Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Select Committees start their work

Last week the membership of the House of Commons Select Committees was finally agreed to. There were a number of private meetings of these committees, as members decided what inquiries they wished to pursue. Some of these inquiries begin in earnest this week.

Today the Health Committee is taking evidence from Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health. The inquiry is entitled "The responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Health". Meanwhile the Business, Innovation & Skills Committee meets Vince Cable (Secretary of State, LibDem) and Minister of State (David Willetts, Cons) for the committee's inquiry into "The work of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills". The Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, is meeting the Welsh Affairs Committee.

On Wednesday the Scottish Affairs Committee has an "introductory session with the Scotland Office" with the Secretary of State & Parliamentary Under Secretary (Ministers) and the Director of the Scotland Office (Civil Servant). The Lord Chancellor, who heads the Ministry of Justice, will meet the Justice Committee for their inquiry into "the work of the Ministry of Justice".

This type of inquiry into the work of a Department is a useful way of kicking off scrutiny by a committee early in the Parliament. More specific inquiries are also running - such as the Treasury Committee's inquiry into the Office of budget responsibility or the Defence Committee's session with the Secretary of State tomorrow on  "Current operations in Afghanistan, the Strategic Defence & Security review, and defence acquisition reform".

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