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11. Select committees

Motions of appointment
Rotation rule
Committee Chairs
Proceedings in committee
Participation by non-members
Recess, prorogation and dissolution
Joint committees
Sessional committees
Committees on public matters
Committees on private business
Domestic committees
Bodies analogous to select committees
Other bodies
International delegations

11.1 The House appoints committees to perform functions on its behalf. Those committees whose members are appointed (‘named of the committee’) by the House are known as ‘select committees’.(1)

11.2 A select committee is appointed by ‘orders of appointment’ setting out the committee’s remit (‘orders of reference’), powers and membership.

11.3 Some committees are appointed to perform a particular task, on completion of which the committee ceases to exist (a ‘special inquiry’ select committee). Other committees, listed in SO 63, continue in existence from one session to the next (‘sessional select committees’); but the continued existence of such committees may be reviewed, particularly at the start of a Parliament.(2) This chapter concludes with a brief description of the sessional select committees.

Motions of appointment

11.4 A committee being set up for the first time is usually appointed by a two-stage process. If the appointment of the committee is recommended in a report of the Liaison Committee, approval of that report by the House is taken to be approval of the principle of the establishment of the committee. If the appointment of the committee has not been recommended by the Liaison Committee (as with certain pre-legislative scrutiny committees, for example), the Leader of the House first moves a motion that it is expedient to appoint the committee. This motion sets the proposed orders of reference, gives the House an opportunity to discuss the desirability of setting up the new committee, and authorises the Committee of Selection to select members. In either case, a second motion is then moved, by the Senior Deputy Speaker, to complete the orders of appointment. Such motions require notice, and may be debated and amended.

11.5 The ‘sessional committees’ are:

  • House of Lords Commission
  • Built Environment Committee
  • Communications and Digital Committee
  • Conduct Committee
  • Consolidation etc. Bills Committee (Joint)
  • Constitution Committee
  • Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee
  • Economic Affairs Committee
  • Environment and Climate Change Committee
  • European Affairs Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Human Rights Committee (Joint)
  • Hybrid Instruments Committee
  • Industry and Regulators Committee
  • International Agreements Committee
  • International Relations and Defence Committee
  • Justice and Home Affairs Committee
  • Liaison Committee
  • National Security Strategy Committee (Joint)
  • Procedure and Privileges Committee
  • Public Services Committee
  • Science and Technology Committee
  • Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee
  • Services Committee
  • Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee
  • Statutory Instruments Committee (Joint).

11.6 For a sessional select committee, the orders of appointment are made on a single motion. The Senior Deputy Speaker may move en bloc the motions appointing select committees, Deputy Chairmen and other bodies nominated by the Committee of Selection. Notice is given by means of an italic note in House of Lords Business informing the House that, unless any Lord objects, the motions of appointment will be moved en bloc.(3)


11.7 The House may amend, amplify or restrict a committee’s orders of reference at any time by passing an instruction—e.g. to consider (or not to consider) a certain aspect of the matter, to give certain parties an opportunity to give evidence, or to report by a given date. An instruction may be mandatory or permissive.


11.8 The Committee of Selection(4) selects and proposes to the House the membership of select committees, with the exception of the Committee of Selection itself and committees on private legislation.(5)

11.9 There is no formal rule on the political balance of committee membership,(6) and in most cases no fixed number of members. It is desirable for a member to serve on only one sessional investigative select committee at any one time.(7)

11.10 The Committee of Selection carries out annual monitoring of gender representation in Lords committee membership and chairing.

11.11 The Senior Deputy Speaker may propose to the House, without reference to the Committee of Selection, members of the House to fill casual vacancies on select committees.(8) Such motions may be moved en bloc, subject to the rules set out in paragraph 3.55.(9)

Rotation rule

11.12 In order to secure a regular turnover of membership, a ‘rotation rule’ operates in the case of most committees, whereby members of the House who have been appointed (or co-opted) for three successive calendar years may not be reappointed in the following two calendar years. The three years may be extended to allow a member appointed as Chair a three-year term as Chair. Select committees apply the rotation rules to their sub-committees.(10)

11.13 To give effect to the rotation rule, each January the Committee of Selection recommends the names of members to be appointed to select committees in place of those who are to rotate off those committees.

