Select Committee (Westminster System)

A Select Committee is a committee made up of a small number of parliamentary members appointed to deal with particular areas or issues originating in the Westminster System of parliamentary democracy. Select Committees exist in the British Parliament, as well as in other parliaments based on the Westminster model, such as those in Australia and New Zealand.

In the United Kingdom, committees can be appointed, as most are, from the House of Commons, like the Foreign Affairs Committee, from the House of Lords, like the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, or as a "Joint Committee" drawn from both, such as the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform. (Note that the Intelligence and Security Committee is not a select committee, though it contains members from both houses. It is a unique committee of parliamentarians appointed by the Prime Minister and reporting to him, not Parliament.) The Commons Select Committees are generally responsible for overseeing the work of government departments and agencies, whereas those of the Lords look at general issues, such as the constitution or the economy. Both Houses have their own Committees to review drafts of European Union directives.

Rarely, there are also select committees of the Commons (and sometimes Joint Standing Committees) that are tasked with the detailed analysis of individual Bills. Most Bills are referred, since the 2006-07 session, to public bill committees, and before that, there were Standing Committees.

In July 2005, the Administration Select Committee was instituted, replacing the five Domestic Committees which had been responsible for the consideration of services provided for the House in the Palace of Westminster from 1991 to 2005. The new committee thus deals with issues as diverse as catering services, the House of Commons Library, computer provision, and visitor services.

Some English local authorities also have a select committee system, as part of their Overview and Scrutiny arrangements.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the Legislative Council may appoint one or more select committees from among its members for in-depth consideration of matters or bills referred by the council. Select committees may summon persons concerned to testify or give evidence. A select committee reports to the council and dissolved as soon as it has completed consideration of the matter or bill referred to it.

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