Don't waver over Commons reform, senior MPs urge

Senior MPs tell backbenchers to retake power from govt
Senior MPs tell backbenchers to retake power from govt

By Alex Stevenson

Fears that "doubts" about radical reforms to the way the Commons works could prevent them becoming reality should be suppressed in the interests of parliament, according to a group of senior MPs.

The Commons' liaison committee, which comprises the select committee chairpersons, has embraced a raft of major changes which have the potential to significantly shift the balance of power between the government and parliament.

In a report out today the committee endorses proposals for a backbench business committee to manage 'House time', in which they decide on large parts of the Commons agenda. At present the government controls the vast majority of Commons time.

MPs also back reforms to select committees which would see the election rather than appointment of their chairs, their average size cut and all 'payroll' government members excluded from membership.

"Many of the reform committee's recommendations are four-square with recommendations the liaison committee has made in the past, but some will not command universal and unqualified support," the liaison committee chairman Alan Williams said.

"Doubts however cannot be used as an excuse for inaction."

The report concludes by stating it believes proposals to allow select committees "greater influence over and access to the agenda of the House" is "critical" to maintaining the Commons' relevance.

"The House now has an opportunity to make these proposals a reality in the new parliament," it finishes.

"We urge it to act courageously."


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