Legislative Actors’ Resources


Are the task areas and structures of parliamentary committees suited to monitor ministries effectively?

The match between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are well-suited to the effective monitoring of ministries.
A total of 16 permanent special parliamentary committees along with the Grand Committee (which focuses mainly on EU issues) prepare government bills, legislative initiatives, government reports and other matters for plenary sessions. Reforms of the committee system in the early 1990s aimed to improve parliamentary committees’ alignment with ministry responsibilities. These reforms have been highly successful and committees are now thematically bound within the scope of a corresponding ministry. The Grand Committee is in practice a committee for the handling of EU-related matters.
The number of parliamentary committees exceeds the number of government departments (ministries). This is because there are a number of committees concerned with internal matters of parliament, such as parliamentary privileges, procedure and publications. In general, the task area of each “externally oriented” parliamentary committee is confined to one government department, but some government departments have more than one committee monitoring their activities. The demarcation between task areas of committees that oversee the same department is usually clear, and the split does not lead to incoherent parliamentary action.
Though parliamentary committees outnumber ministries, the task areas of parliamentary committees are more or less identical to the tasks of the ministries with only minor exceptions. The National Council’s General Committee enjoys a kind of overall competence, including deciding the government’s position within the European Council.
For the last several parliamentary terms, Bulgaria has maintained standing parliamentary committees that closely follow or effectively repeat the structure of the Council of Ministers.
As of 2021, there were 24 standing committees of the House of Commons and 18 standing committees of the Senate.
The new (2021) Liberal cabinet has 39 members. As such, there are more ministries than committees with some variation in the number of ministries over time. However, since some cabinet positions (e.g., the leader of the government in the House of Commons) have no corresponding ministries and some ministers (e.g., the minister for international development) are heads of agencies under the umbrella of a larger ministry, the number of ministries is very close to the number of House of Commons standing committees (by far the most important of the two houses). Therefore, parliamentary committees are largely capable of monitoring ministries.
The Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of Deputies do not prescribe a particular distribution of subject areas among committees. The chamber is obliged to establish the Mandate and Immunity Committee, the Committee on Petitions, the Budget Committee, the Control Committee, the Organizing Committee, the Electoral Committee, and the Committee on European Affairs. However, the establishment of additional committees is within its competence. Committee meetings are public, except for the Organizing Committee, and the Mandate and Immunity Committee meetings. In the 2017–2021 term, there were 18 parliamentary committees, 15 of which shadowed government ministries or ministerial agendas. However, there was no exact match between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries. For example, the Economic Committee covered the agendas of two ministries, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Ministry of Transportation. Parliamentary committees can and frequently do establish subcommittees.
The 11 standing committees of the parliament by and large match the structure of the government, which is composed of 11 ministries. In addition to task areas that correspond to ministries, there is also a European Union Affairs Committee that monitors the country’s EU policy. Legal affairs are split between two permanent committees, the Constitutional Committee and the Legal Affairs Committee. Cultural and educational affairs both fall under the purview of the Cultural Affairs Committee. The working schedule of the standing committees is established by the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act, with committee work sessions spread over three days and totaling 12 hours per week.

All members of parliament belong to one standing committee (excluding the EU Affairs Committee), with each committee having about 10 members. At present, no standing committees is chaired by an opposition member of parliament, which represents a challenge to the democratic principle of checks and balances.

