Tuesday 11 November 2008

Committees, committees, committees

It has long been an accepted, but unspoken, fact among ministers that the likes of East Midlands Development Agency have tons of money but are not properly accountable to anyone.

The Commons will vote on Wednesday whether to introduce two new types of body for each region to do that job - Regional Select Committees and Regional Grand Committees.

The Select Committees, each with nine member MPs, will have power to really scrutinise the quangos, write reports and demand Government responses.

Meanwhile the Grand Committees will include every single MP from the particular region but will not have powers, other than to question the regional minister.

To Lobbydog it feels a bit like over-kill to have two bodies doing the same thing.

According to Lobbydog's source close to the group of MPs who came up with the plans there was a lot of disagreement.

Originally the idea was to have either Select Committees OR Grand Committees.

But Grand Committees, which might have up to 50 MPs, were thought to be too sluggish to do anything dynamically.

Meanwhile the problem with any type of select committee, including the regional ones, is that they must reflect the make up of the Commons.

So in an area like the South West, mostly made up of Lib Dem MPs, you would end up with a select committee scrutinizing its quangos mostly made up of Labour MPs.

Naturally it was the Tories and Lib Dems who kicked up a fuss and so to compromise the group formulating the plans (another select committee) decided to introduce both types.

Any power will really lie with the Regional Select Committees, the Grand Committees are nothing more than a talking shop to pay lip service to proper regional representation.

More wasted time and money?

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