11.14 The Committee of Selection may consider making ad hoc adjustments to the application of the rotation rule when needed.

11.15 The following committees are exempt from any rotation rule:

  • Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills(11)
  • Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee
  • Hybrid Instruments Committee.

11.16 The Lord Speaker, leaders, chief whips, deputy chief whips, Convenor of the Crossbench Peers and the Senior Deputy Speaker are exempt from the rotation rule.

11.17 External members of the House of Lords Commission are appointed for a maximum term of six years.(12)

11.18 Lay members of the Conduct Committee are appointed for three-year terms with the ability to extend each appointment once for up to three years.(13)

Committee Chairs

11.19 The Chairs of most committees are appointed by the House on the proposal of the Committee of Selection. Otherwise the Senior Deputy Speaker or, in their absence, a Deputy Chairman takes the Chair.(14) In the absence of an appointed Chair, the committee may appoint a substitute. Alternatively, a committee may be given power to appoint its own Chair; this is usually done only in the case of a joint committee.


11.20 A select committee may be appointed to report on a matter referred to it. When such a committee has reported, it ceases to exist. Alternatively, a committee may be given power to report “from time to time”—i.e. more than once.

11.21 A committee cannot appoint sub-committees or delegate its powers to sub-committees without an order of the House. The maximum number of members on a sub-committee is 12, other than in exceptional circumstances.(15)

11.22 A committee may be given power to co-opt other members of the House as members of the committee or of a sub-committee.

11.23 Committees are given the power to “send for persons, papers and records”. Ordinarily, witnesses attend and documents are produced voluntarily. However, the existence of this power means that, should it be necessary to issue a formal summons for the attendance of witnesses or the production of papers, the Chair may put a motion before the committee that such a summons be issued. The issuing of a summons is to be used as a last resort, and only where a witness has refused repeated invitations, and their evidence is vital to an inquiry in progress. Refusal to attend in response to a formal summons would be reported to the House as a prima facie contempt.(16)

11.24 Members or staff of the House of Commons, and persons outside United Kingdom jurisdiction (such as foreign ambassadors), may give evidence by invitation, but cannot be compelled to do so. If a committee desires to examine an official of the House of Commons, a message is sent requesting the official’s attendance, and the leave of the House of Commons must be obtained. No such messages are sent in respect of joint committees or committees on private bills, nor in respect of members of the House of Commons.(17) No message is required when Commons officials attend Lords committees to give informal briefings.

11.25 Committees on private business have authority to hear parties by counsel or on oath but other committees do not have this authority unless authorised to do so by the House.(18)

11.26 An order “that the minutes of evidence taken from time to time shall, if the committee think fit, be published” gives the committee power to publish evidence(19) in advance of its report.

11.27 A committee may be given other powers including:

  • power to appoint specialist advisers;
  • power to travel and meet outside the parliamentary estate, either generally or within the United Kingdom.

11.28 Select committees and their sub-committees have the power to confer and meet concurrently with any committee or sub-committee of the Commons appointed to consider a similar matter. Such meetings can be held to deliberate or to take evidence.

11.29 The powers of committees of the House to inquire into matters relating to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not been limited formally by the devolution statutes. In practice committees do not seek to hold the devolved administrations to account but may take evidence from them for comparative purposes.

Proceedings in committee

11.30 The quorum of a committee is three, unless the House orders otherwise. The quorum of the Lords joining with the Commons as the Joint Committees on Human Rights and Statutory Instruments is two. Members joining a meeting via telephone or video call, in circumstances where that is permitted, count for the purposes of a quorum.

11.31 The Chair of a committee has a vote, but not a casting vote.

11.32 Proceedings are conducted in English. However, the use of the Welsh language is permitted for the purpose of committee proceedings held in Wales.(20) Evidence may be received in foreign languages and British Sign Language (see paragraph 4.45).

Participation by non-members

11.33 Members of the House who are not members of a select committee may attend and speak when evidence is being taken; but they may not attend any meeting while the committee deliberates, unless invited by the committee to do so, they do not count towards the quorum, and they may not vote.(21) Members of the House who are not members of a committee or sub-committee do not receive papers on a regular basis.(22)

11.34 Some domestic committees have external or lay members who are not members of the House: see paragraph 11.85 onwards.

