Annexe F

GOOD PRACTICE NOTE ON THE PUBLICATION OF REPORTS FROM SECONDARY AND OTHER COMMITTEES

1. It regularly arises that the general principles of a Bill fall within the remit of more than one committee. In such cases, the Parliament, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau, appoints a lead committee. The Parliament may also designate other committees with an interest in the Bill as “secondary” committees. Any secondary committees which choose to consider the general principles are required to report their views to the lead committee rather than to the Parliament (Rule 9.6.1). The lead committee is required to take into account any views submitted by any secondary committee in preparing its Stage 1 report.

2. Even though not formally designated as a secondary committee, any committee within whose remit a Bill falls may consider the Bill and report to the lead committee.

3. There is therefore a strong expectation that all the views and evidence on a Bill at Stage 1 will be drawn together and presented to the Parliament by a single lead committee. To facilitate this, the following practice is generally followed:

  • At the beginning of Stage 1 consideration, lead, secondary and other committees agree a timetable for the reports to the lead committee. This will be set to allow sufficient time for the lead committee to consider any secondary and other committee reports before reaching its own conclusions.

  • The secondary or other committee report - unless the secondary or other committee choose to discuss the draft in public - is usually sent to the lead committee as a private document and circulated only to lead committee members at this point.

  • The secondary or other committee report is usually made public at the same time as the lead committee report by being published as an annexe to that report.

4. The advantages of this approach are:

  • there is no confusion for the public about the status of the various committee contributions because a single report is published on one day;

  • there is reduced scope for lobbying of the lead committee for the overturn of unwelcome recommendations from secondary or other committees.

5. There may, however, be circumstances in which it is appropriate for the secondary or other committee to publish its report in advance of the lead committee. These could include:

  • where there is likely to be a long gap between the two reports (this is more likely in relation to a Member's Bill than an Executive Bill);

  • where the lead committee would be assisted by public debate on the secondary or other committee's report;

  • where the public availability of the secondary or other committee's report would assist the lead committee in questioning future witnesses.

6. While publication of its report is in principle a matter for the originating committee, in the circumstances of lead, secondary and other committees it is good practice for the secondary or other committee to:

  • if possible, secure the agreement of the lead committee to advance publication and take into account their views about timing;

  • give the lead committee an advance copy of the report (at least 24 hours in advance);

  • ensure that the report makes clear that it is a report to the lead committee and that a further report on the same topic will follow;

  • publish on the website rather than as a paper document, on the basis that the report will subsequently be published in paper form within the lead committee's report.