Parliament & Politics: Labour move keeps Lang off committee

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Indy Politics
GUERRILLA warfare over Labour's campaign of non-cooperation broke out again last night as party whips declined to nominate members to serve on the standing committee of a parliamentary Bill.

In an embarrassing upshot for the Government, Ian Lang, the Secretary of State for Scotland, was forced to withdraw from sitting on the committee stage of the Local Government (Scotland) Bill.

The dispute, causing the Commons Committee of Selection to adjourn for reportedly the first time, boiled over as Don Dixon, the chief Labour whip, re-opened the non-cooperation offensive by refusing to nominate Labour members to serve on the Bill's committee unless the Government agreed to a Tory majority of one. Because the committee will meet on a Thursday morning that would have meant Mr Lang, who had planned to sit on it, missing Cabinet meetings.

Henry McLeish, a Labour spokesman on Scotland, said the affair was without precedent. Mr Lang had been forced to surrender 'flagship' legislation to a junior member of his team.

The composition of the Commons entitles the Tories to a committee majority of about 1.8 members. Before 'usual channels' broke down at the end of last year, Labour would have almost certainly agreed to a Tory majority of two.

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