Justice and Security Bill

Mr Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West) (Con):I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick). I am sure I have agreed with him on previous occasions, but I am not sure on what issues. I agree with the thrust of his remarks. Like him, I start by saying that I have the highest regard for those of our colleagues who currently serve on the Intelligence and Security Committee and those who have done so in the past. It is not my view that we would get better people to serve on the Committee if we elected them, but neither do I think we would get worse people.

Having been elected by colleagues to serve as a member of the Wright Committee on Reform of the House of Commons during the previous Parliament, and given that one of our recommendations has been discussed, I want to make a brief contribution to this debate. Of course, we made other important recommendations, including the introduction of elections for Select Committees. I hear what other Members have said about this being a different type of Committee that is not entirely analogous to Select Committees, but when we considered our proposals we heard all the same arguments—that it would lead to frivolous appointments, that the House would behave in a partisan way in choosing Select Committee Chairs or members, and that the House of Commons could not be relied on to do this in a reasonable, rational way.

Although I did not realise at the time that my election as chairman of the 1922 committee meant that I would be responsible for conducting the elections of Conservative members to Select Committees—I inadvertently increased my work load considerably as a result—I think, three years on, that those elections have been a great success. The Chairmen are good people who have been elected for the right reasons, which demonstrates that we have made a wise change.

We reflected long and hard on this recommendation for a particularly important and sensitive Committee, and that is why we also recommended a safeguard that it should not be possible for somebody to be a candidate for election as Chairman of the ISC if they did not enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister. I am entirely open to other suggestions as to how it could be done.

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