Select Committee on Liaison Second Report


Second Report
Session 1997-98


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.



  1. The Committee has considered two proposals for new committee activity, following the completion in January 1998 of the work of the ad hoc Committee on the Public Service. The first proposal, put forward by Lord Ezra (originally in the House: see the Official Report, 1 April 1998, columns 292 and 293), is for a new committee on Overseas Trade to review developments since the last committee on that subject reported in 1985. The second proposal, put forward by Lord Barnett and Lord Peston, is for a committee to examine the operation of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England. This proposal was also raised in the House during proceedings on the Bank of England Bill: see, for example, the Official Report, 13 February 1998, column 1407.

  2. We have considered these proposals against the background of our recommendation, in our Second Report, Session 1995-96, that the European Communities Committee should be able to appoint six sub-committees instead of five for an experimental period of two years from the start of the 1996-97 session.

  3. We have also had in mind the possibility of other proposals for committee activity being pursued in the near future. These proposals include a committee with functions relating to human rights (as suggested in the White Paper Rights Brought Home: The Human Rights Bill (Cm. 3782), paragraph 3.6), and the possible introduction of some form of pre-legislative scrutiny.

  4. In our view, both of the proposals put to us are good ones. The proposal for another committee on overseas trade has received powerful support from within and outside the House. The proposal for a committee to examine the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England is an innovative one, concerned with an area of policy in which the House has a great deal of expertise and in relation to which the best means of Parliamentary scrutiny could usefully be considered. We believe that an ad hoc committee, limited to one year, would be appropriate. We doubt whether the subject matter warrants the appointment of a permanent sessional scrutiny committee, but this would be an issue which an ad hoc committee could consider.

  5. We also recognise the strength of the case for the continuation of a sixth sub-committee of the European Communities Committee. Since the Committee on the Committee Work of the House (the "Jellicoe Committee") recommended in 1992 that the number of sub-committees should be reduced from six to five, there has been a significant increase in the range of proposals considered by the Committee as the result of the creation of the Third Pillar of the European Union (Justice and Home Affairs).

  6. Because of limited resources—in terms of Lords to serve on committees and staff to serve them—we cannot at this stage recommend the appointment of both proposed new committees and the continuation of the sixth sub-committee of the European Communities Committee. We therefore confine ourselves to recommending the appointment of an ad hoc committee on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England. We propose to meet again in the autumn to consider, in the light of any other proposals for committee activity which may have been taken forward in the meantime, what recommendations to make in relation to the proposed committee on Overseas Trade and the European Communities Committee.

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