Parliamentary committees and witness diversity

SP reportIssues of diversity in elected bodies have been highlighted in recent years, primarily around the characteristics of elected representatives, but more recently in respect of the treatment of those working in such institutions, particularly women. However, it is also important to consider who parliaments hear from, with one important element of that being the work of the committees that scrutinise legislation and the actions of governments. There are a variety of academic literatures that can be used to support arguments for a greater diversity of witnesses to parliamentary committees, including those around ‘representation’, ‘policy-making and evaluation’, and ‘engagement, participation and legitimacy’.

During 2017, Hugh Bochel was an academic fellow of the Scottish Parliament, and used analysis of data on witnesses and interviews with MSPs and parliamentary officials to draw up a report for the Parliament highlighting, among other things, the under-representation of women among committee witnesses. An article drawing on the work has also been published in Social Policy and Society. Ongoing research includes considering developments at the Scottish Scottish ParliamentParliament and also committee witnesses at Westminster.

Hugh is now undertaking work on witnesses to public bill committees in the House of Commons.