By the Select Committee appointed to consider European
Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.
1. The Committee was appointed on Monday 6th December
1999, as the successor to the European Communities Committee.
Our Orders of Reference, including the membership of the Committee,
are printed at Appendix 1. This Special Report covers various
administrative and organisational matters which we decided at
our first meeting, held on Tuesday 7th December.
2. We propose to continue using the working methods
established by the European Communities Committee. The basis of
the operation will continue to be the regular "sifting"
of documents by the Chairman of the Select Committee, advised
by the staff of the Committee. Thereafter the detailed examination
of the documents will be carried out by six Sub-Committees.
SCRUTINY RESERVE RESOLUTION
3. The scrutiny work of the Select Committee and
its Sub-Committees is underpinned by an undertaking given by the
Government that they will not agree in the Council of Ministers
to any proposal on which parliamentary scrutiny at Westminster
has not been completed. This undertaking was formalised in a House
of Commons resolution (the "Scrutiny Reserve Resolution")
in 1980. The Resolution was most recently renewed by the Commons
on 17 November 1998.
4. The Commons Scrutiny Reserve Resolution has always
been held to apply to the House of Lords and there has been no
equivalent Lords resolution. However, procedures in the two Houses
are now sufficiently different to make it desirable for the House
of Lords to have its own Scrutiny Reserve Resolution, and such
a Resolution was agreed on Monday 6th December 1999. The text
is reproduced in Appendix 2. The practical effect of the Resolution
is to continue the Committee's present powers, but with clearer
5. We have agreed to the appointment of six Sub-Committees.
Their membership is set out in Appendix 3. Four of the Sub-Committees
(A, B, E and F) have the same remits as their predecessors in
the former European Communities Committee.
6. We have appointed, on an experimental basis, a
new Sub-Committee C, to cover the Common Foreign and Security
Policy (the so-called "Second Pillar" of the European
7. The remits of the old Sub-Committees C (Environment,
Public Health and Consumer Protection) and D (Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food) have been merged in a new Sub-Committee D, which will
cover Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Consumer Protection.
8. A list of the six Sub-Committees follows:
A Economic and Financial Affairs, Trade and External
B Energy, Industry and Transport
C Common Foreign and Security Policy
D Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and
E Law and Institutions
F Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs
9. The Sub-Committee structure will be reviewed by
the Select Committee towards the end of the present Session.
10. The rotation rule, whereby Members of the Select
Committee and its Sub-Committees retire after four years' service,
subject to an extension of up to three years for Chairmen of Sub-Committees,
has been applied as if the change of name of the Committee had
not taken place. It has also been applied, and will continue to
apply, to members of former Sub-Committees C and D who continue
to serve on the new Sub-Committee D.
INQUIRY INTO THE FORTHCOMING INTER-GOVERNMENTAL CONFERENCE
11. We have considered how we can scrutinise the
preparations being made for the next Inter-Governmental Conference
(IGC), to be held next year. Previous IGCs have been the subject
of inquiries by ad-hoc Sub-Committees. On this occasion, we have
decided that the Select Committee itself will conduct an inquiry.
We propose to invite a limited number of key witnesses to give
written and oral evidence, and we are aiming to produce a Report
before the Summer Recess next year. Further details will be published
in due course.