Committees investigate and scrutinise bills, issues and government spending proposals. They help improve law and public policy on behalf of all the country’s citizens. Each committee is able to determine its own agenda, inviting people from all parts of the country to give evidence and raise concerns. The committees’ work is reflected in reports that are made public.

In addition to examining draft legislation, committees also consider petitions and make inquiries into specific topics of concern to the Parliament. These enquiries can lead to the tabling of a bill, which is then considered by the full House at a sitting. Each bill is accompanied by a report that sets out the purpose and scope of the measure and why it is being proposed. These reports are published as House Reports and are prefixed with a number indicating the Congress (currently 107). For more information on how bills are considered by committee, see Committees: How our laws are made.

The Privileges Committee is investigating allegations that Boris Johnson may have breached parliamentary privilege over the ‘partygate’ incident. This committee consists of seven members, including the chair. Currently, Conservative MPs are in a majority, with two Labour MPs on the committee. However, the committee’s membership reflects the balance of the House as a whole.

During the inquiry, the committee is considering whether or not Mr Johnson was in contempt of parliament for failing to comply with social distancing requirements at gatherings held on 10 Downing Street. The committee has ruled that Mr Johnson was in contempt when he made claims he had been subject to an unenforceable requirement to’stay away from Downing Street parties’, and when he gave reasons for not complying with the rules that were ‘not justified on the face of the evidence’.

As well as examining new legislation, the committee is also looking at how to ensure the public can have access to official documents. For example, the committee recently ruled that the Ministry of Defence should allow the public to see official documents relating to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, after receiving requests from members of the public.

This committee examines and advises the House, government agencies, and the public on freedom of information, open meetings, and personal privacy protection law. It offers guidance in response to phone inquires and prepares written legal advisory opinions. The committee is also responsible for the oversight of the UK intelligence services, subject to the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and the accompanying Memorandum of Understanding. All links on this page will open content in a new window.