PRESS NOTICE No 4
Evidence from the Prime Minister
The Rt Hon Alan Williams, MP (Labour, Swansea West), Chairman of the Liaison Committee, said this morning that he very much welcomed the announcement that the Prime Minister would in future appear twice a year before the Liaison Committee to answer questions from its members.
Mr Williams said that the Liaison Committee had argued consistently over recent years for improving scrutiny by Parliament of the Executive and had proposed in 2000 that the Prime Minister should once a year give evidence to the Committee. It was particularly heartening to learn that the Prime Minister has now agreed to this, and has decided to go further by making himself available for questioning by the committee chairmen twice a year, in public sessions.
Mr. Williams said:
"While the Liaison Committee as a whole has not yet had time to consider the Prime Minister's proposal, I know they will be delighted with this very significant extension of accountability to Parliament.
The Chairs of all the House's investigative Committees are on this large Committee. By definition, they are all very knowledgeable in their own Committee's specialism. So several hours of wide-ranging questioning over domestic and international issues will be a demanding session.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in the whole of the post-war period that a Prime Minister has appeared before a Committee of the House for intensive questioning."
26th April 2002
NOTE FOR EDITORS:
1. The Committee is chaired by Mr Alan Williams (Labour, Swansea West) and includes the 32 Chairmen of select committees. It is appointed to consider general matters relating to the work of select committees; to advise the House of Commons Commission on select committees; and to choose select committee reports for debate in the House. It was nominated on 5 November 2001. The powers of the Committee are set out in House of Commons Standing Order No. 145. These are available on the Internet via www.parliament.uk.
2. The Committee's earlier proposals were set out in its Report "Shifting the Balance: Unfinished Business" published in March 2001 (First Report HC 321 of session 2000-01, paragraphs 143 to 151).