Unfinished inquiries

38.52Committees appointed by standing order for a Parliament are terminated by a dissolution.

In the case of committees appointed on a sessional basis, orders appointing them cease to have effect at prorogation.1 When a committee finds that it lacks sufficient time to complete an inquiry, it reports the fact, together with any evidence which it may have taken, to the House.2 Such evidence may or may not be ordered to be published.3 Occasionally, a committee has made a special report explaining the circumstances to the House.4 Committees, finding themselves unable to complete the consideration of a draft report, have appended the text of the draft to a special report to the House, explaining the circumstances.5 A committee appointed by standing order may make a recommendation that its successor committee continue work that it has begun but not completed.

Likewise, a sessionally-appointed committee may recommend the appointment of a committee in the next session of Parliament to continue the inquiry. If such a committee is re-appointed, the evidence taken in the previous session is referred to the new committee.6 Where for any reason the evidence taken before the committee of the previous session has not been reported, the House has ordered the evidence to be laid before it, and when the evidence was presented has referred it to the committee.7 When the latter presented its report, the House ordered the evidence taken in the previous session to be printed.8


  1. 1. HC Deb (1921) 148, c 177.
  2. 2. For example, CJ (1929–30) 495; ibid (1969–70) 350.
  3. 3. CJ (1960–61) 338; ibid (1962–63) 313; ibid (1965–66) 113.
  4. 4. The Trade and Industry Committee made a Special Report to the House in 1994, that it had been unable to complete its inquiry into trade with South Africa to its satisfaction as it had been unable to carry out its proposed visit to South Africa, CJ (1993–94) 211; see also Social Security Committee Second Special Report of Session 1991–92, HC 354.
  5. 5. Treasury and Civil Service Committee, Second Special Report of Session 1982–83, HC 385, App A; Agriculture Committee, Second Special Report of Session 1986–87, HC 379, App A.
  6. 6. For example, CJ (1930–31) 33. A committee has been appointed to inquire into that portion of the reference to the original committee on which that committee had been precluded by lack of time from reporting in the preceding session, CJ (1890–91) 139; ibid (1975–76) 122.
  7. 7. CJ (1857) 326, 339; ibid (1969–70) 14, 41.
  8. 8. Where a committee is not expected to sit before the anticipated date of prorogation, and has not reported the evidence taken before it, the House has ordered the evidence to be laid before it, and when presented has ordered it to be printed, CJ (1934–35) 349, 350.