Page last updated at 20:36 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Wright committee debate

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MPs have approved a series of reforms to the House of Commons, as recommended by the Wright Committee.

On 4 March 2010, they agreed to establish a powerful committee of MPs to organise the way business is conducted in the Commons.

They also agreed to elect the chairmen of key select committees, to reserve the job of chairing the spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, for an opposition MP, and to dismiss any select committee member who fails to attend at least 60% of meetings.

Chairman of the Reform of the House of Commons Committee Tony Wright told MPs: "The theme of these proposals is that the time has come when the House should reclaim responsibility for itself and its own business.

"That is what unifies our proposals about select committees. It cannot be right... for the executive or for the party managers, either directly or indirectly, to control who goes on to select committees.

"It cannot be acceptable any longer for the executive to control business that should properly belong to the House.

"But with control comes responsibility. It is easy to set up new structures but someone has got to make those work and that means making them work in a responsible fashion."

A bid by Conservative frontbenchers, supported by Commons Leader Harriet Harman, to limit the powers of the new backbench committee to setting the timetable for just 15 days of business a session was defeated by 221 to 106, a majority of 115.

Evan Harris, a Lib Dem MP and member of the Wright committee, declared: "Backbench MPs and the Wright Committee have successfully united to defeat not one but both frontbenches."

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