9.4b Select Commitees Flashcards Preview

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Select committees are made up of members from across parties to represent the balance of parties in the House.

The Home Affairs Select Committee is made up of 5 Conservative MPs, 4 Labour MPs, 1 Scottish National Party MP and 1 Independent MP, reflecting that the Conservatives and Labour have the most seats in the House of Commons.


Scrutiny of the government

The House of Commons’ select committees mainly scrutinise the government and the work that it does.

There is a select committee scrutinising each government department including the Education select committee which scrutinises the Department for Education and the Defence select committee which scrutinises the Ministry of Defence.

Some House of Commons’ select committees investigate issues that require them to scrutinise multiple government departments.

The Public Accounts Committee is a cross-department select committee which investigates how all government departments use taxpayers’ money.


Scrutiny of the government 2

Select committees call on government ministers to be questioned by the committee and give evidence.

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2016-2019, sat before the Treasury select committee to answer questions about the UK’s financial agreement with the European Union (EU) as part of its Brexit deal.

Select committees conduct inquiries where they collect spoken and written evidence and write reports which have recommendations for future government action.


Scrutiny of public institutions

Select committees scrutinise public institutions and question them if it is in the public interest.

The Business, Innovation and Skills select committee questioned Mike Ashley, the owner of Sports Direct, over the working conditions in Sports Direct’s shops.

Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corporation, was questioned by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee when the News of the World (a newspaper owned by News Corporation) hacked people’s voicemails to get information for stories.


Investigating policy

The House of Lords select committees investigate proposed laws and public policy and may produce reports publishing their findings.

The House of Lords select committees include members of the Lords who are experts in certain fields and can analyse and investigate policies.

The main House of Lords select committees are the European Union, Economic Affairs, Constitution, Communications, Science and Technology, and the International Relations committees.



Select committees do not have power over legislation and are not able to make changes to laws.

Select committees can not force government ministers to appear before them which weakens how well they can scrutinise.

Select committees questions are not always effective in examining an issue in depth.

The majority of MPs on a select committee are members of the party in government, which can limit MPs criticism of government ministers.


Advantages 2

Select committees ask government ministers and public officials many lengthy questions.

Nick Buckles, the chief executive of security company G4S, described the company’s security at the 2012 Olympics as “a humiliating shambles” after lengthy questioning by the Home Affairs select committee, after G4S failed to provide enough security.


Advantages 1

Select committee work can highlight government weaknesses and put pressure on the government to act on certain issues.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government select committee report in 2018 on the importance of the private rented sector encouraged the government’s Build to Rent programme, which increases the number of homes available for rent.