Backbench Business Committee

The Backbench Business Committee of the British House of Commons was created on 15 June 2010 through the adoption of a new standing order.[1] It was created soon after 2010 general election, but had been proposed during the previous Parliament by the Wright Committee on Reform of the House of Commons in its report of 12 November 2009.[2]


The committee is responsible for determining, on behalf of backbench members (i.e., members who are not Ministers of the Crown or shadow ministers), the business before the House for approximately one day each week. This includes Thursday sittings in the parallel debating chamber, known as Westminster Hall, which are considered half days. The Standing Orders give the committee 35 days per session, of which at least 27 are taken on the floor of the House (as opposed to Westminster Hall). The one-and-one-half-hour Topical Debates, which count as quarter days, are also within the ambit of the committee.[1]


The committee consists of a chair and seven other members to be elected at the beginning of each session. The chair, who must be an opposition member, is elected under the alternative vote method in a manner similar to other select committee chairs. The other members are selected under the single transferable vote method with the stipulation that the eight members (including the Chair) reflect a distribution of the seats made by the Speaker, which is to reflect the party composition of the House of Commons. In addition, at least two men and two women must be elected. Ministers of the Crown, Parliamentary Private Secretaries, and 'principal opposition frontbench spokespersons' are prohibited from standing for election as chair or as a member.[1] As at June 2015, the Committee's only member is its Chair, Ian Mearns, with other members to be elected.[3] Members in the 2014/15 session of Parliament were as follows:

Member Party Constituency
Ian Mearns MP (Chair) Labour Gateshead
Peter Bone MP Conservative Wellingborough
David Nuttall MP Conservative Bury North
Bob Blackman MP Conservative Harrow East
Kevin foster MP Conservative Torbay
Phillip Hollobone MP Conservative Kettering
Jess Phillips MP Labour Birmingham, Yardley
Gavin Newlands MP SNP Paisley and Renfrewshire North

Source: Backbench Business Committee


At same time it created the committee, the House resolved to review the work of the committee at the beginning of the 2011/12 session. The Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, stated that the purpose of the review was to help reach the next phase of implementing the Wright Committee report: setting up a committee to manage substantially all House business.[4]


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