The Constitution Unit


Legislative Committees at Westminster: The Case for Reform

The legislative process in the UK House of Commons has long been criticised, in particular with relation to its committee stage. Almost uniquely amongst established, developed parliamentary democracies this is taken in non-specialist and temporary (‘public bill’) committees, rather than specialist, permanent committees. In contrast the Commons ‘select committees’, responsible for oversight of other aspects of policy, are specialist and permanent, and are well-respected.

The central objective of this project was to contribute to the evidence base in support of reform of the way in which the House of Commons deals with legislation, by investigating how legislative committees function in other jurisdictions. We focussed on how best practice can be built upon, adapted and incorporated into the British parliament. A report has been produced to inform the work of reformers, both inside and outside the House of Commons. 

This project was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. The project was led by Constitution Unit's Meg Russell, and the other researchers are Dr Phil Larkin and Dr Bob Morris. 

This project also shares many themes with our research into the policy impact of the British parliament, which Meg Russell is concurrently pursuing in other projects. For more information, click here.

  • The final report for this project was launched on 10th June 2013. 
  • For more information, please contact Meg Russell at meg.russell@ucl.ac.uk