Select Committee on Liaison Third Report

3. Working practices

68. In this section, we consider ways in which committees have sought to develop new ways of working that will enhance their effectiveness, in terms of evidence-gathering, working with others, connecting with the public, etc. We also cover factors affecting committees' working practices, such as changes in the machinery of Government.

Changes in committee remits

69. The changes made by the Prime Minister to the machinery of Government in July 2007 last session were not mirrored by changes in the remit of select committees until the start of the new session in November 2007. Four committees have been replaced:

Their responsibilities have been taken on by four new committees, albeit with slightly different remits. Table 16 below sets out their new responsibilities and the change in their membership relative to their predecessor committees.[76] The remits of the Home Affairs and Justice Committees also changed as a result of the transfer of some responsibilities from the Home Office to the new Ministry of Justice in May 2007. Table 16: The new select committees
Committee Responsibilities Membership
Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly Trade and Industry; Business and Enterprise since 11 March 2008) Trade, markets, regulation, energy policy, Government assets 11 (-3)
Children, Schools and Families (formerly Education and Skills) Policy on families and children, primary and secondary education 14 (+3)
Innovation, Universities and Skills (formerly Science and Technology; Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills since 11 March 2008) Further and higher education, skills (from Education and Skills Committee); science and technology (from Science and Technology Committee) 14 (+3)
Justice (formerly Constitutional Affairs) Courts, prisons, probation, criminal law, sentencing 14 (+3)

Working with others

Cooperation between committees

70. Where an issue cuts across the remits of several committees, they have the power to cooperate.[77] Committees do this both formally, for instance through joint meetings, and informally, through the sharing of information or liaison at staff level. Some examples of this kind of coordination are given in Table 17. In addition, members of the Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry Committees meet concurrently as the Committees on Arms Export Controls.Table 17: Cooperation between select committees
Committees Joint scrutiny activity
Culture, Media and Sport and Trade and Industry Joint oral evidence session on the Ofcom Annual Plan for 2007-08. The Culture, Media and Sport Committee believes that "scrutiny by a number of committees with relevant specialist knowledge can be the most effective method of monitoring projects with many overlapping interests".(1)
Defence and Foreign Affairs Joint oral evidence session on Iraq with the Foreign and Defence Secretaries (January 2007). The Foreign Affairs Committee described this as providing "an opportunity to scrutinise the Government's role in Iraq in a more holistic way".(2)
Home Affairs and House of Lords Constitution Committee The Home Affairs Committee "communicated on an informal basis with the Constitution Committee of the House of Lords, which is undertaking an inquiry into the impact of surveillance and data collection and considering a great many of the same issues as our own inquiry into surveillance".(3)

(1) Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 22. (2) Foreign Affairs Committee, The Work of the Committee in 2007, para 37. (3) Home Affairs Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 60.

The European Scrutiny Committee notes that its formal and informal cooperation with the departmental select committees has been productive: for instance, cooperation with the Transport Committee on EU-US aviation agreements "significantly enhanced" scrutiny. The ESC has also ensured that the Government notifies departmental select committees of Commission consultations on proposals at the earliest stage of the scrutiny process.[78]


71. The operation of select committees depends on the availability of Members for their work, and here the role of the Whips, both formal and informal, can be vital. They are responsible for nominating and replacing Members on committees, and their approach to pairing can facilitate or jeopardise committee travel in the UK and abroad. On a number of occasions in 2007 committee chairmen reported to the Liaison Committee on problems they faced in both these areas. For instance, any change in the identity or membership of committees inevitably brings with it disruption to the work of the committee concerned. The changes that took place in 2007 following the change in government departments that summer were accompanied by long delays. The Justice Committee reported that uncertainties in the Committee's membership "caused difficulties in the forward planning of the Committee's future programme and maintaining the levels of scrutiny necessary for the major policy portfolio of the new Department".[79]

72. We are also aware of other problems with the appointment and discharging of committee members. There have been examples of Members being discharged from committees without prior notification, or being appointed to committees without consultation—either with the committee chairman or indeed with the Member concerned.

