1. This report draws together our conclusions on
the operation of select committees in the 2010 to 2015 Parliament.
It builds on the Committee's report in November 2012at
about the half-way pointon effectiveness, resources and
2. In that report we set out a vision for select
Our aim is that committees should be respected,
listened to and feared by departments and ministers for the quality
of their investigations, the rigour of their questioning, the
depth of their analysis, and the value of their reports.
Their influence will go beyond the subjects they
choose to inquire into: departments will be mindful of the reaction
of their committee when they make policy decisions and of the
high probability of exposure of any administrative shortcomings.
Committees will be routinely consulted by ministers and officials
but will retain their detachment and ability to offer objective
Their ability to do their job will not be limited
by constraints on access to information or the witnesses they
wish to hear from, and they will be able to draw on expert advice
and research. They will be seen by our stakeholder communities
as an important player, influencing Government and public opinion,
and as the natural place to go to with concerns and ideas.
The role of committeesand the powers which
they can draw uponwill be understood by the public, and
they will engage with a wide diversity of people in gathering
evidence for our inquiries. Their work will be respected for its
integrity and relevance to people's lives, and will contribute
to reviving faith in the value of parliamentary democracy.
3. This Parliament has seen significant developments
in the work of select committees and a growth in the attention
paid to them. Chief among these has been the new process for election
of chairs of committees directly by the whole House. Social media
has been used by committees for the first time to engage with
the public. A variety of informal ways of working have been trialled
as an alternative to the basic model of taking evidence through
oral hearings. Members have used iPads to read committee documents,
rather than doing so on paper.
4. Throughout, the Liaison Committee has been keen
to focus on how effective committees are in making a positive
impact on Whitehall. This is hard to measure in a systematic way
but it is the ultimate reason for what committees do in holding
government accountable. This report is based on written evidence
received from outside the House and memoranda
and legacy reports from
individual select committees.
5. In this report, we set out the developments over
the past five years and put down some markers to assist committees
in the next Parliament.
1 Liaison Committee, Second Report of Session 2012-13,
Select committee effectiveness, resources and powers, HC 697 Back
See list of Published written evidence on p59 Back
See Annex D Back