The Constitution Unit


Assessing the Introduction of Public Bill Committees

September 2008 - March 2009

Research led by Jessica Levy

About the Project

In November 2006 the House of Commons approved a series of changes recommended by its Select Committee on Modernisation which altered the procedures by which parliament scrutinises government bills. The committee stage of the legislative process in the House of Commons, the stage where bills are examined in detail, was overhauled in the interests of achieving enhanced scrutiny and a more informed and accessible legislative process.

Standing committees, as were, were re-named public bill committees and endowed with the power to call witnesses and receive written submissions from interested bodies external to parliament, in the course of their investigation of the detail of the bill. To this extent, these committees have become more like select committees.

This project seeks to assess the impact of these reforms. It asks what value has been added by the new public bill committee process, and aims to suggest ways in which the current situation can be further improved.

Drawing on a series of 30 interviews with relevant stakeholders - government and opposition spokespersons, backbenchers, clerks and witnesses - the resulting publication will be the first comprehensive work to review the work of the new committees.