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.