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Call for evidence

Submission of written evidence

The Committee of Privileges has published its report Select committees and contempts: clarifying and strengthening powers to call for persons, papers and records. The report has been published as part of its inquiry into select committee powers.

The report contains preliminary proposals to address the issue of the exercise and the enforcement of select committee powers. It sets out in detail a preferred option in the form of a draft Bill that would make failure to comply with a summons issued by a select committee a criminal offence. It also makes recommendations relating to the fair treatment of witnesses before committees. The questions for consultation as set out in the conclusion of the Report are as follows:

 

  • What is the primary role of select committees and what should be the practical limits of the application of their powers (as delegated to them by the House)?
  • Do you agree with our assessment of the three options, and our conclusion that a legislative solution is the best available option?
  • Do you think the proposed draft Bill provides an appropriate solution to the issue of recalcitrant witnesses before committees?
  • What do you think the maximum sanction should be for an individual found guilty of an offence of failure to comply with a summons?
  • Should the legislation be extended to encompass the enforcement of sanctions related to other contempts, or to make equivalent provision for House of Lords committees, or to deal with any other matters relating to parliamentary privilege?
  • How should the House set out its internal processes and commitment to fair treatment in a way that provides sufficient due process, whilst maintaining the flexibility and effectiveness of the current select committee system?
  • The draft Bill provides a power to summon non-Members to attend or to provide information or documents to a committee. Should equivalent powers be included to summon Members of the House, or for a committee of one House to summon Members of the other House?
  • Are there any other issues within the scope of the matter referred to us - "the exercise and enforcement of the powers of the House in relation to select committees and contempts" - that you think should be dealt with in our final recommendations to the House?

 

The consultation period will close on 5 July 2021 at 23:59. If you have any questions please contact the Second Clerk of the Committee, Ben Street (020 7219 6194 or streetb@parliament.uk)

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