The powers of Parliament

The powers of select committees are back in the news, owing to ongoing controversies about energy pricing, the so-called “plebgate” affair, and the like.

What select committees do, and how they do it, are matters which are critical to a proper understanding of the ways in which Parliament performs its constitutional job of holding ministers and officials to account.

So here are three recent sources, which may help readers navigate their way through the issues.

First, a blog post by an MP who is a member of the Commons Public Accounts Committee: here.

Secondly, a pamphlet published last year on the legal powers of Commons select committees: here.

Finally, the most recent word from the Commons Liaison Committee, which is the Committee in the Commons that takes the lead on matters relating to the powers, effectiveness and resources of select committees in that House: here.

All of the above are focused on the committees in the Commons, but remember that the House of Lords also has a series of powerful select committees, and that committee work is a core component too of the functioning of the devolved legislatures.



A fourth source has been pointed out to me — for which many thanks. It is chapter 3 of a report published earlier this year on parliamentary privilege. The report can be found here.

The powers of Parliament