73. We are also aware of problems arising in the management of committee visits as a result of late decisions by the Whips. There have been occasions when committee visits have been curtailed, or cancelled, at short notice, when the Whips have insisted that members attend to take part in divisions in the House. We discussed these issues with the Government and Opposition Chief Whips, at an informal meeting in November 2007 and through correspondence.

74. We have been concerned by the length of time it has taken in some instances to appoint and replace members of select committees. We urge the Leader of the House, the Committee of Selection and the Government and Opposition Whips to liaise more closely, and work together in order to speed up the nomination process. We also urge the Whips of all parties to ensure members are appointed to and discharged from committees only after proper consultation with all those affected. While we recognise the natural desire of the Whips to ensure attendance of Members for important votes, we hope to work with them to achieve greater certainty for the forward planning of committee business.


75. The three committees charged with oversight of the territorial departments of state continue to maintain close links with the devolved institutions. We have already noted the way the Welsh Affairs Committee has interacted with the National Assembly for Wales in considering draft Legislative Competence Orders (paragraphs 28-29 above). In our Report on the work of committees in 2005-06, we reported on plans for joint meetings of the Welsh Affairs Committee and counterpart committees from the Welsh Assembly (known as "reciprocally enlarged" meetings).[80] No such meetings occurred in 2006 or 2007.[81] However, in its annual Report, the Welsh Affairs Committee notes that pre-legislative scrutiny of draft Legislative Competence Orders would give occasion for greater use of reciprocal enlargement.[82] Indeed, such a meeting did take place at Cardiff Bay on 17 January 2008.[83]

76. The change of Government at Holyrood in May 2007 has meant that for the first time, the governing party in Scotland is not the same as at Westminster. The Scottish Affairs Committee is "keen to scrutinise the effect of 'cohabitation' on the operation of devolution".[84]

77. With the return of the Northern Ireland Assembly on 8 May 2007, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee saw its remit shrink from covering a majority of policy areas to policing, criminal justice and political and constitutional developments.[85] This will clearly have an impact on the Committee's work programme, although before the return of the Assembly, the Committee undertook a major inquiry into tourism in Northern Ireland.[86] The Committee continued to benefit from good relations with the institutions of the devolved assembly.[87]


78. Relations between the judiciary and Parliament—especially its committees—have continued to be positive. Owing to its particular remit, the former Constitutional Affairs Committee (succeeded by the new Justice Committee) has been especially active in this area. The Committee met frequently with members of the judiciary, aiming primarily to investigate the relationship between the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice. In the course of the year, representatives of the senior judiciary and the circuit bench appeared before the Committee to communicate the judiciary's views on issues such as the organisational structure of the Her Majesty's Courts Service, sentencing policy, overcrowding in prisons, and the creation of the Ministry of Justice itself.[88]

79. The Liaison Committee continued to act as a point of parliamentary contact for the Law Commission, and our Chairman held a productive informal meeting with the Chairman of the Commission, Sir Terence Etherton, in May 2007.[89] We are grateful to members of the judiciary for their willingness to give evidence to committees and otherwise to participate in their inquiries, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the Law Commission, including on the development of post-legislative scrutiny.


