Tuesday, 24 November 2009

House of Commons Reform

The Report of the House of Commons Reform Committee - "Rebuilding the House" - has been published. Set up earlier this year to address growing concerns about the effectiveness of the House of Commons, it was chaired by Tony Wright - the highly respected Chair of the Public Administration Committee (which has done so much to highlight constitutional issues & press for more powerful oversight of the Executive).

The main recommendations include
- Election of Select Committee Chairs by the House in a secret ballot
- Election of members of Select Committees by each party in secret ballots, the allocation of seats to each party representing the proportion of seats held in the Commons by the parties.
- smaller Select Committees to improve effectiveness
- rapid selection of select committee membership after a General Election
- establishment of a House Business Committee - with a Backbench Business Committee to organise the use of non-ministerial business time
- revival of work towards establishing an e-petitions system
- establishment of a system for "agenda initiative" by the public
- establishment of a monthly slot for debate of backbench motions

"opening up the process of legislation and giving the public a real opportunity to influence the content of draft laws should be a priority in the New Parliament"

Peter Riddell (Times Assistant Editor & Chair of the Hansard Society) commented on the report in the Times.

The full report is available here.