On 20 July 2010, following the first debate ever scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee, the House invited the Procedure Committee to consider how the rules of the House could be changed or better used to ensure that Ministers made important announcements to Parliament first. The Committee was also asked to develop a protocol governing the release of information by Ministers.
During the debate, the Leader of the House, Sir George Young, said, “We are elected here to scrutinise the Executive and to hold Ministers to account on behalf of our constituents. It is therefore crucial that Ministers explain and justify their policies in the Chamber in the first instance.”
Announcing the inquiry, Committee Chair Greg Knight said: “If backbenchers are to be able to hold the Government to account, they must be the first to hear important announcements of government policy. Parliament must be at the centre of national debate. This inquiry will look into the form that a protocol for the release of information by Ministers should take, and will consider what sanctions, if any, would be appropriate if the protocol was breached. The Committee will also consider whether changes to the rules would make it easier for Ministers to make important announcements promptly in the House of Commons.”
The Committee invites written submissions which should arrive no later than Friday 15 October 2010.
E-mail submissions are preferred and should be in Word format (not PDF) and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Postal submissions should be sent to the Clerk, Procedure Committee, Journal Office, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Further information can be obtained from the Clerk at this address or by telephone on 0207 219 3318.
Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during inquiries. If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk on 0207 219 3318 to discuss this.