In a Commons debate on Thursday the 22nd of December Bernard Jenkin claimed the reason that the PACAC Committee he chairs had not followed up on a probe into Russian interference in the Brexit Referendum was that would by playing Russia's game. There were justified snorts of derision from all sides. All know that Arch-Brexiteer Jenkin has acted to prevent the truth being revealed. Congratulations to the Commons Culture Committee and the House of Lords Elections Committee who have investigated the subject and done the job that PACAC neglected.
PACAC is now politicised. Nearly issues pursued are pro-Brexit. The Electoral Commission has not appeared before parliament but is is investigating the role of the pro Brexit group that Jenkin supported in the referendum. He has been called on to stand down as Chairman to avoid accusations of bias. He has refused to do so. The Commons rules, in my view, demand that he stands down. I have put my views in writing.
Erskine May on the subject.
Chapter 37, Proceedings in Select Committees states:
Declaration of interests
In any proceeding of a select committee a Member must disclose any relevant pecuniary interest or benefit of whatever nature, whether direct or indirect, that he may have had, may have or may be expecting to have. Although this obligation is expressed in terms of pecuniary interests, it is taken in practice to include relevant interests of a non-financial nature, such as membership of a trade union or pressure group. Any such declaration is entered in the formal minutes of the committee. It is additional to the requirement to register interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
Members of committees are required to send to the clerk of the committee details of any pecuniary, or other relevant, interests for circulation before the committee’s first meeting. All Members are invited to declare any such interests related to the order of reference of the committee or which are likely to be relevant to a substantial part of its work. Where a member of the committee, particularly the chair, has a pecuniary interest which is directly affected by a particular inquiry, or he considers that a personal interest may reflect upon the work of the committee or its subsequent report, he should stand aside from the committee proceedings relating to it.
It is my understanding, from the above, that the interest need not be pecuniary in nature warrant declaration and my submission that as a board member of a pressure group, Vote Leave, the Chair should stand aside for related matters and inquiries.
That's just the start of the defenestration of a committee with a creditable record. Other vital investigations have been abandoned because they do not fit the Brexitisation agenda of PACAC and its chair.
Before the 2017 election was called PACAC had summoned two former MPs to appear and give evidence as the most egregious examples of the abuse of the Revolving Door. Invitations have not been renewed.
PACAC's probe into Kid's Company has been abandoned in spite of questionable evidence of one witness and the her history as the Poster Girl of the Big Society. Tories do not talk about her or the Big Society any more. This task was taken up by Victoria Derbyshire and reported by a few newspapers> https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-41678159/camila-batmanghelidjh-kids-company-founder-defends-charity-s-conduct
To avoid further difficulties PACAC's chair, without the knowledge or permission of any of its members, abandoned the committee's supervisory role over Charities and the Charity Commission. Kid's Company is off the hook. The two ministers who gave the charity £3million a few days before it collapsed are also exonerated from blame without being judged by the Adviser on Ministerial Interests. This was another another failure ti use the ministerial code for for its intended purpose. Both Liam Fox and Priti Patel have escaped the code's rules by using absolution by resignation is a blatant moves to conceal details of their wrong-doings.
The Chair of the United Kingdom Statistics Authority rightly did his job be publicly denouncing Boris's report of £350 per week for NHS untruth. Chair was summoned before the committee to explain himself and given hard timr by two members of the committee. PACA then decided NOT to invite offender Boris. Blaming the messenger not the offender. Shameless Brexitism.
To assemble a safe meaningless agenda and distract from failures to pursue urgent issues, PACAC is repeating its umpteenth inquiry into the Civil Service. None of the previous inquiries into this subject has had any beneficial effect. But it fills up the time that the committee should be using for serious inquiries.
This is not a new plea. In a book I wrote in 1997 I urged that Select Committees that had becomes politicised should be abandoned, members should resign and a reformed new committee be created with a new chair. This is precisely the position of PACAC now. Its reports will be worthless as Brexiteering and not the agreed decisions of a cross-party group .