A committee system mainly made up with a small number of parliamentary members
appointed to deal with particular areas or issues originating in the parliamentary democracy.
Select committees exist in the British Parliament, as well as in other parliaments based on
the Westminster model, such as those in Australia and New Zealand.
The committee system first introduced in the United Kingdom parliamentary system. The
departmental committee system came into being in 1979, following the recommendations of a
procedure to select Committee, set up in 1976, which reported in 1978. It recommended the
appointment of a series of select committees covering all the main departments of state, with
wide terms of reference, and with power to appoint special advisers as the committees
deemed appropriate. It also suggested that committee members should be selected
independently of the party whips, as chosen by the Select Committee of Selection. The 14
new committees finally start working effectively in 1980.
Committees play an important role in the work of the Parliament – taking evidence from
witnesses, scrutinizing legislation and conducting inquiries. Most committees meet weekly or
fortnightly (it depends on country to country parliament system). According to SCOTISH
PARLIAMENT SYSTEM the Committees usually have between 7 and 11 MPs as members
and Members are selected so that the balance of political parties in Parliament is retained.
According to Bangladesh Parliament system there are seven members of parliaments are the
members of committee system.
Mandatory committees (According to Scottish Parliament System):
Some key committees are required by the Standing Orders (rules of the Parliament). These
? Procedures Committee
? Standards Committee
? Finance Committee
? Audit Committee
? European Committee
? Public Petitions Committee
? Equal Opportunities Committee
? Subordinate Legislation
Subject committees (According to Scottish Parliament System):
The Parliament can create other committees to deal with a particular subject or area. These
are known as Subject Committees. Subject Committees set up after the 2007 election:
? Economy, Energy & Tourism
? Education, Lifelong Learning & Culture
? Health & Sport
? Local Government & Communities
? Rural Affairs & Environment
? Transport, Infrastructure & Climate Change
How does the Committee Work in Scottish Parliament System?
Each committee appoints one MSP to be the Convenor who chairs the meeting and will call
Members and witnesses to speak. Proceedings are relatively informal and the MSPs normally
address each other by first names. MSPs who are not members of the committee are free to
attend and may speak at the meeting with the Convenor’s agreement, however they cannot
vote. Each committee has at least two clerks. The clerks will sit next to the Convenor during
the meeting and advise on procedure. You will also see two Official Reporters sitting at the
table. The Official Reporters prepare a report of the meeting which is published within a few
days of each meeting. A committee can appoint one of its members to be its reporter on a
specific matter and advisers, who are not MSPs, can be appointed also. A committee can
invite any person to attend a meeting as a witness. This means giving evidence or producing
documents relating to the business of the committee. 
Select or special committee system in United States of America:
A select or special committee of the United States Congress is a congressional committee
appointed to perform a special function that is beyond the authority or capacity of a standing
committee. A select committee is usually created by a resolution that outlines its duties and
powers and the procedures for appointing members. Select and special committees are often
investigative in nature, rather than legislative, though some select and special committees
have the authority to draft and report legislation.
A select committee generally expires on completion of its assigned duties, though they can
be renewed. Several select committees are treated as standing committees by House and
Senate rules, and are permanent fixtures in both bodies continuing from one congress to the
next. Examples of this are the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House and
the Select Committee on Intelligence in the Senate. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is
also a select committee, though the name select is no longer a part of its title. 
Some 20th-century select committees are called special committees, such as the Senate
Special Committee on Aging. However, they do not differ in any substantive way from the
others. Prior to the advent of permanent standing committees in the early 19th century; the
House of Representatives relied almost exclusively on select committees to carry out much of
its legislative work. The committee system has grown and evolved over the years. During the
earliest Congresses, select committees, created to perform a specific function and terminated
when the task was completed, performed the overwhelming majority of the committee work.
1. See Shaping Scotland’s Parliament- 1999 report.
2. See The Committee System in the U.S. Congress by J Schneider.
The first committee to be established by Congress was on April 2, 1789, during the First
Congress. It was a select committee assigned to prepare and report standing rules and
orders for House proceedings, and it lasted just five days, dissolving after submitting its
report to the full House. Since that time, Congress has always relied on committees as the
best means to accomplish its work in an orderly, efficient, and expeditious manner.
Committee system of House of Commons (UK):
Much of the detailed work of the House of Commons is carried out by committees.
Committees may be of three kinds – committees of the whole house, special committees and
standing committees. At one time all bills were referred to committee of the whole House, but
since the reform of the standing committee system in 1968 most of them are now referred to
standing committees. Special committees are appointed on an ad hoc basis and consist of
not more than 15 members. The standing committees are the essence of the present
committee system and they have three distinct functions which may be described as
legislative, financial and investigative. 
The Standing Orders provide for 18 standing committees, most of them covering a specific
subject area. In addition there are three standing joint committees composed of members of
both Houses, one of which is concerned with the scrutiny of delegated legislation – that is,
regulations made by the government under the authority of an Act of Parliament.
