The House of Commons has a number of Departmental Select Committees, who generally have no role in the legislative process (those committees are known as ‘Public Bill Committees’, which meet in committee rooms where MPs sit on either side of the room – like a mini House of Commons – with the Government on one side and the Opposition on the other).
Select committees sit around a horseshoe shaped table – and their role and powers are described in Standing Order 152
152.—(1) 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….
(3) Each select committee appointed under this order shall have the power to appoint a sub-committee.
(4) Select committees appointed under this order shall have power—
(a) to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to
adjourn from place to place, and to report from time to time;
(b) to appoint specialist advisers either to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee’s order of reference; and
(c) to report from time to time the evidence taken before sub-committees, and the formal minutes of sub-committees;
and the sub-committees appointed under this order shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place, to report from time to time their formal minutes, and shall have a quorum of three.
(5) Unless the House otherwise orders, all Members nominated to a committee appointed under this order shall continue to be members of that committee for the remainder of the Parliament.
Further information can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/committees/select/
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