MPs defeat plans to reform select committees

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Indy Politics

Proposals to reform the way MPs are chosen to serve on parliamentary committees were thrown into disarray last night after they were narrowly rejected in the Commons.

Plans to create a new committee of selection to break the party whips' control over select committee membership were defeated by 209 to 195 on a free vote.

But plans to increase the staffing of select committees and introduce special payments to committee chairmen were approved.

Robin Cook, the Leader of the House of Commons, proposed the changes after a rebellion by more than 100 Labour MPs overturned attempts to remove Gwyneth Dunwoody and Donald Anderson from select committee chairmanships last summer.

But several backbenchers argued against the changes and Conservatives called on the Government to maintain the status quo. Eric Forth, the shadow Leader of the House, said: "The existing system has served the House pretty well over the years. When a problem arose last year it was dealt with by the House and did not require some elaborate construct like we have here today."

But Paul Tyler, a Liberal Democrat frontbench spokes-man, attacked the outcome of the vote last night. He said: "The Labour and Conservative whips have conspired together to deny the House of Commons a fair, transparent and democratic appointments system for membership of the select committees."