The House of Lords, like the House of Commons, has become a more specialised body, working through investigative committees. Its sessional committees, re-appointed each session, have grown in number over the past twenty years – most recently with the creation of an International Relations Committee – but these have been complemented by the appointment of ad hoc committees, appointed usually for the lifetime of a session to report on particular issues. The House now appoints four such committees each session, including one to undertake post-legislative scrutiny – a development I particularly welcome. Post-legislative scrutiny is an important, but previously much neglected, dimension of the legislative process.
I have just contributed a post on ‘Lords of the Blog’ on the four committees appointed for the new session. The House has not wasted time in appointing sessional and ad hoc committees and already three of the ad hoc committees have published calls for evidence. As I have pointed out on ‘Lords of the Blog’ the committees cover important contemporary issues, including those relevant to the health of the political system, notably citizenship and civic engagement, and political polling and digital media. The committees enable the House to draw on the experience and expertise of its members and to generate informed analyses and recommendations. After publication, the House has the opportunity to debate the committee reports and the Government’s response to them. I shall look forward especially to the reports of this session’s committees and the opportunity to contribute to those debates.