Bills, the estimates of government departments and subjects of inquiry are referred to the
standing committees in accordance with their various subject areas. In dealing with bills and
estimates the standing committees remove a great deal of detailed work from the floor of the
House. In undertaking special investigations they are pursuing their more traditional function
of inquiry. Standing committees are empowered to call witnesses and appoint subcommittees,
and they are sometimes authorized by the House to travel and hire expert
assistance. All committees report directly to the House, their ultimate power being one of
Such control over finance as the House is now able to exercise is due in large measure to the
committee system. The Standing Committees have the opportunity of scrutinizing the details
of proposed departmental spending and reporting to the House before the money is voted.
The Standing Committee on Pubic Accounts, whose chairman is by custom a member of the
opposition, has the special function of examining public expenditure after it has been
incurred. In carrying out its investigation it is assisted by the Auditor General who makes an
annual report top parliament. The Committee examines witnesses from the departments of
government and draws the attention of the House to any irregularities it might discover.
3. See Michael A. Jogerst – 1993 – Political Science – 242 pages
R.S. 1985, c. S-20, s. 19(3) and c. S-22, s. 19.
The committee system of Australian Parliament:
There are three committee systems in Australian parliament system. Parliamentary institutions have
undergone a revival internationally during the last twenty years. As a starting point for our inquiry
into parliamentary change, we have focused on the one dimension that has been universally
acknowledged as having had transformative effects on world Parliaments (Longley and Davidson
1998). The Australian Parliament over the past two decades has already changed to the point
where almost all non-executive members (i.e. excluding the Ministry and shadow cabinet) are
preoccupied for much of their time with parliamentary committees. Those who are most attentive to
committee work (one quarter of the members) are now devoting at least a quarter of their time to
this work. In equivalent full-time terms, this means that at least ten per cent of the time (a
conservative estimate) of the Members of the Parliament is now committed to committee work. The
number of parliamentary committee reports produced annually in the recent past has ranged
between 100 and 200. The Commonwealth Parliament is distinguished internationally by having
three committee systems; one located with in each house, the third set operating at the interface
between the two and composed of members from both. 
The Australian Parliament has passed through several developmental stages during its first
century. The development of committee systems has been a central feature of the modern
Parliament. In institutional terms this has meant a transformation of the operations of both Houses
of Parliament. From a time earlier this century when most members were not actively engaged in
committee work, the two houses now have systems which require the participation of most
Members of Parliament. For the first two-thirds of its century-long existence, the Australian
Parliament possessed a relatively weak committee system. Unlike the majority of other national
Parliaments, the Australian legislature did not use specialist committees to appraise proposed
legislation (rather, in each House, bills were examined in committees-of-the-whole, a stage
normally placed between the Second and Third Readings of proposed legislation). Again, unlike the
majority of national Parliaments in Australia, committees played little role in settling disputes
between the Houses.
The Australian Parliament has passed several development stages during its first century. The
development of committee systems has been a central feature of the modern parliament. In
institutional terms this has meant a transformation of the operations of both Houses of Parliament.
From a time earlier this century when most members were not actively engaged in committee work,
the two houses now have systems which require the participation of most Members of Parliament.
The development of committees can be divided into two distinct periods: from federation (1901) to
the late 1960s, and from the late 1960s to the present. Neither the House nor the Senate displayed
much interest in committees for their first sixty or so years. The nucleus of a committee system
could be said to have first existed in the interface between the two Houses – the joint committee. 
It was not until 1987 (with its massive machinery of government changes) that the House moved to
establish a comprehensive system of legislative and general committees, which reflected the new
structure of government administration, but did not include the function of estimates. The last major
reform of this phase occurred in 1994, when the Senate leadership responded to a growing burden
of committee work – much greater than that of the House which enjoys a membership twice the size
of that of the Senate – with an attempted rationalization. Two parallel comprehensive and
isomorphic systems were created – legislation (and estimates) committees (to be chaired by
government members) and reference committees. 
4. The Three Committee Systems of the Australian Parliament – A Developmental Overview?
Written by John Halligan (page-111).
5. The Three Committee Systems of the Australian Parliament – A Developmental Overview?
Written by John Halligan (page-112).
6. The Three Committee Systems of the Australian Parliament – A Developmental Overview?
Written by John Halligan (page-114).
Using The Parliamentary Committee System for guiding human rights:
Parliamentary committees can enhance levels of human rights protection in-country. This unit
describes how committee systems in various countries have broadened their remit to ensure
adherence to international human rights standards and treaty commitments. In showing how a
range of parliaments have established committees to promote and protect human rights – several
with exclusive human rights mandates. This unit lists the different types of committees and the
impact they can have. As such, this unit is an easy reference for collecting various replicable
examples of good practice. Parliamentary committees are the workhorses of parliament.
Recognizing that it is not practical for parliament as a whole to undertake detailed oversight tasks,
much of the close examination and careful work of parliament is done in committees: reviewing
legislative proposals, scrutinizing budgets, examining the policies and programmes of departments,
and keeping an effective surveillance over government. Additionally, parliamentary committees are
usually empowered to recommend amendments to legislation as appropriate – including
improvements to make laws more human rights friendly. 