Recess, prorogation and dissolution

11.35 A committee may sit at any time during a recess, but no committee may sit during prorogation or dissolution.

11.36 Sessional committees, and their sub-committees, continue in the same form, notwithstanding prorogation, until they are reappointed in the next session.(23) Other committees cease to exist at prorogation. All committees cease to exist on the dissolution of Parliament.

11.37 If a special inquiry committee has not completed its inquiry in the session in which it is appointed, it may be appointed again in the following session. In this case, an order may be made to refer the evidence taken before the original committee to its successor.


11.38 A report from a committee embodies the text agreed by the majority of the committee on the basis of a draft presented by the Chair. Members of a committee may not make a minority report. However, members who wish to express dissent may move amendments to the Chair’s draft report or propose an alternative draft report. Amendments moved or alternative drafts proposed are recorded in the minutes of proceedings of the committee, together with a record of any vote. The minutes of proceedings are published with the report whenever a difference of opinion has been recorded in a division.(24) Minutes of proceedings are also required to record the making of any amendments to a bill by a select committee on a bill, whether there is a division or not. The minutes of proceedings serve as the authority for the making of the amendments and the republishing of the bill as reported.

11.39 Where a committee is minded to make a personal criticism of a named individual (other than a minister) in its report, the committee is encouraged to consider giving notice to that individual, in order to give them an opportunity to provide a response which the committee can publish as evidence.(25)

11.40 When a committee has agreed its report, an order is made for the report to be published.(26)

11.41 A motion to debate the report of a committee requires notice. Reports of some committees are debated on a neutral motion to ‘take note’ of the report. Other reports are debated on a motion to ‘agree to’ the report, to which amendments may be moved. A committee report may also be debated as the subject of a question for short debate.

11.42 The House has agreed that it is desirable that there should be regular debates on select committee reports in prime time.(27) Select committee reports may also be debated in Grand Committee with the concurrence of those concerned. Whether select committee reports are debated on the floor of the House or in Grand Committee, the debate may be time limited.(28)

11.43 The Government has undertaken to respond in writing to the reports of select committees, if possible, within two months of publication.(29) Reports to which a government response has not been received within two months are listed in House of Lords Business every Monday.(30) Debate takes place after the Government has responded, unless the committee wishes otherwise.(31)

11.44 There is no set time limit for government responses to reports from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, as these need to be made in good time for amendments to be tabled to the bill in question. These responses are made available to the relevant frontbenchers, and placed in the Library of the House.(32) They are also reported by the Committee.

11.45 A committee without leave to report from time to time may make a special report on incidental matters relating to its powers, functions or proceedings. Committees have used this procedure to invite evidence, or to review their own work over a period.

Joint committees

11.46 Joint committees of both Houses of Parliament usually have an equal number of members from each House, but this is a matter for arrangement between the Houses.

11.47 The standard procedure for setting up a joint committee proposed by the Lords is as follows: a motion is moved that it is expedient that a joint committee of both Houses be appointed to consider some particular subject. If this is agreed to, it is communicated by message to the Commons, with a request for their concurrence. If the Commons agrees then a message is returned which contains the Commons membership and orders of reference. The House then appoints a select committee, on a proposal from the Committee of Selection, and agrees the powers, orders of reference and time and place of the first meeting.

11.48 An addition to the number of members of a joint committee, or a change in its order of reference, is made in the same way. The filling of casual vacancies on joint committees does not require an exchange of messages.

11.49 A joint committee is given the power to appoint its own Chair. Any power to be exercised by a joint committee must be granted by both Houses. Except where otherwise provided in the orders of reference, the procedure in a joint committee is that of select committees of the House of Lords.

Sessional committees

11.50 The following sessional select committees fall into three categories: first, those on public matters; second, those on private business; finally, the ‘domestic’ committees through which the House regulates its internal affairs.

Committees on public matters

11.51 The Chairs of these committees are nominated by the Committee of Selection, except for the joint committees, which appoint their own Chairs.

Built Environment Committee

11.52 This committee is appointed “to consider matters relating to the built environment, including policies relating to housing, planning, transport and infrastructure”.

