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.
FUTURE COMMITTEE ACTIVITY
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Because of limited resourcesin terms of Lords to serve
on committees and staff to serve themwe 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.