The Commons Select Committee System in the 2015-2020 Parliament
15 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2015 Last revised: 15 Oct 2015
Date Written: 2015
The House of Commons select committees witnessed some of the most constructive political theatre of the 2010-2015 Parliament. Recall the Murdoch’s public contrition, Margaret Hodge’s assault on MNC tax evasion, and Keith Vaz’s timely interrogations of G4S etc. All of these represented the public face of a newly empowered system. Less noticed longer term activity was no less significant – for example, Andrew Tyrie’s Banking Commission, the Energy Committee’s reports on the challenge of decarbonising the UK, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee’s focus on a written constitution or the Education Committee’s inquiries on the multiple causes of under-achievement in education.
Behind these developments lay significant changes in the standing of the committee system. Following the Wright Committee proposals, the Coalition government agreed to the election of Committee chairs by the whole House and the election of Members by their own parties. Their enhanced standing was exploited in various ways by individual committees – some by a focus on media attention, some by a concern for longer term policy issues, some by reaching out to their publics, some by more stringent scrutiny and most by various combinations of such approaches.
This present article focuses on four external assessments: a 2015 report for the Centre for Policy Studies by Treasury Committee Chair Andrew Tyrie; one for the Institute for Government by Dr Hannah White; a 2013 report for the Hansard Society on digital media; and finally a report on public engagement commissioned by the Liaison Committee from several academics.
Keywords: Parliamentary committees, United Kingdom Parliament, deliberative democracy, governance
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