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DUP to back Tories over committee rule changes

Agnes Chambre

2 min read

The DUP are to vote in favour of controversial proposals that would see the Conservatives put in charge of a series of powerful Commons committees, according to a report.

The move will see Tory MPs take extra seats on standing committees where the allocation of MPs would usually reflect the proportion of the parties elected to the House of Commons.

It would hand more power to Theresa May following the loss of her Commons majority in June’s general election, which prompted a £1bn deal with the DUP to prop up the minority Conservative government.

Under rules introduced in 1995, the governing party may only be guaranteed a majority on committees as long as it has a parliamentary majority.

However, under a new motion tabled by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, “where a committee has an odd number of members, the Government shall have a majority”.

The motion continues: “where a committee has an even number of members, the number of Government and Opposition members shall be equal, but this instruction shall not apply to the nomination of any public bill committee.”

Mrs May has rejected Labour's accusation that the motion is a “power-grab”, saying that the Government has a majority in the Commons, even if that is dependent on the DUP’s vote.

“What we are doing is ensuring the Government's working majority is available across the business in Parliament," she said.

A senior DUP source told the BBC the decision to support the vote is "uncontroversial" because "the alternative would be spontaneous trench warfare on the most mundane of issues, and to whose benefit? Jeremy Corbyn's benefit. And we're not in the business of doing that".

But Jeremy Corbyn said: "The Conservatives didn't win the election. They are the largest party, they don't have an overall majority in Parliament.

"They've done a deal with the DUP which involved £1bn of money being spent in Northern Ireland and not in the rest of the country and now they think they've got the right to give themselves a majority in the committee in Parliament.

"It's not so - we're a Parliament, a hung Parliament and the committees should reflect that, and there should be no overall government majority on the committees.

"They should get what's due to them, which would be the largest number of places, but not a majority."

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