In 2010 an important package of reforms was agreed to the British parliament, following a report by a new Select Committee on Reform of the House of Commons, chaired by Labour MP Tony Wright. The reforms changed the way in which select committee members and chairs are chosen, removing patronage powers from party whips and instead moving to a system of election. They also created a new category of ‘backbench business’, for approximately one day per sitting week, to be scheduled by a new Backbench Business Committee: thus significantly reducing the government's hold over the Commons agenda. This article explores the background to these reforms, their likely effects, and crucially how they came to be agreed by the famously executive-dominated House of Commons.

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