House of Commons select committees are largely concerned with examining the work of government departments.
Some select committees have a role that crosses departmental boundaries such as the Public Accounts or Environmental Audit Committees. Depending on the issue under consideration they can look at any or all of the government departments.
The House of Lords has five main select committees which focus on Europe, science and technology, economics, communications and the UK constitution. Occasionally, other committees are set up to look at issues outside the five main groups.
Select committee meetings usually take place in Parliament on Monday afternoons, all day on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday mornings.
Each committee typically meets once each week, although committees meet twice if they are particularly busy. Meetings where evidence is taken do not usually last longer than three hours.
Times and availability
All select committees take evidence in public, with very few exceptions. Typically committees meet privately for a short period before the evidence-taking begins, at which point members of the public are invited in with the witnesses. It is worth checking the Parliamentary Calendar in order to see when committees are scheduled to meet.
There is no system of tickets or advanced booking. Places are limited and visitors are admitted on a first come, first served basis. If you can’t visit parliament, committee meetings are also webcast on Parliament TV.
Arriving at Westminster
For committee meetings in committee rooms in the Palace of Westminster, visitors should use the main Cromwell Green entrance. For those select committee meetings held in Portcullis House, visitors should enter by the main entrance to Portcullis House on the Victoria Embankment, facing the river.