Detailed guidance for giving written or oral evidence has been prepared and can be downloaded via the right hand module. This page summarises the main points.
Submitting written evidence to select committee inquiry
When a House of Commons Select Committee conducts an inquiry it will often invite written evidence from interested parties. Those wishing to submit written evidence to a committee are strongly encouraged to do so electronically through the relevant inquiry page on the committee’s website before the deadline detailed.
Some committees may still accept written evidence after the formal deadline has passed, in which case this will be indicated on the inquiry page on the committee’s website.
(If you have difficulty submitting your evidence electronically, hard copy submissions can be sent to the clerk of the relevant committee, at the address listed on the committee’s website. Should you wish to submit evidence in an alternative format such as an audio file please contact the clerk of the committee.)
It assists the committee if those submitting evidence adhere to the following guidelines:
Each submission should:
- State clearly who the submission is from, i.e. whether from yourself in a personal capacity or sent on behalf of an organisation, for example the submission could be headed ‘Written evidence submitted by xxxxxx’.
- Be no more 3,000 words in length / run to no more than eight sides of A4 paper.
- As far as possible comprise a single document.
- Begin with a short summary in bullet point form.
- Have numbered paragraphs.
- Be in Word or Rich Text format (not PDF) with as little use of colour or logos as possible.
As a guide each submission could contain the following information:
- An executive summary of the main points made in the submission.
- A brief introduction about yourself/your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence.
- Any factual information you have to offer from which the committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses for their reactions.
- Any recommendations for action by the Government or others which you would like the committee to consider.
Notes on written evidence
Those submitting written evidence should note the following:
- Committees publish most of the written evidence they receive on the internet (where it will be accessible to search engines); any that relates to a witness’s oral evidence may also be printed with the committee’s report at the end of an inquiry.
- If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so and explain your reasons for not wishing its disclosure. The committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish the evidence. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the committee, please contact the clerk of the committee to discuss this.
- A committee is not obliged to accept your submission as evidence, nor to publish any or all of the submission even if it has been accepted as evidence. This may occur where a submission is very long or contains material to which it is inappropriate to give parliamentary privilege (see Guidance to Witnesses ( PDF 422 KB) for further information on parliamentary privilege).
- Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within or attached to a submission, in which case it should be clearly referenced.
- You should be careful not to comment on matters currently before a court of law, or matters in respect of which court proceedings are imminent. If you anticipate such issues arising, you should discuss with the clerk of the committee how this might affect the written evidence you can submit.
- Once submitted, no public use should be made of any submission prepared specifically for the committee unless you have first obtained permission from the clerk of the committee. If you are given permission by the committee to publish your evidence separately, you should be aware that you will be legally responsible for its content.
- Committees do not normally investigate individual cases of complaint or allegations of maladministration.
Giving oral evidence to a select committee
Oral evidence usually takes place in public in one of the Commons committee rooms.
Prior to the hearing:
- Committee staff will contact you to inform of any administrative arrangements.
- Committee staff will usually be able to give you an informal briefing highlighting potential lines of questioning.
- You should let committee staff know the name and job title of the witnesses.
On the day of the hearing:
- Please arrive 20 minutes before you are due to appear.
- If other witnesses are to appear before you, it is helpful to if you can attend their session, so that you are in a position to comment on that evidence.
- The session is in the form of a question and answer session.
After the hearing:
- Send any further information you have agreed to provide the committee to the committee staff as soon as possible.
- Correct the transcript of your evidence which will be sent to you by the committee staff with instructions.
Please note: you should contact committee staff if you suspect your evidence may relate to proceedings which are before a court of law, or court proceedings are imminent.