Communications and Digital Committee

11.53 This committee is appointed “to consider the media, digital and the creative industries”.

Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills

11.54 This joint committee is described at paragraphs 8.219–8.220.

Constitution Committee

11.55 This committee is appointed “to consider the constitutional implications of public bills coming before the House; and to keep under review the operation of the constitution and constitutional aspects of devolution”.

Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee

11.56 The committee’s terms of reference require it to report “whether the provisions of any bill inappropriately delegate legislative power, or whether they subject the exercise of delegated power to an inappropriate degree of parliamentary scrutiny”. The committee also reports on “documents and draft orders laid before Parliament under or by virtue of (a) sections 14 and 18 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, (b) section 7(2) or section 15 of the Localism Act 2011, or (c) section 5E(2) of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004; and to perform, in respect of such draft orders, and in respect of subordinate provisions orders made or proposed to be made under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, the functions performed in respect of other instruments and draft instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments”. Finally, the committee reports on various other documents and draft orders subject to enhanced scrutiny procedures (see paragraphs 10.33–10.40).

11.57 The committee usually considers bills (except consolidation and supply bills) after introduction in the Lords, on the basis of a memorandum from the relevant government department.(33) The committee aims to issue its reports before the bills are considered at committee stage. If time allows, the committee also reports on government amendments with significant delegated powers aspects.(34) The committee has also reported on delegated powers in draft bills.(35)

Economic Affairs Committee

11.58 This committee is appointed “to consider economic affairs and business affairs”. The committee usually appoints a sub-committee to examine the draft Finance Bill each year.(36) The sub-committee examines tax administration, clarification and simplification, and not the incidence or rates of tax. The sub-committee conducts its activities with full regard to the traditional boundary between the two Houses on fiscal policy.(37)

Environment and Climate Change Committee

11.59 This committee is appointed “to consider the environment and climate change”.

European Affairs Committee

11.60 This committee is appointed:

“(1) To consider matters relating to the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union and the European Economic Area, including:

(a) The implementation of any agreements between the United Kingdom and the European Union, including the operation of the governance structures established under those agreements;

(b) Any negotiations and further agreements between the United Kingdom and the European Union;

(c) The operation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland;

(2) To consider European Union documents deposited in the House by a minister;

(3) To support the House as appropriate in interparliamentary cooperation with the European Parliament and the Member States of the European Union.”

11.61 The European Affairs Committee appoints a sub-committee to consider all matters related to the Protocol, including scrutinising EU legislation applying to Northern Ireland under the Protocol, and the Protocol’s overall impact on Northern Ireland.

Joint Committee on Human Rights

11.62 This joint committee is appointed to consider matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom, excluding individual cases. It scrutinises the human rights implications of bills, and also has functions in connection with remedial orders (see paragraphs 10.22–10.25).

Industry and Regulators Committee

11.63 This committee is appointed “to consider matters relating to industry, including the policies of His Majesty’s Government to promote industrial growth, skills and competitiveness, and to scrutinise the work of UK regulators”.

International Agreements Committee

11.64 This committee is appointed “to consider matters relating to the negotiation, conclusion and implementation of international agreements, and to report on treaties laid before Parliament in accordance with Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010”. The legislative framework for the House’s scrutiny of treaties, and the committee’s role, are described in paragraphs 10.51–10.57.

International Relations and Defence Committee

11.65 This committee is appointed “to consider the United Kingdom’s international relations and issues relating to UK defence policy”. The committee has been designated as the committee responsible under section 3 of the Trade Act 2021 for producing a report on whether there exist credible reports of genocide in the territory of a counter-party to a prospective Free Trade Agreement with the UK. (38) It has been given the power to appoint a sub-committee for the purposes of conducting such an inquiry.

Justice and Home Affairs Committee

11.66 This committee is appointed “to consider justice and home affairs, including the domestic criminal justice system, and international cooperation in respect of criminal justice, civil justice, migration and asylum”.

Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy

11.67 This joint committee is appointed “to consider the National Security Strategy”. It has 10 Lords members and 12 Commons members.

