What chance a House Business Committee?

Posted on: July 19th, 2013

Good government depends upon the right relationships between the Executive and Parliament.
In that context, we supported the establishment of a House Business Committee as recommended by the Wright Committee. They proposed a Committee which would make decisions about the use of Parliamentary time other than backbench time, while recognising that the Government must have sufficient time to carry forward its legislative programme. Such a Committee would strengthen Parliament by increasing the transparency of decisions which at present are taken through the ‘usual channels’ and not formally recorded.
We were delighted when the Government committed itself in the Coalition Agreement to setting up a House Business Committee. But we were then disappointed as the Government appeared to move away from this commitment.
The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (PCRC) has been taking stock of progress on the Wright Committee recommendations and published its report on 18 July. Taking account of the range of views expressed to them, they now recommend a consultative House Business Committee. They say that this form of House Business Committee would enable the Government to redeem its Coalition Agreement pledge to move forward on the lines suggested by the Wright Committee while ensuring that its programme is considered in a proper and timely way.
We would have preferred a House Business Committee which took decisions as recommended by the Wright Committee. But we hope that the PCRC recommendation of a consultative House Business Committee will enable progress to be made. We agree with PCRC that their recommendation is ‘an immediate practical option’. And we look to the Government to take early steps to implement it.