About the Scrutiny Unit

The Scrutiny Unit's main focus is on work of a legislative or financial nature.

Legislative Scrutiny

Draft Bills

The Scrutiny Unit's work on Draft Bills falls into two categories. The Unit supports departmental select committees in scrutinising Draft Bills. It also provides administrative support and legal and procedural advice to ad hoc Joint Committees (committees with Members from both the House of Lords and House of Commons) set up to consider Draft Bills.

Public Bill Committees

The Unit is responsible for co-ordinating the evidence-taking sessions of Public Bill Committees, including the receipt and circulation of written submissions. It works with the Public Bill Office, Select Committees and the House of Commons Library to ensure that Committee Members have appropriate briefing for any oral evidence sessions.

Financial Scrutiny

The Scrutiny Unit provides a wide range of financial expertise to departmental select committees. It undertakes systematic reviews of:

  • Main and Supplementary Estimates

  • Departmental Annual Reports and Accounts 

  • Spending Review settlements, Budget Statements, Autumn Statements etc

Following discussions with the relevant select committees, these reviews result in the production of written questions for departments and some times briefing for oral evidence sessions.

The Scrutiny Unit also aims to improve the quality of financial scrutiny through working with select committees in pressing Departments to improve the quality of the financial information they provide, preparing guidance notes, giving presentations and training to Members and their staff, and identifying examples of best practice. The Scrutiny Unit also provides economic support to Select Committees for specific committee inquiries. 

Debates on public spending (Estimates days)

From February 2018 new arrangements are expected to come into effect for the allocation of Estimates day debates, initially on a pilot basis. Members wishing to bid for an Estimates day  debate should submit a bid to the Backbench Business Committee by deadlines announced and using the appropriate form.  There will be Estimates day debates slots available twice a year- in February/March, following publication of Supplementary Estimates, and in July, following publication of Main Estimates. Members or Members' staff wishing to discuss a bit or potential bid for such a debate, or seek further information relating to the debate, should contact Larry Honeysett of the Scrutiny Unit at honeysettl@parliament.uk, or the House of Commons library.

Further information can be found here.  

Other work 

Other work carried out by the Unit includes:

  • support for Select Committees, when resources permit, especially in legal and financial areas;
  • assisting other bodies within the House, for example by supporting the Speaker's Committee on its oversight of the Electoral Commission;
  • supporting committees in their analysis of Impact Assessments and in conducting post-legislative scrutiny;
  • providing training, for example running a presentation on evidence-taking by public bill committees for committee office and library staff

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