HC Deb 22 February 2000 vol 344 cc1368-9
36. Fiona Mactaggart (Slough)

What representation she has received on the method of appointing Members to the House of Commons Commission. [109653]/

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett)

I have received no formal representations on that matter.

Fiona Mactaggart

But has the President of the Council read the debate on the matter, held in the House on 2 February? Is she aware of the unease among Back Benchers about the unaccountability of the House of Commons Commission and the way in which it deals with some of the issues before it? Will she consider finding ways to give the views expressed in that debate some resonance in the Commission?

Mrs. Beckett

Yes, I have read the debate, and I recognise the concerns that were expressed—not least by my hon. Friend. Like the whole House, I also recognise that one unsatisfactory aspect of the development of the Commission's work is that it is not easy for Members to find out how they can raise issues and have them dealt with. My hon. Friend will be aware that, recently, there was a report on how the Commission could improve its working, so that there are better links and a better flow of information from Members. We hope to make progress on that in the near future.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

Does the right hon. Lady accept that, whatever the methods of reviewing the means by which Members of the House of Commons Commission are appointed, it is a source of joy to Members on both sides of the House and, no doubt, to a large number of people the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, that last night my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) was wisely appointed to the Commission, without a Division? Does she agree that it augurs well for the future that a man of such wisdom, judgment and legendary discernment should make his talents and experience available to that august Commission?

Mrs. Beckett

Without any disrespect to the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), I do not think "joy" is quite the word I would have chosen. However, I am sure that he will make a distinguished contribution.