80. As in previous years, committees have commented on their relations with the departments which they monitor, and experience continues to be mixed. On the positive side, the Joint Committee on Human Rights reported that it was "appreciative of the depth and quality of the letters we usually receive from Government when we raise human rights issues in bills with departments".[90] The Home Affairs Committee has an agreement with the Home Office, whereby it receives updates on the action taken in respect of recommendations made by the Committee which are accepted. These updates occur annually within the lifetime of a Parliament, and are normally "a line-by-line analysis of Committee recommendations […] any deviation from this for specific reports should be by exception".[91]

81. Regrettably, there are also many instances where committees' experience of working with government departments has been more negative. Committees have criticised the length of time it took the Government to submit evidence to inquiries or respond to their reports, and the quality of the responses received:

  • the MoD submitted written evidence to the Defence Committee's inquiry into UK Defence: commitments and resources on 3 January 2008, 209 days after the deadline of 7 June, a date already pushed back from 20 March because of the inadequacy of the Ministry's initial submission;[92]
  • one government response to a Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights was more than 10 months late, and[93]
  • on two occasions, the Public Administration Select Committee waited over a year for a response from the Cabinet Office to a Report. They comment that 'delay has become the rule rather than the exception'.[94]

82. Some committees also reported that responses received were themselves of varying quality. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee notes that the departmental responses provided by Defra were "frequently negative in tone and often fail to engage with our arguments".[95] The Treasury Committee was "particularly concerned by the Government's habit of re-stating in a reply a position that was clearly outlined in evidence given to us or the Sub-Committee during the preceding inquiry and reflected in our own account of evidence received".[96]

83. In some cases, committees have issued reports to express their disappointment over the adequacy of government replies.[97] The Communities and Local Government Committee, while generally pleased with the timeliness of government replies, was dissatisfied with the response to its Report on coastal towns. As a result of pressure from the Committee, the Government produced a second response which met with the Committee's approval.[98] The Science and Technology Committee also requested that the Government revise a response which did not address any of the Committee's recommendations.[99]

84. Fewer committees reported significant problems this year in obtaining information from the Government, and attendance by officials or ministers. However, the Foreign Affairs Committee noted continuing problems with extracting information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: "the FCO too often classifies material unnecessarily and in ways which, even if they are not calculated to avoid public scrutiny, certainly have that effect".[100] In its response the Government committed itself to considering ways in which less sensitive parts of an otherwise classified document might be released.[101]

85. We deplore the fact that departments have in some cases taken an inordinate amount of time to submit written evidence and responses to committees. Departments should engage in a positive and timely manner with select committee inquiries. This includes making information available to committees unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it. In this context, we welcome the Home Office's positive approach to working with the Home Affairs Committee, and the FCO's commitment to consider ways in which information in classified documents could be made available to the Foreign Affairs Committee. We encourage all departments to look upon parliamentary scrutiny as an important process rather than a necessary evil, as sometimes seems to be the case. We also commend the practice of committees in following up inadequate government responses, as this is the most effective way of ensuring better practice in the future.

Information gathering

86. Information-gathering practices once regarded as innovative are now increasingly part of committees' standard repertoire. Committees use various alternatives to the traditional on-the-record evidence sessions, such as the appointment of sub-committees[102] or informal "rapporteurs", which allow committees to make the best use of Members' time and cover a wider range of subjects.[103] The use of seminars, on which we have commented in previous Reports, is now routine for many committees.[104] It is now standard practice for the Communities and Local Government Committee to hold seminars ahead of major inquiries, which it regards as a "useful means of informally exploring topics and assist us in identifying issues to pursue through the more formal means of an inquiry".[105]

87. The Home Affairs Committee consulted focus groups, and commissioned its own focus group research, during its inquiry into young black people and the criminal justice system, as part of an effort to involve individuals and groups who might not normally consider contributing to select committee inquiries.[106] The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, in announcing its inquiry into the floods that affected England in Summer 2007, invited brief e-mails "from people and organisations directly affected by the recent flooding, with suggestions about the issues the Committee should examine during its inquiry".[107] The inquiry received a large number of responses.[108]

88. Committees also make good use of visits away from Westminster to gather information. In 2007, the Treasury Committee took opportunities during visits abroad to hold meetings on subjects other than the main topic of inquiry. These 'off-topic' meetings formed the bases of subsequent inquiries.[109] We would like to note here the appreciation expressed by several committees for the assistance given to them in their overseas visits by staff of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its posts abroad and the UK National Parliament Office in Brussels.[110]

