Procedures for appointment

38.3New select committees are usually proposed by a motion in the name of a government Minister after appropriate political negotiation (in part in order to reflect the need to consider the resource implications), though there is no bar to a proposal to appoint a committee being in the name of any Member. In practice, the orders of reference for the majority of select committees have been agreed as standing orders, setting out the number of members and the committee's powers.1 Such committees' orders of reference normally contain the provision that the members of the committee are nominated for the remainder of the Parliament.2 Committees so appointed do not require any motion of appointment at the beginning of a new Parliament, but only a motion or motions to nominate their new membership.

Select committees are also established under temporary standing orders valid until the end of the Parliament.3 Committees which are set up upon motions with no specific provision as to their duration cease to exist at prorogation (ie at the end of the session) or, if they have not been given power to report ‘from time to time’, after they have made their report to the House.4 Conversely, standing orders sometimes still contain orders of reference for select committees whose work is generally regarded as completed or, at least, in abeyance.5


  1. 1. For example, SO Nos 143–49, 152, 152A, 152D, 152G. In the past, limits have been placed on the size of committees by standing order, see Erskine May (22nd edn, 1997), p 628, fn 1. Different forms of expressing the size of a committee have not been regarded as material (‘not more than X’, ‘shall consist of X’ are regarded as equivalent) and committees may – and frequently do – operate without their maximum complement of members.
  2. 2. For example, SO Nos 143–49, 152, 152A, 152D, 152G.
  3. 3. For example, CJ (1974–75) 72, 73; ibid (1987–88) 428; ibid (1992–93) 293; ibid (1997–98) 44; Votes and Proceedings, 11 October 2016.
  4. 4. The House has ordered that a standing order appointing a committee be repealed when the committee shall have reported to the House, CJ (1994–95) 554; Votes and Proceedings, 15 October 2015 (Armed Forces Bill Select Committee). For an example of the House agreeing to establish a select committee to report on a specific matter, appointing a Chair of that Committee, and then rescinding its decision before the committee itself had been nominated, see Votes and Proceedings, 3 November 2021 (HC Deb 702, cc 939–73) and Votes and Proceedings, 16 November 2021 (HC Deb 703, cc 476–92). See also 5.26 above.
  5. 5. See SO No 152G, Committee on Members' Expenses, and SO No 152C, Tax law rewrite (Joint Committee).