Legacy Report - Liaison Contents

Annex B: Examples of good committee practice

Start of inquiry

1) Seminar held at think tank to discuss future programme and published in press release with intention of stimulating comment and engagement (Defence)

2) Asking public for suggestions for inquiries and publishing them with explanation for decision (Transport)

3) Away day with stakeholders (Education)

4) Quarterly reviews of committee programme—ensuring a mix of reactive and pro-active enquires (Justice)

5) Communications plans or media strategies for inquiries—(Communities and Local Government, Education, Science and Technology, Political and Constitutional Reform)

6) Formal planning meetings prior to commencement of each inquiry (Defence)

7) Programme a year ahead and strategy set to the end of the Parliament (Communities and Local Government).

During inquiry

1) Putting witnesses at ease by inviting them into committee room in private to meet Members before oral evidence session starts (Science and Technology)

2) Pursuing four strands of Strategic Defence and Security Review with paper-based inquiries led by individual rapporteurs (Defence)

3) Half-time reviews of current inquiries to check they are meeting objectives (Communities and Local Government)

4) Setting up web forum hosted by NAO to get view of service personnel (Defence)

5) Use of Twitter to publicise school sports inquiry attracted 2,500 followers (Education)

6) 'Speed dating' sessions to get views of local councillors (Communities and Local Government)

7) Twitter account used to solicit questions for the Big Six energy companies on energy price rises (Energy and Climate Change)

8) Review of academic work on traffic growth commissioned from Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Transport)

9) Oral evidence session in Sheffield on carbon capture and storage to coincide with Committee visit to a local CCS pilot facility (Energy and Climate Change)

10) Experimenting with rapporteurs on financial scrutiny (Public Administration)

11) Commissioning advice from Scrutiny Unit on departmental estimates and following up with the government department in writing (Education, Energy and Climate Change)

12) Thread on Money Saving Expert about complaints handling (Public Administration)

13) Making TV recordings of meetings away from Westminster for broadcast (Scottish Affairs)

14) Informally monitoring statistics of gender of witnesses giving evidence to the Committee (Public Administration)

15) E-consultation to seek views of court interpreters (Justice)

16) Meeting benefit recipients in more informal setting to get the best out of them (Work and Pensions)

17) Informal arrangement by which one member takes a lead on particular subject throughout inquiry (Education)

18) Looking at impact of savings programme across all inquiries not just annual report (Foreign Affairs)

19) Web forum on transport for disabled people—with help from Parliamentary Outreach—committee members taking journeys in constituencies with individuals to experience transport difficulties (Transport)

20) Oral evidence session held at Greenwich on maritime strategy to coincide with London International Shipping week (Transport)

21) Twitter account used to solicit questions for Mary Portas (Communities and Local Government)

22) Research commissioned from Oxera on new hub airport for SE England (Transport)

23) Providing British Sign Language for oral evidence session on Access to Work for disabled people (Work and Pensions)

24) Selective use of video conferencing to take evidence (Foreign Affairs, Environmental Audit, Energy and Climate Change)

25) The Communities and Local Government Committee used Storify to report back on its two #AskPickles evidence sessions. In each case, it brought together a number of tweets, video clips and examples of media coverage, to tell the story of the exercise and demonstrate its impact.

26) Use of independent specialist advisers appointed by the Treasury Committee, working from within the regulator, to ensure that regulators' reports are a fair and balanced account of the evidence (Treasury)

27) It is worth noting that the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, for example, endeavours to hold at least one public evidence session in Northern Ireland on all its inquiries.


1) Trying to produce fewer, more tightly-focused recommendations (Environmental Audit, Welsh Affairs)

2) Large screen used to display amendments as committee considered draft report (Energy and Climate Change)

3) Statements made on the floor of the House on publication of reports (Communities and Local Government, Culture Media and Sport, Defence, Education, Energy and Climate Change, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, European Scrutiny, Foreign Affairs, International Development, Justice, Liaison, Procedure, Public Accounts, Public Administration, Political and Constitutional Reform, Transport, Work and Pensions)

4) Reducing length of reports, prioritising recommendations in some reports and using less legalistic language (Justice)

5) Including infographics in reports (Environmental Audit, Energy and Climate Change)

6) Short film launching Primates as Pets report was the first of its kind (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

7) Publishing reports in time to inform debates in the House (Political and Constitutional Reform, Environmental Audit, Energy and Climate Change).

After inquiry

1) Monitoring implementation of recommendations by traffic lights (Public Administration, Home Affairs, Transport, Political and Constitutional Reform)

2) Six month follow up on implementation of reports (Defence)

3) Survey of previous oral witnesses to gather views on performance of committees in public evidence session (Education)

4) Holding debate in Westminster Hall to follow up on perfunctory government response on Work programme (Work and Pensions)

5) Appointing a Member to lead on the follow-up to each inquiry (Education).


1) European Scrutiny Committee seeking opinions from other committees on EU documents

2) Giving formal opinion to European Scrutiny Committee on EU Commission communication Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector (Defence)

3) Legislative scrutiny places substantial pressures on committee resources and time (Communities and Local Government)

4) Use of professional trainers (Environmental Audit, Welsh Affairs)

5) Foreign Affairs Committee conducts scrutiny of treaties (not in core tasks)

6) Move to paperless distribution of committee papers has improved conduct of meetings (Work and Pensions, Welsh Affairs)

7) NAO help provided with monthly bulletin of sustainable development (Environmental Audit)

8) Concerns about timing and quality of government responses (Communities and Local Government)

9) Outreach programme with local authorities sharing scrutiny practice (Communities and Local Government)

10) Joint working on EU JHA issues between Justice, Home Affairs and European Scrutiny Committees

11) Justice triggered enhanced scrutiny mechanism in respect of Orders under Public Bodies Act 2011—Administrative Justice and Tribunals order.

12) Political and Constitutional Reform Committee as key player in field of political and constitutional research and policy making

13) Defence and other committees conducted inquiries into the implications of Scottish independence

14) "All Members of the Education Committee treat witnesses with respect and courtesy"

15) Justice: "witnesses are always treated with respect and courtesy and given a fair hearing"

16) Scottish Affairs takes a searchlight approach to inquiries

17) Both Scottish Affairs and Public Administration have been clerked by job sharers

18) Scottish Affairs has not been allowed by the Scottish Parliament to hold meetings at Holyrood but Welsh Affairs has good relations with the National Assembly for Wales and has been able to use their meeting rooms in Cardiff

19) Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has excellent relations with both the NI Assembly and the NI Executive. For example, the then Speaker of the Assembly rang the Committee staff to offer the Committee the use of the Senate Chamber at Stormont for its public evidence sessions, and the Chairs of two of the Assembly's Committees invited NIAC to Stormont to take public evidence from them on its "Banking" inquiry. NIAC has regular informal meetings with NI Ministers, and has also taken public evidence from them on several occasions

20) The Administration Committee and its staff regularly talk to overseas delegations (regular visits organised by Overseas Office and CPA) about the work of the Committee. From this word spread about our report 'First Weeks at Westminster' and as a result colleagues in Iraq, Hong Kong and Tanzania whom we had not met asked for copies of the report to find out about the Committee's approach to induction of Members

21) A new proactive media approach with a dedicated media officer has resulted in positive coverage of some major initiatives of the Administration Committee which have not resulted from inquiries but Committee decisions—allowing commercial filming of 'Suffragette', new camera angles in the Chamber, offering banqueting rooms for hire.

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Prepared 24 March 2015