The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
The Times
Posted Tuesday, 7 April 2009 at 21:01

 

Sam Coates of The Times called this morning, regarding my non attendance of the Innovation and Skills Select Committee. I am actually a member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee; however, the old Science and Technology Committee did become Innovation and Skills, following the publication of the abortion report. I have never sat on the Innovation and Skills Select Committee.

 

I have very strong opinions about select committees. I would do. I’m an advocate of democracy.

 

Who chairs a select committee is vitally important. The chairman must be of utmost integrity, non-partisan, balanced and fair. Not many of the existing chairmen make the grade; however, I will admit, those that do are excellent.

 

 Of course, I can’t think of anyone in the Conservative or Labour party who would think that there are more than three Liberal Democrat MPs, from the 60+ who would fit the above description.

 

Those who follow my blog will know exactly how I would feel about committee chairmen who fail to present a balanced report; select witnesses who espouse only one side of the argument; and allows MPs from his/her own party to almost completely rewrite a report at a final meeting, without prior notice to the remainder of the committee. Chairmen who overlook deliberate misinterpretation of evidence, and attempts to block relevant evidence from being heard, or presented.

 

I believe there is a word for such chairmen.

 

I have never told the full story about what happened when I complained about a particular enquiry; or how the House authorities closed rank, shut down and protected ‘the process’. It was dropped in my ear that nothing could be done because if my complaint were supported, it would throw a bad light on the proceedings and reports of all select committees. I’ve never mentioned the cosy far too familiar relationship between an MP, a chairman, and a clerk.

 

One day I will blog about the threat that was made to me by a Labour MP, during the final meeting of a committee, who looked decidedly panicked at what was happening, but knew the outcome would suit the sisterhood of his own party.

 

But as soon as a General Election is called and Parliament rises, I will do. It’ll be the first thing I do. Along with publishing the letters.

 

No, I have never sat on the Innovation and Skills Committee, and never will.

 

 

 
 
 
E Digby said:
Responded: Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Why wait until the General Election to publish? If it is important, do it now. What are you frightened of ?
 
 
Pete said:
Responded: Wednesday, 8 April 2009
So why not resign from the committee and allow someone else who will be prepared to do the work take your place? At the moment all your refusal to sit on the committee does is smack of a child throwing a tantrum because they can't have their way.
 
 
Nadine said:
Responded: Wednesday, 8 April 2009
I am on another committee, Energy and Climate Change. I wasn't aware my name was even still down for this committee!
 
 
David Nettleton said:
Responded: Wednesday, 8 April 2009
I hold a different opinion about sel ect Committees of the House. This may be because I am a casual observer not a practitioner. I watch 504 regularly but have only ever attended one meeting in person. I understand that most sel ect Committees consist of 14 Members and are politically-balanced, currently 8 Labour, 4 Conservative and 2 'Others'. The Chairman is nominally elected but in fact appointed. This check ensures that not every chair is held by Labour. Seems fair to me. If his LD colleagues hold Phil Willis in high esteem and have nominated him, why should you hold a veto? In politics, sometimes you have to kiss where it hurts. Time to grovel, Nadine!
 
 
John Ward said:
Responded: Thursday, 9 April 2009
Very interesting, this! I have experienced pasrtisan chairing of our council;s Scrutiny Committees (which is why we took over their chairing once we had an overall majority on the Council) and it wasn't good at all, especially for our residents and communities. It is entirely correct that the integrity, non-partisanship and competence of committee chairmen is of paramount importance; and in Scrutiny Committees the same applies to vice-chairmen, of which I was one for five years. Interestingly, despite the Opposition's early attempts to use me as a political punchbag, after a while even they grew to respect me (and no doubt the other committee's chairmen.VCs too), so — although they still make a fuss about the arrangements — they have realised that we do the job properly.
 
 
 
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at: nadine.dorries.mp@parliament.uk
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

 
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