The Constitution Unit


The Impact of House of Commons Select Committees

April 2010 - January 2011

Select Committee

Establishment of Select Committees is routinely cited as one of the most important reforms in the House of Commons’ recent history, and one of the few occasions when a reform unequivocally strengthened parliament against the executive. Despite this the research carried out into committee impact and effectiveness has been limited. Committee impact is complex, and may often be indirect, making it difficult to assess. The most obviously measurable factor is the number of committee recommendations which are taken up by government. But applied too simplistically this measure can give misleading results, and committees can also have more subtle forms of influence.

This innovative project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, was the first large-scale cross-committee analysis of the policy impact of select committees. The project was unusual, in that it was a collaboration between the Constitution Unit and House of Commons Select Committee staff. During the dissolution period and the summer recess of 2010, committee staff worked to gather and code data on committee inquiries and recommendations. The parliament team then conducted interviews and quantitative analysis. The results of the project were published in a report launched in June 2011, which you can download from the outputs page.

The work on committees also fits within a wider programme of research into the policy impact of the British parliament, which Dr Russell is pursuing as part of an ESRC Research Fellowship. Find more information on the programme, the Policy Impact of Parliament.

Other Outputs