Magazine article Public Finance

Select Committees 'Need to Be Sharper'

Magazine article Public Finance

Select Committees 'Need to Be Sharper'

Article excerpt

Parliamentary select committees must take a longer-term approach to scrutiny of government to improve the impact they have on the work of Whitehall, the Institute for Government has said.

In a report examining the work of select committees in the last parliament, the IfG said there had been innovations since 2010, including the introduction of elections among MPs to determine the chairs. Other reforms included the Defence Committee's use of rapporteurs to gather evidence and the Home Affairs Committee's speed in holding oral evidence sessions in reaction to news events.

However, the Select committees under scrutiny report stated that further reforms are needed to ensure that inquiries provide good value for the taxpayer.

Among the recommendations is a call for committees to focus explicitly on impact and outcomes, rather than tasks and outputs. The report also suggested that committees clearly identify their aims and then structure their inquiries to deliver them. They should also evaluate the effectiveness of their inquiries once reports have been published.

Chairs should work together to find mechanisms to drive cross-committee work, including identifying issues that straddle the remit of multiple committees. …

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