Summary of House of Lords investigative and scrutiny committee activity in 2018–19 Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.The exceptionally high levels of committee activity in the first year of the 2017–19 session continued throughout the second year. Although no new sessional committee was set up there was an unusually high level of draft bill committee activity in an already busy session. Following the decision in the June 2016 referendum that the UK should leave the EU, much committee activity continued to focus on the possible impact of Brexit.

2.The Informal Brexit Liaison Group, established by the Liaison Committee in November 2016, continued its work in helping co-ordinate and oversee committee activity in the House relating to Brexit and keeping in touch with Brexit scrutiny being carried out by House of Commons committees. It met a further six times, chaired by Liaison Committee Chair and Senior Deputy Speaker Lord McFall of Alcluith, and bringing together other House of Lords committee Chairs. Following each meeting of the Informal Group a note of the discussion was posted on the parliamentary website.

3.On 14 January 2019 the Procedure Committee and Liaison Committee agreed that, for the remainder of the current session of Parliament, the European Union (EU) Committee should scrutinise and report on all Brexit-related treaties, or international agreements, laid before Parliament in accordance with section 20 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. The EU Committee swiftly adopted this new feature of this work, and on 5 February reported for the first time on three such international agreements.

4.Another change followed the decision of the Procedure Committee in March 2018 that overdue Government responses to select committee reports should be noted in a new section in House of Lords Business.1 This new practice has led to a significant decrease in the number of Government responses which are not received within two months of publication of the relevant report, and for many weeks no list of overdue responses has needed to be published.

5.2018–19 also saw a step change in the public engagement activity carried out by House of Lords committees. A variety of innovative outreach methods were piloted by the special inquiry committees in particular, and we report on these in chapter three of this report.

6.The Liaison Committee’s over-arching review of committee activity, the first for 25 years, was conducted throughout 2018–19. The present report, like its predecessor, is intended to provide helpful background and context for the review.

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