The European Scrutiny Committee is appointed under Standing Order No. 143. It consists of 16 members, drawn from the three largest political parties and is chaired by Sir William Cash MP
The Committee assesses the legal and/or political importance of draft EU legislation deposited in Parliament by the Government. This amounts to around 1,100 documents a session. The Committee receives an Explanatory Memorandum on each document from the relevant Minister. It then looks at the significance of the proposal and decides whether to clear the document from scrutiny or withhold clearance and ask questions of the Government. All documents deemed politically or legally important are reported on in the Committee's weekly Reports.
Referring for debate
The Committee also has the power to recommend documents for debate. A list of all documents that have been debated, or have been referred for debate, this session can be found here:
Debates recommended by the Committee take place either in a European Committee or (more rarely) on the Floor of the House. Under the scrutiny reserve resolution passed by the House, Ministers should not vote in the Council of Ministers on proposals which the Committee has not cleared or which are awaiting debate. Where a proposal has been debated in European Committee, the motion must then be put to the House, the following day where it is agreed to without debate. A proposal is cleared when the motion is agreed to by the House.
European Committees are ad hoc Committees with no permanent membership. They are set up to debate a specific proposal which has been referred to them by the European Scrutiny Committee. Transcripts of European Committee debates can be found here:
The Committee can also question Ministers in person and often conducts general inquiries into legal, procedural or institutional developments in the EU, such as its recent inquiries into the Unified Patent and the European Union Act 2011.
The Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the effectiveness of the scrutiny system in the House of Commons.