LETTER: MP ‘getting involved in something positive’

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Even if he apparently refuses to respond to letters questioning points made in his columns in the WSCT, it is good to see our local MP at last getting involved in something positive in Parliament on the Work and Pensions Select Committee rather than focus his approach at window dressing his role locally.

Select Committees are fundamental to holding Governments to account and ensuring the sovereignty of Parliament prevails. The key to an effective select Committee is a strong, fearless chair person committed to the sovereignty of Parliament, committee membership prepared to work together regardless of party, effective clerking and appointment of advisers who know their subject intimately and are not afraid to hold their ground.

I served as aviation adviser to the Transport Select Committee under the chairmanship of the late formidable Gwyneth Dunwoody MP from 1997 to 2005.

During that time I witnessed ministers, officials, and captains of industry be subject to fair but forensic questioning, and noticeably feeling uncomfortable at times if they failed to answer the question.

In the case of the Transport Select Committee I worked for, proof of its effectiveness in holding Government to account on key transport policies was that the Blair Government tried to oust Mrs Dunwoody from the chairmanship. That resulted in an almost unprecedented cross party Parliamentary consensus to ensure she stayed in post; Parliament won!

Hopefully Frank Field as a Labour appointed Select Committee chairman to a parliament with a very small Tory majority, will be able to be as equally robust as Mrs Dunwoody, let’s hope with Mr Quin’s support.

But with John Whittingdale MP, as former chairman, Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, going on to be Secretary of State for the same portfolio and continue to do Murdoch’s bidding in its vilification and calls for break-up of the BBC, not all Tory Select Committee chairmen seem to understand the independence of the role!

Perhaps Mr Quin would like to develop his forensic skills for his Select Committee role in exercising his responsibility to represent all his constituents and challenge the Conservative run HDC (and WSCC) on key issues that are adversely affecting his constituents, particularly the secrecy and blatant dumping of development by the current cabinet cabal.

L.N. PRICE

Smithbarn, Horsham

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