At its first meeting at the House of Commons last week, Sir George Young was elected Chairman of the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.
The former Chairman, Bob Sheldon, stood down at the last General Election and, following a recommendation by the Neill Committee on Standards in Public Life, that the Committee should be free to be chaired by a Member of the Opposition, Sir George was elected Chairman.
The Committee's Terms of Reference are as follows.
Standing Order No. 149
(1) There shall be a select committee, called the Committee on Standards and Privileges-
(a) to consider specific matters relating to privileges referred to it by the House;
(b) to oversee the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; to examine the arrangements proposed by the Commissioner for the compilation, maintenance and accessibility of the Register of Members Interests and any other registers of interest established by the House; to review from time to time the form and content of those registers; and to consider any specific complaints made in relation to the registering or declaring of interests referred to It by the Commissioner, and
(c) to consider any matter relating to the conduct of Members, including specific complaints in relation to alleged breaches in any code of conduct to which the House has agreed and which have been drawn to the committee's attention by the Commissioner; and to recommend any modifications to such code of conduct as may from time to time appear to be necessary.
(2) The committee shall consist of eleven Members, of whom five shall be a quorum
(3) Unless the House otherwise orders, each Member nominated to the committee shall continue to be a member of it for the remainder of the Parliament.
(4) The committee shall have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of no more than seven Members, of whom three shall be a quorum, and to refer to such sub-committees any of the matters referred to the committee; and shall appoint one such sub-committee to receive reports from the Commissioner relating to investigations into specific complaints.
(5) The committee and any sub-committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place, to report from time to time and to appoint specialist advisers either to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee's order of reference.
(6) The committee shall have power to order the attendance of any Member before the committee or any sub-committee and to require that specific documents or records in the possession of a Member relating to its inquiries or to the inquiries of a sub-committee or ofthe Commissioner, be laid before the committee or any sub-committee.
(7) The committee, or any sub-committee, shall have power to refer to unreported evidence of former Committees of Privileges or of former Select Committees on Members' Interests and to any documents circulated to any such committee.
(8) The committee shall have power to refuse to allow proceedings to which strangers are admitted to be broadcast.
(9) Mr Attorney General, the Lord Advocate, Mr Solicitor General and Mr Solicitor General for Scotland, being Members of the House, may attend the committee or any sub-committee, may take part in deliberations, may receive committee or sub-committee papers and may give such other assistance to the committee or sub-committee as may be appropriate, but shall not vote or make any motion or move any amendment or be counted in the quorum.