Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons First Report

A More Coherent Committee Structure

37. The term "select committee" covers a wide range of different committees of different functions. It does not convey to the public any real meaning of the purpose of these committees. If we wish to give greater prominence and status to Parliament's role of scrutiny it would be sensible to give the committees which discharge that role a title which reflected it. We recommend that the investigative select committees should be named "scrutiny committees".

38. In the last Parliament the Liaison Committee emerged as an authoritative voice on developing the scrutiny role of Parliament. Its reports helped shape the debate on the future of the select committees and had a strong influence on the reports of bodies outside the House, such as the Norton Commission and the Hansard Society Commission. We welcome the development of the Liaison Committee to a leadership role in promoting the scrutiny function of Parliament.

39. We see great value in an effective body which co-ordinates the scrutiny committees and can provide an authoritative voice for their common concerns. The Liaison Committee is among the largest in the House with over thirty members. It also embraces in its membership the chairmen of the committees which are not tasked with a role of scrutiny. We see merit in a smaller, more focussed, Liaison Committee which would provide a focal point for debate on the future development of scrutiny. We recommend that there should be a Scrutiny Liaison Committee including the chairmen of the scrutiny committees, and also the chairmen of those committees which have a legislative or procedural role such as Deregulation and Regulatory Reform, Procedure, and Standards and Privileges.

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Prepared 12 February 2002