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European Scrutiny Committee actions

The European Scrutiny Committee can:

  • clear documents that it decides aren’t politically or legally important and don’t require further scrutiny
  • retain documents if, for example, the Committee requires more information or is awaiting further developments (the Committee usually seeks more information in writing, but can take oral evidence from the minister)
  • report legally or politically important documents to the House
  • refer documents of particular legal or political importance for debate in a European committee
  • recommend documents of particular legal or political importance for debate in the Chamber (although it’s up to the Government to find time for a debate)
  • tag a document to an existing debate if the subject is relevant (tagging means that the document will be displayed under the title of the debate on the Order Paper; tagging has no impact of the clearance of the document from scrutiny)

The minister can agree to a proposal without clearance from the European Scrutiny Committee if:

  • the document is considered to be confidential, routine or trivial, or is substantially the same as one on which scrutiny has been completed
  • the document has been recommended for debate, but the European Scrutiny Committee (usually for reasons of urgency or the protection of UK interests) has indicated that agreement can be given before the debate takes place
  • there are ‘special reasons’, provided that the minister explains those reasons to the Committee at the first opportunity after reaching a decision (in practice, ministers usually inform the Committees in advance); if a proposal is awaiting consideration by the House, the minister must inform the House at the first opportunity after giving agreement

The Committee can call a minister who it believes has agreed to a proposal without good reason to give oral evidence.