Today is the 30th anniversary of their creation – hence the conference I attended on Tuesday. The far reaching proposals for a system of select committees were made by the Procedure Committee in 1978. Bill Proctor, a Former Clerk of the Committee, gave an interesting paper on the development of the report and its subsequent publication and reception. I hope that the Hansard Society will be able to publish this paper on its website.
Priscilla Barnes wrote a chapter on the “History and Rationale of the 1979 Reforms” in “The New Select Committees” which was edited by Gavin Drewey. Both were at the conference.
The Procedure Committee Report was published in the summer of 1978. It fell to the incoming Government in 1979 to implement the proposals. The hero was Norman St-John Stevas, Leader of the House of Commons. He “rushed the whole system through cabinet committees before it dawned on the Prime Minister [Mrs Thatcher] what was going on” (Christopher Price). As a result of his actions an important structure was set up which is something the Werstminster Parliament can be proud of.