Consideration of draft bills by select committees

38.89Public bills have frequently been referred to or considered by select committees in draft form. On a number of occasions a committee, or joint committee, has been specifically appointed for this purpose.1 This process, known as pre-legislative scrutiny, was encouraged by a series of reports from the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons and endorsed by the House.2 When a draft bill is referred to a select committee, the committee does not formally go through the bill clause by clause, but inquires into the merits of the bill, or takes the proposals contained in the bill into consideration in the same manner as proposals embodied in any other document.3 No report or recommendation of the committee with regard to the bill can have any direct effect by way of advancing the bill a stage in the House.4


  1. 1. For example, Food Standards Committee, CJ (1998–99) 114; Joint Committee on Draft Corruption Bill, CJ (2002–03) 231, LJ (2002–03) 213; Joint Committee on Draft Communications Bill, CJ (2012–13) 84, LJ (2012–13) 65; Joint Committee on the Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill, Votes and Proceedings, 17 April 2018, House of Lords Minutes of Proceedings, 29 March 2018.
  2. 2. CJ (2001–02) 778.
  3. 3. For example, Twenty-first Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee of Session 1998–99, Railways Bill, HC 827.
  4. 4. Parl Deb (1899) 70, cc 406–7. On occasion, individual committee members have introduced Private Members' Bills related to committee inquiries. See HC Deb (1990–91) 189, cc 732–36, following the Second Report of the Home Affairs Committee of Session 1990–91, HC 1; also HC Deb (1994–95) 257, cc 600–46, related to the Second Report of the Education Committee of Session 1994–95, HC 178; and HC Deb (2008–09) 495, cc 650–64, related to the Ninth Report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights of Session 2006–07, HC 410, HL 77.