Public Services Committee

11.68 This committee is appointed “to consider public services, including health and education”.

Science and Technology Committee

11.69 This committee is appointed “to consider science and technology”.

Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

11.70 This committee scrutinises all instruments laid before each House of Parliament and subject to parliamentary proceedings (with certain exceptions). In particular, it is required to draw to the special attention of the House (a) those instruments which are politically or legally important or give rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House; (b) those which may be inappropriate in view of the changed circumstances since the enactment of the parent Act; (c) those which may imperfectly achieve their policy objectives; (d) those where the explanatory material supporting the instrument is insufficient to understand its policy objective and intended implementation; (e) those where there appears to have been inadequacies in the consultation process; and, (f) those which appear to deal inappropriately with deficiencies in retained EU law.(39) The committee may conduct broader inquiries from time to time.(40) In addition, following the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the committee was charged with scrutinising proposed negative instruments laid under certain provisions of that Act with a view to recommending whether the scrutiny procedure applicable to a proposed negative instrument should be upgraded to the affirmative procedure.

11.71 The committee reports on draft instruments and memoranda laid before Parliament under sections 8 and 23(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and section 31 of the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 (see paragraphs 10.41 and 10.43). It also reports on draft instruments published under paragraph 14 of Schedule 8 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (see paragraph 10.42).(41)

Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

11.72 This joint committee scrutinises delegated legislation in certain technical and legal respects. Its terms of reference are embodied in SO 74 and its powers in a resolution of 16 December 1997. It does not consider the merits or policy of delegated legislation. Under SO 73, a motion to approve an affirmative instrument may not be moved in the House of Lords until the joint committee has reported on the instrument.(42) The Chair is, by practice, a member of the House of Commons.

Committees on private business

11.73 The Senior Deputy Speaker chairs these committees.

Hybrid Instruments Committee

11.74 This committee considers hybrid instruments in accordance with private business SOs 216 and 216A. The committee rarely meets, reflecting the fact that many bills now include provisions exempting delegated legislation from hybrid instrument procedure.

Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee

11.75 This committee considers cases referred to it on a certificate of non-compliance, or on a special report, from the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, who certify whether in the case of a particular private or hybrid bill the standing orders have been complied with. In a case of doubt, the committee decides whether the standing orders have been complied with. In a case of non-compliance, it reports whether the standing orders ought to be dispensed with and, if so, on what conditions.

11.76 The parties either appear in person or are represented by their parliamentary agents. Counsel are not heard. In opposed cases, the quorum of the committee is three; but in unopposed cases, the Senior Deputy Speaker normally acts alone.

Domestic committees

House of Lords Commission

11.77 The House of Lords Commission is appointed to provide high-level strategic and political direction for the House of Lords Administration on behalf of the House. The Commission:

i agrees the annual Estimate;

ii supervises the arrangements relating to financial support for members;(43) and

iii works with the Management Board to develop, set and approve the strategic business plan, the annual business and financial plans for the Administration and monitors the performance of the Administration against agreed targets.

11.78 The Lord Speaker chairs the Commission, and the Senior Deputy Speaker is the Deputy Chair.(44) The Commission consists of a further eight members of the House, including the party leaders and the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers or their representatives, together with four backbenchers: the Chairs of the Finance and Services Committees, plus two other backbench members from the groups not holding the Chairs of either the Finance or Services Committees. The membership of the Commission also includes two external members who are non-voting, one of whom is the Chair of the Audit Committee. The quorum is three members of the House and there is no separate quorum for the external members, who do not need to be present for a meeting to take place.

11.79 The Commission is supported and advised by the Finance and Services Committees. Certain matters are reserved to the Commission; others are delegated to those committees. The Commission appoints the Audit Committee, including agreeing its members and terms of reference.(45) The Commission has statutory responsibilities for establishing joint departments in Parliament(46) and in relation to the Restoration and Renewal Programme.(47)

11.80 The Senior Deputy Speaker speaks for the Commission in the House when presenting its reports and answering questions on administrative matters and may also make written statements. This role is described further in paragraphs 6.10 and 6.21.

Conduct Committee

11.81 This committee keeps the Code of Conduct, the Guide to the Code, and the Code of Conduct for Members’ Staff under review, and oversees their operation. Recommendations to amend either of the Codes or the Guide are made in reports to the House. The Chair presents these reports to the House, and may also answer written questions on conduct matters if delegated by the Senior Deputy Speaker.

