Second Report: Improving the effectiveness of parliamentary scrutiny: (a) Select committee amendments, (b) Explanatory statements on amendments,

09 March 2011

A higher profile for select committees in proposing amendments in the House, more information for Members and the public on suggested amendments to bills and a shift of emphasis to encourage quality over quantity in tabling and answering parliamentary questions are three steps which can be taken towards improving the effectiveness of parliamentary scrutiny.

The House of Commons Procedure Committee today publishes a report recommending:

• That select committees, subject to meeting certain procedural criteria, be enabled to table amendments to bills and motions before the House;
• That Members, including the opposition frontbench and the Government, be encouraged to table explanatory statements on amendments to bills, explaining the purpose and impact of the amendment;
• That the Government should always table statements to amendments offered at report stage, giving the reasons for bringing forward amendments at that stage;
• That an earlier deadline be imposed on electronically tabled questions and a new quota of 5 per sitting day be imposed for electronically tabled questions in order to enhance the quality of questions asked and improve the service received. This should also marginally reduce costs of the parliamentary questions system

Committee Chair Greg Knight said: “These three sets of proposals are designed to enhance the effectiveness of scrutiny by individual Members and by select committees.  They are evolutionary rather than revolutionary and I believe they show that even relatively minor steps can contribute towards a better quality of parliamentary scrutiny.”

The Committee will now seek an opportunity to put the report to the House for its agreement.

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