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Parliamentary Committee (Use Of Title)

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 25 May 1943

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May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether your attention has been drawn to instances of the use of the term "Parliamentary Committee" to designate bodies which have not been appointed by either House of Parliament and whose membership is not exclusively reserved to Members of Parliament; and whether, in view of the misleading impression that may be produced by the public use of such a title in those circumstances, you can give some guidance to the House as to the limits within which the. title "Parliamentary Committee" should be used?

The title "Parliamentary Committee" has a technical meaning and can be properly used only by a body appointed by one or both of the Houses of Parliament. Its use by bodies not so appointed is, as the hon. Member says, apt to mislead the public by suggesting that the body has an authority and powers which it does not in fact possess. It ought not to be impossible to find some other term to designate bodies, entirely or partly composed of Members of Parliament but not appointed by Parliament,. which would sufficiently indicate their connection with Parliament without giving rise to misconception. In some cases, "Private Members' Committee" would do; in others, "Parliamentary Group." I think the good sense and ingenuity of Members can be relied on to find a form of designation appropriate to each particular case, once the principle governing the use of the term "Parliamentary Committee" is pointed out.

Will that Ruling interfere with the committees sometimes set up by local bodies or local authorities? As a rule, at the commencement of the year, they elect what is known as a Parliamentary Committee.

I do not think those terms are so misleading as when they are applied to committees of this House. Those bodies have obviously been appointed by organisations outside, and not by this House, and the general public quite understand. If there is any case of doubt, I should be glad if it could be submitted to me for consideration.