Procedure Committee

Session 2009-10, 22 March 2010


Secretaries of State based in the House of Lords should be open to scrutiny by members of the House of Commons on their departmental portfolios, say Members of Parliament.

In a report out today, the House of Commons Procedure Committee recommends a trial of up to four question time sessions with Lords Cabinet Ministers, such as Lord Mandelson, in Westminster Hall. Each session should last for 45 minutes and should be open to all MPs. Some questions would be submitted in advance but others could be asked without notice.

The Committee's inquiry follows a request from the Speaker amongst others to investigate the implications for the House and the practicalities of such a move. The proposals now need approval by the House of Commons before they can be implemented.

Mr Greg Knight, Chair of the Procedure Committee, said: "It is important that the elected chamber, the House of Commons, is able to scrutinise Government Ministers properly, regardless of which House they sit in. We appreciate that there are different points of view as to whether it is desirable to allow unelected politicians into the Chamber or into Westminster Hall but our proposals are designed to increase the effectiveness of democratic scrutiny whilst preserving the Commons primacy over the Lords. We hope that they can be quickly adopted by the House in order that an experiment can be held in the first session of the new Parliament."