4.The remit of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) is set out in the House of Commons Standing Order No. 146 as follows:
to examine the reports of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the Health Service Commissioner for England, which are laid before this House, and matters in connection therewith; to consider matters relating to the quality and standards of administration provided by civil service departments, and other matters relating to the civil service; and to consider constitutional affairs.2
This remit is very broad. In order to provide focus to our work, the Committee re-adopted the following statement of purpose at the beginning of this Parliament:
to conduct robust and effective scrutiny in order to help create conditions where the public can have justified confidence in public services/government.
5.At the beginning of this Parliament, we agreed to continue to focus on two key themes and strategic priorities for our programme of work:
6.PACAC’s main areas of scrutiny are: the work of the Cabinet Office and all the various bodies it sponsors, public appointments and the pre-appointment hearings associated with those appointments, government accounting, official statistics, the civil service, providers of public services and constitutional issues relating to the place of Parliament in the UK constitution and the effect of Brexit on devolution in the UK.
7.The Committee believes that PACAC’s current remit is too large to be effectively covered by a single Committee. During the period 2010–2015, PACAC’s work was split between the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) and the Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform (POLCON). Both committees carried a heavy workload. During the two years since the 2017 General Election, the Committee has worked hard to produce 20 reports on a wide variety of topics. The Committee regrets that it has not been able to carry out scrutiny into all its areas of responsibility but is proud of the significant volume of work which has been completed. This includes scrutiny in the following areas:
8.The Committee believes that comprehensive delivery of the public administration and constitutional affairs remits, currently assigned to PACAC, comprises a workload which exceeds the resources of the Committee. Either resources should be increased, or the remit should be split between two separate committees of the House of Commons.
9.We also recommend that consideration is given to establishing a joint committee of both Houses to oversee official statistics and to scrutinise the work of UK Statistics Authority. This is a specialist area of policy and administration, which would benefit from the attention of a dedicated committee. The House of Lords contains expertise and experience from which such a committee would benefit.
10.The Committee continued its practice of tagging its reports to debates and of launching reports using the provision for select committee statements in backbench time. The following two reports were launched in that way:
In addition, six reports/oral evidence were tagged to debates on the Floor of the House.
11.We also pioneered some innovations to help engage the public in the work of the Committee, through:
2 See: Eighth Report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Session 2017–19, Devolution and Exiting the EU: reconciling differences and building strong relationships, HC 1485.
3 Seventeenth Report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Session 2017–19, , HC 855.
Published: 8 October 2019