The value of committees in the Lords

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.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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5 Responses to The value of committees in the Lords

  1. Stephen MacLean says:

    Good reminder of the work undertaken by the House of Peers. As Brexit Diarist for The New York Sun, I should really keep on top of specialised scrutiny taking place in the Lords.

  2. tizres says:

    Scrutiny is a terribly misused word in the wrong hands.

    “The scrutiny committee aren’t expert builders. We don’t go into the level of detail in terms of the specification of what goes into the building. The whole issue of how we scrutinised is obviously the issue we are having to look at. We will have to change.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/20/grenfell-tower-fire-kensington-chelsea-deputy-council-leader-unaware-residents-concerns

  3. Croft says:

    The weakness in the system is that although you say; ‘Topics for investigation are put forward by members to the Liaison Committee, which then makes recommendations to the House and it is for the House to agree those recommendations. The process is thus member-driven’ in reality the usual channels allow or block the topics chosen which tends to make them rather luke warm

    • Lord Norton says:

      Croft: I disagree. The House has taken issue before with the recommendations of the Liaison Committee and essentially ensured that it got its way. The fact that we now an International Relations Committee is attributable to pressure from the House.

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