Further letter from the Rt Hon Sir George
Young MP to the Chairman of the Committee
I am not writing as chairman of my Select Committee,
but simply expressing a personal view. I have grave reservations
about increasing the size of Select Committees.
In the last Parliament, there was a real problem
in finding enough Members to serve on the Select Committees, and
a few Select Committees had difficulties with their quorums. I
expect the same difficulties will manifest themselves in the current
Parliament, and they would of course be made worse if the average
size of Select Committees were increased.
My own view is that Select Committees hit the
law of diminishing returns, as their size increases. In other
words, the additional value of adding one more member decreases,
as the size of the Committee increases. We can debate what the
best size is, but I believe it is below 17. Also, given the premium
on reaching unanimity in Select Committee Reports, it clearly
becomes more difficult the more Members you have. There are also
the practical problems of chairing a Committee and making sure
that all Members have an adequate opportunity to express their
view, within the time available for the meeting.
It would be wrong to generalise, but I believe
that a Select Committee of round about 12 Members is the right
size. I would be very cautious indeed about encouraging Select
Committees to become larger, and I am not aware of any evidential
research that would support the view that increasing the size
makes them more effective.
16 November 2001