§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
I beg to move,That Standing Order No. 86A (Select Committes related to government departments) be amended; as follows:Line 17, leave out 'and'.Line 18, after 'Wales', insert 'and of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration for Northern Ireland'.
§ Since the repeal of the Northern Ireland Assembly Act in 1974, the annual reports of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration for Northern Ireland have been laid before this House. But they have not been subject to scrutiny by the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. After taking evidence from the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner, with the support of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Select Committee recommended in its report last Session that its orders of reference should be extended to allow it to examine the reports of the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner.
§ The proposed amendment is designed to give effect to the Select Committee's recommendation. It seems right that so long as there is no elected body in Northern Ireland before which reports of the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner might be laid, and so long as these reports continue to be laid before Parliament, they should receive the fullest parliamentary attention and scrutiny without diminishing their separate Northern Ireland status. This will end the unreasonable arrangement whereby the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration is the only Westminster Select Committee that is precluded from covering Northern Ireland issues. I therefore commend the motion to the House.
§ 11.14 p.m.
Mr. J. Enoch Powell
My hon. Friends and I are grateful to all who have collaborated to bring about this very real rationalisation. The suggestion was first made by us and accepted in principle by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) in the last Parliament but was not able to be put into effect until the 855 present Parliament. We are grateful to see it embodied in a Standing Order of the House.
There is a further stage in rationalisation. That happened to occur briefly a few months ago when, temporarily, the Great Britain Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration discharged the functions of the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. My hon. Friends and I, considering that there should be the same standards of administration applied in all parts of the United Kingdom, regarded this as a satisfactory arrangement and were sorry that it was the—one hopes, temporary—decision of the Government again to-separate the two offices. Pending there being one Parliamentary Commissioner for all parts of the United Kingdom, applying the same methods and the same standards to his investigations, we are glad that the Northern Ireland reports are laid before this House, which is responsible for the administration of Northern Ireland, and that, being so laid, they will now come under the scrutiny of the Select Committee.
It is a reform that was necessary. We are grateful for it.
§ Question put and agreed to.