Today’s Report reviews progress since 2009 on the recommendations of the Select Committee on Reform of the House of Commons - known as the Wright Committee after its Chair, Dr Tony Wright - and looks forward.
The Chair of the Committee, Graham Allen MP, will be launching the report on the Floor of the House today, after Business Questions.
The Report concludes that:
- Commons select committees are more effective, and elections for committee Chairs and members, as recommended by Wright, have brought greater transparency and democracy.
- The Backbench Business Committee, another suggestion of Wright, has been a success, giving backbenchers the chance to decide the subjects of debates covering about a quarter of the House’s time.
- Another key Wright recommendation - a House Business Committee which would give backbenchers an influence on the rest of the House’s agenda - can be and should be introduced without delay. The Coalition Agreement said in 2010 that the Committee would be established by the third year of this Parliament.
- The House’s petitions procedure is failing to meet public expectations. There is too much confusion between the roles of Government and Parliament. The Committee argues that there is still a case for the establishment of a petitions committee and recommends that officials work up a detailed and costed proposition which could then be put to the House for its endorsement.
Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “The Wright process has strengthened Parliament in many ways, but there is still a great deal to be done.
“Our inquiry showed that the election of select committee chairs and members by MPs in a secret ballot, instead of being appointed by the whips, has been one of the most successful reforms recommended by Wright.
“We welcome the achievements of the Backbench Business Committee, also recommended by Wright, which decides the House’s business for about a quarter of the time. It gives backbenchers a valuable opportunity to consider the issues that matter most to them and to their constituents.
“Our Report also urges further steps to make Wright’s vision a reality.
“For instance we set out practical proposals for a House Business Committee, which would give backbenchers some influence over the setting of the agenda for the vast majority of the House’s time. This is a key unimplemented Wright reform, and we demonstrate that the House Business Committee can be, and should be, established without further delay.
“Our Report also calls, among other things, for greater democracy in the selection of legislative committee members, and improvements in the petitions system to help the House connect better with the public. The House and the Government should implement our recommendations speedily to maintain the momentum for reform.”
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