SNP to Chair Scottish Affairs and Energy and Climate Change Select Committees

The Scottish National Party is, as expected, to chair two House of Commons select committees.

With its standout majority of Scottish seats, it was always going to be given the Scottish Affairs Select Committee to chair. Any other allocation wold have been fully biazarre.

The SNP has now also been confirmed to chair the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, a  very good fit for the party’s interests and  concerns in Scotland – but which apply widely across the nation.

Mike Weir MP, the SNP Chief Whip at Westminster, says: ‘I’m delighted that the SNP has secured the convener-ships of these two very important committees following our record-win of 56 seats in the general election.

‘Both the Energy and Climate Change select committee and Scottish Affairs select committee, are especially important to Scotland in this parliament.

‘We will be seeing one of the major bills coming forward in the Scotland Bill on more powers for Scotland, and of course the Energy and Climate Change committee is of particular importance with our oil and gas sector and renewables industry.

‘The SNP chairing these committees will allow us to make progress on these important issues; and will help us get the best deal for Scotland.’

This last statement may indicate two areas of confusion.

The Select Committees are a form of court, not policy makers or decision takers.

They undertake investigations of important issues in the field for which they are responsible. They call witnesses to attend and to give evidence to them, including in responses to questions from committee members.

They do not have judicial powers to force those called to attend to give evidence –  although in practice it is rare for anyone to refuse, because of the unacceptable avoidance of accountability such a refusal would indicate.

Select Committees then produce a report on each investigation, publishing their findings on the issue in question, based on the evidence heard.

These findings, while again lacking judicial status, carry very substantial weight and are used as authorities in public and in legislative debate on the issue in question. Government agencies are expected to keep in mind the findings of select Committees in their pursuit of policy and operational matters.

Campaigners may lobby for Select Committee investigations to be held on issues of serious dispute with nationwide impacts.

An example of this is the National Coastguard SOS campaign getting two successive Transport Select Committee investigations, under Chair, Louise Ellman MP, into the MCA’s demonstrably ill thought ‘modernisation’ [cost cutting] of the national coastguard service.

While the weight of this Select Committee ‘s eventual and quite forensic findings was of immense public relations advantage  to the Coastguard campaign and was paid lip service by the MCA, in practice they brought no change of direction in the MCA’s restructuring of the service.

The concerns of the Select Committee are UK-wide and any attempt  bu its Chair to hijack the Energy and Select Committee to focus heavily on matters relevant to Scotland would be improper and wojld be resisted by committee members.

An issue that the SNP Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee might wish that committee to investigate might usefully be the principles behind the transmission charges levied by the National Grid.

This has nationwide resonance and is of considerable legitimate interest to Scotland as a member of the United Kingdom.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Much improved. Sensible and informative article.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    J May 22, 2015 2:49 pm Reply
  • The recent closure announcements for Longannet (Fife) and Ferrybridge (Yorkshire) coal power stations reportedly leaves the Naional Grid with zero margin of spare capacity for next winter.

    So there’s their first investigation looming – “Why did the lights go out?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

    Andrew Argyle May 22, 2015 4:25 pm Reply
  • Does the good planet really need more hot air

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

    Thistle May 22, 2015 6:08 pm Reply
  • Having had to give evidence to two Commons Select Committees in the past, if the subject of transmission charges comes up, well and good and the National Grid will have a very hard time. Unlike a Court, the individual giving evidence does not have a legal eagle by their side and it’s a very in-depth and gruelling experience. However, given the desires of the SNP to carpet our country with wind turbines and make us pay large subsidies to a few, as well as seeing some of our most beautiful landscapes destroyed, I think they may find themselves in a difficult position should that subject come up!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    Jade May 22, 2015 11:12 pm Reply
  • Jade, what will be interesting is this is ‘Grown up Politics’ no matter how petty they want to be or to try and apply the SNP slant Select Committees are open to scrutiny therefore NS will have no control, how long before the tail starts wagging the dog?
    Maybe we will see a SNP MP resign for some obscure reason and NS elected as a MP, can she be FM and a MP?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    richard May 23, 2015 8:48 pm Reply
  • How about this one, this is what they want to do to our kids?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    Andrew Argyle May 24, 2015 1:19 pm Reply
    • Like Sunday School..?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Patsy May 25, 2015 10:56 am Reply

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