89. Several committees have sought to enhance the value of visits away from Westminster through taking oral evidence as part of the visit. Such approaches also help ensure that the maximum value for money is obtained from expenditure on committee travel. In 2006-07, 11% of UK visits by committees included a formal public evidence session.[111] Visits outside Westminster can also be a form of "outreach" to the public. A pilot scheme is being developed by the House service to explore ways of promoting Parliament in targeted regions across the UK. This will include aiding the facilitation and promotion of visits and meetings of select committees away from Westminster.[112]


90. In our previous Report, we noted that the Defence Committee ran an online forum as part of its inquiry into educating service children.[113] In 2007 the House brought the process 'in-house', having previously used the Hansard Society as its agent. It now draws on the resources of staff of the individual committees concerned and the Committee Office Scrutiny Unit, the Web Centre and the Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology Department (PICT). Since this change, five committees have made use of the service. In 2007, the Defence Committee held a further online forum, as part of its inquiry into Medical Care for the Armed Forces, which received in excess of 150 postings.[114] Both the joint committees appointed to scrutinise draft bills incorporated online forums into their evidence-gathering programme, and two more committees launched forums at the start of 2008: the Home Affairs Committee, on domestic violence, and the Procedure Committee, on e-petitions.

91. Online forums can be a means of accessing information from people who would be hard to reach through the routes traditionally used by committees, and have the potential to encourage the public to engage more fully with Parliament. We encourage more committees to consider this approach to information gathering, where there are likely to be communities of interest who would not otherwise participate in committee inquiries. However, online forums can be resource-intensive to set up and run, and so care should be taken that they are employed only when they can add specific value to an inquiry. Committees can make particularly effective use of the information they obtain through this method by publishing a summary of the views expressed and referring to online comments in their reports. In this way, contributors to online forums can be reassured that their views are being heard.


92. In addition to their own staff, committees are able to draw on advice and assistance from other sources, such as the House of Commons Department of Information Services (formerly the House of Commons Library), the Committee Office Scrutiny Unit, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and the National Audit Office. Cooperation with the Library has been further enhanced in recent years by secondments of Library research staff to committee teams.

93. The National Audit Office (NAO), in addition to its traditional role supporting the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC), has continued to assist other select committees in both Houses. More resource has been made available for this in recent years: the NAO's budget for assistance to committees other than the PAC was £1.4 million in the 2007-08 financial year, which is planned to increase from to £2 million in 2008-09.[115] The relationship between the NAO and select committees continues to be fruitful, with 11 committees receiving specialist help from the NAO during 2007. The Treasury Committee drew on the NAO for briefing and a short attachment by a NAO official in advance of the Sub-Committee's session with the Debt Management Office.[116] Other committees also benefited from secondments from the NAO, as does the Scrutiny Unit. In our 2006 Report, we reported the particularly strong link between the Environmental Audit Committee and the NAO, and that a dedicated EAC team had been set up at the NAO.[117] This year, the Environmental Audit and Sustainable Development team contributed to the EAC's inquiry into Regulatory Impact Assessments, and the NAO assisted in three other EAC inquiries.[118] A member of NAO staff also made a valuable contribution to the secretariat of the Joint Committee on the draft Climate Change Bill.[119] In addition, as in previous years, one of the EAC's committee specialists is on secondment from the NAO.

94. A new departure for the NAO this year was the provision of formal written briefings on the performance of three departments in 2006-07. This was a pilot exercise, conducted for the BERR Committee, the Communities and Local Government Committee and the Defence Committee. The briefings were based on material in Departmental Annual Reports and, where appropriate, on issues that had arisen from the National Audit Office's own work. The NAO states that the briefings "aim to assist committees in navigating and interpreting the substantial amounts of information available on the performance of specific departments and to identify areas that committees may wish to explore".[120] Once again, we express our appreciation of the specialist assistance the National Audit Office provides to select committees. We believe such assistance is most valuable when it responds to specific committee needs, and we encourage committees to consider ways in which the NAO can help them.

