Election of Backbench Business Committee by Parties — 12 Mar 2012 at 17:46
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.
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 first paragraph of the motion stated:
- (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.
The amendment rejected in this vote was:
- Amendment (d), leave out paragraph (1).
MP Peter Bone explained the intent of his amendment during the debate saying:
- The Government are proposing that future members of the Committee will be elected by party group. There are two distinct disadvantages to that proposal. The first—I suggest that this is the reason for it—is that it will give the Government, as well as the shadow Government, greater influence in deciding who is elected to the Backbench Business Committee. Through their Whips Offices, they will try to engineer more pliable Members to be elected to the Committee. I believe that this will make the Committee much more divided on party lines. In all the time that the current Committee has met, there has been only one vote, and that did not divide it along party lines. The Government’s proposal will reduce the likelihood that independent parliamentarians will be elected to the Committee.
- Secondly, the authority that members of the Committee hold is greatly enhanced by their being chosen by the whole House. Their mandate comes from Back Benchers of all political persuasions, not by a narrow party group.
The Backbench Business committee was previously elected by the whole house subject to constraints that:
- (i)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, and
- (ii)at least two women and two men shall be elected.
-  House of Commons, Official Record, 12 March 2012
-  Peter Bone (Wellingborough, Conservative), House of Commons, 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 (No)||Minority (Aye)||Both||Turnout|
|Con||141 (+1 tell)||41 (+1 tell)||0||60.1%|
|Lab||17||41 (+1 tell)||1||23.3%|
|LDem||26 (+1 tell)||12||1||70.2%|