The effectiveness of the post-1979 select committee system: The verdict of the 1990 procedure committee

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‘We are embarking upon a series of changes that could constitute the most important Parliamentary reforms of the century.’ WITH these oft-quoted words the then Leader of the House, Norman St John Stevas, now Lord St John of Fawsley, heralded the introduction of the 1979 select committee system and what for him promised a new dawn in the relationship between the executive and legislature. At the time there was much speculation as to his motives and seriousness of intent. Over a decade later, doubts still remain. Thus, Gavin Drewry, one of the leading academic observers of the new committee system, confessed that: ‘I have often wondered, when I have read and re-read, Norman St John Stevas’ original speech in setting up the committees whether his tongue was in his cheek when he spoke about redressing the balance of power’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1992


  • British politics
  • select committee
  • balance of power

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