In addition to the standing committees, there are currently one investigative committee and three special committees. Considering that the members of these task force committees are also full members of standing committees, the workload of several members of parliament is considerable and concerns have been voiced about unreasonable fragmentation under scarce resources. The influence of special committees on the design of reforms has remained marginal in most cases.
In general, the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries coincide. However, this is not always the case since the Basic Law provides for the establishment of several committees that do not have a ministerial counterpart (including the Committee on the European Union; the Petitions Committee; the Parliamentary Control Panel). Furthermore, several committees sometimes deal with matters that are within the responsibility of a single ministry (e.g., the Committee on Internal Affairs and the Sports Committee both monitor activities performed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior), and a single committee sometimes deals with matters that are not clearly assigned to a single ministry (e.g., the Committee on Digital Affairs). Nonetheless, parliamentary committees’ most important policy areas fully coincide with those of the ministries, which facilitates effective monitoring.
The Diet’s standing committees (17 in both chambers) closely correspond to the sectoral responsibility of the government’s major ministries. The portfolios of the ministers of state cover special task areas and are in some cases mirrored by special committees (e.g., consumer affairs). Special committees can and have been setup to deal with current (or recurring) issues. In the lower house, there are currently nine such committees that deal with issues such as disaster management.
The House of Representatives, Japan, Committees, n.d. https://www.shugiin.go.jp/internet/itdb_english.nsf/html/statics/guide/committee.htm
There is considerable overlap between the organization of the parliament into standing committees and the government into ministries. Though this arrangement is not perfect, it is congruent enough to enable parliamentarians to hold ministers to account. Cross-cutting issues regarding EU and European Economic Area concerns have historically posed some challenges.
The Assembly of the Republic has 12 permanent committees, each with a policy focus.
All ministries are covered by at least one committee, although some committees cover areas of more than one ministry. While these committees by-and-large reflect the portfolios of ministries, there is not an exact correlation, as the number of ministries (19) in the 22nd constitutional government exceeded the number of committees (14).
The 14 permanent committees are:
• Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees
• Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese Communities
• National Defense Committee
• European Affairs Committee
• Budget and Finance Committee
• Committee on Economics, Innovation, Public Works and Housing
• Committee on Agriculture and the Sea
• Committee on Education, Science, Youth and Sport
• Health Committee
• Committee on Labor and Social Security
• Committee on the Environment, Energy and Territorial Planning
• Committee on Culture and Media
• Committee on Culture and Media
• Committee on Public Administration, Administrative Modernization, Decentralization and Local Government
• Committee on Transparency and the Statute of Members

Each committee can create sub-committees to work on a specific area or project. Creating a sub-committee requires the prior authorization of the president of the Assembly of the Republic, after consultation with the Conference of Parliamentary Committee Presidents. Further, each committee can also create working groups for even more specialized tasks.

In addition, and of greater importance for monitoring government ministries, the Assembly of the Republic can create ad hoc parliamentary committees of inquiry. Their specific purpose is, according to the parliamentary rules of procedure, to “assess compliance with the constitution and the laws and consider the acts of the Government and the Administration.” These ad hoc committees of inquiry have investigative power and judicial authority. During the period under review, two such committees operated. These committees focused on the state’s role in granting support after the 2017 forest fires; and on the losses suffered by the Novo Banco bank and the funding it subsequently received from the Resolution Fund.
Rules of Procedure of the Assembly of the Republic, available online at: http://www.parlamento.pt/sites/EN/Parliament/Documents/Rules_of_Procedure.pdf
In the current term, the Slovak National Council has more parliamentary committees than there are ministries (by a ratio of 19 to 14). Two committees (the European Affairs Committee and the Committee for Human Rights and Minorities) have several ministerial counterparts and three committees have special mandates such as supervising intelligence services. However, committees cover all ministerial task areas and thus, the allocation of subject areas among committees does not hamper parliamentary oversight of ministries.
South Korea
The task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries mostly correspond. As of December 2022, there were 17 standing committees tasked with examining bills and petitions falling under their respective jurisdictions and with performing other duties as prescribed by relevant laws. With the exception of the House Steering Committee and the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, the task areas of these parliamentary committees correspond with the ministries. As a consequence of the strong majoritarian tendency of the political system, committees dominated by the governing parties tend to be softer on the monitoring of ministries, whereas committees led by opposition parliamentarians are more confrontational. However, in general, the legislature is a “committee parliament” and the committees are quite effective and efficient.
The National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, http://korea.na.go.kr/int/org_06.jsp
Croissant, Aurel 2014. Das Politische System Südkoreas, in: Derichs, Claudia/Heberer, Thomas (Hrsg.), Die politischen Systeme in Ostasien, 3., überarbeitete Auflage, Wiesbaden (i.E.).
The task areas of the regular parliamentary committees in the Congress of Deputies and the Senate generally correspond to the functions exercised by government ministries. Since 2020, the 22 ministries have been monitored by 21 standing legislative committees in the Congress, which were even renamed to match the ministerial portfolios. Thus, there is no mismatch, although other structural factors (limited committee resources) are rather more problematic with regard to effective monitoring. In recent years, the delay in forming governments has also interfered with the organization of parliamentary committees.
Índice de Comisiones, XIV Legislatura
There is a high degree of congruence between government departments and parliamentary committees, but no perfect overlap. This is of course no coincidence. The configuration of government departments is more flexible than that of parliamentary committees, which has undergone very few changes over the last several decades. Ensuring that the committee system matches the GO’s organization in departments is essential to the efficiency of both institutions. Furthermore, the GO and the parliament (Riksdag) staff have regular meetings to ensure that the parliament and individual committees are not overloaded with government bills, but that there is a steady flow of bills across the year.
There are 12 (fixed) parliamentary committees (vaste kamercommissies). Only the prime minister’s Department of General Affairs lacks an analogous dedicated parliamentary committee. There are also fixed committees for interdepartmental policymaking on aggregate government expenditure, European affairs and foreign trade, and development aid. Parliamentary committees usually have 25 members, representing all political parties with seats in the States General; they specialize in the policy issues of their dedicated departments and inform their peers (i.e., tell them how to vote as part of the party voting-discipline system). Members of parliament in these parliamentary oversight committees usually have close contacts with (deputy) ministers and (far less) high-level civil servants in the departments they oversee. Some observers see this as having contributed to a mutual interweaving of the executive and legislative branch of the government, thereby diminishing the executive’s accountability to the legislature. There are approximately 1,700 public and non-public committee meetings per year. By giving the committees the right to introduce, discuss and vote on motions (without a subsequent plenary debate and voting), the pressure on the plenary meetings is reduced, and the oversight role of the committees strengthened.

