In ‘Select committees in the 2015 parliament: some change, some continuity’, Hannah White, Westminster Fellow at the Institute for Government, examines the committees newly established – for Women and Equalities and for Petitions – and the changes to existing ones. The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) has been abolished, and its remit combined with the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee to form the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs.
White points out the heavy workload this committee will face: “With the government’s programme of civil service reform and the impact of austerity on Whitehall to scrutinise, PASC was already a busy committee. As others have argued, it will be challenging for the new committee to scrutinise its new portfolio effectively given the potential scope of the constitutional change that we could see in this Parliament. This could include: a referendum on Europe; further devolution of powers to cities, Scotland and Wales; the introduction of ‘English Votes for English Laws’; and a new bill of rights to replace the Human Rights Act.”
Over at The Guardian, there’s a look at the role of the new Select Committee for Women and Equalities:
“The committee is meant to fill an accountability gap. The government has legal commitments to uphold principles of equal rights. There is a ministerial portfolio for women and equalities, but there has been no dedicated mechanism in the legislature scrutinising that office. Now there is.”
One of the tasks of this committee is likely to involve scrutinising the impact of welfare reform on women and disabled people:
“If government policy has a persistently negative impact on different parts of society, that will also merit investigation. It is worth MPs testing, for example, the assertion often made that austerity is taking a disproportionate toll on women. Likewise, the impact of welfare reforms on people with disabilities needs sturdy parliamentary evaluation. There is no lack of work awaiting committee members once they are chosen.”