Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons Written Evidence

Letter from Mr Mark Todd MP (M13)


  I previously shared these thoughts with Robin Cook, who was interested in them. They seem to fit into the inquiry on making better use of non-legislative time.

  Select committees perform a valuable role in examining aspects of government policy and holding the government to account. Rightly there have been requests for additional parliamentary time to consider the reports of select committees and hear the responses of ministers.

  One link in this process is missing. The Select Committees are chosen by Parliament (albeit not in a way that I entirely commend). There should be a framework for an annual debate on the performance of a departmental select committee, perhaps focused on an annual report. At this debate the chair could answer for matters such as the selection of subjects chosen, the quality of reports, allocation of time to them, foreign travel and the balance between their responsibilities (scrutinising estimates, examining agencies, considering policy and delivery). No government response would be required.

  Such a debate would make clear the answerability of the committees to Parliament and give non Members an opportunity to comment on their governance.

December 2006

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