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Government rejects Procedure Committee's recommendation for the Foreign Secretary to be scrutinised at the Bar of the House

17 April 2024

The Government has rejected a proposal from the House of Commons Procedure Committee for the Foreign Secretary to be scrutinised by MPs at the Bar of the House of Commons Chamber.

On 24 January, the Committee published a report recommending that, for the remainder of the Parliament, the House of Commons should change its practice so that the Rt Hon Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton can answer questions and make statements from the Bar of the House at the end of the Commons Chamber.

In their response, the Government states that:

  • The parliamentary scrutiny the FCDO receives across both Houses is no less on account of the Foreign Secretary sitting as a Member of the House of Lords and that the Foreign Secretary and FCDO ministerial team responds to a significant and high volume of select committee scrutiny, more so than other departments.
  • The Foreign Secretary intends to continue cooperating and engaging with select committee evidence sessions roughly every six sitting weeks.
  • Moving ahead with the Committee's proposal regarding appearances at the Bar of the House, even if on a time limited basis, could undermine the principle of comity between the Commons and the Lords.

Chair's comment

The Rt Hon Dame Karen Bradley MP, Chair of the Procedure Committee, said:

“While we note the appointment of Andrew Mitchell MP as Deputy Foreign Secretary, it is disappointing that the Government has rejected our core proposals. In recent weeks, Lord Cameron has had several important engagements on Ukraine, the Middle East and Gibraltar, yet MPs as the elected representatives in Parliament are left without an avenue to ask questions of him directly as the head of the FCDO.

The Government’s response points to Lord Cameron’s appearances before select committees. Whilst select committees play an important scrutiny role, the fact remains that they only allow for some MPs to ask questions of him. All Members of the House of Commons should be afforded the opportunity to raise issues on behalf of their constituents.”

Further information

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