In April the Liaison Committee was due to undertake its regular process of shortlisting and, ultimately, choosing four special inquiry topics for the forthcoming year. 24 proposals were submitted by members of the House, a number of which made reference to Covid-19. In late March and early April a number of members of the Liaison Committee suggested that the usual special inquiry process be ‘paused’, in order to allow a degree of re-focusing upon the present situation. It was suggested that there should be a re-orientation of our scrutiny work to take account of current circumstances. In response, we recommended, and the House agreed, the establishment of a dedicated committee to undertake a comprehensive examination of the long-term implications of COVID-19. In July the Liaison Committee selected two special inquiry committees to start later this year, as well as separately recommending the establishment of a committee to scrutinise common frameworks.
On behalf of the Liaison Committee, I am now writing to invite members to suggest proposals for two more special inquiry committees to start in early 2021. All the proposals which were submitted earlier this year will be automatically considered by the committee, there is no need for members which made those proposals to re-submit them unless they want to change or to withdraw them. The deadline for all submissions, including any re-submissions, is 28 October.
In order to provide greater consistency, this year the Committee is again inviting all members submitting proposals to use the headings suggested in the form accompanying this invitation. Proposals should be sent to the Clerk of the Liaison Committee, Philippa Tudor, by email: email@example.com no later than 28 October.
All ideas submitted by then will be considered by the Liaison Committee using the following criteria for selection:
· Makes best use of the knowledge and experience of Members of the House
· Complements the work of Commons departmental select committees
· Addresses areas of policy that cross departmental boundaries
· The activity proposed should be capable of being confined to one session.
Members whose proposals are shortlisted by the Liaison Committee will be invited to present their proposal briefly to a meeting of the Committee later this year. The Liaison Committee expects to recommend up to two proposals for new special inquiry Committees for appointment in early 2021. The two new special inquiry committees which have already been selected by the Liaison Committee will have to report by the end of November 2021, and it is hoped that the new committees will have a similar date by which to report.
In reviewing proposals, the Liaison Committee takes into account the criteria listed above. In addition, the Committee may also take into account wider factors such as the balance of topics across the special inquiry committees (including in previous years), the work being undertaken by other Committees and within Government, and the possibility of early legislation on the subject matter.
During November and December the Liaison Committee will also be considering the second stage of the review of committees and the appropriate balance of committees following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. I would welcome members’ contribution to that debate to ensure that House of Lords committees achieve a strategic approach to future scrutiny needs within a thematic framework.
Note: Following feedback, the Liaison Committee has agreed this template for use by members wishing to propose an inquiry. Members are invited to use it as a guide, and to address each of the questions below. Members are asked to describe the proposal in 100- 500 words.
Name of member(s) of the House making the proposal: [Type here]
Description of the proposal (in 100-500 words). If you are proposing a post-legislative scrutiny committee, please explain the aspects of the Act that you think particularly warrant scrutiny:
What would the inquiry be trying to achieve?
How does the proposal make best use of the knowledge and experience of Members of the House?
How does the proposal address areas of policy that cross departmental boundaries?
Is the proposed special inquiry committee capable of being completed in one year or less? (For reference, most special inquiry committees hold approximately 20 x 1-hour evidence sessions throughout the inquiry, but proposals for shorter inquiries are also welcome.)
Do you have any additional comments in relation to your proposal which you wish to draw to the attention of the Liaison Committee?
If you have any relevant interests that relate to your proposal please can you list them below.