Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons

24 October 2007 No. 10


On 11 October the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons announced its intention to launch a series of inquiries into aspects of the Governance of Britain agenda. Today the Committee is publishing terms of reference for four short inquiries with deadlines for written submissions.

Scrutiny of the draft Queen's Speech

A week after the publication of the Governance of Britain green paper the Government published its draft legislative programme for 2007-08; the House of Commons debated the proposed programme on 25 July 2007 and the House of Lords debated the proposals the following day.

The Committee will conduct a short inquiry into Parliament's role in scrutinising the proposed legislative programme, including how it is published, and when it should be debated by the House. The Committee intends to make recommendations to the House on how to handle scrutiny of the draft legislative programme in the coming years.

The Committee invites submissions on any aspect of Parliament's handling of the proposed legislative programme. Submissions relating to the draft legislative programme should reach the Committee by Friday, 9 November 2007.

Regional accountability

The Governance of Britain green paper suggested proposals to improve democratic accountability and scrutiny of the delivery of public services in the English regions. We believe it is important to look at the question of regional accountability. The Committee invites submissions on:

  • what models of accountability might work;

  • what the role of the House should be in regional accountability; and

  • what resources would be needed to make regional accountability work in the House of Commons.

Submissions on regional accountability should reach the Committee by Friday, 23 November 2007.

Recall and dissolution

The Governance of Britain green paper envisages some mechanism for allowing Members to request a recall of the House during a recess. It also sets out the Government's belief that the approval of the House of Commons should be sought before the Prime Minister asks Her Majesty to dissolve Parliament. The Committee would welcome submissions on:

  • Issues around the dissolution of Parliament and the role of the House of Commons in approving any decision to dissolve Parliament; and

  • Possible means of providing for the recall of the House in a recess.

Submissions on recall of the House and the dissolution of Parliament should reach the Committee by Friday, 30 November 2007.

Debating departmental objectives and annual reports

The Governance of Britain green paper said 'The Government believes that the House of Commons should be guaranteed an opportunity to debate, on the floor of the House, the annual objectives and plans of the major Government Departments in order to strengthen further Parliament's scrutiny of the executive. The Government will therefore ask the House of Commons Modernisation Committee to consider ways to provide for this.'

The Committee would welcome submissions on how such debates could be provided for, how they could be accommodated in the Parliamentary timetable, and how the scrutiny of departmental plans, objectives and targets by select committees and other work that flows from their core tasks can be used best by the House in debates.

Submissions on debates on departmental plans and objectives should reach the Committee by Friday, 7 December 2007.

Other inquiries on the Governance of Britain agenda may follow at a later stage.

Please send written submissions for both inquiries to or by post to the Clerk, Modernisation Committee, Journal Office, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Submissions need not address all the points listed above and should be as concise as is consistent with conveying the relevant information. Submissions should indicate clearly to which inquiry they relate. Further guidance on submitting evidence to select committees is available on the House of Commons on these pages.

Telephone enquiries should be directed to Dr Susan Griffiths on 020 7219 6125.

Media Enquiries: Liz Parratt, 07917 488978,