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Using The Sources And Your Own Knowledge Essay Sample

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Using the sources and your own knowledge, describe the role of Public Bill (Standing) and Departmental Select Committees of the House of Commons.

There is a Select Committee for each government department; for example the Department of Education. From my own knowledge, these departmental committees have a minimum of 11 members, who decide upon the line of inquiry and then get evidence. The government then usually has 60 days to reply to the committee’s recommendations. Committees also have power to appoint specialists. These are not permanent committee members, but specialists from businesses paid by the day. They aim to scrutinise the executive and hold them to account, scrutiny includes policy, administration, and expenditure of government departments.

Source C suggests that Select Committees often have their recommendations ignored, and therefore the effectiveness of the committees is decreased. Due to the reports produced by Select Committees not being binding governments can disregard the advice from specialists, and reports that are produced tend not to be yananymous – especially when a general election is near. Not only that, but governments can refuse to provide certain information which could be important evidence, and often select committees are under-resourced meaning they can not provide fully effective scrutiny to the actions of the executive.

Public Bill (Standing) Committees are – unlike Select Committees – able to ammend and improve legislative bills. They scrutinise each clause of a bill clause by clause and ammendments can be made. These committees are formed from between 16-50 members in reflection of party affiliation in the House of Commons from back bench MPs – with the whip system in place – and are established for each new bill, and are dissolved after the report has been made. Examples of the work of Public Bill comittees include the Abortion Bill (1967), Tuition fees (2011), and recently Scottish Devolution.

Source A and Source B both mention the presence of the whip system in Public Bill committees, which pressures back bench ties and may reduce the effectiveness of the committee – it is most effective in the House of Lords

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