The Institute for Government is today calling for reforms to the ways that select committees operate. To fulfil their crucial role in scrutinising government, these committees must improve their focus on what they are trying to achieve and their understanding of their own impact; and they must be better supported and led than by the currently-dysfunctional Liaison Committee.
The Institute’s new report points out that the introduction of elections for committee chairs has made them more democratic, increased their impact and raised their profile. But if these positive developments are to be sustained, it argues, the capacity of the committee system as a whole to learn and improve needs to be radically improved.
The report’s recommendations include:
- Committees should focus on impact and outcomes rather than tasks and outputs, clearly identifying their aims and structuring their inquiries to deliver them;
- Inquiries should routinely be subject to impact evaluations, with feedback sought from witnesses and demand for reports monitored, so that committees learn what works;
- Chairs should collaborate to share evidence on effective techniques, improve joint working on cross-departmental policy issues, and introduce inductions for new members;
- The Liaison Committee should be reformed, with the introduction of an executive sub-committee to improve decision-making and, in future, the election of the committee’s chair by the whole House.
For full details, please click here.