There has been a debate about the Committee on Security (Commissie Stiekem), which includes all leaders of the political parties, as some lawmakers have expressed concern about a lack of effective parliamentary oversight on crucial security issues. Very little is known about why such criticism was voiced and how members look at their role in the parliamentary committee. Other committees have public sessions (since 1966) that are broadcast, which means that there is more information available on the activities of the various political parties. Smaller political parties, especially ones with between one and three members, simply cannot attend all committee meetings. Over time, the core of parliamentary activity has moved from the plenary sessions to the committees.
Commissies (tweedekamer.nl, consulted 6 November 2014)
S. Otjes, 6 February 2019, Wie bepaalt de agenda van de Tweede Kamer? (stukroodvlees.nl, accessed 8 November 2019)

G. H. Hagelstein, De parlementaire commissies (Nederlands parlementsrecht, Monografie VI,
Dissertatie Groningen 1991; Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff, 1991, xix + 443 blz., ISBN
90 01 36530 2.

Hijzen, Constant. 2013. “More Than a Ritual Dance. The Dutch Practice of Parliamentary
Oversight and Control of the Intelligence Community.” Security and Human Rights
24; 227-238.

Investico, Kuipers et al., 10 March 2021. Wat geeft de wetgever om de wetten?
The structure of committees in the House and Senate largely reflects the structure of the executive branch. When deviations occur, the adverse effect on the ability of the House and Senate to monitor executive activities and performance is modest. But there are also effects on the burdens of oversight for the agencies. Agencies will sometimes face hearings and investigations from several committees from both chambers that have jurisdiction over an agency or program. Indeed, committees compete for the publicity that comes with investigating a highly salient topic. Because members of Congress develop large stakes in monitoring and influencing particular programs, the structure of the congressional committee system often is a serious barrier to reorganization of the executive branch. In financial regulatory reform, for example, committee jurisdiction stood in the way of organizational reform because the proposed abolition of the Office of Thrift Supervision would have resulted in a committee losing its jurisdiction.
The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are largely suited to the monitoring ministries.
The number of parliamentary committees in the House of Representatives is slightly larger than the number of ministries. There are 11 permanent committees that address key policy areas largely aligned with ministerial portfolios (e.g., defense, justice, budget or external affairs), while 13 special committees focus on specific topics (e.g., committees on COVID-19 or on Belgium’s colonial past in Congo) or cross-cutting issues (e.g., constitutional reform). Committees are largely able to monitor ministries, but the effectiveness of this monitoring can be underwhelming, as the recent experience regarding nuclear safety and electricity supply has demonstrated.
List and functioning of commissions:

