HC Deb 31 October 1988 vol 139 c664
37. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the Lord President of the Council what recent representations he has received about working practices in the House; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wakeham

I have received only one letter about this matter, from my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham).

Mr. Thurnham

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the press reports of last summer making allegations of abuses and inefficiency are properly investigated? Does he think that more privatisation would improve the efficiency of services in the House and reduce abuses?

Mr. Wakeham

The second part of my hon. Friend's question goes wider than the original question. While there may be validity in the argument, I shall not be drawn on it. The matter concerning my hon. Friend was considered by the Catering Sub-Committee, which reached a conclusion only at its meeting last week. I shall reply to my hon. Friend's letter later this week.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Does not the election of Chairmen of Select Committees constitute a working practice of the House? Is it not quite wrong that the Chairman of a Select Committee—and indeed the Chairman of the Select Committee on Selection—should be directors of or consultants to lobbying companies? Does the right hon. Gentleman not understand the unease that this has created throughout the lobbying and public relations industry? What will be done about it? Will it be stopped, and will the right hon. Gentleman recommend that it be stopped?

Mr. Wakeham

The membership of Select Committees is for the Selection Committee. The hon. Gentleman knows full well that if he has any serious allegations to make, there is a proper way of doing so to the Select Committee on Members' Interests. I suggest that he does that, and he should know better.