On 12 September 2017, the House of Commons considered a motion tabled by the Leader of the House to change the way in which Committees of the House of Commons are nominated.
The motion explicitly sought to give the Conservative minority Government a majority of one on General Committees when the number of members is odd. This would enable it to have a majority on any Public Bill Committee it wishes.
I share concerns about this very important issue. The membership of House of Commons Committees should reflect the composition of the House of Commons following a General Election.
Previous minority Governments have stood by the principle that a majority on Standing Committees should only be guaranteed for as long as the Government of the day commanded an overall majority in the House of Commons.
The move by the current Government, which was denied a majority at the 2017 General Election, is therefore unprecedented. It has been claimed that the changes are necessary to ensure that the business of the House goes smoothly.
However, I believe that it is trying to side-line opposition in Parliament. I opposed the motion on 12 September but unfortunately it was passed with the support of Government and Democratic Unionist Party MPs. Unfortunately, the changes will now take effect for the rest of this Parliament.