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Select committees: election of chairs and members

Published Thursday, January 30, 2020

This briefing paper outlines the timetable for the election of chairs and members of select committees in the three previous Parliaments (2010, 2015 and 2017). It reports the allocation of chairs between the parties and the results of the election of committee chairs in 2019.

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The House elects the chairs of a number of select committees. 

On the day after the election of the Speaker, the new Speaker informs the House which parties are entitled to select committee chairs that will be elected by the House and how many. The parties then propose which committees each will chair and put a motion before the House.

When this motion has been agreed, the Speaker confirms the timetable for nominating and electing chairs.  Standing Orders provide that two weeks should elapse between the allocation and election of chairs but the Speaker can alter that time period.

In 2017:

  • The Speaker was elected on 13 June 2017.
  • On 4 July 2017, the House agreed to a motion which proposed from which party each chair should be elected.
  • The Speaker announced that nominations would close at 3pm on Friday 7 July and that elections would take place on Wednesday 12 July.
  • In 2017, the Speaker announced the results on the day of the elections.

In 2019:

  • The Speaker was elected on 17 December 2019.
  • On 9 January 2020, the leaders of the three parties entitled to chairs tabled a motion to allocate the chairs.
  • On 16 January, the House agreed to the motion allocating chairs between the parties.
  • The Deputy Speaker announced that elections would be held on Wednesday 29 January, with nominations closing at 4pm on Monday 27 January.
  • The Speaker announced the results of contested elections on 29 January.  The House was given the names of unopposed chairs shortly after nominations closed on 27 January.

Following the election of chairs, the remaining members can be nominated. On 4 March 2010, the House endorsed “the principle that parties should elect members of select committees in a secret ballot by whichever transparent and democratic method they choose”.  Following elections within parties, the successful candidates are formally proposed to the House by the Committee of Selection.


Commons Briefing papers CBP-7176

Author: Richard Kelly

Topics: House of Commons, Members of Parliament, Parliamentary procedure

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