United Kingdom

House of Commons


European Scrutiny Committee

Legal base: T
he House of Commons the system is based on the House’s standing orders and the scrutiny reserve resolution passed by the House in 1998.

Composition: The Committee is appointed under Standing Order No. 143 and has 16 Members. 

The European Scrutiny Committee was first established in 1974. The role of the European Scrutiny Committee is to report to the House on the legal or political importance of each EU document, to decide which documents should be debated (in a Standing Committee or on the Floor of the House), and to consider any issues arising or related matters (e.g. new treaties).

There is a scrutiny reserve which is based on a resolution of the House and is not statutory.

In 2001 the Committee adopted a policy of calling Ministers to appear before it if they override the resolution without what the committee regards as good cause; this has discouraged overrides. 

For further information on the European Scrutiny Committee, click on the link here.


House of Lords


The European Select Committee

Legal base: The system in the House of Lords rests on a scrutiny reserve resolution passed by the House in December 1999.

Composition: 19 Members from across the parties, with a further 55 on the six Sub-Committees meaning that 74 Members of the House of Lords are involved in the scrutiny of EU affairs.

The EU Committee was first established on 6 May 1974. The committee has as its terms of reference “To consider European union documents and other matters relating to the European Union”.

Scrutiny of EU-matters in the House of Lords is done primarily by the European Union Select Committee. The principal function of the Committee is to scrutinise EU legislative proposals and the UK Government's response to them. The Committee conducts a  regular scrutiny of EU proposals, writes to Ministers to pursue significant issues relating to  individual scrutiny items, and produces a substantial number of reports each year on a wide variety of EU-related issues.

There is a scrutiny reserve which is not statutory. The Committee reviewed its scrutiny procedures in 2002 and made a number of recommendations including that the UK Government more regularly and transparently report to parliament in cases where the scrutiny reserve is overriden, and this is now happening every six months.

For further information on the committee, click on the link here.