MONDAY 26 JUNE 2000
By the Select Committee appointed to advise the House
on the resources required for select committee work and to allocate
resources between select committees; to review the select committee
work of the House; to consider requests for ad hoc committees
and report to the House with recommendations; to ensure effective
co-ordination between the two Houses; and to consider the availability
of Lords to serve on committees.
Review of the committee activity of the House
1. The Committee has concluded its review of the
committee work of the House. The following initial conclusions
were recorded in the Committee's Second Report (HL Paper 62, 8
(1) The Jellicoe Report recommended that ad
hoc committees should become a regular part of the committee
structure. We reaffirm that recommendation.
(2) We have noted the Government's proposal to
establish, before the Human Rights Act 1998 comes into force in
October this year, a Joint Committee on Human Rights. This will
be an additional sessional committee.
(3) We recommend the appointment of a Constitutional
Committee along the lines recommended by the Royal Commission
on Reform of the House of Lords (Cm 4534, paragraph 5.22).
A Constitutional Committee
2. Further to our recommendation for the appointment
of a Constitutional Committee, we recommend that that Committee
should be appointed at the start of the next session. Its terms
of reference should be:
"To examine the constitutional implications
of all public bills coming before the House; and to keep under
review the operation of the constitution."
3. The staff needs of the Committee beyond a clerk
will depend on how it chooses to work. We recommend that initially
the Committee should seek any specialist support which it needs
from specialist advisers.
An Economic Committee
4. We recommend the appointment of a sessional Economic
Committee after the present ad hoc Committee on the Monetary
Policy Committee of the Bank of England has concluded its inquiry.
An International Affairs Committee
5. We have given further consideration to the proposal
that an International Affairs Committee should be appointed. Such
a Committee would largely overlap with the work of the House of
Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. We consider that there may
be international affairs subjects which would be suitable for
consideration by ad hoc committees - and we would welcome
specific proposals - but we do not recommend the appointment of
a sessional International Affairs Committee.
A committee to scrutinise treaties
6. The Royal Commission on Reform of the House of
Lords recommended as follows: "The Liaison Committee should
consider the establishment of a Select Committee to scrutinise
international treaties into which the Government proposed to enter"
(Cm 4534, Recommendation 56). In February 2000 the House of Commons
Procedure Committee began an inquiry into "Parliamentary
Scrutiny of Treaties and the Ponsonby Rule". We propose to
await the report of the House of Commons Procedure Committee before
making a recommendation on this matter.
An ad hoc committee on animal experimentation
7. We have considered a proposal for an ad hoc select
committee on the use of animals in scientific experiments. We
believe that this is an appropriate subject for an inquiry by
an ad hoc committee and we recommend the appointment of
such a committee in the autumn.
Resources for committee work
8. The effect of our recommendations will be to create
three new sessional committees - a Constitutional Committee and
an Economic Committee in addition to the Joint Committee on Human
Rights. Recommendations in the Report of the Royal Commission
on Reform of the House of Lords may lead to further expansion.
There is also to be an ad hoc Joint Committee on House
of Lords reform, and there may be further ad hoc committees
to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of draft bills.
9. We have recommended a significant expansion of
committee activity because we believe that the House wishes it,
and that there is a sufficient reservoir of members willing to
serve. It will be necessary to recruit additional staff to support
the new committees, and to provide office accommodation for them.
We have made our recommendations on the assumption that the House
will be prepared to provide these resources.