22 March 2004
ANNUAL REVIEW DEMANDS NEW LEVELS OF ACCESS
More co-operation from the Government is needed if committees are to hold the Executive fully to account, concludes a Report issued today by the Liaison Committee. The Report, which is issued annually, notes the high level of committee activity, with reports by departmental committees up 35 per cent, and the number of public meetings the highest for five years.
Although committees are working hard to carry out their scrutiny, and are getting more resources to do so, they are hampered by problems, particularly:
access to No. 10 policy advisers;
availability of current policy reviews and reports;
evidence on 'joined-up' policies from Government departments involved, including HM Treasury.
Commenting on the Report, the Liaison Committee's Chairman, Rt Hon Alan Williams MP said:
"At our request, the Prime Minister has accepted that a review of the Government's rules of access to documents and people should happen. I welcome this, and look forward to the results. After seeing what the Hutton Inquiry was given, we are determined that Parliament and its committees should receive Government co-operation as fully as an inquiry set up by the Government itself."
The Report also describes new ways in which committees are connecting with the public, including more on-line consultation and the extension of webcasting to all public meetings of committees on www.parliamentlive.tv
NOTE TO EDITORS:
1. This Report is numbered HC 446, Session 2003-04.
2. Last year's Report was Annual Report for 2002, HC 558, Session 2002-03.
3. The Committee is chaired by Rt Hon Alan Williams (Labour, Swansea West) and includes the 34 Chairs of select committees. It is appointed to consider general matters relating to the work of select committees; to advise the House of Commons Commission on select committees; to choose select committee reports for debate in the House and, by a decision of the House of 14 May 2002 to hear evidence from the Prime Minister on matters of public policy. The powers of the Committee are set out in House of Commons Standing Order No. 145, which is available on www.parliament.uk
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