11.82 The committee receives reports from the Commissioners for Standards on complaints made under the Codes, including cases of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct, and hears appeals against the Commissioners’ findings or recommended sanctions. Having heard any appeal, the committee makes a report to the House. The agreement of the House is required if a serious sanction is proposed. Reports from the Conduct Committee resulting from an investigation under the Code of Conduct, together with any motion on a sanction, are decided without debate.(48)

11.83 The Conduct Committee is made up of five members of the House (one of whom acts as Chair) and four lay members (see paragraph 11.18). The quorum is three members of the House and two lay members.

Finance Committee

11.84 This committee is appointed to support the House of Lords Commission by:

(a) considering expenditure on services provided from the Estimate for the House of Lords;

(b) with the assistance of the Management Board, preparing the forecast outturn, Estimate and financial plan for submission to the Commission;

(c) monitoring the financial performance of the House Administration; and

(d) reporting to the Commission on the financial implications of significant proposals.

The committee consists of a frontbench or senior member from each of the three main parties, two backbenchers from each of the Conservative, Labour and Crossbench groups and one backbencher from the Liberal Democrat group. The Chair of the Finance Committee presents any committee reports to the House and replies to debates on those reports. The Chair may answer written questions and debates on Finance Committee matters if delegated by the Senior Deputy Speaker.(49)

Liaison Committee

11.85 This committee advises the House on the resources required for committee work and on allocation of resources between committees. It reviews the committee work of the House; it considers requests for special inquiry committees; it seeks to ensure effective co-ordination between the two Houses; and it considers the availability of members of the House to serve on committees. The committee consists of 11 members of the House, including the party leaders or their deputies and the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers or their representatives, together with six backbenchers. The Senior Deputy Speaker is Chair, and the Chairs of the main investigative committees are entitled to attend the meetings of the committee on agenda items which concern them.

Committees for peerage claims(50)

11.86 The House may refer a peerage claim to a committee for determination. In such a case, the Senior Deputy Speaker must table a motion to appoint a committee to consider the peerage claim and report to the House.

11.87 Such committees consist of four members of the House along with three current holders of high judicial office, who would not be members of the House but would have the same speaking and voting rights as the members of the committee.(51)

Procedure and Privileges Committee

11.88 This committee considers any proposals for alterations in the procedure of the House that may arise from time to time, and whether the standing orders require to be amended.(52) The committee also considers questions regarding the privileges of the House.(53)

11.89 The committee is composed of the Senior Deputy Speaker (in the Chair), the Lord Speaker, the party leaders and chief whips, the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers, three Labour backbenchers, three Conservative backbenchers, two Liberal Democrat backbenchers and two other Crossbenchers.(54)

11.90 The committee as named by the Committee of Selection is supplemented by one alternate for each party group of backbench members and one for the Crossbenchers, plus an alternate for the Convenor. The alternates are also named by the Committee of Selection. They receive papers and are entitled to attend (and, if necessary, to vote) if a regular member cannot.

11.91 When the committee considers any question of privilege, it is required to co-opt two members of the House who are former holders of high judicial office. These co-opted members have the same speaking and voting rights as the full members of the committee.

11.92 The committee appoints a Leave of Absence Sub-Committee, which advises the Clerk of the Parliaments on the operation of the leave of absence scheme. The sub-committee is chaired by the Senior Deputy Speaker; the other members are the chief whips of the three main parties and the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers.(55)

Services Committee

11.93 The Services Committee is appointed to support the House of Lords Commission by:

i. agreeing day-to-day policy on member-facing services,

ii. providing advice on strategic policy decisions when sought by the Commission, and

iii. overseeing the delivery and implementation of i and ii.

The committee consists of a frontbench or senior member from each of the three main parties, the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers, two backbenchers from each of the Conservative and Labour groups and one backbencher each from the Liberal Democrat group and Crossbench peers. The Chair of the Services Committee presents any committee reports to the House and replies to debates on those reports. The Chair may also answer written questions and debates on Services Committee matters where delegated by the Senior Deputy Speaker.(56)

Committee of Selection

11.94 In addition to proposing the names of members of the House to form, and to chair, select committees, this committee also proposes the panel of Deputy Chairmen of Committees for each session, as well as the members of any other bodies referred to it by the Senior Deputy Speaker, such as the Lords members of the Board of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).(57) The committee is composed of the Senior Deputy Speaker (in the Chair), the party leaders and chief whips, the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers and one backbencher each from the Conservative and Labour groups and the Crossbench peers.

