Welsh Affairs Committee

The Committee’s Remit

The Welsh Affairs Committee is one of the departmentally-related select committees of the House of Commons appointed under Standing Order No 152.  Its terms of reference are to examine matters within the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Wales (including relations with the National Assembly for Wales). 

What is the Membership of the Committee?

The Committee consists of 11 Members of Parliament, of whom the quorum is 3.  (Please see link to Members for the current membership). The Committee is nominated by the House at the beginning of each Parliament for the duration of the Parliament, although individual Members may be discharged or added during the course of the Parliament.  The membership reflects the party strengths in the House as a whole.  Thus, in the present Parliament, there are 6 Labour Members, 3 Conservative Members, 1 Liberal Democrat and 1 Plaid Member.  The Committee appoints one of its number as Chairman.

How does the Committee work?

Select Committees operate normally by conducting inquiries into subjects within its area of responsibility.  Once a subject has been chosen, and the terms of reference of the inquiry have been agreed, the Committee requests written memoranda from interested organisations.  Formal evidence sessions are then arranged with the individuals and bodies principally concerned.  Informal briefing sessions and visits may also be held.  On the basis of the evidence, a report is drafted under the direction of the Chairman, which the Committee considers, may amend, and finally agrees to.  The report is then published and the Government is under an obligation to reply to it in due course. 

The principal powers of Select Committee are:

to send for persons, papers and records;

to adjourn from place to place (ie to travel and to meet away from Westminster); and

to appoint Specialist Advisers.

Select Committee powers

Select Committees’ powers are limited only in that papers may not be sent for from Government departments and in that  Members of the House of Commons, House of Lords and the Royal family may not be summoned as witnesses.  In practice, the Welsh Affairs Committee, in common with the other departmental committees, prefers to proceed by consent, inviting the submission of written memoranda and inviting witnesses to appear before it.

The National Assembly for Wales

The way in which the Welsh Affairs Committee operates has, of course, been affected by devolution and the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales.  The Committee liaises closely with National Assembly Committees and has established a way of working through consultation, visits and invitation to appear before each others committees. This process is still evolving with the Committee and Committees of the National Assembly for Wales looking for new and innovative ways of joint working.

Committee staff

The Welsh Affairs Committee has 4 staff who are officials of the House of Commons (not civil servants).  They are:

Sue Griffiths, Clerk of the Committee

Christine Randall, Committee Assistant

Annabel Goddard, Committee Secretary

Jim Lawford, Office Support