scrutinises Government spending plans, and through our work on a Commons Budget Committee we have proposed scrutiny and accountability arrangements which represent a significant improvement in how the House holds Ministers to account for the way they plan to spend taxpayers' money.

The Committee has been concerned by certain procedural developments over the course of this Parliament. In particular we have been worried by the development of inconsistent interpretations of procedures which were previously well understood. The Committee in the next Parliament will no doubt want to review these developments and advise the House on an even and considered interpretation of its procedures which is beneficial to all."

Further information

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