Monday, 29 September 2008

Welsh Affairs Select Committee

Back in July the Welsh Affairs Select Committee complained that AMs were sending too much work their way. As the Committee is the group of MPs that debate and process Legislative Competency Orders, they are a vital cog in the new machine of 'Welsh law'.

Of the forty MPs Wales returns to Westminster, Plaid has as many as the Tories (three) and the Lib Dems have four. I was therefore surprised to learn that there are in fact three times as many Conservatives on the Committee as either Plaid or Lib Dems.

The clerk of the committee told me that "The appointment of Members to serve on select committees is made by the House of Commons, on a recommendation from the Committee of Selection (itself a select committee). Membership of select committees is intended to reflect, so far as is possible, the balance of the political parties as returned to Parliament at the last general election." In other words, the Conservatives' strength in parts of England means that they are awarded a greater number of positions on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee than parties performing as well, if not better, in Wales alone.

More intriguingly, Mark Pritchard, one of the Conservatives on the committee, represents The Wrekin, near Telford, Shropshire. Apparently, MPs serving on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee do not have to represent constituents most affected by 'Welsh Affairs'. I'd have thought the clue was in the name.

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