Introduction: The Role of Select Committees

1 These Guidelines are concerned with the attendance and conduct of officials before select committees. Select committees are key parliamentary institutions with which public servants and those working in the wider State sector have contact. The committees undertake detailed work on a range of different matters on behalf of the House, and report their findings to it. Their work includes:

  • The detailed scrutiny of bills (except appropriation and imprest supply bills, and those considered under urgency);
  • Examination of the Estimates;
  • The review of departmental and agency performance;
  • International treaty examinations;
  • Petitions; and
  • Conducting inquiries.

2 Some select committees have specialised functions in addition to, or instead of those listed above. Examples include the Regulations Review, Officers of Parliament, Finance and Expenditure, Privileges and Standing Orders Committees. 3 The House may establish other committees in addition to these if it wishes.

3 The House of Representatives has considerable powers of inquiry, including the ability to send for "persons, papers and records".

4 Committee membership is drawn from Government and Opposition members of the House of Representatives. Ministers are not normally appointed to select committees. The Government does not necessarily have a majority of members on every committee.

5 These Guidelines have been revised in response to the recommendations in the Privileges Committee report: Question of Privilege on the Action Taken by TVNZ in relation to its Chief Executive, Following Evidence He Gave to the Finance and Expenditure Committee (October 2006). 4 The Privileges Committee recommended that the State Services Commission should provide guidance to the boards of Crown entities and State enterprises on their responsibilities to and relationships with Parliament, and that the SSC Guidelines should be revised regarding witnesses who appear before select committees.

3 Standing Orders 197 - 199.

4 Public Servants and Select Committees - Guidelines (SSC, 2004)

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