'Cross-cutting' committees

The departmental committees look ‘vertically’ at all the responsibilities of a single department and its ministers (although the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland

Affairs Committees have a broader range of interests). The cross-cutting committees, on the other hand, look ‘horizontally’ across Whitehall at themes or actions in which all or most departments are involved:

  • • Environmental Audit
  • • European Scrutiny
  • • Liaison
  • • Political and Constitutional Reform
  • • Public Accounts
  • • Public Administration
  • • The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy

Environmental Audit Committee

This was set up in November 1997. It has 16 members, and its task is ‘to consider to what extent the policies and programmes of government departments and nondepartmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development’, and ‘to audit their performance against such targets as may be set for them’. The committee inquires into a range of sustainability issues. Recent work has covered issues as diverse as air quality, the environmental impact of high speed rail, marine protected areas, and the sustainability of the UK’s Overseas Territories. It has power to appoint a sub-committee.

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