In the current parliamentary term, the number of committees has substantially exceeded the number of ministries. However, this discrepancy stems largely from the existence of committees that deal with internal parliamentary affairs such as the Credentials and Privileges Committee, Interparliamentary Cooperation Committee, and Petitions and Appeals Committee. The task areas of the other parliamentary committees largely match those of the ministries, thus enabling an effective monitoring.
The committee structure largely corresponds to the structure of ministries. The Ministry of Social Affairs, for instance, corresponds to the social affairs committee in the parliament (Folketinget). The Ministry of Taxation corresponds to the fiscal affairs committee in the assembly. Other committees, for instance, deal with energy, defense, culture, environment, healthcare and education, and have strong ties to the applicable minister.

A few committees do not have a direct parallel, such as the European Affairs Committee. Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for coordinating EU policy, the European Affairs committee will have consultations (samråd) with all ministers that take part in European Council meetings, and seek a mandate for upcoming negotiations in the council. This may create internal coordination problems in the parliament, between the European Affairs committee and the committees dealing with the substance of EU legislation (fagudvalg).
Folketinget, Håndbog i Folketingsarbejdet. Oktober 2015. http://www.ft.dk/dokumenter/publikationer/folketinget/haandbog_i_folketingsarbejdet_2011.aspx (Accessed 22 Oktober 2014).

Finn Laursen, “The Role of National Parliamentary Committees in European Scrutiny: Reflections based on the Danish Case,” in Katrin Auel and Arthur Benz, eds. The Europeanisation of Parliamentary Democracy. Abingdon: Routledge, 2006, pp. 110-125.
The tasks of committees and ministries mostly coincide. However, there are a few cases where more than one ministry is overseen by a single committee. For instance, this happens with the Presidency of the Council and the Ministry of the Interior, for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Ministry Education, and for the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Public Works). Parliamentary committees have instruments at their disposal enabling the effective monitoring of ministries’ activities.

Committees meet frequently and their members are assisted by highly qualified technical personnel. However, parliamentarians are not always interested in fully exploiting their monitoring prerogatives. Often, they prefer to concentrate either on issues with high media visibility or of local relevance rather than on the more important administrative processes taking place far from the spotlight.
There is extensive congruence between the current structure of 16 parliamentary committees and the primary areas of competence of Lithuania’s 14 ministries. The Committee for the Future is the most recent one, established in 2020. However, there are a few mismatches. On the one hand, some ministries (Economy, Transport, and Communications) and other state institutions are monitored by a single Committee on Economics. On the other hand, there are several horizontal parliamentary committees (including committees on Audit, European Affairs and Human Rights). The parliament also has 10 standing commissions, some of which are related to policy areas assigned to the Lithuanian ministries (especially the Commission for Energy and Sustainable Development, the most active of these bodies). Thus, the composition of parliamentary committees allows government policy to be monitored on both a sectoral and horizontal basis.

Committees meet on a regular basis, but the bulk of committee activities are related to the consideration of draft legislation. The workload of individual committees in the legislative process varies substantially, with the committees on Legal Affairs, State Administration and Local Authorities, Social Affairs and Labor, and Budget and Finance accounting for about 55% of the legislative review work delegated to the committees. The amount of attention given to the exercise of the parliamentary oversight function remains insufficient, but the exact amount depends on the particular committee.
Alvidas Lukošaitis, “Parlamentinės kontrolės įgyvendinimas Lietuvoje: metodologinės pastabos apie trūkinėjančią “šeiminko-samdinio grandinę”//Politologija. 2007, nr. 2
Parliamentary committees and ministries are well coordinated and parliamentary monitoring is satisfactory. Ministers appear regularly before committees and communication is adequate. Although the number of ministries has grown over the years, reaching 20 ministries and 17 ministers, the number of parliamentarians has still not increased beyond 60 members. There are 29 permanent committees and four subcommittees. Each committee has up to 13 members. As such, their workload has expanded considerably in recent years, which has made running standing committees more challenging. In general, members of parliament are often members of more than one committee.
“Réglement de la Chambre des Députés.” Chambre des Députés du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (16 décembre 2021). https://www.chd.lu/wps/wcm/connect/public/dadc958b-a532-4acb-ae85-5f7b20ed05a2/R eglement+CHD16122021.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&ContentCache=NONE&CACHE=NONE&CVID=nUw4CwA. Accessed 14 January 2022.

