About the Scrutiny Unit
The Scrutiny Unit's main focus is on work of a legislative or financial nature.
Our work on Draft Bills falls into two categories. We support departmental select committees in scrutinising Draft Bills. We also provide administrative support and legal and procedural advice to ad hoc Joint Committees set up to consider Draft Bills.
Public Bill Committees
We are responsible for co-ordinating the evidence-taking sessions of Public Bill Committees, including the receipt and circulation of written submissions. We work with the Public Bill Office, Select Committees and the House of Commons Library to ensure that Committee Members have appropriate briefing for any oral evidence sessions.
- How you can get involved with a Public Bill Committee
- Public Bill Committees currently accepting written evidence
- How to submit written evidence to a Public Bill Committee
- Leaflet on giving evidence to a Public Bill Committee
We provide a wide range of financial expertise to departmental select committees. We undertake systematic reviews of:
Main and Supplementary Estimates
Departmental Annual Reports and Accounts
Spending Review settlements, Budget Statements, Autumn Statements etc
Following discussions with the relevant select committees, these reviews result in the production of written questions for departments and some times briefing for oral evidence sessions.
We also aim to improve the quality of financial scrutiny through working with select committees in pressing Departments to improve the quality of the financial information they provide, preparing guidance notes, giving presentations and training to Members and their staff, and identifying examples of best practice. We also provide economic support to Select Committees for specific committee inquiries.
Debates on public spending (Estimates days)
From February 2018 new arrangements are expected to come into effect for the allocation of Estimates day debates, initially on a pilot basis. Members wishing to bid for an Estimates day debate should submit a bid to the Backbench Business Committee by deadlines announced and using the appropriate form. There will be Estimates day debates slots available twice a year- in February/March, following publication of Supplementary Estimates, and in July, following publication of Main Estimates. Members or Members' staff wishing to discuss a bid or potential bid for such a debate, or seek further information relating to the debate, should contact the Scrutiny Unit, or the House of Commons library.
Further information can be found here.
We provide a range of support to Joint Committees on draft Bills, Public Bill Committees, and to departmental select committees in their regular scrutiny of government departments. This includes offering policy, research, and analytical knowledge, as well as additional capacity as resources allow in the following ways:
- managing one off evidence sessions, discreet elements of longer inquiries, or full inquiries
- drafting questions for Public Bill Committees
- undertaking report recommendations’ follow up reviews, if a select committee is interested in identifying where a government department has got to on a particular policy area, to inform their future work
- conducting scoping for potential areas of inquiries
Other work carried out by us includes:
- support for Select Committees, when resources permit, especially in legal and financial areas, analysis of Impact Assessments and in conducting post-legislative scrutiny;
- assisting other bodies within the House, for example by supporting the Speaker's Committee on its oversight of the Electoral Commission;
- providing training, for example running a presentation on evidence-taking by public bill committees for committee office and library staff