95. The Committee Office Scrutiny Unit provided specialist assistance to many committees during the year, including all of the departmental committees. For instance, the Transport Committee noted the "significant help" provided by the Unit.[121] A detailed account of the Unit's work is published as Appendix 3 to our Report. The main areas of its work are in financial scrutiny and the scrutiny of draft bills, but—as in previous years—the Unit has been able to offer more general help to committees, in particular when they have been short of resources. Overall, almost half (46%) of Scrutiny Unit staff time was spent on expenditure-related tasks, 23% on draft bills and 31% on "other" activities. Staff of the Unit formed part of the secretariat of two joint committees on draft bills in 2007, and have continued to assist the Liaison Committee, notably in its work on financial scrutiny. The recent NAO-led review of committee resources concluded that the Unit had helped drive up the quantity and quality of financial scrutiny, and had been essential in enabling select and joint committees to scrutinise draft bills. We note the important added value which the Scrutiny Unit has continued to bring to the work of committees.


96. Government websites are an important source of official information for the public and Parliament, including select committees. For this reason, the Transport Committee was concerned at proposals announced in January 2007 to close hundreds of government websites, while concentrating "information of continuing relevance" on two sites. More generally, the Committee was concerned about the issue of broken links, where a website address ceases to point to the information it once did. The Committee pursued this matter with the Secretary of State and alerted the Liaison Committee, and our Chairman wrote to the Leader of the House. As a result of the issue being raised in this way, the Government has established a working group of officials led by the National Archives and including representatives of the Central Office of Information, the British Library, the House of Commons Library and the Parliamentary Archives. The Government is now committed to developing an effective website archiving and lookup service to ensure that material on the internet will continue to be available and easily retrieved.[122]

Engaging with the public and the media

97. Promoting public knowledge and understanding of Parliament is one of the primary objectives of the House of Commons Service. Select committees are particularly effective ambassadors of Parliament, as they deal with many of the day-to-day subjects which matter to the public, and through their visits around the UK are able to take Parliament to the people. Committees engage directly with the public, but also by using a wide range of print, broadcast and online media to publicise their work. In this section we highlight some examples of interesting practice in both these areas. We also draw attention to the practices in information gathering noted above, which can play an important part in engaging the public with the work of committees.

98. Committees can and do set the agenda for public and media debate on topical issues, through the choice of timely and high-profile inquiries and their ability to pursue issues over considerable periods of time. Some highlights from 2007 include:

99. A key feature of successful committee work is that committees can react swiftly to current events. By responding quickly to major events, committees demonstrate a willingness to engage with the public on matters of significant concern. There have been many occasions on which committees have been "light on their feet" in this way.[125] The Treasury Committee's high profile scrutiny of the crisis at Northern Rock showed, as the Committee said, how select committees "play a unique role both in ensuring the public accountability of key participants in an unfolding crisis and in serving as the most important forum in which possible reforms are mooted and considered".[126] This inquiry also shows the way in which committees can set the agenda: the initial evidence session, held during the summer recess, was intended to cover the Bank of England's August inflation report, but the Committee seized the chance to question the Governor of the Bank on the most important financial issue of the day.[127]

100. Committees have also used imaginative approaches to UK visits to raise the profile of their work and that of Parliament. For instance, the EFRA Committee travelled by boat from Hardwicke to the National Waterways Museum in Gloucester where it held an evidence session as part of its inquiry into British Waterways.[128] Committees have also sought to raise the impact of their reports through carefully planned launches. The Scottish Affairs Committee and the Communities and Local Government Committee both returned to an area visited during their inquiries to launch their Reports.[129] The Science and Technology Committee published its Report on space policy at the Science Museum, inviting not only the media but also relevant stakeholders. This helped ensure the Report's launch made a good impact, in the media and in the scientific community.[130]