“Public administration characteristics and performance in EU28: Luxembourg.” European Commission. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Support for developing better country knowledge on public administration and institutional capacity-building” (VC/2016/0492) (2018).
The number of Sejm committees exceeds the number of ministries. However, most ministries, including the more important ones, have only a single oversight committee, a so-called branch committee. Thus, the distribution of subject areas among committees does not infringe upon parliament’s ability to monitor ministries.
The Slovenian parliament has two kinds of working bodies – 13 committees and two subcommittees – that normally cover the work of ministries and eight commissions, some of them standing, which deal with more specific issues such as rules of procedure, the supervision of intelligence and security services, and issues concerning national minorities. Under both the Šarec and Janša governments, the committee structure has remained largely unchanged, even though the number of ministries has increased. As a result, the number of committees overseeing more than one ministry has grown. However, this has not infringed on the monitoring of ministries.
Slovenian National Assembly 2021: Working Bodies. Ljubljana (https://www.dz-rs.si/wps/portal/en/Home/pos/WorkingBodies/!ut/p/z1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfIjo8zivSy9Hb283Q0N3I2CTA0CXYycfIMNjA2cfQ31w8EKnPyCTD3BCrycTAwCjf19nYLMgwwNA030o4jRj0cBSL8BDuBooF-QGxoKACLpVWs!/dz/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/).
The Swiss government has only seven ministries, and all attempts to enlarge this number has failed due to political opposition within parliament. Hence, most of the seven ministries have responsibility for many more issue areas than in other democracies. Both the first and the second parliamentary chambers have nine committees dealing with legislation and two committees with oversight functions (e.g., the Finance Committee, which supervises the confederation’s financial management). Four other committees have additional tasks (e.g., the Drafting Committee, which checks the wording of bills and legal texts before final votes). Thus, the task areas of the parliamentary committees do not correspond closely to the task areas of the ministries. Nonetheless, this does not suggest that the committees are not able to monitor the ministries. As the mismatch between ministerial committees and ministries is a function of how the federal government is organized, it does not impair parliament’s oversight function. The congruence between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries therefore is largely suited to the monitoring of ministries.
The Chilean legislature’s oversight function is exerted primarily by the Chamber of Deputies and its (currently) 27 permanent committees (Comisiones Permanentes) and several ad hoc investigative committees (Comisiones Investigadoras). These permanent committees correlate in part with the 24 ministries. However, there are overlaps and intersections; some single committees, for example, are responsible for an area of responsibility that touches on various ministries’ work, while a single ministry’s area of responsibility may in some cases be distributed across multiple committees. It should be noted that Chile is not a parliamentary but a presidential system and thus ministers are not directly accountable to the Chilean National Congress. Therefore, the degree of control exercised by the congressional committees is institutionally rather weak.
Quantity and name of the permanent parliamentary committees, https://www.camara.cl/legislacion/comisiones/comisiones_permanentes.aspx, last accessed: 13 January 2022.

Ministries and subordinary public institutions. https://www.gob.cl/instituciones, last accessed: 13 January 2022.

About interpellations of ministers:
Fundación 2020, “Qué es una interpelación y cuál es su objetivo”, November 2014, http://www.educacion2020.cl/noticia/que-es-una-interpelacion-y-cual-es-su-objetivo, last accessed: 13 January 2022.

Historical interpellations:
Chamber of Deputies of Chile (Cámara de Diputados), https://www.camara.cl/fiscalizacion/interpelaciones/interpelaciones.aspx, last accessed: 13 January 2022.
Every government department is shadowed by a committee in the House of Commons, which looks at three facets of the department’s work: spending, policies and administration. The remit and number of committees adapts to reflect changes in the makeup of the government. There are also two select committees – the Public Accounts Committee and the (more recent development) Environmental Audit Committee – which undertake cross-departmental scrutiny. House of Lords select committees focus on broader topics and are less directly matched to departmental task areas, but cover important areas. One example is the Science and Technology Select Committee, which in turn has subcommittees that cover specific topics, such as the implications of autonomous mobility or the possible meaning of the withdrawal from the European Union for universities’ staff policies.

