Backbench Business Committee — Election of Members and Chair — Operation of Committee — 12 Mar 2012 at 18:00
The majority of MPs voted for members of the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee to be elected by members of political parties rather than, as was the case previously, by the whole House of Commons, and to make other changes to the operation of the committee.
The committee is responsible for allocating certain periods of parliamentary time for "backbench business"; MPs can apply to it if they wish to get see particular motion debated in the House of Commons or in Westminster Hall.
The motion approved in this vote started:
- (1) this House endorses the principle that parties should elect members of the Backbench Business Committee each Session and thereafter when a vacancy arises in a secret ballot of all Members of that party by whichever transparent and democratic method they choose.
and included a requirement that:
- No Member may be a candidate for the chair of the committee if that Member’s party is represented in Her Majesty’s Government
The approved motion also amended the requirements for nomination to stand as a member of the committee changing them from:
- Each nomination shall consist of a signed statement made by the candidate declaring their willingness to stand for election, accompanied by the signatures of not fewer than twenty nor more than twenty-five Members, of whom no fewer than ten shall be members of the candidate’s party and no fewer than ten shall be members of any other party or no party.
- Each nomination shall consist of a signed statement made by the candidate declaring their willingness to stand for election, accompanied by the signatures of not fewer than twenty nor more than twenty-five Members, of whom no fewer than ten shall be members of a party represented in Her Majesty’s Government and no fewer than ten shall be members of a party not so represented or of no party.
This altered the requirement from being support from within, and outside a member's party; to requiring support from members of a party in Government and MPs not members of a party in Government.
The requirements relating to the holding of elections for committee membership by the Speaker and clerks were removed as a result of the motion being passed; as the process was being replaced by elections to be carried out by political parties.
The previous rules for the election of the committee were contained within House of Commons Standing Order 122D, they provided for elections to the committee by all MPs, subject to criteria including:
- such a number of candidates shall come from each party represented in the House or those of no party as shall be determined and announced in advance by the Speaker, in such a way as to ensure that the committee including the Chair reflects as closely as possible the composition of the House
Following the motion the chair of the committee was to continue to be elected by members of the House of Commons and the procedure for the post of chair being made vacant was made the same as that applying to chairs of select committees.
Provisions for involvement of non-members were added to the standing orders by the approved motion as follows:
- The Committee shall have power to invite Members of the House who are not members of the Committee and who are of a party not represented on the Committee or of no party to attend its meetings and, at the discretion of the chair, take part in its proceedings, but—
- (a) no more than one Member may be so invited to attend in respect of the same meeting;
- (b) a Member so invited shall not move any motion or amendment to any motion, vote or be counted in the quorum.’.
-  House of Commons, Official Record, 12 March 2012
-  House of Commons Standing Order 122D (Election of Backbench Business Committee) - January 2011
Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.
What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.
What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.
What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.
|Party||Majority (Aye)||Minority (No)||Both||Turnout|
|Con||132 (+1 tell)||30 (+1 tell)||0||53.6%|
|Lab||49||36 (+1 tell)||1||33.9%|
|LDem||21 (+1 tell)||7||0||50.9%|