Parliament Committee System in Bangladesh:
The Jatiya Sangsad (JS), as the parliament is called in Bangladesh, has traditionally made some
use of committees. But, until recently, the committees did not experience balanced growth. Nor did
their work arouse any serious public or political interest, mainly because of the country’s lack of
continuity in constitutional rule, as we shall see later. However, in recent years, in particular since
the election of the Fifth Parliament in 1991, committees have received important, if not widespread,
recognition. These are now more visible and much talked-about institutions, and have a better
scope to assert themselves, although the extent to which they can live up to the expectations of
their sponsors is yet to be ascertained properly. This paper explores the factors that have
discouraged a steady growth of parliamentary committees in Bangladesh. It examines the reasons
that account for the differential performance of various parliaments in setting up committees and
making them work. The paper also seeks to identify the factors that may limit the growth of
committees as an important site of policy-making and a scrutineer of government policies. One of
the important problems confronting the modern democratic state is to identify the ways to balance
relations between the executive and the legislature. Everywhere, the executive has become
interventionist, assuming the responsibility for functions, especially law-making, traditionally
considered being the prerogative of the legislature. This trend, however, is more noticeable in
Westminster systems than in consensual democracies or congressional systems.
7. See Zimbabwe Parliamentary Human Rights Mechanisms.
8. Parliament committees and parliamentary government in Bangladesh- Nizam Ahmed (page-13).
Roles of committee system in Parliament:
1. To provide Ministers/Deputy Ministers/Secretaries a forum to understand the role and
function and the mandate of Committees of Parliament.
2. To outline the specific manner on how Parliament exercises its oversight functions.
3. To enhance interaction between backbenchers and front benchers.
Section 32 of the Constitution provides that
1. The Legislative authority of the country is vested in the Legislature consisting
of the President and Parliament
2. In terms of section 33 of the Constitution, Parliament consists of two Houses, the Senate
and House of Assembly. 
Functions of Committee System in Parliament:
1. The function of Parliament is to legislate, to scrutinize the policies.
2. Activities of the Executive, to hold the Executive to account for its actions.
3. Act as a forum for democratic participation by all members of society.
9. See-The roles and function of parliament and mandate of committees of Parliament by A.M. Zvoma (page 3).
How the committee system be more effective:
A major strength of effective upper houses is the existence of a strong and vibrant committee
system. Although the major committees in the all house committees resourced from both the
legislative assembly and the legislative council, a number of specialist committees in the
council are formed from time to time.
There is a perception that the committees lack independence from the influence of the major
Parties, and that committee decisions are guided by the party political allegiances of their
members, rather than objective assessments in the best interests of the community. This
comes about from the method of appointment of committee members, reflecting the relative
position of the political parties in the two houses.
In view of those concerns the commissioners had discussions with local government
representatives, people who have conducted studies and inquiries, and members of the
public. Responses to the Commission’s survey in the consultation paper provided a number
of suggestions for improvement. As noted above, a large majority, 82 per cent, supported
greater use of committees by the council. Other suggestions for better links with the victorian
community were greater use of public meetings; more visits by ministers and more
parliamentary open days.
It is therefore recommended that each region should have a regional committee, comprising
all regional members of the legislative council. These would be official committees of the
legislative council and would report to it. Legislative assembly and federal members for the
region, representatives of its local governments and community representatives could be
invited to attend and participate in discussions. Only the legislative councilors would vote on
the committee. 
10. See- Sample Structure for an Executive Council and Committee system by Archon.
A committee system was preferred because it was felt that this was in line with the key of
principles. In particular, the committee system was designed to:
? Encourage significant public involvement in the Parliament’s activities.
For example, individuals as well as members of organizations and groups can
appear before committees or write to them to give evidence.
? Enable the parliament to hold the executive to account effectively. Part of a committee’s
work is to scrutinize the work of the executive. The ministers in the executive do not sit on
committees but can be asked to appear before the committee to answer questions.
? Encourage the sharing of power. Committees can investigate any item which falls within
their remit, hold inquiries and make recommendations to parliament and the executive.
Committees also have the power to initiate legislation themselves. 
11. See- Sample Structure for an Executive Council and Committee system by Archon.
2. Select committee in Webminister system
3. United States congressional committee
4. Longley, Lawrence, D. & Davidson, Roger H. (eds.) (1998) The New Roles of Parliamentary
Committees, Frank Cass, London.
Jaensch, Dean (1986). Getting our Houses in Order, Penguin, Melbourne, 1986.
Reid, G. S. & Forest, Martyn (1989). Australia’s Commonwealth Parliament 1901-1988: Ten
Perspectives. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
6. Philip Norton and David Olson, ‘Parliaments in adolescence’ in David Olson and Philip Norton (eds)
7. The New Parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe (London: Frank Cass, 1996), pp 231–243.
Anthony King, ‘How to strengthen legislatures—assuming that we want to’ in Norman Ornstein (ed), The
Role of the Legislature in Western Democracies (Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public
Policy Research, 1981), pp 77–89.
8. The roles and function of parliament and mandate of committees of Parliament by A.M. Zvoma
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