However, the capacity of committees to monitor effectively is limited due to a lack of resources and limited continuity in membership (e.g., the House of Lords rules oblige members to be rotated off a committee after four years, although from direct observation of the work of its committees this does not seem to weaken them). Also, the number of reports they issue massively exceeds the time available on the floor of the House to debate them and, despite increased efforts by the committees to publicize them, not all reports achieve much media coverage.

A new Brexit committee, with an above average membership and a careful balance of members to reflect conflicting views, was created after the 2016 referendum. However, this did not prevent the topic from splitting the House of Commons, with large parts of 2019 marked by complete political paralysis. The return of majority government after the 2019 general election solved that problem. During the pandemic, parliamentary committees provided timely scrutiny and criticism of government action.
After the change in government in July 2019, the number of ministries remained 19 (the same as in the pre-2019 period). The number of parliamentary committees also remained the same, with six standing committees. This discrepancy (19 ministries versus six committees) created a task mismatch, but parliamentary scrutiny was jointly carried out in selected committees.

For instance, there is the Standing Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs, and the Standing Committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs. However, there are also four special standing committees (e.g., on European affairs) and eight special permanent committees (e.g., on armament programs and contracts) with more specific agendas, as well as several subcommittees.

The task of monitoring ministries is undermined by the sometimes decorative participation of members of parliament in committee meetings. Even though competences have been transferred from the plenary of the Greek parliament to the regular committees (which examine new legislation), this has not considerably improved the quality of legislation or of parliamentary control.
Information on the number, competences and tasks of regular committees of the Greek parliament in English is available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr

Information on Committees of the Greek parliament is available here: https://www.hellenicparliament.gr/en/Koinovouleftikes-Epitropes/Katigories
There is a considerable amount of variance in both the number and task congruence of committees across parliaments.

There are 33 regular committees serving the current Dáil. Of these, 13 can be seen as “core” committees, namely those focusing on agriculture and marine issues; children, disability, equality and integration; education; enterprise, trade and employment; finance; foreign affairs; healthcare; housing, local government and heritage; justice; media, tourism, arts, culture, sport and the gaeltacht; transport; the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement; and the public accounts. Committees shadow the main line ministries for the most part. In addition, there are also other types of committees, such as special committees (i.e., temporary, subject-specific committees rather than standing committees). These have included special committees on the COVID-19 response, the future funding of water resources, the future of healthcare, and housing and homelessness. In July 2016, as part of the process of reforming the Dáil, a new standing committee was established, the Committee on Budgetary Oversight, to help parliament monitor the government’s economic and financial policy decisions. The current committee has 15 members representing all parliamentary parties. No member of the committee can be a government minister (Oir, 2022).
There are presently 16 standing committees, several of which are fully congruent with ministerial portfolios. These include health, foreign affairs, environment, economic and financial affairs, and social affairs. The main monitoring committee is the Public Accounts Committee, which is chaired by a member of the opposition. Since 2016, committees have become more involved in monitoring ministries, though they also retain an advisory role. Ad hoc committees are also established from time to time. The Standing Committee on Foreign and EU Affairs, for example, scrutinizes pipeline aquis, because of the scale of this task, three subcommittees were created: one acting as a clearinghouse, and the other two dealing with the various policy areas in line with ministerial portfolios. This standing committee also works very closely with the other standing committees. In 2018, a new Standing Committee for Standards in Public Life was inaugurated to assist the new commissioner in this area. This figure was empowered to look into breaches of ethics committed by members of parliament and those appointed within the public service on a position-of-trust basis. A new Petitions Committee has also been created. Additionally, a number of joint committees facilitate policy development and implementation across ministries.
The Parliament of Malta web page
Parliament Annual Report 2020
New Zealand
The New Zealand House of Representatives is too small to establish as many select committees as would be necessary to fully correspond to the number of ministries and there is no public appetite for increasing the size of parliament. In recent years, efforts have been made to restrict the number of select committees any individual member of parliament may sit on. Select committees are appointed at the start of each parliament following a general election. The number of members on a committee can vary, but normally a committee has between six and 12 members each, with parties broadly represented in proportion to party membership in the House of Representatives. Areas of ministerial responsibility are reflected in 12 subject-select committees and seven specialist committees (under the Labour-Green government that took office in 2020). These committees have had to scrutinize 68 portfolios and four “other ministerial entities” (as of January 2022), led by 20 cabinet ministers, four ministers outside the cabinet, two “cooperation agreement” ministers and two parliamentary undersecretaries.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (n.d.) Directory of Ministerial portfolios. https://dpmc.govt.nz/our-business-units/cabinet-office/ministers-and-their-portfolios/ministerial-portfolios/directory