101. Last year we noted an innovative approach to public engagement by committees: the appearance of select committee chairmen on the BBC's 'You and Yours' programme.[131] We are pleased to note the continuing success of this initiative. Such broadcasts give members of the public a useful opportunity to inform a committee's inquiry before oral evidence sessions take place, as well as providing a platform for committee chairmen to explain the work of their committees. In several cases, the programme-makers submitted a written summary of the views of participants to the committee. Such occasions are marked in with an asterisk in Table 18 below.Table 18: appearances by committee chairmen on Radio 4's You and Yours in 2006-07
Committee (Member) Topic Date
Communities and Local Government Refuse collection* 1 May 2007
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Climate change: the "citizen's agenda"* 6 February 2007
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The potential of England's rural economy 19 June 2007
Environmental Audit Carbon off-setting 3 April 2007
Transport Passengers' experiences of air travel* 15 April 2007
Work and Pensions Child support reform 5 February 2007



102. The web pages of individual committees, and of Parliament as a whole, are an increasingly important source of information for the public and the media. Work has continued during the year to improve the committee pages on the parliamentary website, with the intention of making them more user-friendly. The parliamentary website itself now includes more information about select committee activities, e.g. highlighting committee evidence sessions and new reports on the 'front page' of the site. The media are also making more use of the committee websites. For instance, the BBC news website regularly adds a link to a committee's home page if it is running a story on an inquiry or a report, as in the case of the Treasury Committee's inquiry into Northern Rock.


103. In our Report on the work of committees in 2005-06, we noted the successful piloting of a scheme for committees to obtain feedback from witnesses about their experience of appearing before committees.[132] A generic witness feedback form has now been adopted by the majority of select committees and comments from those who have given evidence were overwhelmingly positive about the experience. So far, the level of response to the feedback forms has been low, and it is difficult to draw conclusions about committee practice from such a small sample.


104. In our Report last year, we recommended that the maximum period during which committees may release their reports, under embargo, to government departments, witnesses and the media be increased from 48 to 72 hours. We argued that this change would improve coverage of committee reports.[133] The House approved this change on 28 March 2007. We are pleased to note the positive impact of this change on the media coverage of reports, including better coverage in specialist publications, which have a longer print deadline than daily newspapers. The extended embargo period has made it easier for committees to publish reports on Mondays while being able to supply advance copies to journalists before the weekend. The extended embargo period has also enabled committees to be more flexible in how they handle media briefings, allowing for better-informed media coverage. The process has not led to any abuse of embargo times.

76   On 11 March 2008 the House agreed to change the names of the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee to the Business and Enterprise Committee, and the Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee to the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee. Back

77   Select committees have the power to "meet concurrently with any other committee or sub-committee of either House of Parliament for the purpose of deliberating or taking evidence" ( Standing Order No. 137A (1)(b)). Back

78   European Scrutiny Committee, The work of the committee in 2007, paras 34, 36. Paras 14-15 above give more information about scrutiny of EU legislation. Back

79   Justice Committee, Second Report of Session 2007-08, Work of the Committee in 2007, HC 358, para 3 Back

80   Liaison Committee, Annual Report for 2005-06, para 60 Back

81   Welsh Affairs Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 47 Back

82   Welsh Affairs Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 15 Back

83   Welsh Affairs Committee, Press Notice No. 8 of Session 2007-08, Welsh Affairs Committee and Assembly Committee meeting to scrutinise proposed legislative competence order on domiciliary care, 16 January 2008 Back

84   Scottish Affairs Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 3 Back

85   Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2007-08, The Work of the Committee in 2007, HC 286, para 2 Back

86   Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2006-07, Tourism in Northern Ireland and its Economic Impact and Benefits, HC 119 Back

