Last edited 06 Dec 2020

Select committee definition

Select committees were established in 1979 to check and report on specific areas. They work in both the House of Commons and House of Lords. House of Commons select committees mainly examine the work of government departments, with a select committee for each government department, examining spending, policies and administration. House of Lords select committees examine: Europe, science, economics, communications and the UK constitution.

Some select committees have a role that crosses departmental boundaries and some are involved in on-going investigations of specific issues.

Select committees are made up of Members of Parliament selected from the political parties in proportion to the representation of those parties in the House. They generally have a chair elected by MPs. Committees also have the power to appoint specialist advisers.

They can hold inquiries into subjects of their choosing and reporting their findings to the House. The results of their inquiries are generally public and many require a response from the government. The government has undertaken to reply within two months of the publication of a report, but may seek the committee’s agreement to a longer period.

Select committees have the power to send for people, papers and records and are able to serve an order to attend, produce papers or produce records.

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