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (n.d.) Ministerial list. https://dpmc.govt.nz/our-business-units/cabinet-office/ministers-and-their-portfolios/ministerial-list

New Zealand Parliament (n.d.) List of select committees. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/scl/
The number of committees in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies is roughly in line with the number of ministries in the government. However, the legislature’s oversight capacity is reduced by the incomplete match between the task areas of ministries and parliamentary committees. The number and task areas of the ministries changed significantly after the Dăncilă government was replaced by the government of Ludovic Orban, but, these changes did not lead to changes in parliamentary committees.

In the current parliament, the six permanent committees remain and only two standing committees have been struck, though this number should increase as the government stabilizes.
The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are partially suited to the monitoring of ministries.
In 2020–2021, the House of Representatives comprises 55 deputies, 16 committees and six ad hoc committees. There is one committee for each of the 11 ministries, while five deal with cross-ministerial matters. According to the latest available activity report of the House of Representatives, during the 2020–2021 session, committees held 550 meetings (compared to 613 in 2019). The Defense Committee held 10 and the Committee for Legal Affairs held 54 meetings.

The proper monitoring of the work of the ministries is critically hindered by three factors: the small number of deputies (56), high membership needed in most committees (nine) and very broad scope of each line-ministry’s competences. Each deputy must participate in at least three committees. Insufficient knowledge and deficient study and preparation is sometimes combined with deputies’ readiness to serve interests promoted by lobbyists.
House of Representatives, Activity Report 2020 – 2021 (in Greek)
The coalition negotiations between the Independence Party, the Progressive Party and the Left-Green Movement, following the September 2021 election, included a reorganization of ministries. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Children became the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Labor Market. Some of the former ministry’s responsibilities were assigned to the new Ministry of Education and Children’s Affairs, which was also made responsible for primary and secondary education. The Ministry of Education and Culture Affairs was abolished, and cultural policy was assigned to the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Culture. At the same time, responsibility for university education was assigned to the new Ministry of Science, Industry and Innovation. Other ministries remained unchanged, except that the Ministry of Communications and Local Government was renamed the Ministry of Infrastructure. This reshuffle further reduced the policy alignment between standing parliamentary committees and ministry responsibilities.

Two of the standing parliamentary committees have a special role vis-à-vis the government. The committee responsible for financial issues and budget preparation has the authority to request information from institutions and companies that ask for budgetary funding. The Committee on Foreign Affairs has advisory status vis-à-vis the government regarding all major international policies and the government is obliged to discuss all major decisions concerning international affairs with the committee.

Parliamentary committees rarely oppose the ministries, as party affiliation of committee members reflects the parliamentary power of the governing parties. Thus, even if the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries nearly coincide, that does not guarantee effective monitoring. Minority members from the opposition can, however, use the committees as a venue to voice their opinions.
There are far more committees than members of the cabinet. This is negative from the point of view of effective monitoring. Yet there are more significant obstacles to the effectiveness of congressional committees than their official scope. The most notable limitation has been the one-term limit for legislators, which has now been changed. However, it is too early to assess the effect of this change.
Under the Turkish presidential system, the number of ministries has been reduced to 16. Although advocates of the new system argued that the system would run more efficiently, the alignment of ministries (or rather the presidency and its new executive structure) and parliamentary committees is likely to create frictions in policymaking.
There are 18 standing committees in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), which are generally established in parallel with the structure of the ministries. The exceptional committees include the Petition Commission and the Human Rights Investigation Commission. Except for committees established by special laws, the jurisdiction of each committee is not expressly defined by the Rules of Procedure. Therefore, some committees have overlapping tasks. Committees examine draft bills and may also supervise ministry activities indirectly.

