A committee for every department

A Select Committee should operate as the Board of Directors of every Government Department, but meeting in public and holding the Minister  and the Permanent Secretary accountable to them on oath in public.

It should not be open to the Prime Minister to reorganise Whitehall at every reshuffle. 

John Hully Apr 5, 2015

Such a committee could replace the present Bills committee and Select Committees. As in the Scottish model, such a committee should have the powers not just of pre-legislative scrutiny but to initiate legislation, and to invite stakeholders such as the public and professional bodies as well as civil servants who would be charged with delivering and operating changes to submit to all legislative scrutiny.

The committee would act as a governance board, monitoring the probity of the department as well as its effectiveness and efficiency. The committee should have a veto on appointments to role of Minister.

The committee would be a cross-party parliamentary committee with expertise in the area of the department, but with strict rules against conflict of interest.

The overriding objectives of the committee would be to ensure that no legislation or operational change is made by the department without robust assessment of benefits, impacts, and risks; and to oversee the quality of service and programme delivery by the department.   

Edward Barrow Apr 5, 2015

Yes, I basically agree with all of these powers.

I am not sure about initiating legislation itself. It could, however, call on the department to produce a green paper about a particular proposal.

Jake Wellman Apr 13, 2015

ejoftheweb, do you have specific text you would recommend for this idea moving forward as a plank in the UK constitution?

 

-JWellman, moderator

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Mark Cooke Apr 14, 2015

This discussion seems to be confusing legislation and oversight of executive functions, with the executive  Both are important roles for Parliament,  but it is not for Parliament to take responsibility for running departments.

I'm not sure what consitutional provision is required here -  something that says:

"A committee of [each house of] Parliament shall be established to scrutinise the performance of each Department of State and the bodies accountable to Parliament through it."

John Hully Apr 17, 2015

Reading back over, I think that a fair point and the original intention was governance rather than legislation and my comment (above) confused the two?

Happy to withdraw that and separate the two functions. That way the governance function (here) could act as governance of the legislative function (of, say, a "Bills Committee") and act as guardian of the service(s) provided by the executive department?   

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