Bodies analogous to select committees

Audit Committee

11.95 The Audit Committee consists of five members of the House and two external members, one of whom is the Chair.(58) The Lords members concerned hold no other office in the House and, save for the Chair, do not sit on any other domestic committee.(59) Membership of the committee and its terms of reference are the responsibility of the House of Lords Commission. The Chair of the Audit Committee is a member of the Commission.(60)

Ecclesiastical Committee

11.96 The Ecclesiastical Committee is a statutory body, whose proceedings are not proceedings in Parliament; but by a committee resolution of 22 March 1921 it follows the procedure of a parliamentary joint committee. It consists of 30 members, 15 of whom are nominated by the Lord Speaker(61) from the House of Lords for the duration of a Parliament, to consider Church of England Measures (see paragraphs 8.231–8.236).

Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament

11.97 The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISCOP) is a statutory body, whose proceedings are not proceedings in Parliament, appointed by the Prime Minister in accordance with the Justice and Security Act 2013. Before putting forward a name or names of the Lords members of the ISCOP to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House consults the usual channels and tables a motion inviting the House to approve the nomination.

11.98 The ISCOP is required to publish an annual report, and may also publish special reports. There is a presumption that annual reports will be debated in Grand Committee and that special reports will be debated either in Grand Committee or in the Chamber. Such debates are on a take note motion (see paragraph 6.60) moved by a Lords member of the ISCOP. A minister winds up the debate, and the mover has a right of reply.(62)

Other bodies

Consultative Panel on Parliamentary Security

11.99 The Consultative Panel on Parliamentary Security supports the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker in the discharge of their political responsibility for security. It consists of members from both Houses, of whom the Lords members, including the Senior Deputy Speaker, are appointed by the House of Lords Commission. The Chairman of Ways and Means is the Chair.

The Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House

11.100 The committee on the size of the House was established to explore methods by which the size of the House of Lords could be reduced, commensurate with its current role and functions. It consists of six cross-party backbench members of the House of Lords who were appointed by the Lord Speaker.

Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

11.101 The Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission is a statutory body, whose proceedings are not proceedings in Parliament, appointed under the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019. It consists of two members from each House. The members of the House of Lords, one of whom is usually the Senior Deputy Speaker, are nominated
by the House of Lords Commission and appointed by resolution of the House.(63)

Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body

11.102 The Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body is a statutory body, whose proceedings are not proceedings in Parliament, appointed by both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019. Membership of the Sponsor Body is subject to confirmation by resolution of each House (or in the case of the parliamentary members, of the House to which they belong).

11.103 The Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body is required to publish a report on its activities at least once a year. There is a presumption that such a report will be debated in Grand Committee or in the Chamber on an annual basis. Such debates are on a take note motion (see paragraph 6.60) moved by the Sponsor Body’s spokesperson or another Lords member of the Sponsor Body, who is also expected to wind up the debate.(64)

POST Board

11.104 The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) provides members of both Houses with information on science and technology issues. It is overseen by a Board of members and officials of both Houses and non-parliamentarians. Four Lords members sit on the Board. By practice they include the Chair of the Science and Technology Committee.

Works of Art Advisory Panel

11.105 The Works of Art Advisory Panel reports and make recommendations to the Lord Speaker as Chair of the Commission. The Lord Speaker appoints the membership of the advisory panel and sets its terms of reference.

International delegations

11.106 Members of the House serve on United Kingdom delegations to various international bodies:

  • British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly;
  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Association;
  • Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly;
  • EU–UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly;
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union;
  • NATO Parliamentary Assembly;
  • Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

These delegations are appointed after consultations through the usual channels(65) and announced in a written ministerial statement.


1 The following committees are not select committees: Committees of the whole House, Grand Committees, second reading committees, unopposed private bill committees and committees to prepare reasons for disagreeing to Commons amendments to bills. The Ecclesiastical Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee are statutory bodies and not select committees.