The State Economic Enterprises Commission does not audit ministries but plays an important role in monitoring developments within their administration. The distribution of the workload of these committees is uneven. The Planning and Budget Commission is the most overloaded group, as every bill possesses some financial aspect.
Ö.F. Gençkaya. 2020. “The Grand National Assembly of Turkey: A Decline in Legislative Capacity,” I. Khmelko et al (eds) Legislative Decline in the 21st Century (pp. 82-93). Routledge: New York.

Ş. İba. 2017. Parlamento Hukuku, Ankara: Turhan Yayınevi
Ever since the 2010 reduction in the number of ministries, there has been a strong mismatch between the task areas of ministries and committees. The fact that ministries have been covered by several committees has complicated the monitoring of ministries. Moreover, the real decision-making centers, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office are not covered by any parliamentary committee at all.
The task areas of the parliamentary committees poorly match the task areas of the ministries. Only the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice have an equivalent parliamentary committee. These committees being the Budget and Finance Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee of Justice. While the Ministry of Agriculture reports to only a single committee, this committee oversees three other ministries. In all other cases, ministries report to multiple committees and committees oversee multiple ministries’ task areas.
1. List of Parliamentary Committees: https://titania.saeima.lv/Personal/Deputati/Saeima13_DepWeb_Public.nsf/structureview?readform&type=3&lang=LV

2. Composition of the Cabinet of Ministers: https://www.mk.gov.lv/en/amatpersonas
There is no congruence between the structures of ministries and those of parliamentary committees. The number of parliamentary committees is limited to eight (up from six in 2008) while there are 25 to 30 ministries or state secretaries. This rule introduced in 1958 was meant as, and resulted in, a limitation of deputies’ power to follow and control each ministry’s activities closely and precisely. The 2007-08 constitutional reform permitted a slight increase in the number of committees, and allowed the establishment of committees dealing with European affairs.
Knesset committees are currently not well structured for efficient government monitoring. The structure of the ministries and the parliament’s committees diverges significantly: The Knesset has 12 permanent committees, while the number of ministries shifts according to political agreements, totaling 29 at of the time of writing (headed by 22 ministers, excluding the prime minister). Since parliamentary committees are divided by themes and not by ministerial responsibilities, they often struggle to gather and coordinate information. High turnover rates among representatives also makes it difficult to control professional and bureaucratic information. Although the number of committees is average by global standards, the combination of a small number of parliamentarians (120) and the usually broad coalitions results in only two-thirds of all members being available to sit on committees regularly. Some members of the Knesset sit on as many as five or six committees, inevitably impairing their committees’ supervisory capabilities. This problem may be somewhat mitigated by the recent adoption of the Norwegian Law, which allows ministers who are members of the Knesset to quit the Knesset and be replaced by other members on their party list.
Freidberg, Chen, “Monitoring of the executive by the parliament in Israel – potential and function,” Doctoral Dissertation (2008) (Hebrew).

Freidberg, Chen and Atmor, Ronen, “How to improve the Knesset’s position as a legislator and a supervisory body?” The Israel Democracy Institute 2013: http://www.idi.org.il/media/2438022/00321913.pdf

Kenig, Ofer, “The new Israeli cabinet: An overview of the 33rd government of Israel,” Israel Democracy Institute. (March 2013).

Kenig, Ofer, “Coalition building in Israel: A guide for the perplexed,” Israel Democracy Institute. (February 2013).

“Knesset Committees,” The Knesset Website: https://www.knesset.gov.il/deSCRIPTion/eng/eng_work_vaada.htm

“Ministries,” Prime Minister’s Office Website (Hebrew): http://www.pmo.gov.il/IsraelGov/Pages/GovMinistries.aspx

Twentieth Knesset: Government 34 – Current Members, https://knesset.gov.il/govt/eng/GovtByNumber_eng.asp?current=1
The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are not at all suited to the monitoring of ministries.
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