The Education Select Committee held its first evidence session yesterday. The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, faced questions which ranged across the breadth of her responsibilities. The session lasted for over 90 minutes.
These days, Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) gain much of the coverage on TV news. Sadly this can give a misleading impression of the work done in Parliament to hold the Government to account. Each Government department has to live with a cross-party select committee which has the power to hold enquiries and to question Ministers and others at length. The "clever" answer which can disarm the House in PMQ's, can lead a minister into deep trouble - and Government backbenchers can be brutal in dealing with a Minister who is evasive.
Today's session will be followed next Wednesday by a session with the Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw. Already enquiries are being undertaken into
- The work of Ofsted
- The work of Ofqual
- The role of Regional Schools Commissioners
Select Committees play an important role in scrutiny - and the evidence they receive and reports they publish are increasingly important in the work MP's do to get answers that previous generations of Ministers could have avoided answering. A little more light is being shed.