Liaison Committee

Session 2006-07

17 April 2007


The Liaison Committee today reports on the effective and developing role Commons select committees perform watching and challenging what Government is doing. Without them, the Committee says, there would be no meaningful parliamentary scrutiny.

The Liaison Committee, made up of the chairs of all the Commons select committees, is reporting on the work of select committees since the General Election of 2005.

Select committees hold open evidence sessions, often in front of TV cameras, where ministers and officials have to explain and justify their policies. Committees analyse issues and offer evidence-based conclusions in reports that regularly set the daily political agenda.

The report shows the high annual output of select committees, up to 150 reports and more than 500 evidence sessions. The Liaison Committee itself holds unique, twice-yearly in depth evidence sessions with the Prime Minister.

The report highlights the ways in which committee working methods have been developing, notably to connect more directly with the public through the web or via the media. Particular topics for new consideration this year have included post-legislative scrutiny and enhancing financial scrutiny of Government.

However, it also warns that the Government must ensure that Select Committees have adequate and more timely access to the information and to the Ministers, officials and advisors they need.

In particular, the Committee notes that too few draft Bills are committed to select committees, and where they are they have often been published too late for effective scrutiny. The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill demonstrated how Parliament through its committees can force the Government to change its mind on proposed legislation and thus produce a radically improved piece of legislation.

Rt Hon Alan Williams, Chair of the Liaison Committee said:

"This report shows that since the 2005 General Election the select committees have been consolidating their position as the sole effective means of holding Government to account across its full range of activity. Nearly thirty years since the creation of the modern system of select committees in 1979, half of the House of Commons takes part in this important work.

This is a system coming of age. What we need now is the commitment from Government that we will get timely access to what we need to continue and enhance the Parliamentary scrutiny that will give us better legislation and better policy." /ENDS

1. This Report is numbered HC 406 of Session 2006-07.

2. The last annual report was Annual Report for 2004, HC 419, Session 2004-05.

3. The Committee is chaired by Rt Hon Alan Williams (Labour, Swansea West) and includes the 30 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

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