The European Union Committee of the House of Lords considers EU documents and other EU-related matters in advance of decisions being taken on them. It does this to influence the Government's position in negotiations in Brussels, and to hold them to account for their actions at EU level.
The EU Select Committee
The work of the Select Committee is assisted by six Sub-Committees, each dealing with a different policy area. The Sub-Committees scrutinise proposals, correspond with Ministers to outline their queries or concerns about proposals, conduct inquiries and prepare reports. The current Sub-Committees are:
The Select Committee's role is to:
- Oversee the work of the Sub-Committees;
- Approve reports prepared by the Sub-Committees;
- Conduct inquiries into cross-cutting issues, such as the EU's medium-term budget framework, the MFF; and
- Take evidence from government Ministers on European Council meetings, and from representatives of the rotating Council Presidency.
Working with the Government
The Government has committed not to agree to anything in the EU Council of Ministers until the Committee has completed its scrutiny. This is called the Scrutiny Reserve Resolution, which is set out in appendix L of the Companion to the Standing Orders and Guide to the proceedings of the House of Lords.
You can read more about the scrutiny reserve, and how it operates in the House of Lords, on our Scrutiny Reserve Resolution page.
Alongside the scrutiny reserve, the Government has made a number of other commitments to the Committee including:
- Replying to letters from the Committee within 10 working days;
- Explaining any overrides of the scrutiny reserve as soon as possible; and
- Responding to the recommendations and conclusions of a published report within two months.
Further details of the Government's responsibilities to the Committee are contained in the Cabinet Office's Parliamentary Scrutiny of EU Documents: Guidance to Departments.
In order to help Departments keep track of their scrutiny work, the Committee produces a document called Progress of Scrutiny every fortnight when the House is sitting. This shows the documents still under scrutiny, the course of correspondence between the Ministers and the Committee, and any recent overrides. Editions of Progress of Scrutiny are available in the Publications section.
In addition, every six months the Committee reviews its records on any delays it has experienced with letters, responses to reports, or EMs. These reviews are communicated via correspondence with the Minister for Europe, and are therefore available with all other scrutiny correspondence on our Correspondence with Ministers page. However, the two most recent reviews, and the Minister's responses, are given below: