15 March 2005
PUBLICATION OF THE ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2004
The extent of Select Committee activity and influence is today revealed in a new report by the cross-party Liaison Committee.
With 2004 expected to be the last full year of work for select committees in the current parliament, the Liaison Committee annual review provides a final opportunity to report progress on strengthening the scrutiny system.
The report shows that committees have continued to play an active role in scrutiny over the past year, on average holding 20 public meetings and publishing 10 reports each week that Parliament was sitting.
There has also been a marked increase in the amount of pre-legislative scrutiny undertaken by Committees and enhanced oversight of government expenditure.
Although the report highlights the positive impact that committees can have on government policy, it also warns that the Government must do more to ensure that Select Committees have adequate access to ministers, civil servants and advisers.
Commenting, Rt Hon Alan Williams, Chair of the Liaison Committee said:
"Over the past year, Select Committees have forced changes in government policy, engaged in policy dialogue, scrutinised financial expenditure and held a spotlight over a vast array of topical and important issues."
"On some occasions they have had to fight hard in order to gain access to Government information when it should have been made readily available to Select Committees."
"We have received assurances from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House that this situation will improve and we look forward to testing these guarantees during the next parliamentary term in individual select committees."
NOTE TO EDITORS:
1. This Report is numbered HC 419, Session 2004-05.
2. Last year's Report was Annual Report for 2003, HC 446, Session 2003-04.
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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