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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

DCMS Committee nobbled?

Just after midnight, the Commons witnessed an unusual event. It was an event that means that the DCMS Committee today has one fewer Labour MP able to grill the Murdochs and Brooks.

A Tory MP, I think it was Nick de Bois, shouted 'object' to a simple motion to put Labour's Cathy Jamieson on the DCMS Committee.

She was due to replace the late David Cairns on the Committee and normally such motions are unopposed.

But the simple intervention means that Jamieson cannot now take part in any proceedings today. (The Government whips seem to have realised that this could be controversial and have put it back on the Order Paper, but it will be too late for the Big Event at 2.30pm),

Already, Tom Watson is muttering that this is the "first dirty trick" of the day. And there's no question that Jamieson, with her knowledge of the Sheridan trial, would have been a formidable questioner.

But it seems that Labour only have themselves to blame. I wouldn't be surprised if the Tories had decided to scupper the Jamieson move mainly because Labour refuseniks waged a guerilla war aginast David Laws' appointment to the new Draft Finance Bill Joint Committee.

Thomas Docherty and John Mann forced more than 270 MPs to stay up late to get Laws onto the committee - again normally a motion that is unopposed. This is the climax of days of similar delaying tactics.

Just after 10pm, Hilary Benn made clear he disagreed with the guerilla action last night but it is unclear just how authorised it was by the Labour whips.

Benn put his finger on the dangers of one party objecting to another's MPs being appointed to committees:

"After all, there may be other Members to whom some Members wish to object on other grounds when it comes to the membership of future Committees. We do not generally approach the putting together of Committees on that basis and it is not sensible to do so in this case. Either we are equal in this place or we are not."

For Cathy Jamieson, that warning has proved all too prescient. Her ringside-seat at the Murdoch grilling has been lost.

 

UPDATE: Labour point out that the Tories did vote through Jamieson's appointment to a committee to cover MPs' expenses, just minutes before the de Bois objection for the DCMS Committee. "Why single out DCMS? It suggests this was not just tit-for-tat," they say.

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