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Witnesses and oral evidence

The committee will choose the people it wishes to give oral evidence.

Committee staff will invite the witnesses. Oral evidence sessions will then be held, in public, with you and other members of the committee questioning the witnesses.

Committee staff will prepare a background briefing paper for each oral evidence session, sometimes including a number of suggested questions. But you can also ask your own questions.

Committees, and chairs, differ in how they organise which MP asks which question or set of questions, and it’s for the committee as a whole to decide its working methods. Most committees find it useful to reflect together from time to time on how they approach their task and how it might be done differently.

Questioning at oral evidence sessions is intended to draw evidence from the witnesses, rather than being a means for MPs to make statements or outline their own views (which will be reflected when the committee reports at the end of the inquiry). The House makes training available in questioning techniques for committees that wish to use it, and at an early meeting the committee staff will highlight the types of training available.

The Liaison Committee encourages committees to treat all witnesses with respect and courtesy and the chair is expected to ensure this happens. It has also resolved to encourage committees to pursue the goal of gender diversity of witnesses.

Witnesses can participate remotely in oral evidence sessions with the agreement of the Committee.