chapter  9
15 Pages

Scrutiny of EU legislation in the UK parliament: The first thirty years … and beyond?


Following detailed inquiries into the precise structure and remit of their respective committees, both houses of the UK parliament developed individual and different scrutiny procedures.1 It has remained a feature of the parliamentary scrutiny arrangements that the House of Commons and the House of Lords have sat independently of each other, and rarely follow the same work agenda.2 In 1974 the main distinction was rooted in the terms of reference which permitted the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities to consider the merits of legislative proposals and other non-legislative documents, thereby affording opportunity for inquiries to move more ‘upstream’ in the decisionmaking process. The terms of reference in the Commons have, by contrast, been narrower and require the European Scrutiny Committee to consider whether a legislative proposal has ‘raised questions of legal or political importance’.3 Consequently in the intervening thirty years, the Commons Committee4 has often been referred to as being ‘reactive’, whereas the Lords Committee is considered ‘proactive’ in its review of European affairs.