Labour accuse Tories of 'power grab' over committee rule changes

Posted On: 
8th September 2017

Labour have accused the Government of making a 'power grab' over an attempt to put the Tories in charge of a series of powerful Commons committees.

Theresa May has been accused of 'rigging' Parliament's committee system
PA Images

The move, revealed by HuffPost UK, would see Conservative 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 May’s general election, which prompted a deal with the DUP giving the Government a working majority of just 13.

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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.”

Shadow Leader of the House, Valerie Vaz branded the move “an unprecedented power grab by a minority government that lost its moral authority as well as its majority at the General Election.”

She added: “On Monday the Government are seeking the power to change the law by ministerial edict and on Tuesday they will try to sideline opposition in Parliament by rigging the committee system so that they are guaranteed a majority they didn’t secure at the ballot box.

“The British people will not understand how having voted to deny the Conservatives a majority, the Tories can alter the rules of Parliament to ensure they have one.

“The very people who told us Brexit was about restoring Parliamentary sovereignty are now voting through measures that will sideline Parliament and grant Ministers unprecedented powers.”

The Commons will vote on the controversial motion on Tuesday.