Select committees and contempts: clarifying and strengthening powers to call for persons, papers and records Contents
5Conclusion and questions for consultation
144.We put this report forward for consultation as a preliminary proposal, having carefully considered the issues and examined comparative arrangements in other democratic legislatures. The responses to the questions set out below will inform the next stage of our consideration. We intend to consult widely, including seeking the views of current and former Members of both Houses, legal professionals and members of the judiciary from across the different jurisdictions of the United Kingdom, academics, and current and former Clerks. We will be taking further oral evidence to explore others’ opinions of the strengths and weaknesses of our proposal, before presenting a final report for consideration by the House.
- What is the primary role of select committees and what should be the practical limits of the application of their powers (as delegated to them by the House)?
- Do you agree with our assessment of the three options, and our conclusion that a legislative solution is the best available option?
- Do you think the proposed draft Bill provides an appropriate solution to the issue of recalcitrant witnesses before committees?
- What do you think the maximum sanction should be for an individual found guilty of an offence of failure to comply with a summons?
- Should the legislation be extended to encompass the enforcement of sanctions related to other contempts, or to make equivalent provision for House of Lords committees, or to deal with any other matters relating to parliamentary privilege?
- How should the House set out its internal processes and commitment to fair treatment in a way that provides sufficient due process, whilst maintaining the flexibility and effectiveness of the current select committee system?
- The draft Bill provides a power to summon non-Members to attend or to provide information or documents to a committee. Should equivalent powers be included to summon Members of the House, or for a committee of one House to summon Members of the other House?
- Are there any other issues within the scope of the matter referred to us - “the exercise and enforcement of the powers of the House in relation to select committees and contempts” - that you think should be dealt with in our final recommendations to the House?