Role of Committees in Parliament

Committees in Parliament can be a tricky topic – you are unlikely to get a question that explicitly names committees (at least on past precedent) but they are essential to understanding the topic. This is clear if you take the functions of Parliament:

– Representation – MPs may choose committees based on, amongst other things, constituency interest (or personal). For example, Nicky Morgan started out on the Select Committee for Business, Innovation and Skills
– Legislation – Public bill committees are crucial to the word-by-word, line-by-line scrutiny of potential legislation
– Scrutiny – Departmental select committees are a key method of scrutiny of the government e.g. the example in the link above. The government MUST respond to committee reports and have 60 days to do so.

Equally, with Select Committee Chairs now being elected, and the demanded government response to committees, this could be used to show both the modernisation of Parliament and the growth in power of the backbench MPs.

The example linked above shows some of the power of committees to support this theory. With three Departmental Select Committees coming together to issue a report saying that the Government should allow wider debate on which of the European justice measures the UK opts back into. While the government could issue a response effectively ignoring this, to do so could be considered somewhat petulant given that the report concerns the way Parliament is run and the power of backbenchers.

For a reason I have yet to fathom, committees often cause students problems in the exams. Start with this post and example and you will be well on your way to understanding and being able to use committees within the Parliament topic.