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Committees

A very considerable amount of work is done in Parliament by Committees. Small groups of MPs elected to form Committees which go into considerable detail on specific topic areas and scrutinise proposed laws (bills). During my time in Parliament, I have been a member of the Justice Committee (2010-2012), Draft Defamation Bill Joint Committee (2011) and the Environmental Audit Committee (2012-2014). Since 2015, I have been a member of the Public Accounts Committee which scrutinises how the government spends money and ensures taxpayers get the best value for money.

You can find specific information about the committees I have been a part of below.

Public Accounts Committee: 2015 - Present

The main purpose of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to work in partnership with the National Audit Office to scrutinise the way the government and other organisations spend taxpayers’ money. The purpose is to ensure that your hard-earned money is put to the best possible use and is not wasted as a result of inefficiencies or poor decision-making. It also ensures that public spending is recorded honestly and fully. The committee is a powerful one, given that it covers all areas of government, and has a long history of forcing government departments to change the way they make decisions and spend money.

A recent example is from 2016-17, where the PAC opened an inquiry into the electrification of the Great Western Railway from London Paddingdon to Swansea. The electrification project was supposed to reduce journey times and provide huge economic benefits along its route, which includes places like my constituency in South Wales.

In March 2017 the committee published a report which strongly criticised the fact the project has over-run its budget by £2.1 billion and some sections have been delayed by up to three years. The committee made a number of recommendations to the government to ensure it improves the way it handles projects of this kind. This matter is still developing, as recent news of the cancellation of the project between Cardiff and Swansea was widely condemned.

Environmental Audit Committee: 2012 - 2014

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) was set up in 1997 to make sure that the work of government departments and other public bodies protects the environment and is sustainable. It works closely with the National Audit Office and is an unusual committee in that its remit covers all areas of government activity.

As a member of the EAC, I contributed towards the work of the inquiry between 2012 and 2014. Inquiries were undertaken during this period on emissions reduction targets, wildlife crime, the proposed 5p charge on plastic bags in England, sustainable food and many others.

Draft Defamation Bill Joint Committee: 2011

The Draft Defamation Bill Joint Committee was set up in 2011 to consider and produce a ‘pre-legislative report’ on the Draft Defamation Bill, which means the committee was formed to consider measures contained in the draft Bill (proposed law) on defamation. After consideration of the Bill, it released a report of its findings for the government and Parliament to consider and was dissolved.

The Draft Defamation Bill continued through Parliament thereafter and became the Defamation Act on 25th April 2013 after receiving Royal Assent.

Justice Committee: 2010 - 2012

The main role of the Justice Committee is to consider and scrutinise the work of the Ministry of Justice and non-departmental organisations involved in the justice system. This includes issues relating to courts, prisons, the probation service, legal aid and the youth justice board.

While on the committee, we conducted a range of inquiries, including access to justice, joint enterprise, family courts, the role of the probation service and others. 

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