Headlines: May 19th, 2000

Concerns about the political neutering of Parliament’s select committee system have been virtually dismissed by the Government.Select committees provide the scrutiny role for government departments, particular programmes or legislation.

In March the liaison committee that manages the select committees registered its unhappiness with the political fixing of committee memberships by all parties.

It pointed to people being left off committees for their outspoken views, and to delays in nominating appointees which leads to delays in the work of committees likely to be critical of Government-sponsored projects.

Margaret Beckett, the Leader of the House of Commons, has responded by saying there is no radical need for change.

The Government has agreed to select committees working more flexibly together, but on the main point about political management of appointments has shifted the burden for any change on to the house authorities.