House of Commons Library

Chairs of Commons select committees since 2010

Published Tuesday, October 16, 2018

House of Commons select committees chairs in the 2017, 2015 and 2010 parliaments.

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Remit and powers of select committees

Select committees are cross-party groups of MPs or Lords established by either House for the duration of a Parliament. The work of the Commons committees is governed by Standing Orders (SOs) of the House of Commons; these rules set out their membership, remit and powers and any changes to the rules must be approved by the House. Committees decide upon their own subjects for inquiry within the broad scope of their remit. The Common Library briefing, Select Committees: evidence and witnesses, reviews the power of select committees “to send for persons, papers and records”.

Submitting evidence to a committee inquiry

Select Committees seek evidence from people and organisations with an interest in their inquiries and anyone can submit evidence to the inquiry. Guides for witnesses giving evidence to Commons and Lords select committees are available on the Parliament website here, along with short videos explaining how select committees work.

Departmental select committees

In the House of Commons there are 20 departmental select committees that shadow the work of the Government departments. Their remit is set out in SO No.152:

  • Select committees shall be appointed to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the principal government departments as set out in paragraph (2) of this order and associated public bodies.
  • Other Commons select committees cover aspects of public policy such as public spending, and the internal administration of the House.

Election of select committee chairs

Elections for the 2017 Parliament took place on Wednesday 12 July.

Since June 2010, chairs of departmental committees have been elected by secret ballot of the House. Also elected by secret ballot are the chairs of the Environmental Audit, Public Accounts, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs, Petitions, Procedure, and Standards Committees [SO No.122B]. Each party is allocated a proportion of chairs of select committees to be elected which reflects the composition of the House.

In addition, the chair of the Backbench Business Committee is elected each Session in accordance with SO No.122D. Only candidates from opposition parties can stand.

Membership of select committees

Following the election of chairs, the remaining members can be nominated. Membership of select committees reflects party membership of the House as a whole.

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.

The number of MPs on each committee is determined by Standing Orders and is noted in the tables which provide links to the full membership of the committee.

Further information – Commons Library briefings

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Commons Briefing papers SN04400

Author: Sarah Priddy

Topics: House of Commons, Members of Parliament

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