2 Liaison 3rd Rpt 2005–06.

3 Procedure 1st Rpt 2000–01.

4 SO 62.

5 Unless the Senior Deputy Speaker or two or more members of the Committee of Selection think otherwise: SO 62(2). See also Private Business Standing Orders 104 and 121.

6 At the start of the 2010 Parliament the Committee of Selection concluded that the coalition Government should not have a majority over the other parties and Crossbenchers on any committee or sub-committee (1st Rpt 2010–12).

7 Procedure 5th Rpt 2013–14.

8 SO 62(7).

9 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2010–12.

10 Procedure 4th Rpt 2019–21. The rule applies to a committee and any sub-committee of it as a whole.

11 Procedure 2nd Rpt 2006–07.

12 House 1st Rpt 2016–17.

13 Committee for Privileges and Conduct 4th Rpt 2017–19.

14 SO 60.

15 Procedure 1st Rpt 1992–93.

16 Procedure 1st Rpt 2008–09.

17 Commons SO 138.

18 SO 65. Parliamentary Witnesses Act 1858, s. 2; LJ (1857) 60.

19 Procedure 2nd Rpt 2006–07.

20 Procedure 2nd Rpt 2008–09.

21 SO 64.

22 Procedure 1st Rpt 1992–93.

23 SO 63.

24 Procedure 3rd Rpt 1981–82; 1st Rpt 1982–83.

25 Procedure 4th Rpt 2010–12.

26 SO 67.

27 Procedure 5th Rpt 2001–02.

28 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2003–04.

29 Departmental evidence and response to Select Committees, Cabinet Office, October 2014.

30 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2017–19.

31 Procedure 1st Rpt 1992–93, as amended 9 July 1992.

32 Liaison 1st Rpt 1998–99.

33 Very occasionally, the committee has reported on bills while they are in the Commons and before their introduction in the Lords.

34 Procedure 1st Rpt 1999–2000.

35 Liaison 1st Rpt 1998–99.

36 Procedure 5th Rpt 2001–02.

37 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2003–04.

38 Liaison Committee 3rd Rpt 2021–22.

39 Procedure 5th Rpt 2013–14; Procedure and Privileges 6th Rpt 2019–21.

40 Procedure 1st Rpt 2005–06.

41 Procedure 5th Rpt 2017–19; Procedure and Privileges 6th Rpt 2019–21.

42 SO 73 sets out certain exceptions, including legislative reform orders, remedial orders and hybrid instruments.

43 This includes keeping the Guide to Financial Support for Members under review. The scheme of financial support for members, including the daily allowance and expenses, is based on resolutions of the House and reports and decisions of the House Committee and House of Lords Commission.

44 House of Lords Commission minutes, 20 March 2019.

45 House Committee 1st Rpt 2016–17.

46 Parliament (Joint Departments) Act 2007. A recommendation to establish a joint department by the Commission must be agreed by the House.

47 Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019.

48 SO 68.

49 House Committee 1st Rpt 2016–17.

50 SO 77.

51 Procedure 1st Rpt 2019–21.

52 On 21 April 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the House agreed a motion outlining general principles for the conduct of virtual proceedings. The House resolved at the same time that “The provisions of this Order shall be applied in accordance with guidance issued under the authority of the Procedure Committee from time to time, which may vary the provisions of the Companion to the Standing Orders insofar as they apply to Virtual Proceedings”. The House continued to operate in virtual or hybrid form, on the basis of guidance issued by the Committee, until physical proceedings resumed on 6 September 2021. The exceptional procedures adopted under this guidance are not covered in this volume, but the twelfth and most recent edition of the guidance is online at

53 Procedure 1st Rpt 2019–21.

54 Procedure 2nd Rpt 2005–06.

55 Procedure 6th Rpt 2010–12.

56 House Committee 1st Rpt 2016–17.

57 SO 63.

58 The external members are appointed for a maximum term of six years. House Committee minutes, 17 November 2015.

59 Offices 5th Rpt 2001–02.

60 House Committee 1st Rpt 2016–17.

61 Under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, as amended by Schedule 6 to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.

62 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2007–08.

63 Procedure 2nd Rpt 2019–21.

64 Procedure 1st Rpt 2019–21.

65 On 18 June 1992 the House confirmed this practice in respect of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: LJ (1992–93) 112.