Parliamentary Committees of the House of Commons

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Parliamentary Committees of the House of Commons:

There are the following eight committees in the House of Commons:–

  • The Committee of Supply.

  • The Committee of Ways and Means.

Both the above Committees are composed of the same members but their functions are different. The first deals with appropriation of funds, the second deals with revenues. These Committees act under rules which permit unrestricted discussion and free consideration of the details of a measure.

  • Select Committees on Public Bills:

Each of these Committees is selected either by the House or the Committee of Selection. It consists of 15 members. Its purpose is to investigate and report on specific Bills. Detailed reports of its proceedings are included in the published Parliamentary papers of the session.

  • Sessional Committees on Public Bills:

Select Committees appointed for an entire year are known as Sessional Committees; e.g, Committee on Public Account.

  • Standing Committees on Public Bills:

A Standing Committee consists of not less than 10 and more than 15 temporary members, who are experts on the subject in hand.

The above two committees (4 and 5) are appointed to investigate and report on a particular Bill.

  • Committees on Private Bills:

Committee on the private bills are appointed to investigate and report on private Bills.

  • The Committees of Selection:

The Committees of Selection of eleven members chosen by the House in the Beginning of each session. It appoints members of Select Committees, of Standing Committees and of Committees on private Bills. It also designates a ‘Chairman Panel’ of eight to twelve members, whose duty is to select a Chairman for each Committee.

  • Committee of the whole House:

Sometimes the entire House sits as a committee; when this takes place, the Speaker leaves the chair and his place is taken by chairman who is appointed afresh in each new parliament and is a staunch party man; the mace is placed under the table as a sign that the House, as a House, has adjourned. This method of doing business goes back to Stuart times. When the House resolves itself into Committee of the whole, the more rigid rules of procedure are relaxed; a member may speak several times on the same question if he desire, and any matter which is voted upon can easily be opened for reconsideration. Because procedure in the Committee of the whole House is so simple and flexible, the practice of considering the details of measures in this way has proved popular not only in the House of Commons or Westminster but in the House of Representatives at Washington. When the Committee of the whole House has finished with its consideration of a measure, item by item, motion is made that the committee “rise and report”. The Speaker then resumes the chair and the chairman reports the committee’s action. In other words, the House reports itself and then proceeds to adopt its own recommendations.

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