Sittings and adjournment of select committees

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38.27It is usual for select committees to be given power on appointment ‘to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House’ and such a provision is included in the standing orders governing the appointment of the select committees regularly appointed.1 When this power has been given to a committee, it has been extended in most cases to its sub-committees. Select committees not given this power would require the leave of the House to sit on days when the House does not sit and, under Standing Order No 123, a motion for such leave may not be moved without notice. Select committees may not, however, sit during periods when Parliament is prorogued.2

When it has been necessary further to adjourn a committee beyond the date fixed for its next meeting, or otherwise change the date or time of the next meeting, the general practice has been that such arrangements are made informally on the instruction of the Chair. Where possible in such circumstances steps are taken to consult the members informally.3 Similarly, committees have sometimes agreed to leave arrangements for the reassembling of the committee to the Chair.4


  1. 1. This provision does not apply to the Committee of Selection, but the Private Business Standing Orders include a similar provision relating to the Committee of Selection (SO 118A).
  2. 2. HC Deb (1996–97) 292, c 883; meetings at which evidence is being taken which are underway at the time of prorogation have been permitted a short overrun to allow the evidence to be completed.
  3. 3. Strictly, however, the Chair does not have the power to alter the decision of the committee and on occasion the House, on the application of the Chair, has made the necessary order, CJ (1934–35) 48; ibid (1955–56) 300; ibid (1956–57) 67; ibid (1957–58) 67; ibid (1969–70) 194, 262.
  4. 4. For example, Social Security Committee Minutes of Proceedings of Session 1995–96, HC 736, pp ix, xxi, etc. On 17 April 1996 the Committee resolved ‘That the Chairman of the committee be authorised to summon meetings of the Committee at short notice for the purpose of taking evidence’, ibid, p xii.