The Select Committee on the Modernisation of the
House of Commons has agreed to the following Report:
List of recommendations
1. [Paragraph 15]We recommend that at the
start of each Parliament the Committee of Nomination should be
set up under the Chairman of Ways. The Chairman of Ways and Means
should chair proceedings, but in order to preserve the impartiality
of his office have no vote.
2. [Paragraph 16] We recommend that appointment
to the Chairmen's Panel must remain firmly in the hands of the
Speaker and not subject to any party interest or lobbying.
3. [Paragraph 17]We recommend that membership
of the Committee of Nomination should be prescribed in Standing
Orders. We recommend that the Committee of Nomination should consist
of the Chairman of Ways and Means and nine other members:
- seven Members of the Chairmen's Panel chosen
with broad regard to the party balance, reflecting gender balance
and based on length of service as members of the Panel. Those
seven would consist of:
the four most senior Members of
the Government party on the Panel including the most senior woman
Member of that party;
the two most senior Members of the
official Opposition on the Panel, including the most senior woman
Member of that party; and
the most senior Member of the second
largest opposition party on the Panel.
- the most senior back-bencher on the Government
side of the House; and
- the most senior back-bencher on the opposition
The quorum of the Committee when nominating committees
afresh at the start of a Parliament should be six, and three when
filling subsequent vacancies, not including the Chairman of Ways
and Means. In the unavoidable absence of the Chairman of Ways
and Means the First Deputy Chairman or in his or her absence the
Second Deputy Chairman shall act as chairman.
4. [Paragraph 25] We recommend that the
proposed allocation between parties of the posts of chairmen of
select committees should be reported to the Committee of Nomination.
5. [Paragraph 28] We recommend that the
House of Commons Commission should make available the necessary
funds for a central unit of specialist support staff to be in
place in the next financial year.
6. [Paragraph 29]We recommend that the
National Audit Office be invited to help assess the need for specialist
and other support staff for select committees and to advise on
how this could best be provided, and that the House of Commons
Commission should look favourably on funding for staffing increases
which may be proposed.
7. [Paragraph 30]We recommend that within
the Committee Office there should be sufficient staff to assist
with the function of supporting the administrative workload of
the select committee chairmen.
8. [Paragraph 33]We recommend that there
should be an agreed statement of the core tasks of the departmental
9. [Paragraph 34]We recommend the following
model as an illustration of what we would regard as the principal
objectives of departmental select committees:
"It shall be the duty, where appropriate,
of each select committee:
- to consider major policy initiatives
- to consider the Government's response to major
- to propose changes where evidence persuades
the Committee that present policy requires amendment
- to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of draft
- to examine and report on main Estimates, annual
expenditure plans and annual resource accounts
- to monitor performance against targets in
the public service agreements
- to take evidence from each Minister at least
- to take evidence from independent regulators
- to consider the reports of Executive Agencies
- to consider, and if appropriate report on,
major appointments by a Secretary of State or other senior ministers
- to examine treaties within their subject areas."
10. [Paragraph 34]We recommend that select
committees should experiment with appointing one of their number
as a rapporteur on a specific task, such as for example financial
11. [Paragraph 35]We recommend that as
part of the process of producing an annual report each departmental
select committee should submit to the Liaison Committee a statement
of how it has met each core task in the scrutiny of its department.
12. [Paragraph 36]We recommend that, in
the light of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary
Privilege, this limitation on the power to require witnesses to
give evidence should be reviewed by the appropriate committees
of both Houses.
13. [Paragraph 37]We recommend that the
investigative select committees should be named "scrutiny
14. [Paragraph 39]We recommend that there
should be a Scrutiny Liaison Committee including the chairmen
of the scrutiny committees, and also the chairmen of those committees
which have a legislative or procedural role such as Deregulation
and Regulatory Reform, Procedure, and Standards and Privileges.
15. [Paragraph 41]We recommend that
the value of a parliamentary career devoted to scrutiny should
be recognised by an additional salary to the chairmen of the principal
16. [Paragraph 43]We recommend that the
House should impose an indicative upper limit of two consecutive
Parliaments on service as chairman. We recognise that the House
may wish to make special provision in the case of short Parliaments.
17. [Paragraph 47]We recommend that the
standard size of departmental scrutiny committees should be fifteen.
18. [Paragraph 49]We recommend that the
scrutiny committees should have the right to report to the Committee
of Nomination any member who has a record of poor attendance without
good cause and that the Committee of Nomination should have the
right to replace that member.
19. [Paragraph 50] We recommend a reduction
in size of the membership and of the quorum of select committees
where there has been a persistent problem securing attendance.
20. [Paragraph 53]We recommend that the
Committee Office procures the services, either on a consultancy
or a salaried basis, of experts in design and layout to ensure
that reports benefit from the most modern technology and the most
21. [Paragraph 56]We recommend that Notes
for Visitors should be prepared, setting out in plain language
the nature of the proceedings, and that where practical this should
be supplemented on the day with guidance on the topics under discussion.
22. [Paragraph 57] We recommend that all
reports of select committees should be eligible for debate in
Westminster Hall after the closure of the two month period within
which Government is expected to publish its response, whether
or not such a response has been tabled.