87   Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, The Work of the Committee in 2007, para 22 Back

88   e.g. Constitutional Affairs Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2006-07, The creation of the Ministry of Justice, HC 466, Ev 1, 6 and 13 Back

89   See also para 63 above. Back

90   Joint Committee on Human Rights, The Work of the Committee in 2007 and the State of Human Rights in the UK, para 80 Back

91   Home Affairs Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 23 Back

92   Defence Committee, The work of the Committee in 2007, para 17 Back

93   Joint Committee on Human Rights, The Work of the Committee in 2007 and the State of Human Rights in the UK, para 83 Back

94   Public Administration Select Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 50 Back

95   Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, The Work of the Committee in 2007, para 36 Back

96   Treasury Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 37 Back

97   e.g. Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, The Work of the Committee in 2007, para 36 Back

98   Communities and Local Government Committee, First Report of Session 2007-08, Coastal towns: the Government's Second Response, HC 69, paras 2-3 Back

99   Science and Technology Committee, Thirteenth Report of Session 2007-08, The last report, HC 1108, para 23 Back

100   Foreign Affairs Committee, Eighth Report of Session 2006-07, Global Security: The Middle East, HC 363, para 8 Back

101   Foreign Affairs Committee, Global Security: The Middle East: Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 7212, p 5 (para 10) Back

102   In Session 2006-07, six select committees, including three departmental committees, appointed sub-committees. Source: Sessional Returns, Session 2006-07Back

103   See e.g. Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, The Work of the Committee in 2007, paras 31-35. Back

104   Public Administration Select Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 47 Back

105   Communities and Local Government Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 29 Back

106   Home Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2006-07, Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System, HC 181-I, para 11 Back

107   Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Press Notice No. 60 of Session 2006-07, Flooding, 26 July 2007 Back

108   Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, The Work of the Committee in 2007, para 39 Back

109   Treasury Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, paras 7-8 Back

110   See e.g. Home Affairs Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, paras 6, 58. Back

111   Sessional Returns, Session 2006-07, HC 1 Back

112   See also para 97 onwards for more information on committees' relations with the public and the media.  Back

113   Liaison Committee, Annual Report for 2005-06, para 73 Back

114   Defence Committee, The work of the Committee in 2007, para 56 Back

115   The Public Accounts Commission, Minutes of Evidence, 3 March 2008, and information from the NAO. Detailed information about the work of the NAO in supporting select committees is contained in Appendix 4. Back

116   Treasury Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 34 Back

117   Liaison Committee, Annual Report for 2005-06, para 77 Back

118   Letter from the Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, Appendix 1, para 13; NAO, Appendix 4, para 7 Back

119   The work of the Scrutiny Unit in 2007, Appendix 3, para 3 Back

120   NAO, Appendix 4, paras 5-6. The briefings are published at Back

121   The work of the Scrutiny Unit in 2007, Appendix 3, para 3 Back

122   Transport Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, paras 26-29 Back

123   Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2006-07, The Rural Payments Agency and the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme, HC 107. See also HC 893-i (Session 2006-07) for evidence given by Johnston McNeill, former Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency to the Committee of Public Accounts. Back

124   "Private equity boss quits after Commons mauling", The Daily Telegraph, 4 September 2007, Back

125   See e.g. Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, The Work of the Committee in 2007, para 30. Back

126   Treasury Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 5 Back

127   Treasury Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2007-08, The run on the Rock, HC 56-I, para 3 Back

128   Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2006-07, British Waterways, HC 345-I, para 9 Back

129   See Scottish Affairs Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 7. Communities and Local Government Committee, Work of the Committee in 2007, para 30 Back

130   Science and Technology Committee, Press Notice No. 48 of Session 2006-07, Publication of Report "2007: A Space Policy", 4 July 2007  Back

131   Liaison Committee, Annual Report for 2005-06, para 82 Back

132   Liaison Committee, Annual Report for 2005-06, para 85 Back

133   Ibid., para 90 Back

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